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    Friday
    Dec252009

    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'

    Awesome.

    Have a wonderful day.

    Thursday
    Dec242009

    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.

    Wednesday
    Dec232009

    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.

     

    Wednesday
    Dec232009

    The Wisdom of Jeff Van Gundy

    The always entertaing former NBA coach turned announcer Jeff Van Gundy was reflecting on the difficulty that many coaches have with connecting with their much younger and far wealthier players.  Van Gundy's opinion was that a coach's message can, over time, start to lose its resonance, and it's effectiveness. JVG

    Van Gundy made what I thought was an excellent point in the discussion:

    If you as leader are the only one that always has to tell the truth, then you need more leaders on the team.

    It makes sense. If the coach, manager, or leader is the sole voice of the organizational 'truth', he or she will always be fighting an uphill battle. In the NBA, Van Gundy felt that you needed one or two players, preferably star players or at least starters, that were completely on board with the coach's approach and could help to reinforce the 'right' way to prepare, practice, and play. These respected players could help keep the team together, and serve as a kind of validation for the coach's program.

    I think this concept can apply in corporate organizations as well. Work groups and teams all have some natural leaders, roles models, and respected members. Managers that can forge understanding and connection with these leaders will likely have a better opportunity to fold in all the entire team, perhaps leading to a more cohesive, and better functioning group.

    This idea of leveraging key internal leaders or champions also has application in tools and technologies that are being increasingly deployed inside organizations to facilitate collaboration in the enterprise.  Technologies like wikis, forums, and microblogs are often positioned by project leaders as solutions that will bring significant value to all members of the organization. But they also can have 'adoption' problems, with many employees reluctant to replace traditional and proven methods of collaboration (e-mail, phone, voice mail, shared network drives) with the new processes and tools.

    Recruiting and deploying 'champions', a few key and hopefully respected employees to serve as guides and leaders in the adoption of these new approaches, and that serve as examples for the other members of the organization to follow is often a critical success factor in these projects. These are the ones that will kick-start forum discussions, post new findings on a wiki page, and actively share bookmarks, and tag and organize content.  Without these leaders, your project may not thrive.

    Just like the great JVG says, if you as coach, leader, or technology evangelist are the only one 'telling the truth' you are going to have problems getting everyone to see the light.

    Tuesday
    Dec222009

    Do you Read These?

    Earlier this year I co-presented at the Academy of Human Resource Development (AHRD) annual conference in Washington, DC.  The AHRD is professional, research-driven organization made up of Human Resources academics and a few 'reflective practitioners'.

    At that time I also became a member of the AHRD and almost immediately began Some light readingreceiving a regular series of journals and publications from the academy.  Titles like:  Human Resource Development Quarterly, HRD Review, and Advances in Developing Human Resources.

    These are pretty heavy titles, full of some excellent research pieces written (mostly) by Professors of Human Resources from the USA and many other countries. Articles like 'Meaningfulness, Commitment, and Engagement: The Intersection of a Deeper Level of Intrinsic Motivation' have some great information and can be very valuable for academics and practitioners alike. They are not 500-word blog posts, but if you can wrestle your way though them, you can usually pull out some great insights.

    But some other pieces incredibly arcane and narrow in focus and quite honestly seems to exist to support University tenure requirements for publishing. An article like 'The trend of blended learning in Taiwan' fits pretty squarely in this category. By their nature they have limited use and a small potential audience.

    Currently, I am in the (long) process of writing an article for one of the aforementioned journals, and since this is the first (and likely only) time I will ever write for an academic journal I have some observations on the process and on the academic journals themselves.

    1. It takes an incedibly long time to write one of these articles

    You generally submit an abstract or basic idea for a piece to the editors, wait months to hear if your idea is accepted, then submit a 'expanded' abstract, wait for another few months for feedback, submit a revised expanded abstract, wait, submit a first draft, wait, submit a final draft, wait, and eventually (for me this will be over a year later), see the article published. Oh yeah, actually writing the content takes a really long time too, more details on why that is to follow.

    2. Style is (almost) as important as substance

    There are often incredibly detailed and precise requirements for the format and structure of each different submission.  Length, section titles, headings, and of course strict adherence to the citation formats are so stressed and emphasized that it actually is a bit frustrating and annoying. Does anyone really notice if an article uses APA citation format 5 or format 6?  Does anyone even care? This part of the 'writing' process often involves grad student (free) labor.  The idea seems to be to recruit a grad student that is good with research to help find references and compile the bibliography in exchange for a credit on the article's eventual byline.

    3. What other people have written is more important as what you write

    In this kind of writing for academic journals there is a heavy emphasis on citations.  It is not unusual to see a 12 page article with over 100 citations.  In some of these pieces, nary a paragraph goes by without some external source cited (almost always another academic journal article). I get this to some extent, my (or anyone's) opinions on a topic do carry more weight if it can be shown that other author's have agreed, or drawn similar conclusions; and certainly any statistics or factual statements should show the real source of the data. But many times reading one of these pieces, with so many citations, you wonder why the article was even needed at all.  The academic journal citation is probably the earliest form of the blog link or the retweet.  Too many of those, and you wonder if the author actually has anything useful to add to the discourse.

    4. I am pretty sure hardly anyone will read the article

    I keep up with at least 100 other HR blogs, have attended plenty of events, watched dozens of webcasts, and hosted and listened to scores of talk showson HR and recruiting this year.  I have never heard anyone, in any context, mention the AHRD, talk about any of the journals they publish, or cite any of the journal articles in a blog post, presentation, or in any other forum.  My unscientific observation is that the only people that will ever read my article are the editors of the journal, and a very small percentage of the folks that actually get the journal.  And perhaps once in a great while someone doing an academic database keyword search will stumble upon my article for possible use as a (gasp) citation for an article or assignment. This citation (if it ever does happen) will also hardly be seen by anyone outside of this tiny circle of journal editors and academics.

    Frankly, I am at the end of the post and I am not really sure what my conclustion is.

    Could it be the process, form, and ultimate outcome of the academic publishing process is kind of ridiculous and largely unappealing?

    Maybe it is a call for more 'mainsteam' HR practitioners and industry bloggers to take note of the excellent work (if you look hard enough) that can be found in these academic journals?

    Could it be that instead of working on my first draft that is due soon, I found it easier and more satisfying to bang out a 900+ word blog post on  the whole thing?

    I will end with this, does anyone reading this post actually read any Human Resources Academic journals?