During my first month at Otolith, I was given the opportunity to attend the 16th Vlerick HR Day. Plenty of leading international HR-speakers were present. They shared their academic or practical insights with the audience. Here are my 4 Take-aways:

Take-away 1:
Building a culture of trust: Soft or Solution?

In the general opening session, ‘HR: the heartbeat of trust & trustworthiness’, professor Banu Golesorkhi talked about her research on trust in organizations. It was remarkable to hear the mixed opinions on this topic, going from ‘vague’ and ‘cliché’ to ‘crucial’ and ‘fascinating’.

Trust is the base of every form of collaboration.

Golesorkhi recognized that trust is often considered as a soft skill, while research shows that it’s actually not soft at all. She states that trust is the base of every form of collaboration, and that organizations cannot succeed without it. Furthermore, the importance of psychological safety was highlighted. You can find more information about this topic in my other blogs. 

Take-away 2: 
The CEO’s biggest advice?

During the debate, titled ‘Adaptive leadership: How leaders shape their path through turbulence’, several executives and CEO’s from companies as Telenet, Vinçotte and Dell discussed topics linked to leadership.

Particulary interesting was to hear their opinion about their biggest advices regarding HR. Firstly, they suggested to hire more on the base of character and to dare to develop people. Moreover, HR should be a facilitator for management.

HR should be a facilitator for management.

For example, the success of ‘brown bag meetings’was explained: informal meetings at the workplace which can involve managers and neutral people. It appears to be an efficient and straightforward way to train and inform employees. Lastly, they emphasized the importance of organizational culture among all other things.

Take-Away 3:
Cooperation instead of competition: Mastery climate vs. Performance climate

Anders Dysvik, Professor at the Norwegian Business School in Oslo, provided us with lots of academical insights during his session ‘Going frictionless: How leaders can maximize employee engagement’.

Among many other topics, he discussed the proven advantages of a mastery climate, a type of motivational climate in which success is characterized by cooperation, mutual exchange of thoughts and ideas, learning and self-development. This is opposed to the common performance climate, where work is measured on the basis of comparison with colleagues and only the employees who achieve the best results are recognized.

When you replace this internal competition by a focus on cooperation, many beneficial effects are seen, such as higher levels of task persistence and effort, more intrinsic motivation and wellbeing, more creativity and better performance.

Take-Away 4:
Do we reward (un)conventional thinkers?

The humorous closing speech, called ‘Gig economy on the rise: key take-aways for HR’, was given by  David McWilliams, an economist, writer and journalist.
He mentioned the importance of unconventional thinking in our current Western society.

We all have the tendency to search for information that confirms our previously existing beliefs, known as the confirmation bias.

McWilliams warned for the phenomenon of group thinking, as a result of this bias. We tend to reward – as he calls it – ‘a linear brain’, but in this fast-changing world we need unconventional thinking to innovate and differentiate ourselves. He concluded that humans are irrational and highly suggestible, and that economy is all about human behaviour.

The Best Intentions

These are my 4 Take-Aways. As you can see, sometimes organizations do things with the best intentions but with counterproductive effects. Otolith helps organizations to improve their strategy execution by developing leadership, guiding change and improving people practices.


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We work on leadership, organisation design and people strategies.

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