People come first in business, and in life. That was the message shared at the flagship Doing It Differently conference – organised by Stonebow Media on behalf of the University of Lincoln for Lincolnshire Business Week.
The Doing It Differently conference, held by the University of Lincoln was the second event of Stonebow Media’s Lincolnshire Business Week 2023 – following the inspirational Social Change Better Business Summit on Monday, May 22.
The conference was hosted by journalist and broadcaster Harriet Minter, who held an introductory speech before hosting panel discussions with the morning and afternoon speakers.
The University of Lincoln’s Vice Chancellor, Neal Juster, welcomed the attendees with a speech about the importance of prioritising people in your business, and nurturing the potential of a diverse and inclusive staff base.
Speakers at the event included keynote speaker and Britain’s first female fast jet pilot Dr Jo Salter MBE; the founder of Teams Come First, Tim Sayers; and Dr Kai Adegbembo, an associate lecturer, retired police inspector and current vice chairman of the TEC Partnership.
A series of thought-provoking topics were raised during the speeches, including the role of investing in development, the need to recruit and retain skilled staff, and continuous learning no matter how high you reach – as well as the personal journeys of those speakers.
“Most training doesn’t actually work”, says Tim Sayers, the founder of Teams Come First. “People are by far and away the greatest asset to an organisation – I have experienced the amount of investment that goes into products, services and processes, but often it is the investment of people which is the first to be cut.
“It is an investment, not a cost. The sales and marketing budget is historically much larger than the people budget.”
One common theme that emerged was the importance of building capacity. Drawing from personal experiences, the panelists highlighted the significance of training one’s subconscious mind to handle high-pressure situations.
By engaging in activities that simulate challenging scenarios, individuals can develop the ability to make quick decisions under adrenaline-fuelled circumstances. This not only expands one’s capacity but also frees up valuable working memory.
While the journey toward embracing change can be challenging, the panelists stressed the importance of discomfort in personal and professional growth.
By encouraging dialogue and providing opportunities for continuous learning, organisations can foster an environment where individuals feel empowered to step outside their comfort zones.
By embracing discomfort, people can unlock their true potential and drive meaningful change.
A regular point raised by speakers is the necessity of asking “why”. It reflects the business’s purpose and core values, which serves as the bedrock of success – when people are aligned with the vision of the business they work for, the results are ultimately greater.
It ties in with another key subject of the day’s talks – embracing fear and becoming comfortable in uncomfortable scenarios.
Lucy Baker from She Coaches Confidence discussed the inward power of imposter syndrome, and how confidence can be swallowed by your own self-doubt – both in business, and in everyday life itself.
“Ensure that people feel seen and heard”, she said. “Communication is absolutely essential when it comes to confidence. Confidence is not fixed, I am always working on it – I wasn’t born with confidence and it doesn’t come naturally.”
The overriding message of this speech can be simplified into one clear and concise word: “Talk.”
In fact, clarity was the flavour of the month at this conference. Each speaker used their own experiences and knowledge bases to arrive at similar conclusions of being clear and transparent with people, when it comes to business processes and core values.
In the ever-changing landscape of business, we are now in what was described by speaker Harpaul Dhindsa as a “candidate market” – which places employees in a position of power.
It translates to a rising trend in modern society, where people find themselves questioning employers more, to ensure that they are working for or with a business that is aligned in their own vision.
A second panel discussion explored the role businesses can play in embracing neurodivergence within its staff base, starting with open dialogue to create a welcoming culture for people of all backgrounds.
Speakers said that by engaging in direct conversations, embracing neurodiversity, and creating a culture of support and personal development, we can bridge gaps, celebrate differences, and unlock the potential of every individual.
As we move forward, it is crucial for leaders, parents, and educators to work together to foster an environment where everyone feels valued and encouraged to be their authentic selves.
The day was broken up by a delicious lunch supplied by ROCO BBQ – with bang bang cauliflower options for vegan diets.
Lincolnshire Business Week will round off with Stonebow Media’s Lincolnshire Business Excellence Awards at the Engine Shed on Friday, May 26.
More photos and a video from the Doing It Differently conference can be found on the Lincolnshire Business Week website.