A day at CIPD Scotland conference

The CIPD Scotland conference took place online on 30th March. This year there was no early
rise for me to catch the train from Glasgow to Edinburgh and also no queues for lunch.

Over 750 people attended the conference, making it the largest attendance ever at a CIPD
Scotland conference. Lee Ann Panglea, Head of CIPD Scotland and Northern Ireland
encouraged us “to indulge ourselves in our own professional development” during the
conference, something which I certainly did, Here are some of the highlights.

Learning From Exceptional Times

In his keynote speech, Peter Cheese CEO of the CIPD, opened on the topic of “Learning From
Exceptional Times” He discussed how the pandemic has been a catalyst for change in the
world of work with an acceleration in subjects that we have been talking about for some time
including “Putting People First” and building more compassion in our workplaces.

Peter discussed how wellbeing has become a key focus for organisations and that line
managers are crucial to wellbeing at work, adding that we need to better develop managers
at every level in our organisations. He referred to research that demonstrates that the biggest
cause of stress for employees is having line managers who are not supporting them. The
importance of mental wellbeing and the role of line managers was a recurring theme at this
year’s conference.

Wellbeing Lessons from COVID and Beyond

Wellbeing was discussed in further detail by Professor Sir Cary Cooper in his session on
“Wellbeing Lessons from COVID and Beyond”. Cary explained that 63% of people are
suffering from stress, anxiety or depression during the pandemic. The stress of worrying about
health risks, losing your job, worrying about finances and for many also home schooling have
all impacted people’s mental wellbeing.

Cary asked us to consider whether in some organisations we need to introduce Chief
Wellbeing Officers or Directors of Health & Wellbeing, a role for someone who might sit
between Occupational Health, HR and Health & Safety, reporting directly to the CEO. He
recommended that we have regular wellbeing audits in the workplace.

A memorable quote from this session by Cary was “Wellbeing is not about sushi at your desk
and ping pong tables. It is not about mindfulness at lunch. Don’t take the easy options.”

To encourage sustainable change and healthier workplaces now and in the long term, Cary
emphasised that wellbeing needs to be a strategic focus with well-trained line managers who
are able to support their people’s wellbeing and development.

Developing and Supporting Line Managers

Andy Lancaster, Head of Learning at the CIPD, gave an engaging talk on “Developing and
Supporting Your Line Managers in Effective People Practice to Achieve Business Success”
He started by asking us to reflect for a moment on the question “Who is in your people team?”

Andy encouraged us to consider line managers as part of our profession and suggested that
we consider reviewing the Core Knowledge of People Practice at Foundation level within the
CIPD Profession Map when assessing the people management skills and attributes of our line

Andy made some thought provoking points about how we should consider supporting our
line managers in the moment to learn and develop by adopting the 4Cs approach :

  1. Content: curate brilliant content such as TED Talk Tuesdays for example, to support
    discussion and reflection on topics of relevance to managers.
  2. Coaching: approach coaching as a core management style.
  3. Conversation: support quality 1 to 1s and team meetings through quality conversations.
  4. Connections: encourage managers to have an internal and external support network for

Inspirational Leadership

The closing keynote entitled “Inspirational Leadership: Developing High Performing Teams in
Sport and Beyond” was by Judy Murray who is famous for being a tennis coach and mum to
tennis champions Andy and Jamie and who is also now involved with the management of a
family business, the Cromlix Luxury Hotel in Perthshire. This is all in addition to her work with
The Judy Murray Foundation, a charity that aims to set up grassroots tennis programmes in
Scotland to encourage people to enjoy tennis and physical activity through sustainable and
accessible sports programmes.

Judy spoke about the importance of tennis and other sports in raising young people’s
confidence and self esteem and of her support to encourage more girls to take up tennis and
of the need to have more female tennis coaches.

When asked by Peter Cheese how she identifies talent and potential Judy responded that in
sport there are certain attributes and skills you can spot at an early stage but that attitude is
the most important thing and that as coaches or indeed managers, the better you know your
people, the better chance you have to influence their behaviours and performance. Having
access to role models and a supportive environment together with working hard are great
enablers in developing talent she explained.

Judy’s view is that “there is talent everywhere, there just isn’t opportunity everywhere.” There
are certainly some parallels with tennis and the workplace when it comes to identifying and
developing talent.

Closing, Judy shared her top tips for staying resilient are that she keeps looking forward,
embrace challenges and obstacles as opportunities to learn from and that she makes time
for things that make her feel good. This seems to be good advice for everyone.