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    Your Help Requested: The Only HR Technology Survey that Matters

    You know I don't ask much from you, gentle readers? 


    I grind away over here in the sub-basement cranking out posts asking really nothing from you the readers. Day-in day-out, week-in week-out, and really only with the hope that if I could impact just one little kid out there, who may have been thinking about dropping out of school, but found the blog and decided to stick to his studies with the dreams of a great future in Human Resources or Technology that it would have all been worth it... 

    I kid, I kid, (kind of).

    Seriously, today I am asking for a bit of a favor from those of you that are HR practitioners, and are at all interested, impacted by, and involved with workplace technology. That is, essentially, all of you.

    Each year HR Technology industry legend Lexy Martin and her colleagues at CedarCrestone sponsor the most important survey of Human Resources Technology, titled the CedarCrestone 2012–2013 HR Systems Survey: HR Technologies, Service Delivery Choices, and Metrics, 15th Annual Edition. That's right, now celebrating it's 15th year of tracking the adoption, deployment approaches, and value realized from Human Resources Technologies by organizations of all sizes.

    My favor is to ask you to take 15-20 minutes out of your Friday, or your weekend, and take the survey.

    If you want to learn more about the survey itself, you can check out the introduction letter from Lexy, which nicely (includes a strong pull quote from the most interesting man in HR, Bill Kutik). If you are already sold on the value of this annual survey to the greater HR and HR Technology community, (and you should be), you can launch the survey here

    It will take 15, 20 minutes of your time, max. And in addition to having my enduring appreciation, and the good feeling that by sharing your experience and insight to this survey you are contributing to our increased industry understanding, you'll also be eligible to win some really cool prizes, (like $100 Visa gift cards).

    Look the chance to win a prize for participating in the survey is cool, but for real, you should really want to take part because it truly is the most important HR Technology study that I know of, and the only one that I would be willing to make an (extremely rare), ask of my blog readers.

    So here is what you need to know one more time:

    HR Systems Survey backround and welcome letter - here

    Take the survey and be a good HR citizen - here

    Survey responses will be accepted until July 2, 2012.

    Thanks so much for the indulgence, and now I will return to the basement to get cracking on next week's content.

    Have a great weekend - and many thanks! 



    Relocation, company growth, and asking the right questions

    Editor’s Note: Today’s post is the final in a series brought to you by Allied Van Lines, proud sponsor of the “2012 Workforce Mobility Survey”, designed to capture the voice of HR on topics related to workforce mobility. Allied has more than 75 years of experience in corporate, household and international relocation.)


    Here is the simple plan for today's offering -

    First, I'll drop two simple, but related charts from the Allied 2012 Workforce Mobility Survey.

    Next, I will spend a sentence or two expressing disbelief, incredulity, and general hand-wringing about what the numbers are telling us about our, (that's the collective 'we', not you, dear reader. We both know you are better than that), inability to do the most simple, basic, yet important things well.

    Last, I will issue a general plea for all of us, (again it's them I mean, not you), to try and do just a little better. 

    Sound good? Here goes.

    Chart 1 - Getting to the question of 'How important is relocation, and by extrapolation, flexibility, commitment, and possibly even drive in whether or not you're likely to become a big shot in this organization?'

    Wow, turns out it is pretty important. Especially in very large organizations where 60% of respondents indicating for VP and Director-level roles, relocation is required for career advancement, and almost half indicate its requirement for Business Unit leader roles. Since relocation is a requirement for advancement into these very senior, and likely critically important roles, you'd think just about all organizations would have a great handle on just who amongst the potential internal candidates for these roles would be ready, able, and willing to actually relocate for one of them.


    Chart 2 - Guess again, an incredibly small percentage of respondents, even in large companies, indicated they were actually tracking employee's willingness to relocate.

    We've heard the story about a zillion times in various formats and ways over the years. The world is shrinking, US companies are looking for growth all over the world, and tapping into markets like China, India, Brazil and more, are becoming keys for many organization's strategies. But in order to make those kinds of strategies possible, to say nothing for less-ambitious but still tricky domestic-based expansion efforts, it will almost always require at least some ability to deploy internal talent in new locations. In order to drop a new store in Topeka, or open a new regional distribution center in Singapore, it is highly likely someone, (probably several someones), will have to go live in Topeka for a while. But based on the survey data in the above chart, it seems like about 88% of companies would have no real idea who might be a good candidate for that kind of primo assignment, because they never bothered to ask anyone.

    So here's the wrap-up and the plea. There are lots and lots of things about HR and Recruiting that are really complex, difficult, and simply hard to do. Employees are unpredictable. Managers can go off the plot. Technology that is supposed to make it all better sometimes, unfortunately, lets us down.

    Yes, much of what comprises these kinds of the talent processes can be downright perplexing and maddeningly frustrating. But not all of it is hard. Some things are actually kind of easy, like keeping track of people's ability and willingness to pursue new assignments and relocation roles. It is just a question. Ask it once a year, maybe at annual review time, maybe on their service anniversary, maybe at the company picnic, whatever.

    But when the simple question isn't asked, and the data to answer the CEO when he or she wants to know if we have the talent to tame a tough market like Topeka does not exist, well then we, (them, not you), look really silly. And the shame of it is that we might have lots of other things that will make us look silly that are out of our control, we really should not be helping anyone make that case.

    Many thanks to Allied for the opportunity to participate in the shaping and analysis of the 2012 Workforce Mobility Survey.

    And sure, making it a little bit fun probably won't hurt.


    If you would like to learn more about Allied Van Lines, please check out their website or blog. And if you would like to get more information from the Workforce Mobility Survey, you can click here. It’s definitely worth checking out.


    WEBINAR : Talent, Succession, and Zombie Identification

    A quick plug for my colleagues over at Fistful of Talent who next week, Wednesday June 20 at 1:00PM EDT, will be running the latest installment of their fun, informative, and popular webinar series, this time with what promises to be a fresh, innovative, and probably not at all like you are used to approach to succession planning and talent reviews. You know as an HR or Talent profession you secretly love talent reviews and succession planning. You do.


    Because you love judging people. I mean, don't we all? You're reading this and judging me right now. If you are still reading this, I guess I made it past the latest in what naturally is an almost constant evaluation of where I fall on continuum running from 'What an idiot' to 'Genius! I need to show this article to my CEO'.

    If judging people isn't the nation's second favorite pastime, (football is still number one), then how do you explain, variously, the success of American Idol, America's Got Talent, The Voice, Dancing With the Stars, and the 73 other competition/reality shows out there? And don't get me started on the internal monologue running in your brain when you go to the mall, the airport, or that pinnacle of judgmental snarkiness, the county fair.

    But back to the point, and I remember there being one. As a talent professional perhaps the single most important job you have is making sure the organization has the talent it needs, in the roles where they are most likely to succeed and have some kind of affinity for, (or at least be good at), and demonstrate a readiness in organizational capability to adapt to (among other things), new business strategies, changing external conditions, and lastly and more commonly, people just being people and doing things like resigning unexpectedly, flaking out on an overseas business trip, or getting a too-good-to-pass-up and too-rich-for-you-to-match offer from ACME Corp. down the road. 

    So how as a busy with a million other things HR and Talent pro begin to get a handle on the 'sound boring but are really important' processes of Succession Planning and the mechanism that drives much of the Succession Planning process, the Talent Review?

    Well, that is what the FOT webinar is all about. Check the details below:

    Halogen Software is bringing in the team at Fistful of Talent for a quick, street smart webinar, Wednesday June 20 at 1:00PM EDT, on how to bootstrap a talent review and get started with Succession Planning.  Attend Zombies, Grinders and Superstars:  The FOT Talent/Succession Review” to get the following goodies:

    How what you do with performance management at your company is directly related to how you approach talent reviews and succession

    • Why corporate values don’t belong anywhere near your performance management system
    • How items called “potential factors” add flavor to your approach to performance/talent/succession, and how to create potential factors for your company to use in the talent review
    • How to use the talent review process to calibrate performance ratings across your company, box in managers who are soft on performance and create a greater sense of pay for performance in your organization
    • An outline and best practice notes on how to run a talent review meeting, with formats that differ for your company’s Leadership Team, a division/departmental group, or a high potential employee program.      

    This webinar comes with the Fistful of Talent guarantee:  60% of the time it works every time.  Join the FOT crew as they tell the truth and cut through the smoke and mirrors related to Talent Reviews as a part of your succession program.

    Got it?

    Seriously, I always have learn something new on the FOT webinars, and even if you think you have the Succession/Talent thing down cold, it is worth your time to dial-in and help make fun of Sackett.


    Fun with job requirements: How many ways can an object be moved?

    I have a friend in a job search and last week he forwarded to me an online posting for a position he was considering applying to, and wanted some feedback from me about the job, the organization, and whether I felt it was a potential fit for him. I took a quick look and it mostly seemed pretty standard, a technical system admin-type job working on company systems, some different programming languages they were looking for, working on-site in the company offices, etc. Again, nothing really noteworthy or quite frankly interesting about the listing until I got to the end.But can you do this?

    This 'requirement' is taken word for word from the job description in the 'Physical requirements' section of the posting:

    "Primarily sedentary work with the need to exert up to 10 pounds of force occasionally to lift, carry, push, pull or otherwise move objects."

    For some reason, this requirement just about made me spit coffee all over the keyboard, if nothing else for its surface absurdity, but also the thought of someone sitting down, perhaps even having a conversation with a colleague or the hiring manager, when it came time to draft the language for this requirement.

    Perhaps it went something like this:

    HR/Recruiter -Ok, we have the skills, education, job duties down. How about any special physical requirements for the job?

    Hiring Manager -  Well, it is a computer admin job. Just normal work on a computer, you know, typing, working a mouse, that kind of thing.

    HR/Recruiter -Would the person have to lift or carry anything?

    Hiring Manager - Not really, I mean the occasional report or print out. Maybe a technical manual now and


    HR/Recruiter -Ok, so lifting and carrying are needed.

                             How about pushing or pulling? Any pushing or pulling involved?

    Hiring Manager - Uh, I don't know. Maybe. Sometimes we move the chairs and tables in the conference room around for meetings. 

    HR/Recruiter -Ok, I better add pushing and pulling too.

                              Anything else?

    Hiring Manager - I can't think of anything. I mean, how many different ways can an object be moved?

    Classic. Maybe I am being too hard on the HR person here, maybe the conversation went the other way around and the Hiring Manager insisted the nonsensical requirement made the copy. Either way, the idea at some point, a conversation like the above might have actually happened was enough for me to take notice. Good times.

    I'll sign off with this question - Lift, carry, push, pull - what other ways can an object be moved? 

    Have a great Tuesday!


    On Gates and Gatekeepers

    A week or so back I had a post titled, 'The Skilled Trades Need a Famous Commencement Address Too', in which I whined for 500 words or so about the prevalence of actors, politicians, ridiculously successful internet gazillionaires, and the other non-relatable types that seem to deliver just about all of the annual college commencement addresses, or at least the ones we hear about. My point was more or less that in a tough economic climate, and with an enduring and worsening need for talented people to enter fields such as the skilled trades, teaching, and other not-as-glamorous-as-acting-or-being-a-social-media-consultant, that the consistent set of messages stemming from the annual round of typical commencement speeches, ('Just go out there and be fantastic', 'You can save the world', 'Borrow $20k from your parents and start a business'), were all just getting tiresome.  If the nation truly needs more machinists or nurses or accountants, then could we at least start acknowledging that more openly and with more conviction?

    So as I said, I don't really give two shakes about 99% of the latest round of commencement addresses. But once in a great while there is a talk worth talking about, and worth sharing, even if it does bear some similarity to the hacky, same-old same-old advice that gets recycled each spring.  The speech I wanted to call out was given on May 17th at The University of the Arts in Philadelphia by the author Neil Gaiman, famous mostly for The Sandman, a series of comics written between 1988 and 1996.

    In the speech, (text here, embedded video below, email and RSS subscribers will need to click through), Gaiman, speaking to a graduating class from an art school, offers advice and wisdom gained over his career as a working, and certainly, highly successful creative. While the entire speech is interesting, I wanted to call out two passages that speak more broadly to issues about career planning and management, and to the pace of change impacting not just the creative industries, but almost all organizations these days.

    On career planning and management:

    When you start out on a career in the arts you have no idea what you are doing.

    This is great. People who know what they are doing know the rules, and know what is possible and impossible. You do not. And you should not.

    Value in the real world - In your organization, the people making the rules, setting the boundaries, (maybe that's you?), are inherently limited by their tendency to fail to envision a world outside those boundaries. Having a job setting rules, well it seems that is a path to a long career setting rules and enforcing boundaries. Maybe you are ok with that, maybe not. 

    On organizational and business model change:

    I've talked to people at the top of the food chain in publishing, in bookselling, in all those areas, and nobody knows what the landscape will look like two years from now, let alone a decade away. The distribution channels that people had built over the last century or so are in flux for print, for visual artists, for musicians, for creative people of all kinds.

    Which is, on the one hand, intimidating, and on the other, immensely liberating. The rules, the assumptions, the now-we're supposed to's of how you get your work seen, and what you do then, are breaking down. The gatekeepers are leaving their gates. You can be as creative as you need to be to get your work seen. YouTube and the web (and whatever comes after YouTube and the web) can give you more people watching than television ever did. The old rules are crumbling and nobody knows what the new rules are.

    Value in the real world - In the arts, and probably your business too, the landscape two, five, ten years out is entirely unpredictable, and it is likely what works today will not work tomorrow. The gatekeepers are leaving their gates. 

    Don't allow yourself to use that as an excuse to over-analyze or hesitate. The winning organizations are not waiting to 'see how things play out', by that time, it's likely that you'll be too late to adapt once the new landscape is revealed. Better to set off on the course you think will be successful than wait for some kind of signpost from beyond.

    Anyway, that's it for me on commencement speeches, at least until next Spring. 

    The video of the full speech is below, and I think definitely worth your time over lunch, or at night when you have a spare 20 minutes or so.