Productivity ninja Martijn Aslander gets Day 2 of HR Indaba of to a rocking start

He challenged HR professionals to incorporate technology and think differently about their roles.

Productivity ninja Martijn Aslander, who is an expert on achieving more with less effort by organising things in a smarter way, gave the keynote speech on the second day of the inaugural HR Indaba, which was hosted at the Sandton Convention Centre on 4 October 2018. Hundreds of HR professionals were gathered around the main stage for the opening speech during which Martijn, who has written several books on productivity, challenged traditional approaches to talent management and recruitment.


“I’m reading a lot about the Job Summit but, after what I saw at they HR Indaba yesterday, all the people there should be here if they really want to make a difference,” said Martijn, who urged HR professionals to start thinking outside the box about their roles. 

He said the days of hiring people simply based on their qualifications and personality traits alone are long gone. Information is readily available and young people are leveraging the internet to develop themselves and gain skills that are changing the world. Most cannot afford a tertiary education and evidence is increasingly showing that they do not need it. The co-founder of WhatsApp was turned down for employment by both Twitter and Facebook, which bought his company for $22 billion only five years later. He developed a company that literally wiped off billions of revenue from telecoms companies like Vodacom. 

I don’t believe in change management because people don’t like change but they are able to be convinced to move towards doing something differently if that is more interesting and efficient. When you learn to do something through routine it takes eight times less energy than when you are being forced to do it. When people shifted to WhatsApp from SMS, it was because they saw the benefits of doing so.”

On how to get the best out of their teams, he said it was best to appeal to people’s strengths. A person’s most important asset is their health. The next is their relationships. The next is their time. These are things that HR has to enable people to maximise. 

“One third of people are most productive in the evening than they are at the morning. That means that, as HR people, you are getting less than optimal productivity from a third of your people. What are you getting from them in the morning?”

Lastly, he said that the truth to unlocking potential is a matter of being able to learn faster than others. Real improvement is more about becoming a better version of one’s self everyday. “If your are spending more than three hours on a computer, you should be learning, but most of you are basically using it as a modern type writer,” he said.