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    Saturday
    Jul032010

    Please Retweet

    I know, we are all overloaded.

    Blogs, Facebook news feeds, Twitter streams, LinkedIn discussions.

    Friend requests, new follower alerts, updated profiles, experiences, skills....

    RSS feed reader absolutely overflowing.  That is until you (somewhat guiltily) proclaim 'Reader Bankruptcy' with a blanket 'mark all as read' click.  Don't worry, your friends will never know that the blog posts that they spent ages poring over and parsing every last word of to make sure they were just right were subjected to burial in the mass landfill of unread clutter.  At least they won't be lonely, I'll bet there are about 273 (about three days' worth) of 'Mashable' posts alongside them.

    There is no time.  Or not enough time anyway. So folks that blog have to realize this.  So little time for the audience to read these posts, even less to comment on them, and certainly no time or tolerance to manually cut and paste an interesting post's URL into TweetDeck, or HootSuite, or whatever to actually share it with their networks (who are all likely too busy themselves).

    Enter the 'Retweet' button.  Most all blog posts today carry the little green thingy.  A small, simple, and clever device meant to make the sharing of the post or article almost effortless.  One click, a quick permission to grant, one more click - and voila, the piece is shared on Twitter, and the little 'retweet' counter ratchets up by one, like a kind of dynamic tote board of popularity (or antipathy).  The retweet button is a kind of bailout for the reader, telling them effectively 'no need to work too hard to indicate you enjoyed the post by commenting', just spend 26 seconds on a few clicks and we as bloggers will get the idea.

    I rarely check the traffic statistics of this blog.  I have no idea how many e-mail subscribers there are (although one nice lady subscriber in Kansas is 'out of the office' a lot).  But I can see that little 'retweet' button on all the posts.  So sure, it is a little dismaying after posting what you think was a solid piece to see that little counter sitting on 3 or 4 after a long day waiting patiently for just a bit of attention.

    So here is the little experiment for today - will writing a post with 'Please Retweet' as the title actually help the promotion and sharing of the piece? Will it matter that the piece itself has about 400 words of nonsense all leading up the big payoff - the little green button?

    Just be glad I went this route, the alternative was going with a post called 'Like me on Facebook', which is a little demented, creepy, and sad.

    Please retweet!

     

     

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    Friday
    Jul022010

    Comfortable Being Scared

    Last night on the HR Happy Hour show we talked about social media in the workplace, why organizations should have social media and social networking policies in place to guide employee usage (although quite a few listeners argued that specific social media policies are unnecessary), and some of the concerns and outright fears that many leaders and HR professionals seem to possess when these topics are discussed. After all, many of the large mainstream HR associations have trotted out a stream of speakers and 'experts' pitching at best caution and restraint, and at worst outright bans supported by a few anecdotes about miscreant employees gone wild. Flickr - Scr47chy

    Rather than contribute yet another (unnecessary) piece attempting to refute item by item the typical laundry list of 'bad' outcomes (time wasting, loss of productivity, exposure of company secrets) that may arise from the increased use of social networking in the workplace by employees, I wanted to touch upon one of the observations made on the show by our guest Eric Meyer.  During the conversation about the use of 'scare tactics' by some legal experts, Eric noted that many HR professionals are 'comfortable being scared', in other words hinting that rather than dispassionately evaluating the potential benefits of these tools and technologies, many in HR are happy to use the horror stories to keep them safely entrenched in their personal comfort zones of uninformed bliss.

    Mulling over this some more last night I don't think it is all that surprising considering how popular and often successful 'going negative' is in many other aspects of our culture.  Think about our interactions with our kids, 99% of political advertising, the stories on the local TV news, and even the relentless focus on the 'bad' or negative in the coverage of the World Cup. How much more emphasis has been placed on shoddy officiating, annoying vuvuzelas, and dysfunctional team dynamics than on any of the positive aspects of the competition? 

    Why are we so drawn to the negative? 

    Why do we try to avoid, mitigate, reduce, manage and every possible other thing except embrace risk?

    Why are so many of us 'comfortable being scared?'

     

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    Thursday
    Jul012010

    Explanations by Geeks

    There is a classic principle called Occam's Razor that suggests that in a complex situation, when faced with competing potential solutions, that the simplest solution, the one that introduces the least number of assumptions and variables but still results in the desired outcome or proof -  is generally preferable.

    I think that an appreciation of the concept of the Razor is important for folks that are charged with designing, deploying, explaining, and exploiting new technologies in organizations and for Human Resources departments that perhaps have traditionally been somewhat technology averse. Technology types and the geeks among us that love to spend time extolling the virtues of the 'latest and greatest' new tools sometimes have a tendency to want to talk about big, complex solutions since we are able to envision the end state, a kind of nirvana of interconnected and interacting systems and processes that will put essential information at the fingertips of those managers/leaders/employees that need it, all in real time, and in cool and colorful interactive dashboards.

    While it is important to appreciate and understand the end-state vision we can't lose sight of the current realities in many organizations - employees swamped with day-to-day responsibilities, using tools that while not necessarily are the latest and most exciting, are at least familiar and comfortable, and often unable (or unwilling) to support large-scale change in a sweeping and transformative manner (that makes the geeks happy).

    Don't forget that small victories and improvements might be needed to establish some credibility, start opening the organization's minds to looking at process and technology in new ways, and serve as an important foundation for instilling the kind of environment of curiosity and creativity and change that the geeks are after.

    Start small.

    Maybe even as small as 'better staplers and scissors'.

    Note : Picture credit - Viktor Koroma from the 'Sex, Drugs, and Office Supplies' series.

    Note 2 : The HR Happy Hour Show is live tonight talking about the law and social media with the 'I Fought the Law' show, 8PM EDT.

     

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    Tuesday
    Jun292010

    Guest Post - A Beginner’s Guide to using Social Media for HR

    Note : In teaching my HR Technology Class when we get to the topics of Social Media, I am always looking for resources I can direct the student's towards to better understand the complex topic.  This guest post does a nice job of covering some of the basics and the important issues - enjoy!Flickr - alles schlumpf

    This guest post is by Natasha Stone, the Social Media Marketer for Silicon Beach Training, a UK-based training company. Silicon Beach Training offer wide range of Business, IT, Management and Social Media training courses, including HR Training.  

    Whether organizations embrace it or not, Social Media is seeping into organizations large and small. HR professionals will eventually be forced into the world of social media whether they like it or not e.g. when unions leverage Facebook for action, or when an employee behaves inappropriately on Twitter.

    There’s no doubt that Social Media has huge benefits for sales, marketing, PR and customer services. But it’s also tricky defining who is responsible for social media with certain issues falling between HR, marketing and customer services. This is where strategy – or a social media policy – is required. The HR department must at least have a look at social media and decide which roles individuals in the organisation need to take.

    From legal issues and reputation management to recruitment and improving internal communications, the implications really are endless; what follows are some key ways that HR departments can adapt thanks to social media.

    Recruitment

    This is the most obvious and the most established HR-related use of Social Media. Just type “using social media for recruitment” into Google and you’ll find plenty of help. LinkedIn is definitely the best place to do this if you’re choosing from the major social networks – with a wide range of professional users and extensive CV information on their profiles. New LinkedIn changes mean that you can announce new recruits on your LinkedIn business page, as well as listing previous employees. This is of use to marketers but it’s also a good way to keep in touch with your staff, past and present.

    You can also use platforms such as Twitter to market vacancies – be sure to tag tweets with location and industry hashtags e.g. “Fantastic opening for an #SEO in #Brighton! Details here: http://…”. As well as a blog, many may also create a podcast as a more engaging way to explain your business and the employment opportunities.

    As you can see, these social media platforms belong to no single department of a business and must be co-managed with marketing, sales, admin, customer services and HR having an input. Bearing this is mind, you may wish to consider employing a “Social Media Officer” to coordinate these efforts.

    Staff Communications

    This is a tricky area; personally I wouldn’t recommend creating a Facebook page to encourage staff interaction and feedback. It requires staff to actually log in and check it and Facebook is still associated with private rather than business use. Try Twitter or LinkedIn instead, e.g. invite employees to a LinkedIn social media group to encourage them to engage, or run scheduled Twitter discussions with participants tagging tweets with a relevant hashtag. Asking for employee opinions or ideas on these platforms is a fantastically easy way to welcome new staff and to make all staff feel important.

    Again the line between HR and marketing blurs: certainly marketers will be the main people to use Twitter, but HR should use it to recommend employees’ work or to praise them for a project.

    Training is a key area where social media can be really beneficial, with ongoing discussions running in your LinkedIn groups and employees encouraged to share their knowledge and discuss best practices. You can also use these groups for career development, with advertisements of possible new openings. Using LinkedIn will give you access to online CVs of your staff, which you can encourage them to update. When employees leave the business, you can leave a recommendation on their profile.

    Of course you could create much of this on your own internal network; but why bother when this is all mobile, readymade and free? One big advantage to doing this publicly on LinkedIn (content within a group can be made private, but your group size / name and your business page are public) is the promotion for your business. You will look like a modern and engaging employer; excellent for when you wish to recruit with LinkedIn. Not only do you attract top talent – you can also retain them.

    Back to the question of departmental responsibility for social media: your LinkedIn activity will require a personal account to administer the group(s), pose questions and make recommendations. I would recommend having one for your Managing Director and also your Head of HR, so that all activity is entirely transparent.

    Network and gain HR knowledge

    Use Twitter to get advice from fellow HR professionals by tagging a query with relevant hashtags (#human #resources #humanresources and #hr are all in popular use). For LinkedIn networking see LinkedIn’s numerous jobs and HR groups, including a huge “Linked:HR” group with almost 300,000 members. You can share links in the News sections, post vacancies in the Jobs section, or start up a discussion.

    Alternatively pose a question to all on LinkedIn. The LinkedIn categories for questions are a huge muddle but you can choose from “Compensation and Benefits”, “Personnel Policies” and “Staffing and Recruiting” all within the “Hiring and Human Resources” umbrella, allowing you to reach a huge range of HR professionals. People choose categories that they’d like to answer questions in, so alternatively try a different category such as “Administration” or “Career and Education” to reach a different sort of respondent. You’ll notice that some categories do overlap, so it’s worth putting some questions in the two allowed categories.

    Social media policy

    Many in HR aren’t yet making the most out of social media, because management fear a loss of control, legal concerns, unclear ROI and possible reputation damage. But your employees will be using Social Media – whether it’s for a bit of marketing or for a personal rant about work. Therefore one area where the HR department needs to get moving is policy.

    A Social Media Policy should be short – no more than two pages of guidelines – so that employees can read and digest it. There are many questions that will arise (one common issue is ownership of networks and sales leads when an employee leaves) and these need to be addressed and spelt out. This will require research into the broad role Social Media can play e.g. Facebook may not be the place to encourage your staff to log onto during working hours, but a Facebook Page is a place to promote your company and showcase job opportunities.

    Defining the role Social Media plays for your business will require working closely with other departments. I like this short Social Media post which says “Asking which Department owns Social Media is like asking which Department owns the Paper”. Social Media is happening whether HR like it or not; the sooner we address it the better.

     

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    Monday
    Jun282010

    New territories

    Whether it is teaching a class, coaching a sports team, or taking on a new professional responsibility, sometimes I think there are two main types of challenges out there.

    One - the kind that you are extremely well prepared for, the processes and outcomes are clearly defined and reasonably predictable, and success is to a very high degree linked to effort - the harder, and to some extent longer that you go at it will determine the results.  

    The other kind of challenge is new or uncharted territory for you.  The long-term result may be known, but it is certainly more intangible. You may have some kind of understanding of the 'how' part of the task in front of you, but you quickly discover that there is not a set pathway to follow. And long-term success may not at all be tied to how 'hard' you work, it could be that some new type of insight and creativity is necessary.  That may come in ten minutes, or it may not come at all in five years.

    But ultimately it seems like the most rewarding kinds of challenges contain elements of both types. With enough predictability and process to support making steady and incremental progress, coupled with a nice batch of uncertainty and excitement that can make the task more challenging and fun.  Some folks will naturally gravitate towards one type or another, but it is pretty unusual for someone to always prefer routine and repetitive assignments, or always choose complex, challenging, and unpredictable jobs.

    I am thinking about this blend, and the best way to ensure that organizational job design can be flexible enough to support both kinds of people, and both kinds of roles, while meeting the needs of the organization and people's desires for meaningful work.