Performance Management

Conversations that Matter Podcast: Aaron Alburey, LACE Partners

Dive into insightful conversations on employee experience with Aaron Alburey, CEO and Founder of LACE Partners, in this podcast episode.

How HR Tech is Changing Employee Expectations with Aaron Alburey

OpenBlend Podcast Series: Conversations that Matter

Episode 5: Aaron Alburey, CEO and Founder, LACE Partners

Welcome back to another episode of our Conversations that Matter podcast. Throughout this series, you'll hear the opinions and experiences of individuals who deeply believe in the power of conversation.

We are excited to welcome our next guest, Aaron Alburey, CEO and Founder of LACE Partners, a leading HR and Payroll transformation consultancy.

Aaron has worked in the HR space for over 30 years, setting up LACE partners with his business partner Cathy in November 2014. Aaron previously worked for both Accenture and Deloitte, and is incredibly passionate about the delivery of HR technologies to improve employee engagement and productivity.

OpenBlend's Founder and CEO, Anna Rasmussen sat down with Aaron to reflect on how HR tech has evolved over the last 10 years, and the relationship of balance between human conversations and technology to truly drive long-lasting, people performance. 



'...I just had a vision of receiving some AI content through my ear on my walk to another meeting to get me in the right state of mind for the next conversation I was going to have." - Anna Rasmussen


What do you most like about your job, Aaron? 

I love that question, and it's interesting, one of my kids just asked me that the other day. I have, between my partner and I, six children, so there's always a question about work somewhere along the lines. I think for me, the thing that I love about this job and why I've been doing it so long is, and we're going to talk about it today actually, the way in which people meet technology. 

I'm an engineer by background, I grew up doing computer science, that's my heritage. I fell into HR very early in my career, and I've always been able to blend those two things together, and that is the best bit about my job. It's just figuring out how to help organisations get the best out of their people, and for me, it's the added advantage of then blending technology in to enable that. So I love it, it's exciting, it's always fast moving and you've got the challenges of people, meeting the vast world of technology. So yeah, couldn't get a better job, really, in my mind. 

What do you think the workforce expectations are of technology today, specifically in driving performance and their development? 

I think it is heading towards more of a consumer-grade experience, and what I mean by that is, it's the age-old thing, right, if you go to your banking app and how it presents stuff to you, or if you're on Amazon or Uber or whatever, it is at a point of need when you need it and it is presenting what you need in a tailored way. If you think about how you engage those apps that's why you keep using them - you need to get home, you need to get food, you want to go see a show, but it's presenting it in a tailored way.

I think what we've seen in these kind of people technology elements, is that growing expectation that presenting me with just a menu and expecting me, as an employee to try and search for something and look for what might be the right fit for me whilst I've got a thousand other things going on in my job that are related to meeting my customer needs, meeting the needs of the business, it's just not a reasonable assumption anymore.

You need to challenge that and you need to therefore, present information in a way that feels tailored to the employee, that allows them to go, okay, I'm doing this job with these capabilities, I've talked about this performance gap I've got, and then for the system to present to you, here are the five things that you probably want to learn in the next quarter or these are the skills you could develop, and these are some tips on how to do it.

So that kind of level of tailoring around things is what we're starting to see emerge and certainly, if you were to speak to, as we do a lot with the employee experience work we do those kinds of voice, the customer experience voices, that's what you hear, that’s what you hear loud and clear.

What aspects of the manager-employee conversation do you believe are the key drivers for performance and development?

I think most of this boils down to expectation management, and explaining what is expected of you in your role in a clear way is remarkably difficult actually for people to get across in a conversation. You can feel, I think if you come out of a 1:1 conversation, that you've had a good conversation, but then if you interviewed both people separately, you may find that they thought two different things came out of that meeting. So that ability to get to clarity in a concise way, allows people to really understand what's expected of them.

I think the other thing you touched on a little bit there as well, is this 'Right conversation at the right time', Anna. I think one of the things I've been really glad to see the back of is those regimented once-a-year or twice-a-year conversations, to be replaced by the concept of continual review and discussion because it allows you to take the moment to go, I need to talk about something now, rather than six months after the fact to try and course correct. So I think that the right moment,  right time is also really been an important aspect of the conversation, but I think clarity of accountability, clarity of what is expected of somebody, for me is one of the key things.

You can listen to the full episode, and past episodes, over at Apple Podcasts, Spotify and Google Podcasts.

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