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    HR Happy New Year

    The HR Happy Hour Show will be live tonight from 8PM - 10PM EST for a special 'HR Happy New Year' show.

    The call-in number is 646-378-1086, and we encourage you to ring in and participate in the show.

    I think New Year's Eve is the most democratic holiday, since really everyone can participate equally. If you had a great 2009, then awesome, you get to ring it out wth a big celebration.  And if you had a lousy 2009, then what better than to raise a glass and put the entire year in the rear view.

    The New Year's Show has no guests, no specific topics planned, it is just you guys calling in and talking about whatever is on your mind as we close out 2009 and head in to 2010.

    I hope you can spend some of your New Year's Eve with us on the show!


    My 2010 Predictions (Like I really know)

    These wise, sage, prescient prognostications were originally posted over at William Tincup's JPIE, I am taking the liberty to re-run them here.

    Yes, that does mean I did not finish the 'real' post intended for today, but as a method of preview, it involves a discussion of 'Going back to Shawshank'.

    Forget that for now, here are my three predictions for the Human Capital space for 2010: Flickr - Maribelle71


    • Smart organizations will recognize the value in employee networks, both internal and external, and develop strategies and implement technologies to help grow, enhance, and leverage these networks to increase revenue and profitability.  Most other organizations will worry about blocking Facebook and trying to pay for more storage space on their MS Exchange servers.


    • Trust of employers by employees will continue to erode, and only the very best companies, the ones that respect, support, and develop employees will see their long-term prospects for growth and success enhanced. The exception being energy companies and health insurers, they will rake in profits in 2010 no matter how they treat their employees and customers.


    • Workforce technology will go more ‘mobile’, partially fueled by worker’s expectations and demands, and mostly due to employer’s realizing if everyone has an iPhone or BlackBerry that can easily access company systems that most top performers will work morning, noon, and night. Employees will begin to negotiate ‘non-working’ hours in employment contracts instead of employers demanding adherence to a schedule of ‘working hours’.

    What do you think? 

    Do I need to hurry up and get the 'Shawshank' post done?

    Have a wonderful 2010!


    Stop Doing Stupid Things

    In the 1990's when the corporate 'reengineering' craze was at its height, the giant multi-national corporation that I was working for at the time had bought into all the promises and wonderfulness that reengineering would bring to the massive, bureaucratic organization.

    As part of our ongoing journey towards better understanding and improved efficiency, the company organized a seminar and brought in a few guest speakers, experts on reengineering to address and rally the troops, and to share their wisdom on the process so that all of us minions, (I was definitely a minion at that time) could benefit.

    As the first Mr. Expert (I wish I could remember his name) took the microphone he glanced at his watch and casually remarked that he was not sure why the event organizers had given him a 90 minute slot for his speech and for Q&A, as he did not have really all that much to say.

    He said the following:

    The secret to reengineering, and the only thing you need to remember is this - Stop Doing Stupid Things.

    That was it. 

    He knew, correctly, that in our giant organization you did not have to look very hard or far to find 'stupid' things we were doing every day.  Find a 'stupid' thing (and they are obvious and easy to spot) and simply stop doing it.

    Passing paper around endlessly, calling meetings and inviting dozens of people so as not to 'offend' anyone left out, creating report after report displaying essentially the same information in slightly different ways were just some of the fundamentally stupid things that my corporate finance group engaged in every day.

    I know what you are saying, that was ages ago, now we have so much better workplace tools and technologies that make us all more productive and efficient.  We can share information and collaborate in ways that the old reengineering expert would never have dreamed about. We are all smarter, and better educated. 

    We can't possibly being doing as many stupid things as in the past can we?  I mean with increased global competition and relentless pressure on sales and profits, if we were doing stupid things we'd be out of business by now, right?


    As 2010 nears, I think it makes sense to take a more honest look at some of your processes, normal ways of getting things done, and things like standing meetings and such.  Take a few minutes to ask a simple question - Is this good, or is it stupid?

    And if it is stupid, toss it in the trash.  If you get hassled, tell them I said it was ok.



    The Eminent Workforce

    This long holiday weekend I came across the text of a speech given by Jon Iwata, SVP of Communications and Marketing from IBM at the November 4th 2009 Institute for Public Relations Distinguished Lecture Series at the Yale Club in New York City.

    The full text of the speech is available at the 'points of view' Blog - here. Flickr - Tico

    It is really worth the time to read the entire speech, but one theme in particular stood out for me, and that is IBM's idea of something they call the 'Eminent Workforce' and why these new capabilities will be essential for successful organizations in the future.

    Iwata anticipates an environment where organizations will enlist, marshal, and support employees as product/service and brand ambassadors:

    And all companies will then flood the Net with their people, in the same way we flooded the World Wide Web with websites and content a decade ago.

    But simply getting more employees blogging and tweeting about your company does not actually add any real business value if these employees are not seen and recognized as trustworthy, knowledgeable, and authentic.

    What do I mean by “eminence”? No matter what their industry, their profession, their discipline or their job, people with eminence are acknowledged by others as expert. It’s not simply to know a lot about Tuscan villas, digital cameras or banking. You need to be recognized as an expert. And when you show up – in person, or online; in writing, or in conversation – you are both knowledgeable and persuasive.

    The challenges to organizations, and in particular the corporate communications professionals that Iwata was addressing, and I think by extension Human Resources leaders, are several:

    Building the capabilities of the workforce

    As Iwata accurately observes, simply setting a few policies and hoping for the best outcomes is not likely to be a successful strategy. Your organization is likely full of 'experts' in their given fields, but translating that expertise for consumption in what Iwata refers to as the 'Global Commons' will require new strategies in talent acquisition, more training, and ongoing support.  Alignment of the most critical HR foundational elements (leadership competency, performance management, development) with the brand strategies is HR's opportunity and challenge.

    Ceding control of the internal message

    Public forums, product review and evaluation sites, company rating sites like Glassdoor, and social networks have allowed every customer, supplier, critic, and the like to have a say about your organization, its reputation and products and services. By the end of 2009, most all marketing and communications professionals have at least recognized this, and many have devised and implemented strategies for addressing this new reality.

    But most organizations still control (or attempt to control) the 'internal' messaging.  Corporate communications and marketing are the 'official' spokespeople for news and information for the organization. Most of the employees are on social networks, some blog, but very few of them are authorized as speaking for the company on any level.  Iwata advises that communications (and really HR as well) must get over the notion that only they can craft messages, produce content, and actually represent the organization.

    Culture becomes brand

    In this new world, where hundreds and perhaps thousands of employees are interacting online and influencing the perception of the organization, it is essential that every employee is completely grounded in the organization's values and culture. Iwata describes a branding model that moves from outward manifestations of the brand image, 'What does IBM look like', all the way to internal and cultural expressions, 'What does it mean to 'be' IBM'.  Moving across the model it becomes clear that most of the important understanding and work is really about the actions and performance of people, and not as much about clever TV ads and jingles. 

    As the external consumer brand becomes more intertwined with the internal brand, or company culture, the importance of HR leaders, and the opportunity for HR to have a much more influential position in the real business outcomes of the organization dramatically increases.  According to Iwata, In many ways, the management and alignment with the external brand with the organizational culture, as well as the classic and traditional communications roles is a new organizational discipline.

    I really encourage you to read the entire speech, as I read through this post I am not sure I really did it justice.

    What do you think? 

    Are we truly entering a world where organizations will be managing potentially the entire workforce as brand ambassadors?


    An Opportunity for 2009, Wait 2010

    NOTE: I thought I would re-run a few posts from 2009 during the holiday week, and I came across this one, originally posted December 28, 2008 - almost exactly one year ago.  Then, I opined on the tremendous opportunity for HR organizations to lead and drive the implementation of new tools and technologies to support workforce collaboration.  I wonder if in 2009, that this opportunity was really largely missed, consumed by the recession, survival-mode thinking, and too much debating and strategizing, and not enough 'doing'.  Let me know what you think, did HR really miss on this in 2009? And can we take advantage of this in 2010?

    Flickr - sebastien.YEPES

    An Opportunity for 2009 - December 28, 2008

    Ok, you are probably sick of reading blogs, analyst opinions, and watching Webinars that all keep saying the same thing: in 2009 there are opportunities for HR Technologists to make substantial impact deploying systems or platforms to improve collaboration, networking, and information sharing. 

    Take a look at this quote from the Collaborative Thinking blog by Mike Gotta:

    An opportunity for HR in 2009

    Generational shifts: GenY and aging workforce trends create opportunities for HR groups to take on a much more strategic role. Employee, retiree and alumni social networks for instance have the potential to help organizations become more resilient and agile by allowing it to capitalize on its internal and extended relationships - often in ways not constrained by formal institutional structures

     How about this one from the Aberdeen Group's Kevin Martin:

    While HR and IT can often butt heads regarding HR systems implementations, Aberdeen's research has uncovered that HR should collaborate with IT to advance Web 2.0 initiatives and achieve the above-referenced common organizational objective: organizational knowledge capture and transfer.

    And if you come to the realization and conclusion that social networking and collaboration technologies are the right tools for your organization and want to champion their adoption and deployment but are faced with skeptical or less-informed management? How do you convince the 'old-guard' managers and influencers that social technologies are a valuable, soon to be essential tool, and not just a distraction from 'real work'? How about this answer from Knowledge Infusion:

     Don't try. Start at grassroots level with a ripe and receptive department or business unit. Once there is success and viral effect, the old school executives will take notice and support an enterprise approach.

    You know, deep down you know, that jumping in to the Web 2.0 world is the right thing to do in 2009.  The start-up investment is extremely low, the learning curves are short, and there are loads of articles, blogs, case studies describing how numerous organizations have approached and have had success with these tools.

    Don't wait for the jokers in IT to do this and grab all the glory a year from now!