Self Defense: Justifying Your Role

Nigel Paine
Nigel Paine

The original title for this session was “how not to get fired”. Nigel Paine talked about strategies you can use that help you stay relevant and create a bit more security for yourself:

  1. If you make yourself more accountable and more visible, then you make yourself more employable. Don’t run and hide. “I know that name” is very important and a good relationship with your line manager is not enough.
  2. Be pro-active. Where things are getting tough, get noticed more instead of less. Make sure you have an impact. Find people who can sponsor you and who can mentor you. Most people are flattered to be asked to become a mentor. You can even have more than one mentor (but don’t play them off against each other).
  3. Build partnerships outside of your team. Don’t self-limit. Every single meeting is an opportunity to have presence. A lot of HR staff is still totally tactical, it is important to frame things correctly: away from operational towards more strategic.
  4. Data is important. You should have the data from your organization and try and get some insights from it. Most people never take the trouble to go through the data.
  5. Focus on yourself a little bit. People take you at the value you set in yourself.
  6. Governance. Nigel talked about the learning board he created at BBC (chaired by the chief executive). He gave his budget to the board to allocate (people thought he was crazy). Find people from outside HR and Learning to give you some governance. They will help you make decisions that are totally business focused.
  7. Go on a listening mission in your organization.

Somebody in the audience referenced this TED talk by Amy Cuddy:


Another person talked about the book Seeing Yourself As Others Do.

I shared my personal strategy for staying in my job: it is to stay fully employable outside of my organization! I was hoping this session would be about the role of the learning organization as a whole (that might also be in need of self defense I would say), unfortunately it came closer to a motivational speech. You can’t have it all!

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