The Cloud

Seven years ago, we started talking about social media in HR.  I remember this at a conference and nobody got it.  In fact, pretty much all the HR people said that it was a bad idea, it was not for the workplace, and it would just get us into trouble.  The concerns may have been justified at the time, and it was worth taking a less risky stance.

Five years ago, at another conference, social media was the big thing.  People talked about what we could do, how we would implement, and how we could network the organization and bring everyone closer.  But we never did it.

Today, we might finally have networks in most of our organizations.  There is the easy ability to look someone up on the directory and chat or just connect with someone in another part of the organization, but we are not really using any of the functionality for HR.  After all this time, we’re less excited only because nobody ever came to the plate and presented us with a technology option that just worked.

Here’s the thing – I’m really excited about all this interconnectedness because I start thinking about all the ways we could and should be applying the technology.  I’m sick of only talking about Yammer and Rypple (now for performance feedback.  Let’s do it real time, and let’s actually do it.  We thumbs up and down people (or their posts) all the time, but we as employees live in complete fear that negative feedback is going to screw one of our friendly relationships.  Let me tell you something, when someone is great, everyone knows it.  And when someone underperforms, that is also known.  But instead of the same conclusion the manager will reach during the traditional performace review, let’s pretend the employee had the opportunity to get positive and negative feedback throughout the year.  Let’s say that the employee had a chance to take corrective actions.

For the history of HR technology, we have not had the core capabilities to use social in HR.  Trying to plant social on top of SAP or Oracle was probably not going to lead us to success.  But everyone has new core foundations that can really enable this stuff, and I’m seeing that finally, HR technology has caught up with HR expectations.  Five years ago we were ready, but our foundational technologies just needed some time.  We were in contracts, or we just needed a few years to implement.  Now we’re there and the next generation of HR applications that are based on cloud and social can actually happen.


Strategy without Technology is Stupid

As of about 2003, I don’t think I could live my life without my devices.  Back then it was the blackberry and laptop.  Now it’s my Android phone, iPad and laptop.  If I lose my phone, I’m basically dead in the water – no contact with the outside world… I’m totally cut off.  When I’m waiting for the train, I’m reading my daily dose of news.  When I’m walking between the train and the office, I’m reading the last 5 emails that came in while I was on the train and keeping up to the minute.  When it’s after hours and I don’t know where I’m meeting my friends for dinner, I simply navigate to one of them using Google Latitude.  If you took all my devices away, I’m not sure I can return to 1999.

Here’s my pitch when I do an introduction to a new client, “I’m an expert in all things HR Service Delivery, but focus on HR technology.”  There was a time when this made sense.  I’m not sure it works anymore.  The point is that when we talk about HR Service Delivery, most of our services are now delivered through a technology.  We worry less and less over HR coordinator/generalist types who shepherd processes through for managers, and shared services people who make sure that calls get answered or paper gets entered.

Let’s face the facts about HR Service Delivery strategy.  Our employees and managers don’t actually want to talk to us anymore.  They are used to booking their own travel, entering their own time and expenses, looking up budgets in the financial systems.  Their personal lives are all about going to and their iPhones.  If their lives revolved around getting stuff for themselves instead of asking us to help them with a promotion, they would be much happier.

So why do we end up helping these managers so much?  Mostly it’s because more than half of the companies we work for have technologies that suck.  Yep, I said it… your HRT sucks.  If you really looked into your strategy (which probably has a lot to do with engaging employees/managers, making HR more effective/efficient, delivering better information… you’d quickly figure out that your HRT is actually the roadblock.  Put in something that is so easy to use that managers don’t have to ask you how to do something, and you’ll have happier employees who use the tools and get things done.

I’ve spent a lot of time guiding clients to their strategies, and also looking at the strategies that other consultants put together.  We all do the same things, we figure out where the business is and how we align HR to it, and then we figure out how to place technology to meet those HR and talent requirements.  It’s all a bit top down though.  What we need is a bottoms up approach that goes hand in hand with what we’ve been doing all along.  Figure out what the business needs from technology, but also what our employees want.  If we meld this together, we’ll find out that the technologies we deploy are more aligned with everything we need.

For 2013, it might be time to update my tagline.  “I’m an HR Technology specialist who is great at applying it to HR Service Delivery.”


The Social Recruiting Process: What You Need to Know

Techniques being used to find and hire talent have changed significantly in the last few years and it’s quickly moving toward a social process. According to a survey from Jobvite, 92% of companies in the US used social platforms for recruiting in 2012. 73% successfully hired a candidate through social media – a drastic increase from 58% in 2010. Needless to say, your basic HR software will no longer do the trick.

The key to successfully navigating the social recruiting process lies in understanding the underlying paradigm shift inherent in today’s emerging technologies. Recruiting is no longer a static, controlled process within your company. Rather, it is a dynamic process of continuous online engagement with large pools of potential talent.

Continuous Engagement is Key

Social recruitment necessitates a shift in attitudes about the recruitment process itself. Finding job candidates is a part of your company’s online presence – the success of your social recruitment hinges upon the successful use of your social profiles as a whole.

  • Your recruitment process doesn’t start with a job opening and end with new employee placement. Job openings occur continuously over time, so candidate sourcing will always be a constant, long-term process.
  • Simply posting a link to your job opening won’t attract the best candidates. They need to be already visiting your company page on a regular basis for the industry-relevant content you post.
  • Instead of thinking about soliciting résumés on social media, focus on developing relationships with your social networks. Concentrate on presenting your company brand to a group of people who have the talent and skills you’re looking for, and engage those people on your social profiles.

Utilize Dynamic Content

Your online marketing strategies are dynamic; the content you post on your social accounts is interesting to your followers and elicits engagement.  When seeking job candidates, you want to employ the same tactics.

  • Your job postings should be just as welcoming as the rest of your page’s content. Job descriptions attract and engage qualified candidates when they are well-written and supported with extra content that describes your company’s culture and the intangible requirements and benefits of a position.
  • Boost your job posting’s drawing power by including video interviews with current employees and other supportive content. Post these on YouTube and imbed them into status updates for optimal views.

Every Platform is Different

While all of your online profiles should work to attract those looking for jobs from with your industry, the recruitment best practices vary with each social media platform, so good planning is important. Your strategy should be modified to work with each platform’s processes, demographics, and rules for use.

  • Twitter: Participate in industry-specific chats in order to find followers who could become invested with your brand and have knowledge within your niche. Compile a list of useful hashtags for your industry and use them to tag all of your job postings so that the right candidates can easily find them.
  • Facebook: Create a jobs tab within your company page and promote it amongst your other content. You can link your recruitment software directly to your jobs page to make applicant tracking easy and efficient.
  • Linkedin: Take part in groups and discussions relevant to your industry. Develop a community of qualified followers and post your job listings where the best candidates can find them.

Your strategy for social recruitment should revolve around consistent, active engagement with your networks and followers. Promote your company brand with dynamic content that will attract and engage followers within your industry. Finally, appropriately utilize the different social platforms in order to reach the greatest number of qualified individuals.

Megan Webb-Morgan is a web content writer for She writes about small business, focusing on topics such as Gen Y hiring. Follow Resource Nation on Facebook and Twitter, too!


I Can Finally Buy My Dad a Smart Phone

Just a couple years ago, my parents came back to the US after years of being overseas missionaries.  They have been in Siberia, on a random island in the Pacific, etc… and they came back to a world where cell phones were ubiquitous and information was accessible everywhere.  My father is now over 70 years old, and he loves gadgets and toys of the electronic variety.  However, simple things like programming a new DVD player can elude him – not because he could not do it 15 years ago (I guess that would have been a VCR), but because it really is a bit different.

A couple years ago I bought my parents cell phones and put them on my plan.  This way they would have something in the case of an emergency, and of course a way to call me for free without paying long distance.  I’ve held off of buying my dad a smart phone though since I wasn’t sure if the whole thing would be a bit daunting.  Sure enough he’d love it, but I didn’t think he’d use it to 20% of its capabilities.  However, the time has come that I think I can do it.  No – it’s not going to be the iPhone, and certainly not an Android (my OS of coice).  I think I’m going to get him a WP8 phone.  Yep – Microsoft has finally created something that I can give my dad and not even worry about having to teach him how to use it.  The thing is marvelous – it works the way it should, it’s totally intuitive, notifications happen in the live tile rather than in some random notification area, etc…  This is a phone that my dad will understand, and I don’t even have to give him mor than 30 minutes of training.

I’m reminded about heading to India a few weeks ago where I was coordinating some UAT for a new core HRMS I was helping to implement.  I’d stand in front of a group of managers, give them the 5 minute pitch about why we were changing and who the vendor was.  Then I’d give them the 3 minute orientation to the product.  “Here’s where your ESS is, MSS, reports, and search” basically, and then let them loose with their scenarios and see what happened.  Unbelievably (to me) the managers unanimously walked out having figured out the product on their own, and all had great experiences.  Of course there was a feedback comment here and there, but all in all, these untrained managers just did their thing and got it right.

All UX should be this easy.  Throughout the ERP era, we were so used to overloading the managers with complexity and data that we assumed they wanted.  At the end of the day, they really needed something they could understand immediately upon login (the 3 times a year that they actually logged in).  And really, they didn’t want data – they wanted insightful information about their workers.  The data just turned out to be overload.

I’m pretty pleased about this decision to get my father a smart phone.  Not only am I going to get him more connected, but I know he will be really engaged with the tool – the man is going to have fun with it.  He’ll have a phone, but now I can text him and know he’ll get it, he will also have easy email, an easy way to send photos to me from his phone, etc.  In other words, I’ll have given him a tool that will make him more productive because he can use it.  Less really is more.


Engaging Testers

Testing is one of those things that I would not only be bad at, but I would rather loath to do it.  The infinite detail of what the task entails along with the endless permutations that are possible makes testing seem like an impossible task to me.  I really just can’t focus for as long as it takes.  Thankfully, I’ve always had people who could actually execute the tests for me instead of actually being forced to do more than a few myself.

In a recent round of user testing, I was astounded by the differences in participation rates based on the total preparation before the testing sessions.  For one group of testers, blind initiations were sent out  having not contacted the testers beforehand in any way.  Obviously, the participation rate for these invitations was far less than 50% – I actually think it was closer to 25%.

For a second group of testers (in a different country), testers were initially contacted to briefly explain the request before invitations were sent to those who had time.  After the invitations were sent, follow-up calls were done to revalidate who was showing up and why we needed them.  The day before testing, we sent out emails with the materials they would need.  Obviously, the participation rate for these testers was far higher.  Given that we asked testers before sending calendar invites, you can imagine that we had a 100% acceptance rate.  (ok, there were 3 tentative).  What is surprising though is that we actually had a 100% show rate on over 30 testers, which I think is unheard of.

All I’m really saying here is that when most of us are doing testing for a new implementation, we go through a lot of effort to execute it and get feedback.  UAT is especially important because it’s your last opportunity to create engagement with a small population of end users, and get change management feedback to help target messaging.  There would seem to be a fairly minimal amount of effort to get great feedback versus doing slightly less work but getting pretty mediocre results.


The Pain Threshold

Lance Armstrong was a US National Champion and a World Champion long before he ever won seven (eight?) Tours de France.  The man was always known in cycling circles as the next big gun in US cycling.  In one race (San Diego I think), we were riding a horrifically fast pace, many of us in the pack heckling Lance often simply because he was a captive audience, when he just decided to ride away from us for a while to get a workout in.  Severely humbling.  He was known as a big, strong guy.  The guy who won that world championship was a guy who could sprint, a guy who had incredible short term bursts of power.  But he was never going to win the Tour de France.  That was, until, he got cancer.  Cancer did a couple things to him.  First, he lost a crapload (technical term) of weight and it transformed him into a leaner version of himself, but tapping into the same level of power that could now get him of 5 mountain passes in the Alps instead of just the last 500 meters of a race at 50mph.  Secondly, it taught him to experience pain in a way that he would never experience again.

I’ll be honest, these days when I’m on the bike, the barrier for me is not usually my legs or my lungs.  If I have a few rides under my belt, I’m really pretty good.  The problem is all mental.  I’m not in college anymore and I really don’t like pain.  There are times I’ll be doing an extended climb and one of my riding buddies will “attack” and while I often could follow, something in the back of my head says, “nah.”  I could follow the lead, but I know it will be painful.

Transforming HR is really, really hard work.  For much of the readership, it’s not just hard work for us, it’s even harder work for the employees we would deploy to the effort.  When our execs chose to switch out the payroll system, guess who gets to work long hours in December prior to a January 1 go-live?  We deal with a lot of pain to implement systems, both in effort as well as cash, and the ROI is not always financially obvious, but to get to the top of that hill, it’s something we have to commit to, and something our staffs need to commit to.

In understanding the work behind HR transformation, there are a few things to remember:

  • People actually don’t like change.  When you change their processes, they will resist doing something different than what they have done from years.  It’s not that they don’t want to support better processes, but a certain amount of fear arises when they are unsure how well they will perform in the new environment.
  • People resist making others change.  HR transformation is just that – we are changing ourselves.  But teams often protect people internally realizing that friends will lose jobs, or be forced to make unwanted shifts and compromises.
  • We get to do multiple jobs for a significant amount of time.  Not only are we going to have real jobs to do, but there will be project roles as well.  I don’t care if you bring an army from one of the large consulting firms, the internal team is going to be burdened with more work.
  • Outsourcing done right is hard.  Organizations don’t remember the depth of retained organizations that are needed, SLA’s need to be formulated to be specific and measurable, and internal staff are resistant to seeing their jobs performed differently than how they did them themselves.

Often when we deploy and new system that has the opportunity to be transformational, we focus too much on the external.  We train managers, communicate to employees, figure out who the main audiences are that we need to convert.  We assume that our own people are already bought in.  All I’m saying, is we can spend some time to look internally.  Give them some love and attention.  Encourage and motivate them.  Otherwise you’ve got a Justin at the top of the hill looking down, wondering where the hell I am and why I didn’t make it up there with you.  It was just too much pain.

Better Measures for Engagement

Is it Gallup that has the “Do you have a best friend at work” question?  We’re so into doing employee surveys to measure employee engagement.  They provide us with a statistically validated measurement of our workforce once or twice a year.  We can look at the engagement studies, and if we have any luck at all, capture some high level data about the organization and then correlate the data back to turnover and productivity in specific population groups.  My question is this: Isn’t waiting 6 or 12 months for engagement measurements rather a long time in today’s world of real time analytics?

How about this:  ((The idea for this post came from:  Ariely, Dan.  “CEO’s probably think of their employees as more like rats in a maze than as people.”  Wired Magazine, UK Edition.  April 11, 2011.  Page 44))

  1. Measure the time of day employees log into their PC in the morning.
  2. Measure the time of day employees log out of their PC in the afternoon.
  3. Measure the cost per day per trip (expenses) calibrated to some standard.
  4. Measure the number of sick days on Monday and Friday.

I mean, why would you wait 6 or 12 months?

  • If your employees are (on average) coming to work later or leaving earlier, they are less engaged.
  • If the aggregated cost of a trip to NYC costs more per day, employees are “fudging” their expenses, and they are less engaged.
  • If Monday and Friday sick time is increasing (faked sick time), they are less engaged.

I mean, come on, we want to have close to real time measures, right?  I’m not saying that employee engagement actually changes on a day to day basis, but charted weekly, you could get some really cool trending data and identify exactly when the engagement curve increases or decreases.  You could then correlate all of the events that happened in that timeframe and figure out what is actually causing increases or decreases in engagement.  You could also isolate specific groups and populations (sample size would have to be large enough).  Say a VP leaves and is replaced, and 6 months later employees are staying at work later.   Or, the cost of a meal in NYC seems to be getting higher for a specific project team – are they celebrating, or are they all depressed and eating more?

How cool would it be to then look at performance in correlation with a weekly trend in engagement?  This is assuming that we start managing and developing our employees on an ongoing basis rather than once a year, but the possibilities are out there.

Recruiting Engagement

So, I used to write this blog for me.  Honestly, I could have cared less that anyone was reading it.  It has been a great exercise for almost 6 years – forcing me to continuously thing and read and research.  I’ve enjoyed writing over 1000 posts and think of it as a fairly significant achievement.  But I’m quite honestly tired of it.  I no longer do it for me, and I don’t have the time or energy to invest in doing the twitter thing, or networking with other bloggers – all the things that seem to make for successful blogs these days.  It’s just not fun at the moment.

I was watching a recent HBR video ((Harvard Business Publishing Videocast, The Path to Peak Performance.  Dr. Edward Hallowell.)) that did talk about emotion as one of the critical drivers of success.  He pointedly asserted that “working harder” was in no way a meaningful path to achieving higher performance.  Instead, the right people in the right jobs who were emotionally invested would create success (note that he didn’t call it engagement, but that’s what it is).  He also noted that this involvement of emotion in the equation seemed to have a balance between work and play.  That is not to say that people “play” at work, but that emotionally, the work was fun.  I’ll admit that I often do have fun at work.  I enjoy my projects and I enjoy creating.  But I think that many of us have people in top positions in our organizations that are not truly having fun.

This is an interesting departure from prior discussion of engagement.  Where before we could always create engagement, in this scenario, “fun,” emotional investment seems to be created more from within than anything we in HR can do.  What HR can do is put people in the right jobs in the first place, and then our employees have a chance at this concept of fun and play.  That the significant part of the engagement equation actually lies in selection and job placement before any of our engagement surveys or tools is deployed is a bit troubling.  After all, we don’t measure our recruiters on engagement or fit to position.  We’d like to think they are thinking in those terms, but we are measuring our recruiters on fill rates and time.

I do genuinely love what I do.  I think I’m good at it, and I find the work quite interesting.  My clients generally like me with the occasional exception.  I think I may be one of the lucky ones.  In my last 2 jobs, I’m pretty sure there weren’t positions open for me.  I happened to finagle my way into chatting with the right person, and they’d find a way to get me into the organization.  Most people tend to interview for jobs, have to take the job that they are offered that matches what they need to get paid.  The hope is that their skills, compensation threshold, and interests all collide at the same time, but realistically that’s unlikely, isn’t it?  Our gatekeepers are our recruiters.  We need to do a better job of not only measuring fit from a skills and income perspective, but also from an emotional interest perspective.  Our employees who are going to succeed are going to do so not because we figured out how to engage them, but because we got the right person in the right job and gave them the best opportunity to inspire themselves.

Immediacy without Details

I’ll have to be honest – I’m having a really hard time with some of the new technology.  I’m supposed to be a technologist and be up on all the latest stuff.  But I find myself at odds with some of the theory and philosophy.  There seems to be an emerging sense of immediacy and generality emerging in communications that I don’t like, and this blog is one that seems to be in the middle of it.  You see, over the last few years (for multiple reasons including my own commitment to writing), systematicHR has suffered from a gradually declining readership, from a rather amazing peak of 20k unique hits per day to around 5k now, the audience has gone off to things like twitter for news.

I don’t blame twitter one bit.  I use twitter because it’s the fastest and most efficient way to cull through a hundred ideas to pick up what I might be interested in.  You decide you like and trust certain people and you read their tweets and go on to read the links they have decided to put out there.  I’m not one of the people who will go out and tweet though since the most successful people are literally putting out hundreds of tweets a day.  I don’t have the time or interest in transitioning systematicHR from the blogoshphere to twitter.

However, there is a deeply engrained philosophical problem here too.  While my readership drops, twitter really can’t function without blogs like mine.  Without me and many other bloggers, the guys on twitter just don’t have much to write about.  A one sentence blurb might be an interesting thought, but does not convey any depth that the reader is eventually looking for.  This idea of immediacy without details is good and bad.

We love managers who will actually look at their dashboards occasionally.  We want them to be able to pick up the overall direction of process and HR statistics.  We want them to be able to quickly diagnose and understand what they should be thinking about.  To be honest, the dashboard is spectacular, but we can’t forget that our managers are not HR experts.  In the deployed HR service delviery model, we also have HR business partners that are out in the field with our managers, theoretically coaching them and presenting the context that the data sits in.  Without this context, managers understand generalities of direction, but not the full meaning that the dashboard is presenting to them, and certainly the should not be expected to know how to act.

We always seem to deploy HR technologies with simplicity in mind, and this is absolutely the right approach.  Just like twitter, we want high engagement and high activity.  But we must also remember that as with twitter, there is also another side with context, detail and more depth.  HR technologies are not the source of all information, but more of a reference point.  We provide data, and sometimes we provide process, but we don’t provide explanations that come from our service delivery partners.  No matter what we do, we are not the full solution, and any technologies we deploy must be augmented if we expect our customers to have a complete understanding of HR.

Inspiration or Engagement?

I’ve been away for a little while.  No, I have not been on vacation, or away from the country.  I’ve just not been writing.  I don’t know if other bloggers have this problem, but I don’t bother writing if I’m not “inspired.”  To be honest, I’ve faced this a few times in my career, and I’m not saying it’s a good thing.  98% of the time, I am pretty inspired.  I love what I do, both for work and in my extracurricular activities like systematicHR. 

I understand employee engagement, but to me it sounds so clinical.  Yes, engaged employees work harder, they are dedicated, they spend more time, they collaborate better, they are happier.  But that just does not do it for me.  I know when I’m inspired I’m also engaged, and when I’m not inspired I’m not engaged.  It’s a 1-to-1 direct relationship.  Engagement just does not quite explain it for me.  Perhaps not all people are as emotionally tied to their work as I am.

Inspiration works for me at the basic levels, just the same way that engagement does.  My work and my management are the direct impacts to how “inspired” I am.  When I love work, I produce some incredible stuff (I can say that, right).  When I love work, I blog a lot because my brain is active trying to connect dots between all sorts of ideas.  When I love my supervisors, I’m motivated to produce, not just for the project, but for myself and for them as well.  This all translates to better productivity, better product, and generally a better environment that I create for myself.

I used to say the same thing when I would cook dinner.  When I’m inspired, I have interesting ideas on how to combine flavors, I make up dishes that I want to try, and I’m always ready to cook.  When I’m not inspired, cooking is a chore and more often than not, it’s going to be dried pasta and some sauce, or a salad.  To me, this is not just being engaged with the world around me.  Its an emotional connectedness and state of being that allows me to relate better to the environment I’m in.

However, to me it’s more than just being engaged.  I get emotionally attached to my work and people, and I can get incredibly disappointed in them.  One way or another, I seem to be “inspired” right now.  Looking forward to our conversations again.


Measuring the Temperature of your Workforce

For those of you who have read Dan Brown’s new book “The Lost Symbol” there is an interesting concept of measuring the temperature of a population. I’ll provide a quick couple of paragraphs, noting that it’s really not critical in any way to the plot of the story:

Trish laughed. “Yeah, sounds crazy, I know. What I mean is that it quantified the nation’s emotional state. It offered a kind of cosmic consciousness barometer, if you will. Trish explained how, using a data field on the nation’s communications, one could assess the nation’s mood based on the “occurrence density” of certain keywords and emotional indicators in the data field. Happier times had happier language, and stressful times vice versa. In the event, for example, of a terrorist attack, the government could use data fields to measure the shift in America’s psyche and better advise the president on the emotional impact of the event.

“Fascinating,” Katherine said, stroking her chin. “So essentially, you’re examining a population of individuals… as if it were a single organism.” ((Brown, Dan (2009). “The Lost Symbol.” New York, Doubleday.))

Admittedly, it is such an interesting idea that as we enter a world of enterprise social media, that we could install software that looked at the density of search terms or keywords, or even tags, and make some meaning out of them that translated into good or bad moods. We could even do this today with emails, but that might be a bit more problematic to have all of our client related emails searched and cataloged for terms. Since social media postings within the enterprise are theoretically all open to the entire population, this is probably much easier to digest.

Theoretically, it should really not be all that hard to do. I mean, all you’re doing is having a search engine run in the background for a specific set of terms, and counting the number of occurrences. This can yield an emotion indicator that given the size of your organization probably does have some statistical degree of accuracy. Especially if you have discussion boards that allow employees to ask about the organization and what’s going on, you’ll certainly have some good data based on the language people are using. I’m sure there are linguists out there that can help translate the overall mood based on language and word choice, even though conversations may not be intended to display any mood at all.

What intrigues me is the almost real time nature of this tracking. Rather than running the employee engagement survey once a year or quarter, you could have this assessment on a daily or weekly basis, again depending on the number of employees and the volume of traffic on your enterprise social media sites. While I have no idea if there is currently software out there that does this stuff, the possibilities seem to be quite simple and realistic. HA!! If anyone does it, let me know.

Users First, Company Second

I feel like I always talk about change management and adoption.  When implementing a new system, I can definitely say that over the last few years I’ve seen a marked improvement in the diligence of internal implementation project managers in stressing the importance of behavioral change and end user adoption.  It is honestly so easy once you get into implementations to forget about the strategic components of the implementation and simply sit around doing functional requirements and config.  Unfortunately this is the tactical behind the project, and often minimizes the strategic.  I was pleased to see the 2.0 Adoption Community and Jacob Morgan stress this as well.

To really see successful adoption companies need to focus on the benefits of the user first and the benefits of the company second.  You can’t approach a user and ask them to change behaviors because it benefits the company.  Companies need to approach the user and tell them how it will benefit them.  This is a bit of psychological approach but it’s important.  Employees put their needs first and company needs second so if you show them how Enterprise 2.0 can help them make their job easier then they are much more likely to listen.

You also need to focus on use cases  before deploying a platform and strategy.  So for example how is someone in the marketing department going to benefit  from Enterprise 2.0 vs someone from the product development team.  You need to develop use cases for the various departments and understand what the risks, challenges, and opportunities are for each department.  Finally, you need to understand how each department is going to measure success/failure.  I’ll go into this a bit more in a future post but the point here is that everyone is going to have different needs and you must understand what those needs are.  ((Morgan, Jacob, December 21, 2009.  “Strategic Principles for Enterprise 2.0 Implementation.”))

I like the simply phrased “user first and company second.”  While I understand that the user never gets the opportunity to change behaviors if the product does not get configured, that does not change that the primary stress is to ensure end user adoption and behavioral change.  In terms of behavioral change, Jacob Morgan is absolutely correct.  You’ve heard me talk about behavioral change and the “personal win” before.  Employee’s don’t really care about the benefit to the company.  Sometimes they don’t even care about the efficiency gains they get from a process and work perspective.  It’s about some intangible personal win that they derive – sometimes it’s the participation in the implementation that they gain advantage from, or the experience in the software that is much sought after.  Either way, you have to determine what will make an employee excited and figure out how to message so that you are deploying the right messages to the right audiences.

Great Individual Contributors <> Great Leaders

I hate taking things from the sports world because other than the occasional job, riding my bike more than I should and watching the Boston Celtics in the post-season, I really don’t follow sports. Fact is, I usually don’t even realize it’s Superbowl Sunday until the game is half over. But being a pseudo Celtics fan, it’s even worse that I’m about to attribute something to Pat Riley.

I’m not entirely sure, so I won’t footnote this one, but I think it was in his book that he compares the great basketball players and correlates it to coaching ability. The basic idea is that great basketball players don’t always make for the best coaches. The basic idea behind this is that the guys who were not naturals at the game had to go through the process of learning and growing into their sport to become good or great. The guys who are already great don’t understand the growing process and don’t understand why players just “don’t get it.” Take Phil Jackson (of the hated LA Lakers – loved him with the Bulls though) for example. He understood the process he had to take players through because he went through it himself.

Lexy presents us with a similar concept in an entirely different genre:

Last year I took a class from a world renowned quilter for a week. It’s my gift to myself each year to spend a week learning something new at the Empty Spool seminars. By the way, if you’ve never gone, it’s a wonderful way for quilters to learn! This year though, the teacher, wasn’t my kind of teacher. For me, not very affirming. I digress here a bit, but I’ve noticed that sometimes great artists are really not great teachers — some are great at promoting themselves and their work rather than encouraging and teaching students. I think I’ve had a few bosses like that as well. ((Martin, Alexia, December 22, 2009. “Giving yourself permission not to finish frees up energy – another quilting/work intersection.” Retrived from on December 25, 2009.))

As Lexy did, I’m going to relate this to work somehow. We’ve all had or been exposed to bosses and management that were not worth their weight in pennies. ((a penny weighs about 2.5 grams, and a 150 lb person would be worth about $272, or 27,215 pennies.)) Organizations are all too often willing to promote great individual contributors without seeing if they are management or leadership worthy. I have had a couple such experiences in my life where leadership capabilities were just about at a level zero, but these people had “drive” and ambition. Unfortunately, what went along with that were turnover rates off the charts.

In the first, all the drive and ambition was about all there was. This guy could sell, but was arrogant and a micro-manager down to 2-3 levels of staff below him. He drove the entire region crazy, but he delivered results (not difficult in 2003 by the way – anybody and everybody could sell anything coming off of the budget crunch in 2001). The second was a bit different. Genuinely one of the smarter guys I have met in my life, but also full of ambition, he had all sorts of people who simply could not work with him, and either transferred out, literally quit their jobs, or became incredibly disengaged.

I think it’s one of the major mistakes of succession planning that we look at performance and the operational or sales capabilities of leaders before looking at leadership. Driving operational performance is not the same as driving organizational performance, and success is a function of both. It’s another reason that HR needs to be involved in leadership development and planning. Without us, corporate execs promote based on the wrong information.

David Zinger 3 Words Follow-up

3 Words Follow-up to yesterday’s post written by David Zinger.

I am so pleased you took so much away from 3 little words. It makes me feel stronger than the 3 little pigs and I know some wolf can blow my 3 word structure down.

The words are all important to me and my work. I thought about the words quite a bit and waited until I found 3 that “fit.” When I looked at those three, they expressed me.

Authentic: I can only be who I am. I am getting to be more of who I am. I work at ensuring that I voice my authentic perspective as opposed to what I think someone might want to hear to what I “should” say. Don’t get me wrong, I won’t become Tom Peter and sound like I am shouting at you but I will be my caring, gentle, self. Of course, this is fused with gentle tenacity and I don’t confront, I “carefront.” I also never knew my voice in 2009 would start to express workplace poetry but I write a poem every week on Wednesday’s to express my view of work.

Connections: I believe engagement is connections not only to people but results, strategies, etc. This played a big role in developing the Zinger Model of Engagement that looks at the 14 elements that are all connected. I have also reached out around the globe to connect to people on engagement. We now have over 1800 members at the Employee Engagement Network. I have personally connected to everyone of them with a personalized welcome.

Engage. To me, it is all about engaging. My youngest son plays rugby and he is in the scrum and I love hearing “crouch, touch, pause, engage.” I especially like the engage part. I am 55 now and I think a lot of my life to date has been more about crouching, touching, and pausing. I am ready, willing, and able to engage. I think employee engagement is not an extra in working but the way we will work and lead and manage in this new decade. I often finish my writing with the line, “engage along with me, the best is yet to be.”

Just looked at the three words again and they spell ACE. I like that.

You got the 3 words in my mind for 2010.
They will be:

  1. Engage
  2. Mobilize
  3. Produce

I want to foster and enhance my engagement and the engagement of others. This will be focus #1. Mobilize is my focus to start to transform the network into a community and into a movement. I have so many wonderful connections (theme last year) I want to help mobilize these connections. Produce is to engage and mobilize myself and others to produce richer and more helpful resources. We have done e-books and I would like to add print books, webinars, and a conference. I am indebted to you for bringing the 3 words into focus for 2010. Thanks.


Salary and Benefits are NOT Engagement Tools

So you’re thinking about getting married.  You go out and buy a ring with a diamond in it, you figure out a romantic place to ask, and then you get down on one knee and pop the question.  Somehow, she says “yes.”  They key is that there are probably a large number of reasons she is willing to get married to you, but one of them is not the fact that you presented her with a ring.  The ring is one of those compulsory things that you just kind of have to have, but it was not the deal clincher.

Similarly, salary and benefits are not engagement tools.  The reason for this is that they are not differentiators.  Everyone offers competitive salaries, and anywhere you go, the salaries will be within 10% of each other for similar geographies, similar skills and similar work.  The same goes for benefits.  The 401(k) and the health benefits can be better or worse, but probably are not factors for employees sticking around.  Every employer is going to offer some form of benefits, and while the cost of benefits can vary greatly here, the value of these benefits is relatively lower now that most families have 2 income earners and so long as one of the partners has good benefits, the other can go wherever they want.

I write this as I read FoT’s post on the “anchors” that cause people to stay at your organization.  It focuses primarily on salary and benefits.  While I don’t argue that these are contributors, I think we have all know for years that salary and benefits are really just a commodity in the engagement equation.  So long as they are competitive with the rest of the employer market, salary and benefits don’t differentiate your organization at all.

From a talent management perspective, I now ask a similar question – “What would happen if the government eliminated the anchors that ‘most’ employees perceive as the reason they work for a firm?”

Those anchors in my mind are – health insurance, retirement, income and stability.  After those basic needs come the more esoteric, but important, elements of feeling recognized, feeling in control, feeling connected, etc.  I say importance – but the right word might be “fear” – employees do some things for survival and fear before they worry about engagement.  ((Herbert, Paul, December 22, 2009.  “Answering Why Should People Want to Work at Your Company. Anchors Aweigh!”  Retrieved from on December 24, 2009.))

Employee’s decide what company to join based on opportunity, salary, and benefits.  However, they stay for how much they love their jobs, if they are doing good work, if they like their peers, and appreciate their direct managers.  Salary and benefits has not been part of the employee engagement equation for ages.  IMHO.

The Marketing of Snowflakes

If you ever look at a snowflake dangling from the window at your local Macy’s or Bloomingdales, realize that this snowflake is only a piece of marketing, there to draw your eye, but not an accurate representation of reality.  You see, most marketing snowflakes have either five or eight sides to them.  Nobody seems to know how or why this happened, but I suppose some marketer out there thinks that it is more aesthetically pleasing to have a five or eight sided snowflake.

The reality of the snowflake is that they almost always have six sides.  Sometimes they may have three or twelve, but those are relatively less common to the six sided variety.  The reason for the multiples of three is simple, snow is made up of water, or H2O molecules, and chemically have so many bonds to offer to other H2O molecules.  The end result is that water molecules can create snowflake structures with three, six or twelve sides.

The beauty of the snowflake is a wonderful thing.  Certainly it does draw our eye and our attention.  Certainly the thought of beautiful fresh white snow brings to mind a white Christmas, skiing through fresh power, kids and snow angels, or whatever else you have in mind.  But at the core, it is still just a marketing figment of our imagination, inaccurately portrayed.

Manager and executive dashboards are quite the same.  Often, we have planned and conceived for months or years about how to best capture the attention of our executives and bring them thoughtful HR data.  We’ve given them tools and pretty graphs, and indeed, these dashboards carry the flare and flash that can draw anyone’s attention with a state of coolness and color.  But at the end of the day, the dashboard is just the dashboard.  VP’s of HR and other executives often don’t really look at the dashboards we’ve worked so hard on.  They might glance at a particularly high turnover rate, but rather than digging through the detail themselves, they might instead pick up the phone and call they nearest HR director with an inquiry about what’s going on.  At the end of the day, they still rely on the same old mechanisms for information.  They want us to create reports, and have meetings.

The cause of all of this is particularly simple.  Executives have no use for data.  The best representation of an HR analytic, whether it be a trended graph, or some sort of drill-through crafty piece of eye candy, is still just data.  What executives want is information, and our dashboards still don’t interpret data for them.  That’s why they still need the rest of us, our reports, and the face time in meetings.

I don’t think I’m being critical of dashboards – in fact I rather love them.  But we have to understand the gap if they are to get better.  Dashboards can give execs a glance at the health of their organization, but they don’t provide understanding and diagnosis.  We need to be able to provide information, not data.