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Archive for July, 2008

Lloyd is right, it’s time to decide to be in a good mood

Posted by Meg Bear on July 25, 2008

Its been a great week for me.  One of those weeks where problems aren’t so big and smiles come easily.  I’m not saying its been an easy week.  In fact, far from it. 

I was out last week for some training and I’m completely behind on everything, my husband got sick, I had extra things to do at home, and I’m “in the thick of it” with my project cycle.    All stressful elements to my week and yet I have been happy.  In my happiness I somehow feel able to cope and in control of the chaos that is my week.

It made me realize just how much my mood impacts my results.  So I’ve decided that Lloyd was onto something when he asked the sage question:

Lloyd Dobler: Why can’t you be in a good mood? How hard is it to decide to be in a good mood and be in a good mood once in a while?”

Constance: Gee, it’s easy.

No, it is not easy.  In fact it takes effort, but when taken on balance with everything else that becomes easier I begin to realize that it’s the most important effort to expend. 

Here’s to finding our happy place, I hope you can join me, it sure feels good.

Posted in Uncategorized | 3 Comments »

We’re So Glad You Could Attend HR Carnival #39

Posted by Mark Bennett on July 25, 2008

Come inside, come inside and see the amazing feats in HR Carnival #39, posted on Kris Dunn’s The HR Capitalist!

Kris has assembled an astounding assortment of HR topics, ranging from measurements to manifestos, from coaching to collaboration, from mavericks to metrics, from respect to rewards, the subjects are stupendous!

Come see the show!

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a Comment »

Kathi’s 8 Things

Posted by Kathi Chenoweth on July 22, 2008

It’s taken me awhile to come up with my list. My colleagues are just so much more interesting than I am!

1. I was born in Northwest Indiana; I grew up in Northwest Indiana; I currently live in Northwest Indiana. See – I’m not kidding about being boring. I did branch out and live in Chicago for four years – which is about 40 miles away, quite an adventure which required crossing a state line! Also spent a couple of years sampling apartments in various suburbs of Chicago. So I have used every mode of public transportation in what we call “Chicagoland” in order to get to my jobs in downtown Chicago. That was back in the days when I actually had to commute to work. Now I walk three steps from my bedroom to my office.

My mom lives less than 2 miles from me. My sister lives about 3 miles from me. And my brother lives about 4 miles away. It’s nice having family nearby.

2. Growing up I had four imaginary friends. First there is the trio of Candy, Uh-um and Apadasadum, they always hung out together. I am not sure how to spell their names since I didn’t know how to read/write/spell when I met them. The fourth was Danger. He took the heat for anything bad that happened. “Danger did it”.

3. I have an unusual musical background. My mom always wanted me to take piano lessons, which I resisted because I thought it was too nerdy. I seriously don’t know why I thought that would put me over the edge into nerdiness, because the straight A’s and goody-two-shoes behavior already pretty much sealed it. So instead I played the viola (sure, being in orchestra isn’t nerdy!). Viola is unusual because it uses alto clef, which doesn’t help you read music for any other instrument. So you can figure the rhythm but nothing else if you try to read,say, music for a piano.

My other musical skill is handbells. I loved playing in handbell choir at church (no that’s not nerdy either…). I even performed as part of the Purdue University Musical Organizations Handbell choir, and got pretty good at the four-in-hand technique. This was a blast despite the hideous tuxedo-looking, long black skirt /cumberbund/bow-tie uniforms we had to wear.

Oh, and when I was in high school I finally thought it would be cool (sigh, I have no idea what cool is) to learn piano so I took lessons for two years. So I know how to play some very easy songs very poorly. On the bright side, I have the piano that my parents bought for this purpose and one day I’m going to learn how to play it properly (if only the music came in alto clef, I’d be set)!

4. I am skilled in Mirror Writing. I do not know why I can do this.

5. In college, my friends and I came in 2nd place in a lip synch contest.

6. I lived/worked in Munich for a spell back in the mid 90’s. My apartment was a block away from the Oktoberfest fairgrounds. I loved, loved, loved Oktoberfest and spent many nights there over the course of two seasons. It combined a few of my interests such as Beer and Singing Loudly While Standing on a Table. My all time favorite Oktoberfest songs was John Denver’s “Take Me Home Country Roads”. One day my friends pooled their money and paid for me to get up on stage and conduct the Oompa band, to, what else…Take Me Home Country Roads.

Also while working in Munich, I was part of the infamous Bleifrei Incident but I am sworn to secrecy on that one.

7. I am a fan of the show The Bachelor (and The Bachelorette). These shows are just so stupid but I really like them. I used to watch the even worse variations such as Joe Millionaire and Average Joe but after a couple of seasons where the bachelor(ette) picked the “wrong” person, I vowed never to watch them again.

8. My stepsons have a Wii. When they first got it, they showed me how to create my own Mii. Seemed fun — so I brought up the default female Mii to start. Hmmm, that looks like me already. That can’t be. So I tried changing some things – nope now it looks less like me. So, yes, I am the default Mii. I did change her to a purple outfit just to jazz things up. See, I told you I was boring!

Posted in Uncategorized | 5 Comments »

Profiles: The Foundation

Posted by Mark Bennett on July 18, 2008

Continuing Meg’s discussion about realizing the strategic value of integrated talent suites, let’s start with the foundation of Profiles.

The notion of building talent management suites on a foundation of competencies has been around for some time now. Competencies were seen as a natural mechanism for connecting the various talent applications together with a common “currency.”  An employee could be rated on competencies in the performance management application, they could locate courses in the learning management application that would help develop competencies, etc. One problem has been that it’s been very difficult for companies to develop competency models that truly impact their strategic success. As Meg described, the result has been more tactical, talent process automation in nature.

Lately, talent management suites are being built on top of a Profile foundation. The concept of Profiles is rooted in the idea behind competencies, but expands beyond competencies to encompass other characteristics (or attributes) as well. These characteristics can include things like certifications, experience, interests, travel preferences, potential, and so forth. Some look at this as a “fall-back” solution to having trouble in developing a competency model, but another way to look at it is as a way to model more things your talent should possess that matter in your company than just through competencies. If it helps to get things started by simply dealing with education, licenses, and so forth, at least it’s a start. More importantly, folks have also pointed out that attributes can more readily describe, and in a more granular way, what it is that makes a person effective in their role, beyond what competencies alone can do.

With Profiles, a company has a way to know, across the organization, who knows what, who has what skills, certifications, who has what experience or practice, etc. What’s also important and starts to make things more strategic is when a company models what characteristics are required in jobs and organizations and how effective someone can be in that role that has those attributes. We can think of this as introducing a kind of “exchange rate” that helps you understand the meaning and value of the attribute “currency.” Competency Gap Analysis has been around for a while, but Profiles takes things to another level. Having a richer set of variables to compare when searching for someone against a role, or when an individual is looking for ways to develop themselves, is very helpful.

With profiles giving you a way to track what your company’s talent has and describe what your company needs, you have the foundation from which to impact your strategic success. Now you can use analytics to find which attributes really do result in higher performance in a role. Some of these might still be competencies, but you also might discover other attributes that either more directly predict better performance or that demonstrate a positive effect on competencies that in turn result in better performance. When you couple that analysis with an analysis of what roles are “pivotal” in your organization, you are really beginning to get a handle on how your talent can improve your strategic success. Now you are starting to see what your strategy needs in order to be effectively executed. In addition, you can also uncover untapped opportunities to leverage your talent to gain even further competitive advantage. Finally, you can even go deeper and find where the “sweet spots” are in terms of how an attribute impacts performance (and how performance impacts business results). For example, at what number of hours of training, number of projects in an area involved in, level of proficiency in a given competency, etc. do benefits start to level off?

To sum up, Profiles give you a better ability to understand how (and where, and how much) improvement in attributes results in better performance and how much improved performance impacts strategic success.

So how does the integrated talent suite fit in? Now, instead of just measuring activities (e.g. number of applicants processed, number of reviews completed, etc.), we can better understand the effectiveness of our HR processes in terms of achieving our strategic goals. We can link the results of the acquisition, development, and performance processes with the results of the business. Furthermore, we can better relate those HR processes to better decision making by line managers. For example, management in partnership with HR can better understand whether to invest more or less in acquisition vs. internal development (as well as for what attributes). Together, they can better understand what works and what doesn’t in making the acquisition pipeline effective. Opening the lens a little wider, HR and management can better decide how those investments in processes should change in reaction to external forces like economic, regulatory and competitive change.

Posted in analytics, competency, profiles, Uncategorized | 7 Comments »

Oddities, Hyperbole, & Eccentricity: 8 Things You Probably Didn’t Need to Know About Ken

Posted by Ken Klaus on July 18, 2008

The elder bloggers on TalentedApps, Meg, Mark & Amy (and by elder of course I mean wiser, more experienced and sophisticated!) suggested we younglings might like to participate in the “8 Things About” series begun back when the leaders of our great clan launched TalentedApps. Louise, the best looking and cleverest of the newbies was the first to complete this assignment, so I’ll try not to disappoint.

  1. I’m an army brat. I was born at the army hospital in Heidelberg, Germany and, like Meg, I moved around quite a bit when I was a boy (Meg and I share the bit about moving, rather than the boy bit – she’s a girl, full of sugar and spice and everything nice) – though she beats me hands down on the number of schools she attended!
  2. I have a fraternal twin brother; but please don’t mention this to my mother who swears we’re identical. He of the olive complexion, straight black hair, and athletic build and me, the pudgy, pasty, bookworm. I wonder if he’s still angry with me for calling him “gypsy boy” when we were growing up?
  3. I really, really dislike cold weather. After finishing graduate school in Boston I moved to California and vowed to never again live in a city where the local weather person used words like snow, sleet, freezing rain, or frostbite. Never. Ever. Again.
  4. I’m mostly a vegetarian. It started back in 1992, when I went home to Germany to visit my family. (Did I mention my father met my mother while he was stationed in Germany and that my mother has nine brothers and sisters and I have a gazillion cousins?). Anyway, after spending five weeks eating (and loving) bratwurst, knackwurst, liverwurst, Braunschweiger, and sauerkraut, I decided to make a few changes. Fifteen years later and I’ve given up most meat products, though I’m still eating fish, mostly because of item #3 – moving to California, where I was introduced to Sushi – which is like crack, only good for you!
  5. I was an extra in the movie Great Balls of Fire. We spent all day shooting a scene that took up less than five minutes in the actual movie; but dressing up in penny loafers, Levi’s with the cuffs rolled-up, an argyle sweater vest and then watching Dennis Quaid light that piano on fire was totally worth it!
  6. I bought my VW Jetta in 2003 and it still has less than 12,000 miles. I’m fortunate to live about four miles from work; but the truth is I hate driving. It could be that all the years I lived and drove in Los Angeles and here in the Bay Area have tainted my feelings on this subject; but I start to feel really agitated whenever I hear certain phrases, like: the 405, the 101, the 238 interchange, the San Mateo Bridge, police action or Friday lite.
  7. I spend way too much time and money on video games, which has absolutely nothing to do with the fact that I’m single. Absolutely none! My favorite games include Myst, Half Life, Oblivion and S.T.A.L.K.E.R. BTW: Linking these sites to my blog is really about attribution, as any good writer would do, and not about driving up our hit rate!
  8. My current favorite guilty pleasures include Punk Rock HR and Coffee Heath Bar Crunch. Nothing blows the gray clouds away faster than a great blog and your favorite pint of ice cream! Thanks Laurie, Ben and Jerry!

Well now you’ve gone and wasted at least ten minutes of your day, when you could have been doing something truly engaging and productive. So don’t be like me; learn from your mistakes and make a commitment not to spend any more of your valuable work time reading blogs! =) Happy Friday!


Posted in personal | Tagged: | 7 Comments »

Integrated Talent Management, good strategy or fad?

Posted by Meg Bear on July 16, 2008

As you can imagine being a Talent vendor gives us an opportunity to talk to a lot of different customers, partners, analysts, etc.  This is probably one of the reasons I love what I do.  I really can think of nothing better then geeking out with a customer about innovative things they are doing to bring real value to their companies.  I realize that there might be some therapy for this condition, but for now I’m content knowing that I am a real geek and just happen to be fortunate enough to get paid for it.

I’ve been reading Jim’s retrospective on the talent coverage he has done since 2002 and finding interest in his view of the suite and how it has evolved in the past 5-ish years.  Was also talking with Bill Kutik about his HR Technology conference and how the shoot-out this year is about talent suites. To be honest, all of this talk about “best of suite” and “integrated talent management”  has not been sitting well with me lately.  I’ve been struggling to figure out what my beef is, since I do believe in the value that can be realized with a suite.  So why do I feel so negative about all the talk of integrated suites?

I expect that this topic will take me a few posts to figure out, but I decided that getting additional opinions might provide some help, so I decided to blog about it in half-baked form and see what discussion happens.

So what’s the deal?  Isn’t it true that companies can get more value from an integrated talent solution then they can from a silo’d solution (for example in Recruiting or Compensation or Performance Management).  Of course they can.  

But is the real discussion the integration or the vision?  That’s my issue.  I want to talk vision and we all seem to jump into solution. Solution is great, but please tell me that you are clear on what problems you want to solve.  All to often, I find people are wanting a talent management solution because they think that it’s the thing to do.  When I attempt to get more information, I find that they are struggling on some very tactical issues and a vision or a strategy is not even on their radar.  

Let me be clear, I am a big believer in solving tactical issues but I am a bigger believer in having a strategy so that as you solve tactical issues you can avoid having to re-solve them to achieve your strategy.

Here are some things that I would like to see more HR leaders talking about

  1. How do I provide value to the business to achieve their objectives?  Do I have the data and systems I need to do that?
  2. How do I provide a framework for our business to grow and adapt to changes in market conditions? demographics? regulatory requirements? etc?
  3. How do I grow the skills and capabilities of my own HR department to better provide for our business?
  4. How do I build a business case to show the business the value in the programs that I want to offer?
  5. How do I provide value to the C-suite with the products and services we provide?
Instead, I am seeing people mired in definitions of competency libraries or complaining about how hard it is to get reliable analytics.  Sure, an integrated talent solution will help you, but will it help you enough?  I’d argue that technology can only help you if you have a plan to use it effectively.

So, am I just channeling Sisyphus here on a pointless mission, or should I keep hoping for the day that we can have an adult conversation here? 

Please sound off in comments, what do you think we should be talking about instead of (or in addition to) a suite?  Or should I just get happy about all the suite discussions, figuring that the value can come later and at least people are headed in the right direction?  Thoughts?

Posted in hr transformation, Uncategorized | Tagged: , , | 6 Comments »

HR Carnival 38

Posted by Ken Klaus on July 9, 2008

Be sure to check out the latest HR Carnival hosted on Changeboard. The focus of this edition is Corporate Social Responsibility and Social Justice. Topics include:

  • What defines a great leader?
  • How do I expect to lead change?
  • Gang culture, poverty, discrimination: let’s tackle it together.
  • What is CSR?
  • Power of Web 2.0.
  • Why should you care about CSR / social justice?
  • CSR business case.
  • Measuring productivity.   (Louise gets mentioned in this section!  Way to go LB!)
  • Engage your employees through teambuilding.

Posted in carnival, engagement, hr, leadership, web2.0 | Tagged: | Leave a Comment »

The right people on the bus

Posted by Meg Bear on July 9, 2008

I’ve gushed before about how lucky I am and what a great team we have.  As someone who puts a lot of herself into her work, a great team is a big part of my own personal engagement

In the past few weeks I’ve been thinking about great teams I have worked with in the past.  Specifically those people who I would rehire if ever an opportunity were to arise.

In most cases my interest in rehiring someone is not as much about the current job opening, it is usually more about them being the right people to have on the bus.  So, what makes someone right for my particular bus? 

Been thinking about that too and here is what I’ve decided

  • People who solve problems — you give them a problem and they find a way to solve it.  Sure they ask for help, clarification, etc. but they will wrestle the problem to the ground.  You are never exactly sure why they are able to solve the problems they do, but there are some people who get stuck easily and there are others who find a way through.  It’s those who consistently get out the other side that I want back on my bus.

  • People who Lack ego— ok, this is not really true.   It’s not the lack of ego, it’s the ability to have an ego that does not require others to be lessened.  Inclusive egos.  People who see their accomplishments and achievements as better for the sharing, get those people on my bus.

  • Smart – yes, I admit it.  I have a strong bias toward people who are smarter then me.  Those who I have worked with in the past who have helped me learn, I want them around, preferably close to hand because I tend to have a lot of questions.

  • People who follow through – I am very much a “fire and forget” kind of girl.  People who are comfortable completing action items without reminders are absolutely people I want in my life.  I am a very competent nag, but boy is life better when you don’t have to exercise that skill.  If getting work from you is a lot of work for me, odds are I’m lukewarm about having you back on the bus.

  • Fun/Funny – I just can’t be serious for too long.  People who appreciate my own “special” sense of humor, who can tolerate my love of profanity.  People who do not take themselves too seriously.  Get them on my bus, you never know when you might need a party-bus.

Anyway, this is the list for my bus.  What about you?  What traits have the best people you worked with had?  What about them makes you wake up at night saying “I could totally solve that problem at work if only I had XXX back on my team“?

Posted in Uncategorized | 7 Comments »

8 Things about Louise

Posted by Louise Barnfield on July 2, 2008

Nobody warned me the penalty for making my debut as a TalentedApps member would be the immediate bombardment from other members to publish an 8-things-about-me-that-you-never-needed-to-know-and-don’t-need-to-remember post. I’m sure it’s just a case of “if I suffered, you must too”, and I blame Jake for submitting me indirectly to this peer-pressure-chain! However, having passed an entertaining few minutes learning 8 Things you hate about Meg (I still don’t hate her, so what does that say about that title?) and another 8 Things About Amy, I guess it’s my duty to oblige their curiosity, if nobody else’s:

1. I’m a Brit who relocated to California in 1997. I was initially loaned from Oracle UK to Oracle HQ for a three month project, and never returned!

2. I don’t miss the weather, and I can live without most British consumables (as long as friends occasionally visit with a suitcase full of Marmite!), but I still miss my favorite sport of Real Tennis (or Court Tennis as it’s known in US). The game was adapted from a French game, Jeu de Paume, and brought to England by Henry VIII who built a court that’s still in use today at Hampton Court Palace. The game has a small but fanatical following in US, UK, France and Australia (and Netherlands even though there’s no court in that country!). I used to participate in various national and world championships, which has blessed me with many special friendships around the world. Sadly, courts in US are limited to the Atlantic seaboard. Maybe that’s because the game was introduced by the pilgrims, in Boston and other settlements, and they were presumably too busy drinking tea and whisky to think of traveling further afield.

3. My first job out of college was working for the British Broadcasting Corporation in London, where I helped produce radio programs on tape, which were then shipped to subscribing countries to play on their local stations. I was rarely seen without a stopwatch dangling round my neck.

4. In my early 20’s, I lived in French-speaking West Africa for two years (first Senegal, then Mali). In Senegal, I probably stank of garlic 99% of the time, mainly courtesy of a Senegalese friend who ran a restaurant famed for its unparalleled bouillabaisse. Thanks to working with a local government rice agency in Mali, I know (correction, I knew) how to build a 10-ton hydraulic trailer (shipped in kit-form from a UK manufacturer)…I guess it’s much like building IKEA furniture, apart from the hydraulic complications.

5. After completing my B.Sc. in Computer Studies, my first go-live project as an Analyst/Programmer was a security application (car permits, theft reporting, etc.) for a British university. The University’s IT department was a beta adopter of Oracle DB and Tools on Prime Computers (RIP!) and the first British university to make the leap to a relational database. We developed Oracle Forms applications on character-mode terminals, using COBOL coding sheets to mock up our UI designs, as well as programming in a mix of SQL and COBOL. OK, so that really dates me!!!

6. My father rivals Amy’s father as a Golf Dad! Mine taught me to play when I was five, with a cut-down wooden-shafted 3 iron. He bribed me with sixpences (yup, that truly dates me too!) for every shot over a certain yardage. Each time he felt his hard-earned money running out too fast, he upped the distance by 10 yards.

7. My folks taught me to swim for money too! …I guess I was a mercenary little squirt!

8. …and, to further punish you for reading this far, here’s a truly soppy one to end on – I’ve been married for almost 18 months to the man who (eventually) turned out to be the love-of-my-life, though we first met 27 years ago. A happy story, but you’d have to ply me with alcohol for the details!

Next victims on the tag line: Ravi, Kathi, Ken, and Justin.

Posted in personal | 2 Comments »

One for all, and all for one

Posted by Ken Klaus on July 1, 2008

I’m sure many of you will recognize the blog title as the rallying call in Alexandre Dumas’ story, The Three Musketeers.  One of the most memorable scenes for me occurs at the end of the story, at least in the movie version, when d’Artagnan is finally confronted by a man (and his posse) who has been pursuing him throughout the movie.  When the newly commissioned musketeer steps forward to face his enemy, the other musketeers Normal 0 false false false MicrosoftInternetExplorer4 also advance and remind d’Artagnan, “we don’t just protect the king; we protect each other as well.”  At which point the four musketeers are joined by the entire regiment and d’Artagnan’s enemy drops his sword and runs for his life.

I’m fortunate to work on a team which has embraced the “one for all, and all for one” mind-set.  We have a shared set of values that define and guide our team: respect, honesty, collaboration, accountability, integrity, and sincerity.  We’ve learned the best way to ensure success is to cooperate with rather than to compete against one another.  We celebrate the accomplishments of individual team members and we support one another professionally as well as personally.  Most of the challenges we face as a team are project related – short deadlines, unexpected fire drills, software and hardware meltdowns, etc.  We rarely have people related problems, mainly because our management team takes quick and decisive action to address these issues, either by educating the worker on our shared values or, on rare occasions, managing them out of the organization.  Sadly, I know not all teams are as fortunate and interpersonal conflict can be a serious problem, especially when the team must deal with a bully.

Bullies are easy to spot.  They’re egocentric; they value their own ideas above the ideas of others; they take no pleasure in seeing others succeed; and they never say they’re sorry – even on those rare occasions when they admit to being wrong.  Dealing with a bully can be tough.  When confronted most bullies immediately assume the role of the victim.  They become defensive and often resort to empty threats, like quitting, or calling in a higher authority.  It takes courage to confront a bully and a manager must be prepared for the worst, because many bullies can’t be rehabilitated and must be managed out.

It’s difficult to understand why any manager would tolerate a bully for very long; but I think there may be a couple of reasons.  First, an inexperienced manager may not recognize or know how to address bully behavior when they see it.  Another possible explanation is that the manager wishes to avoid conflict at any cost and will often ask the employee who is being bullied to simply ignore the problem. They may even go as far as to ask the worker to censor themselves so as not to further aggravate the situation; but a manager who is unwilling to confront a bully only validates the bad behavior and undermines their role as team leader.

If you find yourself confronted by a bully, the best advice I can give you is to not play by their rules and to not go it alone. Bullies thrive on confrontation and expect a negative response. They want to see you get angry and frustrated. So do your best not to show them how you’re feeling. In the mean time, do talk with your manager and if necessary your HR rep. Also share your story with other team members in your organization, because the best defense against a bully is to maintain strong, supportive relationships: one for all, and all for one.

Posted in leadership, management, teams | Tagged: , , | 4 Comments »