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Time To Rethink HRD Development?

In 2022 I was contacted by an event company to ask if I could deliver keynote talks about Burnot at two of their Leadership events, one was for CFOs the other was for HRDs.

They provided the dates along with a link to view the events online, where I could arrange a call with the organiser if I'd be willing to attend and speak.

My first question, was why the CFO event was three days and two nights, with a gala dinner at a luxury resort, while the HRD event was one day at an ok-ish conference venue in London. No dinner, no gala, no luxury, not even any networking drinks - just show up, listen to the speakers, and leave.

In 2014 when I'd set up my company, having worked away from my hometown for the last 10 years, I started to attend some local HR events. 

I wanted to get to know some of the local HR Leaders, find out what was happening locally, and generally, just build my support squad now I was no longer in London five days a week, attending London events, or part of a large organisation with a big team.

No agenda other than meeting like-minded people.

I'd do my usual and attend early, often to an empty room, whilst the room would fill up with just minutes to go before the event started.  People would scurry in, head down, fill the seats or tables from the back of the room, making no eye contact, and then once the event had finished, by the time you blinked, the room would be empty again.

Where was the community?

Where was the support squad?


And had people only just shown up for a pretty drab HR talk before leaving in a hurry? The answer, sadly was yes. But perhaps it was just a one-off, it wasn't!

And I say this as one of the most introverted people you're ever likely to meet.

I considered the events I'd been to in my in-house days. 

Most had been invite-only, roundtable lunches or dinners, webinars with no interaction whatsoever, and many evening and weekend events where I was there to learn as an HR Professional about new employment legislation, a new skill, or a new system or update.

I'd worked with coaches, but I'd always been too busy to speak to people at events and was often too exhausted to paint on a smile and speak to anyone at the end of an evening event where I'd already worked long days that week and still had a day or two left to go.

My personal development was always something that was neglected, and where it was a priority, it was so often in the evenings and weekends, or I'd use my holiday, I mean, come on, really???

My Finance colleagues weren't doing this, nor were Communications, PR, Marketing, Sales, Service, or Support teams - every other function, unless specifically invited to an event talk or drinks reception, were learning during the day, during working hours - I only did if it were of specific use to my role, my personal development, sometimes even my coaching, was done out of hours.

I work with Senior and C-Suite HR Leaders around the world, and whilst it's happening less and less, the question I used to be asked regularly was whether I would work longer hours to fit them in before or after their working day.

So, why was the CFO event two days and nights longer than the HRD event?

The answer I received was: "HR Leaders don't come when we offer more than a day, and if they sign up, they often drop out at the last minute. So we created events for them, that we knew they'd be able to fit in, but we still get. high dropout rates. 

We're not sure if it's because the HR sector is more female-heavy and possibly have more caring responsibilities at home, or they just prefer not to be away, or if they don't see this type of event as learning, but we had to rethink.  We'd love to offer them the same experience, but they're just not interested. We also realised they won't pay.  The one-day HRD event is funded by sponsors, so we provide it for free".

I'm a lifelong learner, I love to learn, be it from books, podcasts, blogs, articles, videos, courses, programmes, or qualifications, I'm always learning something - even if it's a new or better way to do something I'm already doing.  Because I love it, and I'm learning what I want to learn, I will often spend evenings or weekends doing it, and I learn, grow, develop, attend events, and have my coaching during my working day.

FYI, as a self-employed Executive Coach, if I'm not working, I'm not earning - and I still prioritise my learning because what I learn, I can pass on to my clients and my audience, and develop more as a coach and professional and a person. 

Everyone wins as I grow.

But if I'm too exhausted to then implement the learning, it's been a waste of time, and probably a waste of my money.

Some studies suggest that as humans, we can forget 50% of what we've learned within an hour of learning it, and up to 75% if we don't start to implement the learning within 72 hours.

And this is why I love experiential learning, and I'm passionate about coaching reflections and quick action.

If you're always rushing around, just showing up to learning events instead of tuning in and learning, and then ticking it off the list just to say you've been on a course, you've not learned anything of any value, because you're not present and you're not embedding the learning.

So here's my take on why we need to rethink HRD Development:

Firstly, every single one of you needs a confidential and impartial coach, and that's not simply a plug for me, you need a coach, period. That was the gamechanger for me.

Secondly, learning is the day job - and, the more you can do during the working week, the more chance you have of being able to embed the learning

Thirdly, personal development is key to your role.  Being a great leader isn't just about the job skills and experience, it's about you as a person

And finally, whilst. there are many free events out there, paid events add more value, which enhances the learning experience, which provides you with more value and learning.  So you need a budget to support your growth - make sure you factor it into your planning.



I'm Kelly, my hunch is that someone you trust mentioned my name, or you stumbled upon one of my videos, podcasts, or articles online. 

Whatever path you took, I’m really glad you’re here. 

I'm the Executive Coach for HR Leaders at

Clients hire me to help them regain control of their busy lives so they have more time and energy for the things that matter

If that sounds like you, I'd love for us to talk



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