Yacktime explores where things can go....especially in the world of HR and organisations. With an enterprise social media mindset Yacktime looks to explore new ideas and move the static event based traditional HR interventions to a fluid, purposeful and action oriented future.
Imagine a YouTube video on communication across the ages: wax sealed dictums, carrier pigeons, horseman carrying satchels, flag wavers on a hill, SEALS tapping morse code, the lady in the telephone exchange connecting calls, the typing pool on typewriters, public telephone booths, winding the carbon copiers (that smell!), the brick mobile phones, noisy faxes, a million emails, text messages, instant messages, twitter, Facebook, YouTube …..
Now take a kid who can text with his thumbs at a million characters an hour and place his baggy lazy arse in front of a telephone exchange or ask him to relay the message from the carrier pigeon or send a message using morse code and imagine the results! Interesting.
Communication methods continue to change. Do we? At work this is also true and many leaders in organizations are becoming increasingly aware that the social media revolution in the consumer sphere is entering the corporate consumer landscape. Regardless of the method of communication there are some timeless facts.
Work requires constant communication.
Work is inherently social.
Not social in the recreational sense but “relating to activities that involve being with other people, especially activities that you do for pleasure.”. Working alongside others can be very enjoyable. From old school schmoozing, to the restaurant business meeting, team activities, collegiate sharing……work has always been social - many, many businesses boast that ultimately they are a people business.
In fact the Latin word for social is socialis meaning companionship. The socialists I guess were onto something with the word comrades which is a derivative of the same word.
Here is my belief: into the future the word “social” when used in a work context will automatically mean positive work relationships defined by a collaborative style. If you like - working side by side with someone then you will be a social business advocate.
Our organisational society is in transition. Hierarchy is crumbling and silos are falling apart. Social Technology is dismantling traditional command and control models and enabling a new way of doing business. With people. Alongside people. The successful businesses are using these tools to engage their people. The influential leaders work side by side with whoever can contribute. Up, down, across geographies … side by side. Socially. Based on content not position.
The communication methods we use today do not support strong social engagement. Email selects some and excludes others. Cascading pitches start with a gush and end in a drip. We need better tools. We need tools that bring us side by side.
So the big strategic question is what does your business need now. What will it need in the future? What skills do you need to develop to succeed in todays’ world?
When it comes to upgrading your organisation to the contemporary tools of microblogging, socially sharing video and documents and creating cross functional virtual teams I suspect that there are some organisations metaphorically still loading the carbon copy machine and winding off the purple copies. So take charge. Get started. There is no time to waste.
Chip was the best CEO. He was tanned from snow skiing, funny, kind and could take his teams scrambled ideas and turn them into epic PowerPoint presentations. He could talk to a factory employee as naturally as to a board pitch. Relaxed and confident.
He was a great CEO. Let’s face it. CEO’s like that are rare. CEO’s who try and be like Chip are very common.
Expectations about what makes a great CEO have helped create a legion of CEO’s trying to craft their fledging executive presence into rockstar aura. Well meaning PR, Comms and HR folk have helped these CEO’s pick the right photos, get the right messaging and present the right town halls.
These aspirants have a lot to fear about social media.
The world of organisations are changing and if you are to be a kind mentor to your CEO here are a few things you better tell them.
Like - Awkward is the New Cool.
Just like geeks are now somehow sexy, the whole idea of an authentic but awkward leader is refreshingly appreciated.
During the last Australian election Julia Gilliard listened to the spinmeisters and stuck to the script, repeating the mantra. The focus groups would not cooperate however and mid campaign these same spin merchants said she had to switch approach to reinvent herself to The Real Julia. This of course did not work. Claiming to be real is like recycled yellow snow. Never popular.
When you think about Australian politics this should not be a suprise. It had been blessed or perhaps cursed with flawed but authentic politicians. From the larrikin Bob Hawke, the arrogant Paul Keating, the fuddy duddy John Howard and the mysterious appeal of the nerdish, fangdangaglish Rudd. The appeal was consistency of the approach - they were what they were. Flaws and all.
For CEO’s used to have professionals craft their messages the pressure is on. The informal nature of social media allows an opportunity for employees and customers to find out about the real CEO. Their flaws. Their wit. Their judgment.
They now have time. Airports, elevators, bathrooms and in meetings.
They have the skills. Anyone can tweet.
But do they have the story to tell?
The answer is yes. They can be themselves. If it is awkward to begin with it may well be because they are a bit awkward. And that is ok.
For years in lunchrooms and lounge rooms and closed door offices the real views about CEO’s are aired. Whatever you are the only thing social media does is bring out the truth and makes it obvious and amplified.
So the first piece of advice for your CEO.
Be authentic. Be awkward if you must. Write your own stuff. Be honest. Share. Connect. Respond.
You probably won’t be a rockstar but you can be a great CEO.
As an idealistic young man a preacher repeated something in a meeting I have never forgotten. He said:
“It is not what you are but what you will be.”
The pimply faced adolescents loved the message. There was a great future ahead and it was exciting beyond the tribulations of teenage angst.
This is a message I would like to give to HR technology vendors. When looking at competitors consider “it is not what they are but what they will be!”
This week HR analyst Josh Bersin released some interesting research after a one year study of talent management systems summarizing that Talent Management suites are not compelling applications.
I agree and would contend the reason is not just the user interface and customer experience that Bersin talks about but more fundamental.
Most talent management suites are based on a model that digitized and incrementally improved existing HR processes. These processes were previously paper based and never really worked and never really will. They are based on a mangement model. Not a leadership model. They even call it that: Human Capital Management/Talent Management. Clearly they help organisations but as Bersin said they are not compelling. Users comply with the system but they are not part of day to day work. Importantly as time goes I believe they will be less compelling.
The Bersin report goes onto say. This research shows that talent management software does not directly create or drive improvements in business performance. What does drive performance (revenue per employee, retention, productivity) are the practices themselves. Career development, accountability, goal transparency, feedback, coaching, development planning and leadership development are listed as practices that do impact on performance.
Just before Christmas I read a blog from leading HRC vendor Taleo. They reviewed the Salesforce acquisition of Rypple by Salesforce. Read it here:
It was awesome. In Australia we call it “having a crack”. Basically the experienced product developer from Taleo said Rypple was not even half a talent management Suite but curiously also lumped social into the tirade. “Social smocial” was the gist of it. The key point is the Taleo system is integrated.
Incredible! Is it possible that Taleo do not get social? To me it is the lifeblood and backbone of our future HR industry. Remember “it is not what you are but what you will be!”. Can Taleo reasonably be around in 5 years time without a HR social backbone? Taleo went onto say that HR social did not exist as an entity. Bersin says 6% of talent management customers use the talent management social products so yes that makes sense for a current vendor to say that. If you believe in social though the market is wide open.
The value proposition is simple. Social HR (by that I mean Talent and HR apps delivered in an internal social network) will deliver the practices talked about by Bersin better than traditional tech. Not by a little. By a lot. The evolution of HR tech started from hard copy forms and traditional command and control cascading of processes.
Social HR can finally deliver simple, scalable tools that allow these critical HR practices to flourish by the users. The people. Not HR. A compelling suite.
So where are these killer apps that Taleo should be worried about? Clearly Rypple has not rocked the pond according to Taleo but has recently released social goals and has social recognition and feedback in place. Interestingly Rypple also needed a Chatter or Jive to grow but now has the framework/backbone to grow an integrated suite.
The answer to where are the killer apps? On the way. By a multitude of vendors including start ups. The growth of mobile and tablet infrastructure will help especially to workers who have not been easy customers for HR tech vendors to satisfy. There are cool start ups each with components and a wealth of consumer apps that would revolutionize the enterprise market. This revolution will happen.
So if you were an ambitious enterprise player (look at IBM) or even a cheeky start up tech vendor like Yackstar - would you try and patch together a social add on to traditional talent management or just start with social at the centre?
Salesforce are betting on starting with a social centre. The current tech approach is slow to deploy ( takes up to 2 years) yet a lot of the content does not have much longevity. A compliance module or a performance review or succession plan is yesterday’s fish wrapping to be honest. You can replace the traditional systems quickly if you have an alternative that is compelling.
So social smocial? Are Taleo right? Will organisations continue to stick with the status quo? Will the e20 social transform organisations or does aligning HR tech products with the current state of organisational hierarchy make more sense? What do you think?
In my next blog I will continue with the 4 reasons HR Social is transformational.
Remember it is not what you are but what you will be.
I was to send a letter to the person who handles the insurances for the company (specifically the PI Insurance) that would have contained a toy car, with the tag line on the letter being “Here’s something to drive your Insurance Program in the right direction” but instead I thought I would send you a quick email
I fell off the stage. There I said it. I was on stage speaking at the national conference for the Australian Association of Graduate Employers at the Hilton Hotel and I stepped backwards and like a handsome Mr Bean I disappeared momentarily before reappearing trying to look very cool. Way way cool. One minute you are speaking to a gala hall audience, waxing lyrical full of verbose profundities- the next thing you are falling backwards doing awkward gymnastic style manoevours to keep your feet.
The topic was how to create employee brand champions. For many employers this is their moment where they fall off the stage. The brochures and websites are swish. Colours strong. Employees are smiling, earnest, excited. The key words reflecting the Employment Value Proposition (EVP) are in big letters. Really big letters. Integrity, Responsibility, Innovation, Sustainability, Excellence. In the recruitment process charismatic and recruiters eloquently chat. There are cupcakes, pens, flash animations and even adventure games simulating the excitement and teamwork ahead. Now sometimes this can be true reflection of what is to follow.
Like Google. I sat next to a couple of Google recruiters at the AAGE gala dinner who recruit on campus and they confirmed the following facts about Google:
- in America you can take your dog to work
- in Australia you watch American dogs on video conferences
- if you get grumpy (occasionally this can happen for a few minutes even though you are wearing jeans and google T Shirts) you can go into a sleep pod and regroup
- a sleep pod looks like a modern “cone of silence” off Get Smart
- an in house chef will make you whatever you want. If an English girl from Fullham wants jacketed pototoes then she gets them.
- there is an adventure net where you can bounce…. and bounce around in…. if you feel like….you need to bounce…..and have adventure…in a net…… At work.
- you get donuts. Two. Obviously.
I guess we all aspire to have all this at our workplace. On your next international video conference try this. Say “Hey guys….would it be ok if each of you starting bringing in your dogs to the VC calls because dogs are really cute and relaxing. And very good for prodbarktivity!”
Now we could promise this to new employees anyway. The branding photos would be excellent. Little fluffy balls of white poodleness that suddenly bark and snap for HR grads and strong bulldogs with big metal collars for mining engineers. We would be shown walking around the corridors petting our pets and feeding them donuts. But we can’t. Because we know that unlike the Googlers when the employee looks into the VC monitor they will not see dogs.
So instead we do something else. We promise the intangible. At the point of hire each employer looks like the most fantastic of companies.
SUSTAINABILITY…..Mining companies that dig ore from the ground caring for tropical islands
COMMUNITY…….hardened supervisors growing facial hair for Movember
TEAMWORK…….accountants looking hip and gesturing like they are about to talk about their feelings
INNOVATION….test tubes with dry ice is being placed into incubators by scientists with retro black rimmed glasses.
Now if the gap between the promise and the reality is too great then we know what happens. You fall off the stage. Let’s call it what it is in some companies: False advertising, stretching the old truth, telling whoppers, saying a few porky pies, a snow job, fibs, a wink, a nod…..a brand that won’t last.
So what is the answer? Brand ambassadors. Available to candidates through social media. Saying it like it is. It is grounding your campaign in REAL PEOPLE. This is easy when you use social technologies. You can connect your positive employees with live candidates. This enables you to not only live your brand but the aspirational values will also come to life.
You will have integrity, be passing on responsibility, be engendering teamwork and creating sustainable communities where people understand that the moustache was not for Movember but in fact how the man looks!
Instead of going for the dogs perhaps you start by going with their masters!
For a list of interesting sites I have come across that are doing this without the moustaches see:
For the UK:
If you know of other great examples then please add!!
I am passionate about something. I have high expectations. Unmet expectations can drive people crazy. So before I go crazy hear me out! I believe the HR community should go crazy about social media. Not just about Linkedin, Facebook and Twitter. Something even more exciting - internal social media. This should be the most exciting innovation that HR has seen at least since author Dave Ulrich suggested HR could leave the Personnel bunker and take their seat at the executive board room table.
HR. Social. Let me clarify something. This is not the same as saying HR people should be the “social” like social butterflies or social club convenors any more than if you are a people person you should go into HR. No fluffy duck HR.
It is quite simple. HR should be about achieving business results through people. Just like the engineer in charge of a capital asset is constantly looking for better ways to get return on the capital employed, a HR practitioner should be similarly obsessed with how people can get their work done.
So enter the internal social network. There are at least three things HR should excite HR people about Social HR:
1. The Focus is on People
HR has been through phases from personnel to process to posters (or what we call EVP’s). Social HR has a definite focus. People. Sure some of the risk averse HR body buriers who don’t actually like people, think any internal social network will be taken over by skallywags and recalcitrants. Possibly this is because they deal with the 5% of the workforce who are knobs, dimwits and tricksters. Feel free to insert your own word.
Social HR steals back the agenda and hands to to the employees who are creative, enthusiastic and innovative. The focus of a great company should be the PEOPLE who can inspire others, solve problems and achieve great things. If you want to increase the performance of your organisation this is a tremendous opportunity. Shift your focus back to your best asset. Motivated and committed people. Focus on these people.
2. The Pace is at Internet speed
In my opinion the best work HR has done for business has been around people engagement. Discretionary effort is real. Capture this capacity and the people factory can increase productivity and improve quality by 20-40%.
If you give HR this challenge do not expect much of a result for a couple of years. Serious. The baseline survey. The action groups and initiatives. The follow up survey. So slow. Painstaking. Not good enough.
In Social HR you start “doing” immediately. In most cases we know the answers to engagement. Communicate. Recognize. Capture ideas and act on them. Give purpose and direction to work. Social HR is about daily action. So it is fast and gives tools that master tradespeople can use quickly to impact employee engagement.
So get on with it. If the survey said communicate more then communicate. If you need to align vision and values do not just make posters. Align your people. Social HR does this. Easily. Quickly. Naturally.
3. The Power of a Network
Many HR initiatives are brilliant. One on one coaches and mentors can create wonderful leaders. Performance systems can guide. Leadership workshops inspire.
These systems are limited. These systems are difficult to scale. Now harness the content of these approaches with the power of an active internal social network and zippo! Your initiatives can go viral. Values that once were whiteboarded in a room of the select can spread across your company. Behaviors that increase performance can be replicated. You can breed high performance activities with Social HR.
Internal social networks are culture change accelerators. Messages do not have to be cascaded. So 1990’s. PowerPoint pitches. Like a old fashioned memo.
So let’s all get crazy for improved business results. Led by HR. Using the power of social.
If this excites you, share the message and let me know how you are going!
“Turn it off!”
The mothers voice in the seat ahead of me on the late evening flight became urgent.
“Turn it off!”
“I turned it off” the little 4 year old girl lied.
“I can still see that it is on. Now turn it off! What do you want me to do ban you from the video game for the whole trip?”
All of us behind starting shaking our heads…inner voices screamed Noooooooo.
It was getting serious and the mother was standing her ground. As we all know keeping a kids video game on during takeoff would affect the A320’s sensitive instrument control systems and put hundreds of lives at risk.
The brutal stare of the mother broke down the scheming, lying front of the horrible child. The practiced liar finally confessed the ugly truth.
“I don’t want to have start it all over again.”
These are some of the games children play. Gamification. Levels are reached. Status achieved and the next challenge starts. Our virtual warriors will not be stopped by technology bans, moderate usage requests and certainly not by a calm, logical exchange.
Fast forward 20 years and this little child warrior will have deeply embedded habits. Think ingrained tribal behaviors - I must keep going to the next level. I do not want to start all over again.
The Angry Bird generation will fly but please work with them. One way to do this is to use these internal motivators to your advantage. Mandatory systems will include:
- the ability to visualize progress
- extravagantly regular recognition
- autonomy that encourages competitive independence
- goals that are attainable but not easy
- a visual factory
- a fun and highly social culture.
Without being too cute if you can create future workplaces that tap into these instrinsic motivators you can create a culture that people do not want to leave. They will not want to start all over again!
And by the way a bunch of your current workforce the Super Mario generation are like this as well!
After all we all know life and work is just a game!
“In the Human Resource system, social media led initiatives are considered especially heinous. In Sydney, Australia the dedicated Grant Mason Yackstar Co -Founder who incites HR to commit these vicious felonies met with members of an elite squad known as the Talkpoint Human Resource Directors (HRD’s). These are their stories.
I sat in a boardroom with 9 HR Directors. This is a true account of what was said.
Grant: In my lifetime I have been involved in perhaps 12 employee surveys. What about you?”
The numbers came out. 15. 9. 20. The HRD who had done 20 looked a bit fatigued and fair enough. There are only so many vertical slices one HRD should take. In the room we collected the numbers…there was Gallup, Mercer, Hay, and a number of cheap budget self made ones. All up there was over 120 employee surveys in the collective experience. I wondered what “n” was - how many employees had checked the boxes, across multiple countries, cities, factories and offices with pens, HB pencils, and clicks of the mouse. It was in a sense a huge longitudinal study and had no doubt paid for many European vacations of various suited consultants.
Grant: ’You have collectively undertaken this huge study over 20 + years what have we learnt. What are the key drivers for HR?”
I paused. Looked at them. Yep - they knew, I knew the truth. If you can’t answer this simple question your life has pretty much amounted to nothing.
Eyes darted, beads of perspiration formed a coastline on upper lips, the question hung like a day old helium balloon.
They stared back with a shocked look. I sensed they wanted to say “get on with your Powerpoint pitch you vendor fiend” but realized it was a totally fair question.
Grant: “Come on you all have spent millions of dollars on diagnosing the crap out of your organizations - what have you learnt? What are the key HR drivers?”
I twisted the knife with a pleasant smile. ”you must know- I mean after all those surveys……..”. The little Michael J Fox in everyone’s head started whispering “no one calls me chicken”.
A brave HRD broke the stare down.
“letting people know where they fit in to the organization”
We were on a roll and the eyes were lighting up. All of this diagnosis had not been for nothing.
Grant: “Ok. So we have our HR drivers. If you were in a factory how often would you monitor critical drivers?”
HRD: “Everyday. No every hour. Maybe each minute in some processes.”
Grant: “So you have identified the key drivers of HR that relate to organizational performance, how often do you monitor these drivers you have identified?”
The annual survey was looking kinda lame. Someone whispered they thought of doing a pulse survey once and we were back to the harsh truth. A culture of over diagnosis and under doing. None of these critical drivers were adequately monitored.
HRD: “The technology is not there. Too time consuming and clunky. I would if I could.”
As a technology vendor I could not hide the smile but this was no time for a product demo. The penny had dropped.
Culture is about the stuff we do every day. Daily behaviors. Internal social networks are the systems where change can be occur. Values can be demonstrated. Recognition can happen in a timely and meaningful way, feedback, coaching ……as I put up the slide tracking these activities in real time it all made sense. The technology was there.
I think I won some converts.
Social Media has killed some things. The cool crowd has agreed. Best practices from the olden days (pre 2007) have become laughable. I am making a list for HR people of dumb stuff they have wasted their life doing. It is quite long. A lot of these things are still part of their “to do” list. Here is one thing social media has killed. I stand guilty as well of this new found sin. HR people use a lot of buzz words.
They seamlessly integrate. They strategically align. They harmonize, right size, benchmark, enable, build capability. They talk shit. Comms people do as well except more elegantly and if you ever get caught in a room with a Comms person and a HR person and there is a flip chart you are probably heading for a key messages session.
The sophisticates (consultants) among them may even call this “elevator talk” forgetting that most people do not actually talk in an elevator. At least not about work. If you did and used the carefully crafted terms from the butchers paper, the moment you stepped off the elevator there would be one key question asked - “who was that tosser?”
Now fortunately communication tools like Facebook and Twitter have made key messages as useful as a burp in a bubble gum factory. This is because of one key factor - the right to reply. People now expect to be able to say what they think. From personal networks, media blogs, and social networks the ability to comment, rate, like….you may have your say.
Any one way communication of buzz words is seen for what it is. Crafted double speak. Tricky non truth telling. This means HR people, comms people and executives need new skill sets. Here are some tips:
1. Tell the truth
2. Speak plainly and say what you mean
3. Speak passionately and mean what you say.
4. Allow the right to comment and clarify. Expect that if you sound like a tosser you may be told so. See this as a growth opportunity.
End the buzz words and most of all remember to just politely nod in the elevator.
Everyone wants to collaborate. Officially 79 % of companies regard collaboration as an important activity. Officially most companies suck at collaboration. According to the Corporate Leadership Council study released this week only 11% are happy with their collaborative efforts. Ouch.
Implementing an enterprise social network is an obvious step you can take to improve collaboration. Right? Well yes and maybe.
A staggering 98% of the business benefit actually comes from how you go about your collaboration implementation. 2% platform. 98% implementation. We all intuitively knew that. So what can we do to improve our chances of making successful collaboration part of your business through a enterprise social network.
The secret is found by listening to your compliance training. Really? No! Surely not. Yes specifically the fire warden training.
Let me explain. In Fire Warden training they start with the basics. Fire. It needs three things to start. Heat, Oxygen and Fuel. Eliminate one and the fire goes out. This is a principle that translates to setting your collaboration efforts on fire and also putting them out.
It only takes a spark to get a fire going they say and a spark is a heat source. Ignition also is needed in a social network. Every successful online community has the igniters that spark debate, foster contributions and get the fire going. Larger companies have community managers who play this role and the successful ones can coax contributions, inspire input and bring your community alive.
“Let’s make today Feedback Friday.”
“Did anyone see the launch last night?”
“great comment. Does everyone agree?”
Questions, comments, recognition….all ways to ignite. Keeping the conversation going. If the collaboration fire dies then start it up again.
If your climate in your organization is not conductive to collaboration then the problem is with your culture not your platform. This is very common as years of siloed, habititual behavior pushes against the willingness to collaborate. When I was at Rio Tinto I was part of a successful collaborative forum and one day someone posted something that was unwise. We all grimaced and sure enough a senior executive followed the post with a mini lecture. It was the last post. Not just from that person but from everyone. The mini lecture hung on the forum like a snake skin on a barb wire fence. Danger. Do not enter. The climate instead must be open. Trust must be displayed. This basics of leadership. If your leaders do not know how to do this online they must be taught. Just like a leader cannot yell at a colleague or sneer at an idea to create a positive culture your leaders need to know how to create the right level of oxygen for a community to thrive.
You can have the climate and the heat but you must fuel the fire. The fuel is content. Useful content. Content that adds value and helps people do their job better. A lot of this content will be sourced from the Internet. A lot of this content will be user generated like internal blog posts. If all your people do is talk about the footy tipping and what they had for dinner last night then while there is some social benefit it is like throwing tissues into a fire. Throw some tissues for sure but also plan to fuel the fire with some hardwood. Task your local woodchoppers to create content plans to ensure content is seeded and shared.
Everyone wants a fired up workforce. The benefits are clear. Follow the three basics of heat, oxygen and fuel and you will be running hot!