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Feb 21, 2012 – Are you ready?

Posted by Anders Northeved on January 26, 2011

According to phonecount.com on Feb 21, 2012 (give or take a couple of days I guess…) the number of connected phones will surpass the number of people living on Earth. For everyone that doesn’t have a phone, someone will have two.
Just think about what people would have said if you predicted this 10 or 20 years ago!
I’m sure this already has a profound impact on most people’s life in many ways, but let me just focus on the possibilities for corporate HR programs.

Self Service
Lots of organizations have ripped the benefits of Self Service in their HCM program.
The administrative work has gone down; the HR data are more accurate; it’s easier for the users to get access to information; the user acceptance has gone up and the cost has come down – all well and good if the employees have access to a computer…
But with more and more people having a mobile, we will see the benefits of Self Service come to a lot of areas where people do not have access to computers like retail, production and transport.

With the widespread availability of phones the management has got a new direct communication line to all of their employees.
Want your employees to know about a new product; a new initiative; reward someone; tell everyone how it’s going… a message on the mobile is the answer. 

It’s now possible to get feedback from your entire workforce whether they have access to a computer or not.

Using mobiles for education for people who would otherwise not have access to education has enormous potential.
I would even go so far as to say that the right use of mobiles for education for organizations with employees without access to a computer could be THE competitive advantage that would define whether an organization would be successful or not!

Even if I find these possibilities very exciting, I’m sure there are other areas that could be added to this list.
I would love to see your comments on what other topics within HCM that could be helped or advanced using mobile devices!

 (Photo by Brandon Hall)

Posted in communication, global, hr, HR Technology, learning, predictions | Tagged: , , | Leave a Comment »

Both the HR and Leadership Development Carnivals are up!

Posted by Mark Bennett on August 11, 2010

Both the new Carnival of HR at Humor That Works and Leadership Development Carnival at Fail Spectacularly! are up. They both have a terrific amount of excellent content and it’s worth it to spend some time in each to enrich your thinking on both Talent and Leadership.

Drew Tarvin over at Humor That Works has assembled over 25 contributed posts on a huge range of HR topics and has written a humorous comment for each, so check it out. Some notable posts include:

Jason Seiden over at Fail Spectacularly! has gathered together over 30 posts contributed from all over the leadership community. It’s worth your time to look them over and follow the links on the ones that catch your eye. Some notable posts include:

Both of these carnivals offer a terrific opportunity for you to get a great sample of a variety of perspectives, thinking, and just plain good writing. Who knows? Maybe you’ll discover a great blog you never heard of before.

Posted in carnival, hr, leadership | 3 Comments »

Both the HR and Leadership Development Carnival are up!

Posted by Mark Bennett on May 8, 2010

Both the new Carnival of HR at Talent Junction and Leadership Development Carnival at Great Leadership are up. They both have a terrific amount of excellent content and it’s worth it to spend some time in each to enrich your thinking on both Talent and Leadership.

Tushar Bhatia over at Talent Junction has assembled over 30 contributed posts on a huge range of HR topics and written a helpful, brief intro to each, so check it out. Some notable posts include:

Dan McCarthy over at Great Leadership has gathered together over 40 posts contributed from all over the leadership community. It’s worth your time to look them over and follow the links on the ones that catch your eye. Some notable notes include:

Both of these carnivals offer a terrific opportunity for you to get a great sample of a variety of perspectives, thinking, and just plain good writing. Who knows? Maybe you’ll discover a great blog you never heard of before.

Posted in carnival, hr, leadership, Uncategorized | 1 Comment »

Thinking at HR Technology 2009

Posted by Mark Bennett on October 6, 2009

134943545_730adff787_mWhat HR Technology 2009 provided best and better than most conferences was convergence of much of the diverse thinking that’s going on in our industry, and it was energizing. Bill Kutik deserves huge props for balancing expectations with the unexpected, which for the most part kept HR Tech lively and provocative.

Naturally, HR Technology 2009 had a lot of the standard offerings, as always, “table stakes” as it were, including vendors touting their wares, industry rumors, informative sessions, and so on. Of course, the “Shoot Out” is viewed as a major differentiator and it is an interesting exercise to watch. As many have already pointed out, it’s a difficult challenge to provide a head-to-head comparison that covers “real world” scenarios that interest a broad range of customers, in a fair and balanced manner among the competitors, fit it all into a very short period of time, and not have it all appear extremely scripted (and fast!). Kudos to Bill and Leighanne Levensaler for working on developing a great set of scenarios and to Bill for continuing to experiment with the formula in an effort to address the issues people have expressed.

Here’s some standout thinking that was shared regarding getting real business results from HR technology, which will be further explored in upcoming posts:

  • Suite Thinking: This is recognizing the emerging power of an integrated talent management suite. It’s about the challenge of how to have a stable, secure system of record that supports core HR transactions yet also provide dynamic innovation around achieving strategic success through talent. The industry analyst panel with Josh Bersin, Naomi Bloom, Jim Holincheck, and Lisa Rowan, and Leighanne Levensaler’s session in particular raised important thinking about how integration can impact strategic success, what are the key objectives, what are the required components, as well as what are the challenges and tradeoffs (e.g. extracting data vs. initiating HR processes.)
  • Social Thinking: This is accepting and adopting social media’s value and learning its various features, implementations, policies, and practices. It’s also about understanding how compliance and governance issues must be addressed not by banning and rejection, but by promoting purpose and accountability. Once those basics are in place, it’s about how to ignite gains in productivity, innovation and employee engagement. Don Tapscott’s keynote showed how the digital natives coming into the workforce are not a threat or distraction, but rather a source of learning and new, more effective approaches to creating value from talent. Nokia’s session shared real-world examples of how that happens.
  • Business Thinking: This is knowing that while technology is a key component of solving business problems, and some technologies are more capable than others, it’s only if companies are ready and can commit to make the necessary substantive organizational changes and then actually do it, that they’ll reap the full return on their technology investment. The corollary is that technology itself does not cause the ill effects experienced by companies that don’t make the right changes, but it can certainly amplify those effects to the point of getting everyone’s attention. Great points were made by both Josh Bersin and Naomi Bloom in the industry analyst panel and by Naomi again in her closing keynote about how learning and applying key business skills and language like statistics and finance as well as really understanding how your particular business makes a profit and how that affects your workforce strategy are essential for HR if it really wants to play a strategic role.
  • Community Thinking: This is having unity of purpose in improving the effectiveness of human capital, even while participants still pursue their goals and contribute their particular strengths. This is not a re-hash of Social Thinking, but it’s a meta-level of thinking that leverages social thinking. Much of what stalls progress is about people and organizations getting overloaded, which not only “jams the gears” but can also trigger a fear and rejection reflex. Finding sources you can trust who can help process the flood of information and innovation goes a long way to help overcome that fear and rejection, which social networking tools can help address. This takes us back to the initial point about the major value that HR Tech provided us: a way in which folks with all their varied agendas and priorities can gather together and share their experiences, their products, their vision, and even their disagreements, to that major purpose that we all share.

If you haven’t seen them already, here are some excellent observations made by some really terrific folks:

If you want to learn more, have your voice heard by those who would listen, and contribute to this purpose, then join us in whatever way you can that suits you. Comment on our blogs or start your own, create a Twitter account if you haven’t already and follow us. Whatever way works for you. We look forward to getting to know you!

Photo by florriebassingbourn

Posted in community, hr, HR Technology | Tagged: | 19 Comments »

The Carnival of HR for July is here!

Posted by Mark Bennett on July 9, 2009

EffortlessHR has posted the Carnival of HR for July, with 20 informative posts from a wide variety of excellent blogs.

This provides you a great opportunity to first, focus your time on what the bloggers have themselves thought were good posts to read and second, sample blogs that you did not know about before.

Our own blog is represented by this post on being careful to not unwittingly alienate those participants in your enterprise social network who might not use it to as high a degree as others.

Photo by joiseyshowaa

Posted in carnival, hr | 1 Comment »

Do you wear your stripes with pride?

Posted by Louise Barnfield on April 30, 2009

school-uniformMy UK school days have receded into the far too dim-and-distant past, but I still remember our uniform.

Through 9th grade, the winter uniform at our all-girls school (junior high and high combined) was a traditional gray pinafore (skirt and bib), with striped shirt. 10th graders, however, were allowed to ditch the bib and wear a plain gray skirt. (The ultimate was in the final two years at senior and prefect level, when dress-code was further extended to any style of black skirt and solid color shirt.)

A typical ruse of the 9th graders (and later even 8th graders) was to unstitch the bib from the skirt, and replace with some kind of temporary fastening (velcro, poppers, or even just safety pins)! During the day, the bib was dutifully attached, with no outward signs of tampering. However, as soon as they left school premises in the afternoon, to head off into town or meet a group of boyfriends, they ripped off the bibs thereby achieving the appearance and status of those a year senior.

Of course, if they got caught by a teacher ‘sans bib’ there was hell to pay, but that just added to their sense of bravado – sounds pretty tame in comparison to what many teens get up to these days, doesn’t it! 🙂

On the other hand, 10th graders were not amused. They felt they’d earned the right to wear their senior uniform with pride, and that that right was undermined and devalued by the rules not being observed. (…and ‘they’, of course, included those who had themselves played the popper-game a year previously!)

In the military, uniform and rank are strictly observed. Each rank is immediately recognized for exactly what it signifies, by anyone with knowledge of the hierarchy. Officers wear their insignia proudly on their sleeves. There’s no opportunity to hide or misrepresent one’s position.

Not so in the corporate world.

Decades ago, the title of Secretary was a respected position. A true secretary had excellent typing and shorthand skills, as well as a great deal of responsibility for the smooth running of their bosses’ calendars and lives. Then, mere typists started calling themselves secretaries to inflate their resumes. Firms started advertising for personal secretaries, hoping to attract the cream of the crop, then personal secretaries became executive secretaries, until the word fell into such disrepute that the alternative terms Personal Assistant or Executive Assistant were spawned.

In 2007, Wharton School’s Knowledge@Wharton published an excellent article: Chief Receptionist Officer? Title Inflation Hits the C-Suite, discussing the cheapening of titles, and the reasons behind inflation infatuation! But it’s not just C-level; the same issue pervades every level of the corporate chain.

While companies have figured out that “many times it is cheaper to give people a title increase than a raise increase”, I believe they have created a rod for their own backs, not only by devaluing the titles, but more significantly by demeaning and alienating the employees who have genuinely earned their ‘stripes’.

As the article above notes: “Firms should be deliberate about how they give these title awards out to employees, because each additional person who gets a C-level title dilutes the currency of the title structure.”

How meaningful are titles where you work, and does your HR department care? Have you earned your stripes, or are you one of the unjustifiably bib-less? Do you see over-inflated titles as a necessity to represent your company effectively, or just an ego-trip at the expense of others?

Yours sincerely,

Chief Senior Principal Vice Managing Dogsbody and Bottlewasher

Posted in hr, management, teams, top talent, Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , | 2 Comments »

Pirates: on the bleeding edge of HR practices in the 1700’s

Posted by Kathi Chenoweth on April 2, 2009

treasureI recently attended the Real Pirates exhibit at the Field Museum in Chicago.  The exhibit tells the story of the ship Whydah, from it’s beginnings as a slave ship to it’s days as a pirate ship.

One section of the exhibit discussed the pirate “recruiting techniques”.  Apparently for the non-pirate ships, the work was grueling and the pay was bad.  Enter the pirates, with larger crews, the promise an equal share of the bounty, and all the rum you care to drink!  Brilliant recruiting techniques, aren’t they? And what a way to ensure employee engagement!

It wasn’t all fun and games.   Injured limbs were cut off without anesthesia, and if there was no doctor on board, the carpenter was called into action.  It scares me to think of the carpenters working at my house having to perform a medical procedure…..but what a versatile skillset!

As an early form of disability pay, a pirate received extra share of the bounty based on injuries or loss of limbs.

Pirate crews also had diversity before diversity was cool.  A single crew mixed men from Europe, North America, Native Americans, and Africans (many escaping slavery).  This naturally made me curious about women pirates– and a quick Google search found a few.  Two in particular are rumored to have dressed as men to be accepted (thus paving the way for the 80’s trends in women’s business attire).

The punishment for piracy was death by hanging.  Good news for our financial industry that this one did not carry forward to modern times.

Posted in hr | 2 Comments »

Don’t spin your wheels! Taking baby steps on the rocky road of talent management

Posted by Louise Barnfield on March 2, 2009

I was on my bike this morning…I mean literally and recreationally, not figuratively and professionally. I’m hoping I won’t hear the words “On yer bike!” in the office any time soon.

I’m no @lancearmstrong or @vendorprisey, both of whose blogs and tweets I avidly follow, but I’m training for my first big event since my last 100-mile ride. Three years on, and very little bike-time in between, it’s pretty much like starting from scratch, which might have been rather depressing if I’d thought about it too much.

I was unexpectedly on my own this morning, and was oh-so-tempted to skip the big hill that I’d planned to climb with a friend before she bailed on me. The complete circuit starts with a steep (my kind of steep, not Thomas Otter’s!!) climb up to a college campus that sits on the crest of the hill. At the top, there’s a 3/4 descent down the far side, then other climb back up before returning down the hill to the start point. All-in-all, the whole thing is pretty daunting for a first timer, which is how I was feeling this morning.

However, I knew it had to be done sometime, and if I avoided it today, I’d only have to face the whole thing for the first time next week. So, I figured procrastination was no escape. Still, I admit I wimped out of the complete circuit, and just did the initial climb up to the top before retracing my steps. Actually, I prefer to think of it as intelligent partitioning! It was more manageable than I feared, I know I can do more next time, and I felt good…in fact, I still feel good!

Isn’t this the same logical approach that we should take to larger scale challenges? If any task seems too daunting, don’t bite off more than you can chew, but don’t let it put you off starting! Start with something that’s more easily accomplished, but still satisfying. If you choose your starting point carefully, there are invariably gains to be made that will stand you in good stead for the next bite of the apple.

Often, we’re told that effective employee development and performance measurement begins with a full-blown competency library. Many HR professionals are daunted by the challenge of creating an entire competency model for their organization, which they perceive as mandatory for an efficient, comprehensive talent management strategy. Isn’t it easier to avoid the issue altogether, rather than face a project that requires too much time and resources before you are able to prove any ROI? Not so! There are ways to scale down the problem, to jump start your program so that the organization is benefiting from the initial achievement while you continue to implement future stages.

Successful organizations have started by defining and implementing a few core competencies for their workforce, before identifying more specific requirements for individual divisions or roles. Their next step might be to profile only those jobs that are critical to the organization…which are not necessarily the C-level or executive positions. A retail business might, for example, perceive the most critical role as their counter staff who are in direct and daily contact with customers, and can therefore most impact the business, either positively or negatively.

This kind of approach is particularly important during the current economic downturn, when organizations are looking to cutback any extraneous work, and get the most bang-for-their-buck from what’s left.

So, there I was on the bike, knowing that I had to tackle the college hill at some stage during my ride. I could have parked at the bottom of the hill and immediately started riding…uphill. Not smart! I can be dumb, but not that dumb! I preferred to start easy – to get a few easy, flat miles under my belt. By the time I reached the college entrance, not only were my legs warmed up but I’d enjoyed a very pleasant ride with superb views across a reservoir and surrounding hills. I was feeling gooood – inspired, enthusiastic, and approaching a hill that didn’t look anywhere near as daunting as it would have done half-an-hour earlier.

Starting easy with competency modeling can also be a no-brainer. Think of what you already have as a starting point – employees aren’t just a blank sheet of paper. Even if you don’t have a fully-fledged competency library, your employees have competencies and skills they’ve already achieved. So, use their history to build your future.

Talent review meetings, as a starting point, provide the incentive for managers to pull together this kind of information for an identifiable reason and recognizable benefits. Past performance reviews identify the abilities that each employee already has. That information should automatically feed into their employee profile, at the same time rewarding them for what they’ve already achieved. In turn, those profiles can feed into the talent review. Not two, but three birds with one stone!

…perhaps even four birds, since this approach could also make your performance reviews more palatable to your workforce, when they realize they have the makings of a decent employee profile with no added effort.

A truly integrated talent management solution enables you to insert, update, access information from multiple procedures. Of course, full TM integration goes way beyond the bounds of just performance and profile management, but this is one obvious starting point that more businesses should take advantage of when looking to kick start the TM process.

I’m not ready for my 72-mile ride around Lake Tahoe quite yet, but it was a pleasant way to start!
Onwards and upwards, I say!

Posted in competency, hr, profiles, talent review, Uncategorized | Tagged: | 3 Comments »

Hallelujah! Learning takes an upturn in a downturn

Posted by Louise Barnfield on February 25, 2009

At last, they’ve seen the light!

Too often talent management, and in particular learning and development, has taken a backseat during financial downturns. Too many companies have shortsightedly used cutbacks in those areas as a quick economic fix, only to deal with the consequences later, when overtaken by more farsighted competitors who were ready to respond as soon as the economy picked up.

However, there’s evidence of a different approach this time.

From TM Magazine comes a press release from Chief Learning Officer announcing their annual 2009 Business Intelligence Industry Report, which indicates increased support from C-level execs, 83 per cent of whom “said they believe the learning organization will play a significant role in the response to the economic situation“.

Let’s hope the survey results are current enough to reflect this positive attitude accurately.

Posted in hr, Uncategorized | Tagged: , , | 2 Comments »

Some Great Books from 2008

Posted by Mark Bennett on December 31, 2008

1225274637_85fac883b1_mHere are ten books that are very good and if you haven’t read them yet, you might want to check them out. The list is restricted to books published in 2008 that I read (there are several others published in 2008 that I have on my reading list). The list is somewhat in order of recommendation, although since the topics vary, you should let that be your main deciding factor.


Groundswell: Winning in a World Transformed by Social Technologies by Josh Bernoff and Charlene Li


Excellent survey of what’s been going on in Social Media, both in between companies and consumers as well as between companies and employees. It presents some good frameworks for structuring your thinking about how to best approach social media and has lots of real world examples.


Tribes: We Need You to Lead Us by Seth Godin


This is a small, but thought-provoking book with some fresh thinking covering the well-worn topic of leadership. It focuses on how we can all be leaders and it’s whether we are willing to step up and create change, as there are people everywhere, more accessible than ever, willing to follow.


Presentation Zen: Simple Ideas on Presentation Design and Delivery (Voices That Matter) by Garr Reynolds


PZ is an inspiring book that shows how to break out of the “Death by PowerPoint” presentation mode. It’s an easy, fun read that guides you towards how to think about and structure your presentation such that your audience is engaged and retains the major points you are trying to get across.


The Back of the Napkin: Solving Problems and Selling Ideas with Pictures by Dan Roam


This book doesn’t just tell you how to draw pictures to get your point across; in fact isn’t really about drawing. It dives deeper into how visualization and thinking about problems visually helps you not only get your point across, but it is central to helping you understand the problem better so that you develop a better solution that in turn you can better present to your client.


Web 2.0: A Strategy Guide: Business thinking and strategies behind successful Web 2.0 implementations. by Amy Shuen


This is chock full of real-life case studies about ways companies were able to implement Web 2.0 technologies to solve particular business problems. The case studies are backed by strong analysis of business models and comparisons to other approaches.


Talent on Demand: Managing Talent in an Age of Uncertainty by Peter Cappelli


This book is an excellent overview of the general problem of Talent Management, starting with a historical perspective, before there ever was HR, and taking us through the various changes in the business landscape in terms of regulation, technology, globalization, etc., showing how those factors affected the way Talent was viewed and managed, both in terms of acquisition and retention as well as training and development, all based on the supply and demand economics of the time and industry. It then lays out four major principles to act as guides for companies to address their Talent needs.


slide:ology: The Art and Science of Creating Great Presentations by Nancy Duarte


An excellent companion to Presentation Zen, this book is a deeper dive into the specifics of creating a presentation (color choices, layouts, graphics, etc.). Whereas PZ is more the kind of book you’d read straight through and then occasionally refer to refresh your memory about it’s way of thinking, slide:ology is more of a reference manual you would go to for help on particular design questions.


The Science of Fear: Why We Fear the Things We Shouldn’t–and Put Ourselves in Greater Danger by Daniel Gardner


Links the concepts from psychology research brought up in books like “Predictable Irrationality” (e.g. Recency Effect, Anchoring Rule, etc.) to the agendas of major institutions like business, government and media and how they use those effects to further their aims. Does a great job showing how statistics are warped and misrepresented to push the populations and markets towards actions they’d otherwise not take, mostly through fear, one of our strongest evolutionary survival traits.


The New Human Capital Strategy: Improving the Value of Your Most Important Investment–Year After Year by Bradley W. Hall


A clear, well-structured approach to the problem of figuring out which of the actions that you are taking with your workforce are actually giving you the results you are looking for. It takes a “systems thinking” view of the problem, designing a blueprint for the problem and then building the system from there.


Financial Intelligence for HR Professionals: What You Really Need to Know About the Numbers (Financial Intelligence) by Karen Berman, Joe Knight, and John Case


Despite the drab title, this book is actually quite fun to read (really!) and since HR has been told that speaking the language of business is key to being a strategic partner, this is a great way to start learning. It’s written in a friendly style that comes right out and tells the HR reader which things matter, how they matter, and which things really aren’t as crucial to know so you don’t get distracted by them. Each section is loaded with examples from recent history (especially scandals) linking HR areas of responsibility to financial problems for companies.

Posted in hr, learning, talentedapps | 14 Comments »