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    Friday
    Nov212014

    PODCAST - #HRHappyHour 196 - Career Management and Technology

    HR Happy Hour 196 - Career Management and Technology

    Recorded Thursday November 20, 2014 

    Hosts: Steve BoeseTrish McFarlane

    Guest: Joe Brooks, CEO Zapoint

    This week on the HR Happy Hour Show, Trish and Steve were joined by Joe Brooks, CEO of Zapoint, an HR tech solution provider that focuses on employee career management, individual and organizational skills identification and mapping, and by providing access to learning content to help employees build out their skills and achieve their career objectives.

    We talked about some of the most common barriers to effective career planning - lack of visibility into existing opportunities, limited ability to assess if you were a good 'fit' for a given role or career path, and lack of transparency and willingness of managers to develop and share talent. 

    The conversation also touched upon the HR and organizational leader's need to have a better understanding of aggregate skills and capabilities of the organization's talent - to help enable organizational objectives and to facilitate ongoing succession planning. Joe also shared some insights into how organizations can have success in meeting both sets of these challenges - for employees as well as leadership - by leveraging modern technologies like Zapoint and their innovative skills mapping and career management tools.

    Also, Steve and Trish talked about the potential release of 'Facebook at Work', Steve (finally) remembered what day it was, and we reminisced about the long gone Google Wave produce.

    You can listen to the show on the show page here, or using the widget player below.

    Check Out Business Podcasts at Blog Talk Radio with Steve Boese Trish McFarlane on BlogTalkRadio

    Also you can access and subscribe to the show on iTunes or for Android using Stitcher Radio, (or your favorite podcast app). Just search for 'HR Happy Hour' to add the show to your playlist/subscriptions and you won't miss an episode.

    This was a fun and interesting show and many thanks to Joe and to the folks at Zapoint for sharing their insights.

    Thursday
    Nov202014

    Facebook at Work and Google Wave

    Remember Google Wave?

    Sure you do. You probably even recall nagging your friends and contacts for a (at the time) coveted invitation to join the Google Wave beta.

    Google Wave was going to be the next big, big, transformative thing in workplace collaboration technology. It was the re-imagination of email, chat, file sharing, and 17 other things - packaged in a completely new way. It was, for a little while, exciting and cool. Most of the folks who get paid lots of money to prognosticate on such matters expected Google Wave to become, if not truly transformative, at least an important and eventual essential component in the enterprise software tool set.

    Fast forward about a year (give or take) from the launch of Wave and somehow, for some reason, those optimistic forecasts about the importance of Wave turned out to be wrong. Wave did not catch on, at least not enough, and not as a workplace essential tool, and Google pulled the plug on the adventurous project. (Still, mad about that, personally.)

    I have not thought about Google Wave all that much in the ensuing years, (man, it seems like just yesterday, but it has literally been YEARS since Wave was shuttered), until the recent announcement and reactions to the reports that Facebook is planning on releasing its own workplace collaboration technology, which most are simply calling 'Facebook at Work'.

    But unlike Google Wave, which was greeted with (generally) optimistic predictions about its importance and relevance to work and workplaces, the early reaction to the notion of 'Facebook at Work' has been almost universally pessimistic and negative.

    The arguments against the success of 'Facebook at Work' are numerous and expected:

    People don't want to mix personal online socializing and networking with work.

    Facebook can't be trusted to secure sensitive and proprietary corporate data.

    Enterprise social networking tools, ironically often referred to as 'Facebook for the Enterprise', have been around for years, and have never really, truly caught on in a substantial way.

    That kind of thing.

    I have no idea if Facebook at Work will even be released as a product (Facebook has not made any public comment on these reports), much less become a successful, popular, and essential workplace collaboration technology.

    Maybe it will. And maybe it will fail spectacularly like Google Wave. And maybe it will never even be a 'real' product.

    Who knows?

    But I would also suggest the litany of commenters and pundits who have already written off Facebook at Work as a potential important enterprise tech solution also have no real idea either.

    Google Wave was going to be the next big thing. Until is wasn't. Facebook at Work has no chance of infiltrating the workplace. Until it does. Or maybe it won't.

    I think you get what I am driving at by now. No one, not me, or any of the smart people at TechCrunch or Business Insider or CNet or anywhere else really knows.

    So stop worrying or thinking about Facebook at Work for the time being. If and when it ever is released, then make your own evaluation.

    And while you are waiting, maybe send an Email to Google to see if they will reconsider resurrecting Wave. I liked that thing.

    Wednesday
    Nov192014

    There's more to User Experience than usability

    Here is a quick take and a diagram on UX that I wanted to share on a cold, kind of snowy Wednesday in my part of Western NY, (and thankfully not too snowy, lake effect snow is a funny thing, one side of town can get buried in snow, while a mile away sees hardly anything at all).

    I was plowing through my Feedly last night, (while watching my Knicks fail, admirably however in Milwaukee), and I came across this really interesing piece on API design from the Nordic APIs site. 

    I know what you might be thinking: Really, you must have a terribly exciting life, reading about API design and watching basketball. And you would be right! It is terribly exciting. 

    You don't have to read the entire piece about API design, (I admit, it gets a little ponderous near the end if you are not really, really into APIs), but I wanted to share what I thought was the most interesting and perhaps relevant part of the piece, a diagram called the UX Honeycomb, originally developed by Semantic Studios. The diagram is meant to portray the facets or elements of User Experience, and as you will see, there is much more than 'usability' at play here.

     

    The point of the UX Honeycomb is to make sure that designers understand the various components that encompass UX, and to also emphasize the center element - 'Valuable'. So while for UX professionals, 'usability' remains important to overall UX, it is not by itself sufficient. And it is also a great reminder that the elements like 'useful', 'accessible', and perhaps most importantly for HR readers, 'credible' remain critical.

    And the way that the elements of the UX Honeycomb seem to have really close applicability to lots of what HR in general and HR technology projects in particular is the primary reason I wanted to share the diagram. Whether it is a traditional HR-led initiative like training, or performance coaching, or rolling out a employee wellness program, or a straight up HR systems implementation, evaluating your approach against these UX elements I think makes a ton of sense.

    Is what you are doing, or trying to get others to do, useful, usable, desirable, credible, valuable, etc.?

    I think you have to be able to check 'Yes' on just about every one of the elements on the UX Honeycomb no matter what the project is, in order to have a chance to capture the attention and the time of your users, employees, and leaders. I am going to keep the Honeycomb in mind moving forward, and I think you might want to as well.

    Anyway, that's it.

    Stay warm out there today.

    Tuesday
    Nov182014

    CHART OF THE DAY: Unemployed vs. Job Openings by Industry

    Today's Chart of the Day comes to us courtesy of the Economic Policy Institute from a short post titled The Number of Unemployed Exceeds the Number of Available Jobs Across All Sectors.

    First the eponymous chart, then as you have come to expect (and demand), some comments from me after the data.

    The EPI piece's author uses this data to make an argument that persistently elevated levels of unemployment, that often are, (at least to some extent), attributed to something called 'skills mismatches', where unemployed workers simply do not possess the requisite skills and abilities that employers demand, are in fact not caused by mismatches, and are in fact driven by depressed overall demand for labor.

    The logic behind this argument is pretty straightforward. If there were indeed large levels of skills mismatches driving unemployment, then we should see, at least somewhere in the economy, particular industry sectors where demand (available jobs), surpasses supply, (available workers in that industry). But as the data above show, every industry sector currently has more supply (unemployed workers), than demand/jobs.

    It is a decent argument, if a little simplistic. It does fail to take into account the many thousands of sub-industries and specific types of jobs that fall into broad categories like manufacturing, construction, or services. It also does not adequately account for the very high likelihood that in certain sectors that workers who have identified themselves as being in that sector, truly have not been willing or able, (possibly because they have been out of work), do keep their skills current and adapted to new demands.

    But taken in aggregate there is a decent argument to be made that if current labor market challenges were the result of skills shortages or mismatches, that there would be at least some specific sectors where there are more unemployed workers than job openings, and others where there are more job openings than unemployed workers. But that is, as yet, not the case and still unemployed workers exceed jobs openings across the board.

    Whether or not there exists widespread skills shortages or mismatches is usually more of a concern for governments or the largest employers. And the nationwide conditions don't really mean much to the small or mid-sized firm that just wants to get its positions filled. But while all HR/Recruiting is local, (to some extent), no firm no matter how small operates in a vacuum. 

    So while these macro-labor market conditions might not move the needle on today's open reqs, they can and likely will impact tomorrow's and next year's and the one after that.

    And that is why I find this data interesting and why it rates for this installment of Chart of the Day.

    Monday
    Nov172014

    First snow

    Woke up this fine Monday morning to the first real snow of the season (see badly lit pic on the right), with maybe an inch or so of the white stuff coating the ground. I am not sure how much more (if anything) we are going to get today, I generally don't pay too much attention to the weather forecasts. Because the weather is pretty much almost always the same as yesterday. In fact there is a study somewhere (I am too lazy to go searching for it at the moment), that suggests that simply predicting a repeat of the prior day's observed weather leads to better, and more accurate forecasts than the ones that are developed by computer models and meteorologists.

    But there is one 'truth' about weather that I immediately thought about this morning when I saw the snow: That weather (excepting for catastrophic events like hurricanes or tornados), is only interesting two or three times each year. 

    The times when weather is actually interesting, (and exciting and perhaps even inspiring) are the first truly warm day in the Spring, the first cold, clear, crisp day in the Fall, and if you live in such a place that experiences this, the first 'real' snowfall of the year.

    Aside from those two or three days each year, weather is more or less the same as yesterday, and consequently less and less interesting as the days/weeks trudge along.

    I am on record as being totally done with the cold and snow of Western NY winters and am ready to move to somewhere like Vegas or South Florida as soon as I can pull it off. But even I got a little excited and enthusiastic upon seeing the puffy flakes coming down this morning. And I hate snow. Truly.

    What's the bigger, more generally applicable point to this? 

    Probably not much of one, sadly. Maybe that it is important to remember that while every day, day after day, can sort of feel the same, that there still exists the potential and capacity for excitement in the ordinary.

    This little bit of snow here this morning actually foretells about five months of cold, wet, messy misery for me. But for today, at least for a few hours anyway, it looks incredibly exciting and full of possibility.

    Have a great day - and stay warm if your day is a snowy one!