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    Christmas Past: Smokes, Guns, Chicken, and Beer

    Just a quick note to wish everyone a fantastic Christmas, Happy Holidays, and to simply take a well-deserved break from the hamster wheel.

    Like many folks, sometimes I like to look back over the years and reflect on special occasions and holidays and think about what is different about them today, when compared to the sometimes sketchy recollections of wonderful and idyllic holidays of yore. Sometimes our memories deceive us, certainly, and we often color our memories to fit our pre-determined conclusion, whatever that conclusion might be.

    After thinking about this carefully for some time, and trying hard to be as clear and unbiased as I could, I came to a conclusion: Christmas used to be WAY more fun. And here is the evidence that I submit in my argument that Christmases of year's past were much more of a white-knuckle ride of guns, booze, smokes, and chaos compared to the kind of tame celebrations of today.

    Exhibit A - Nothing says Christmas like some unfiltered goodness. Ron Reagan would not steer you wrong!

    Exhibit B - You know what is great to wake up to on Christmas morning? Guns!

    Exhibit C - And after the gifts are unwrapped it's time to eat! Pass the bucket of chicken.

    Exhibit D - Nothing like a cold drink to wash everything down. You know what would go perfectly with that bracelet? A cold Bud!

    I could go on and on, but I think you get the idea.

    Anyway, I hope you have a fantastic holiday, even if your holiday doesn't include smokes, guns, greasy food and booze.

    Happy Holidays!


    Nothing But Net - Talking NBA on the HR Happy Hour Tonight

    This week is really the wind down of 2011 as many of us get ready to celebrate holidays, take some time off from the grind, and generally decompress a little bit before the New Year is upon us and things get cranked up all the way to 11 again. One of the fixtures of the holiday season, certainly here in the USA, are sports - specifically the slate of Christmas Day NBA games that typically feature the Association's leading teams and stars in a nationally televised showcase.

    This year, the schedule of Christmas games takes on heightened meaning, as the long protracted labor strife between the league's players and owners was only recently settled, and subsequently delayed the start of the 2011-2012 campaign long enough to make the holiday games the actual start of the new season. 

    So since the world of work is winding down, and the world of basketball is just heating up, for the last HR Happy Hour Show of 2011, we are going to do a full-on, nothing at all to do with work, or talent management, or recruiting, NBA preview show. Just the NBA - the labor issues, the short training camps, the player moves, the predictions - everything you need to know to get ready for the new season.

    Joining me on the show will be some or all of the crew from 'The 8 Man Rotation' - Kris Dunn, Tim Sackett, Matt Stollak, and Lance Haun, to talk LeBron, Kobe, Dirk, Durant, and more.

    You know you love the NBA and what better way to wind down from the workplace and gear up for the holidays and the start of the season by listening to your pals talk NBA on the HR Happy Hour Show tonight.

    Here's how you can listen in tonight, starting at 8:00PM ET:

    On the show page here. By calling the listener line at 646-378-1086, or on the widget player below:

    Listen to internet radio with Steve Boese on Blog Talk Radio


    Also, you can follow the backchannel conversation on Twitter - just follow the hashtag #HRHappyHour.

    Go Knicks!


    Possible Reasons I Will Be Speaking at SHRM 2012

    Last year about this time I published a kind of whiny, (hopefully) slightly amusing recount of the possible reasons I was not selected to present at the 2011 SHRM National Conference. Long story short, I had submitted a session proposal that involved the staging of a live HR Happy Hour Show from the SHRM event, incorporating a live guest panel, in-person audience questions, and questions and comments from the show listeners and the Twitter backchannel.

    It would have been epic. And a real pain in the neck to stage properly, to get the audio and internet connections sorted, and execute the live show effectively. Plus, there would have been the added challenge of explaining what the heck the HR Happy Hour Show is to the average SHRM conference attendee, probably ensuring low interest in the session. So looking back on it now, SHRM probably made the right call in passing on the session proposal.

    Fast forward about one year, and in the interests of fairness and openness, I am pleased to report that next year, at the 2012 SHRM Annual Conference in June, I actually will be speaking, or more accurately participating on a panel discussion on Social Recruiting along with Robert Hohman, Glassdoor.com Co-founder and CEO; John Sumser, Industry thought leader from HRxAnalysts; and Chris Hoyt, the Recruiter Guy from PepsiCo.

    Our session is called 'Is Social Recruiting Really Working?', and during the session we will take a closer look at the changes and influences on recruiting brought on by the rise in importance of social networks, how behaviors and approaches by job seekers and organizations are changing with respect to social, and some thoughts on the direction and future of social recruiting. It should be a fantastic session and I am really pleased that it was selected, and that I will get a chance to share the stage with such an esteemed group of experts.

    So back to this post's title, and a closer look at the possible reasons that the session was selected?

    Well, first and foremost it was mostly due to the excellent work and ideas from the team at Glassdoor.com who had the idea for the session, and kindly offerered me the chance to participate. No doubt their professionalism and demonstrated domain expertise was far superior compared to the sad attempt I made at presenting at SHRM in 2011. Second, I think with each passing year 'mainstream' Human Resources and SHRM move more and more to embracing and addressing the impact and importance of social networking and social media in the HR and recruiting functions. Our topic, Social Recruiting, fits well with this emerging area of interest to SHRM and its members.  And finally, the ability to assemble such a solid panel of varied backgrounds and expertise all but ensures a diversity of thought, wide range of perspectives, and hopefully lots of insight and actionable advice for attendees next June.

    So big thanks to SHRM, Glassdoor, and to my fellow session co-participants. I am looking forward to the event and to seeing lots of old friends and meeting many new ones. 


    Repetition, Creativity, and Short Memories

    A series of pretty long flights and flight delays the last few months not only provided some decent blog material for my 'Notes From the Road' series, but also furnished the opportunity to finally read the almost 800-page unofficial oral history of ESPN called 'Those Guys Have All the Fun: Inside the World of ESPN', by James Andrew Miller and Tom Shales.

    The book's format, and it is definitely not for everyone, has almost no author penned narrative or exposition. Rather the story of ESPN unfolds in a long series of snippets from interviews that the authors conducted with more than 500 people that built, led, worked at, or observed ESPN since its humble beginnings in 1979 to its self-proclaimed position today as the 'Worldwide Leader in Sports.' The tale of ESPN, with plenty of drama, corporate infighting, scandal, really questionable to downright bad behavior, innovative and groundbreaking ideas, and finally to its position today as probably the most powerful single entity in sports, (and the main reason your cable TV bill is so high), is really targeted at the sports junkies among us.  So while I enjoyed the book, I can't really recommend it to anyone other than the sports-obsessed.

    But in the 800 pages worth of observations and comments from (mostly), really successful and accomplished executives, broadcasters, and marketers there are quite a number of interesting and kind of instructive pieces of advice that have application in areas beyond sports the presentation of sports on TV. Again, while there are several of these in the book - I will just highlight one, an examination and recommendation on staying fresh, even when the work seems repetitive, and how to continue to bring new ideas to the table when it can be easy to keep trotting out the 'this is the way we've always done it' card.

    Here it is, some advice from ESPN Executive Producer Bill Fitts to the line Producers as to what they should do with their written post-mortem show reports after an event had been broadcasted:

    "When you guys finish your shows, take that file and throw it out. Do not keep one piece of paper, because next year when we have to come back and do this again, it will force you to rethink everything you did, not just pick up from where you left off and implement the same procedures and production elements that you did last year."

    Money. The challenge in a creative field like broadcasting is to continue to push, to keep new ideas flowing, to devise and deliver new ways for the audience to experience the events so that with each viewing, even if if was the 3,459rd basketball game they had seen, maybe something about the show would be new, fresh, innovative. And you can really only make that happen, at least consistently, by letting go of the past, your assumptions, your pre-conceived constraints, and look at the challenge like it was brand new, and anything is possible.

    And its good advice for us in the workplace as well. Whether it is annual benefits open enrollment, a new training and development program we are pushing, or a new system we are building - how might the way we deliver be different, (and hopefully better), if we could really let go of the past and start brand new.


    Maybe engagement isn't the right social outcome after all

    If you have spent much time at all the last few years researching, attending events and presentations, or consulting with experts, (term used very loosely), on how to incorporate social tools and social media into organizational communication, talent management, or recruiting strategy, if nothing else you would have come away with the firm belief that 'engagement' and 'conversation' have to be among your prime objectives and desired outcomes. No customer or potential candidate wants to engage online, the theory goes, be it on a Facebook page, a LinkedIn group, or with a Twitter feed with a faceless organization, a logo, and a stream of automatically generated updates, or worst of all, an RSS feed of job ads pushed to the social outposts from your corporate Applicant Tracking System. Jasper Johns - #6

    Conventional social media and social networking advice would tell the organization to simply not bother with social as a channel if all they really plan to do is constantly broadcast, advertise, and push content. You're not ready for social, the experts would say. You have to engage, converse, be a part of a consistent give and take with the audience in order for your efforts to pay off in the long run.  And that seems like really solid, sound advice. Consumers and prospects don't want another stream of low-value add corporate messaging and propaganda.

    Yep, great advice on how engagement and conversation is what matters.

    But what if that advice, if not being completely wrong, is at least not as hard and fast as is generally accepted in the emerging social recruiting space?

    A recent ethnographic study on the role of technology and social platforms in the real world from the digital media consultancy Razorfish raises some interesting questions about how average and casual technology users typically consume with and engage with digital content. Long story short, the Razorfish study showed that rather than seeking to actively participate and engage online and with digital media and content, most users were more than happy to passively consume said content. T o some of the study participants, the flow of information in the social space is seen as a more ambient activity and background noise.  From the summary of the findings on the Razorfish site:

    Historically, digital pundits have promised a more interactive future, in which users move away from passive, couch potato viewing to more active engagement. While the amount of user-generated content and sharing supports this movement, we have found everyday users increasingly leaning back in their digital consumption habits. Social media is described as a more ambient activity. “[Facebook] is usually a drag. I just feel lazy like I’m seeing the same old stuff and looking at people’s profiles. I feel somewhat guilty about it sometimes, like I’m wasting time.” Twitter, originally categorized as a social tool, is described more as a curation tool. “I don’t really tweet anymore. I just see what I should think about reading.”

    The folks at Razorfish advise organizations looking to engage with consumers, (in our terms as HR folks employees and candidates), to not be afraid to be a 'pusher', that is to offer content meant primarily to be consumed, and to focus less on stimulating ongoing and sustained conversation. The rapid rise of the the iPad and the other tablets seem to bear this out, they are primarily consumption devices. The little 'creation' that emerges from most tablets are simply shares, likes, and re-tweets, the simplest and most low commitment form of content engagement there is.

    The net of all this?

    Well the Razorfish study was very small, and certainly should not be the sole data point to base a social content and engagement strategy. But I think an important takeaway from the study is to take a longer and more critical look at both what passes for conventional wisdom in the social media and social networking space, and what can easily become a 'follow fast' strategy that may not necessarily be the right one for your organization. 

    If nothing else, results from these kind of studies that make us examine carefully our assumptions on what is still a nascent space are worthwhile, and even if you disagree with them, as I imagine many will, occasional validation of your own assumptions is a good outcome in itself.