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    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!



    The Best Christmas Song Ever

    Merry Christmas from Steve's HR Technology Blog!

    Have a wonderful day if you are one to celebrate, and even if you aren't celebrating, I think you will appreciate what I think is the best Christmas song ever - 'Christmas in Hollis' by Run DMC.

    Money line - 'Rice and stuffing, macaroni and cheese, and Santa puttin' gifts under Christmas trees'


    Have a wonderful day.


    The Sham of Working on Christmas Eve

    If you are sitting in your office reading this post today I have two things to say to you:

    One - Thanks for reading, I love and appreciate all my readers, hopefully your received your packages of cookies and fudge

    Two - Quit goofing off on the internet and get back to work!

    Seriously, unless you are a police officer, firefighter, work in a hospital, or are standing behind a cash register today, 'working' on Christmas Eve is a total sham.

    For the typical office, information, or 'knowledge' worker forced to trudge in to the office on Christmas Eve almost no 'real' work will get done, they will be forced to stand around a box of holiday frosted Dunkin' Donuts making awkward small talk with their co-workers, and either watching the clock or waiting with breathless anticipation for the manager/boss/VP to graciously let them leave early at 2 or 3 pm.

    And most people that celebrate Christmas still have a million things to do on Christmas Eve, from shopping, to arranging child care (you know the teachers aren't working on Christmas Eve), to traveling or dealing with incoming relatives, and on and on.

    I know what you are saying - just take a vacation day then if you are so busy. Flickr - Daniel Slaughter

    But most people hate taking a vacation day on Christmas Eve because they know it is not a 'real' day. People will dress casually (or in hideous holiday sweaters), come in later, have a long lunch, and normally leave early.  Why burn a precious vacation day that can be saved for July, when the sun it out and you can actually really feel superior to the rest of the idiots stuck working.

    Yep, Christmas Eve and work.  No one who is actually there wants to be there and hardly anything will get done.  And the people who are not there are secretly pissed that they are missing the 'free' day to watch their kids, bake cookies,  or drive 14 hours through the snow to Kansas City.

    Do yourself and your workplace a favor, if you are not in the life-saving or trinket-selling business just shut it down on Christmas Eve.

    You will make everyone happy. 

    Except possibly for the people that live to wear their holiday sweaters.


    HR Carnival - Holiday Time

    The latest HR Carnival is posted on April Dowling's PseudoHR blog, and once you visit the holiday themed carnival, you will agree that April did a fantastic job assembling the Carnival.

    As you have come to expect from the HR Carnival, there is a fantastic assortment of contributions from some of your favorite (and highly influential) bloggers.

    You will find some great pieces from Lance Haun , Naomi Bloom, and Lisa Rosendahl (and many, many more).

    Even my little 'coal in your stocking' story about a 'Twitter punishment' made the cut.

    Thanks very much to April for such a fantastic job, and to the awesome Shauna Moerke for coordinating the Carnivals all year long.