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    HR Happy Hour - 2010: Looking Ahead

    Another shameless plug for the HR Happy Hour Show!

    Episode 23 - '2010:Looking Ahead' - Thursday December 17, 2009 at 8:00 PM EST www.blogtalkradio/steve-boese

    The HR Happy Hour will polish off our crystal ball and look ahead to 2010 in the world of Human Resources and the workplace. Some of the topics open for debate tonight are:

    What will be some of the major trends in 2010?

    What issues are the most pressing for Human Resources and Talent Management professionals?

    Will this recession ever really end? (and no I don't believe the 'official' recession is over statistics).

    The 2010 Looking Ahead show is being presented in conjunction with the SmartBrief on Workforce (yes, I am on the Advisory Board, how cool is that?), special 2010 preview edition.

    Joining us on the show tonight will be SmartBrief on Workforce Senior Editor Mary Ellen Slayter, and fellow Advisory Board members Sharlyn Lauby, aka HR Bartender, and author/columnist Alexandra Levit.

    I hope you can join us for what will surely be an interesting, lively, and fun show.




    Abandon Ship

    A recent article on MSNBC.com titled 'Workers may jump ship as economy improves' articulated several reasons why many employees, and in particular high performing and high potential employees will look to leave their current employer once the economy and jobs market improves. Flickr - Sea of Legs

    Some of the reasons cited for this conclusion will likely be familiar: lack of trust or feeling that employers care about them, compensation cuts, lack of career development opportunities, and low engagement levels all could conspire against employers seeking to retain their top performers.

    So what can an employer do, even today when times are still ridiculously tight, resources are scarce, and everyone feels stressed and overworked (when they are not just thinking about being happy to simply still have a job).

    Some of the most important points raised in the MSNBC piece -

    'To ensure that employee engagement does not suffer, organizations must rebuild peer networks — especially across teams and departments — to increase employees' connection with their colleagues', and 'Whether an employee's job matches his or her personal interests has the greatest influence on engagement in comparison to all other aspects of the EVP', both have direct implication in the HR Technology space. 

    Technologies that can help distributed colleagues find each other, surface common interests and skills, and enable some aspects of 'socialization' in the workplace will become more and more important. And workforce planning tools that can be leveraged by both management and employees to help identify and align career aspirations with opportunity can play a major role in determining whether or not some employees choose to move on.  A great internal opportunity may be present, but if the right employee does not 'find' it , (or get found), it may as well not exist.

    I think in 2010, a major trend in HR Technology will be the development, application, and execution of tools and platforms that will facilitate these connections, help build these networks, and hopefully align worker's interests with the organizational opportunities.



    Is HR Hot?

    So during a year when the 'Is HR Dead' discussion seemed to rage on and on,and we are still talking about HR as Secretaries, out of nowhere the Wall Street Journal runs a piece called 'HR Executives Suddenly Get Hot' - about the increasing trend of current and former HR executives being called upon to serve as outside directors for publicly traded firms.Flickr - getmethegun

    From the WSJ piece:

    Once considered denizens of a corporate backwater, more human-resources executives are being tapped to serve as outside directors because many have become strategic players with bottom-line impact. U.S. companies wooing them seek their insight on hot-button issues such as executive pay, management succession and integrating acquisitions.

    I wonder how it makes some long-time HR professionals feel to know that they were 'denizens of a corporate backwater'? That line reminds me of a post I never got around to writing titled 'Trailer Park HR'.

    But I digress.

    It was interesting that several of the examples in the WSJ piece had to do with firms not just wanting help with managing risk or compliance, or with navigating the recession. Rather items like 'attracting and developing top talent' and assistance in 'detailing strengths, weaknesses, and developmental needs for top staff' were cited as reasons to bring in HR talent into the boardroom.  These are significant, and dare say 'strategic' activities.

    More HR professionals an Corporate Boards sound like a good thing for HR and for corporations alike if the increased representation drives improvements; like better alignment of strategy with workforce capability, methods to try and not just preserve jobs but to (gasp) actually grow jobs and opportunities, and for more organizations to truly live up to their myriad 'people first' mission statements.

    So maybe, after all this time and effort, HR is rising above filing forms and party planning, and getting (don't kill me for this) the fancy leather seat at the giant mahogany table.

    However, a quick glance at this article on 'The Next Hot Jobs' doesn't mention anything about HR.  Jobs like 'Bioinformatician', 'Forensic Accountant', and 'Fuel-Cell Engineer' all make the list though.

    Those all sound pretty complicated to me.

    What do you think, should more Corporate Boards have HR executive representation?

    Is HR actually hot?


    Derek Jeter and Winning Teams

    Last week Sports Illustrated named New York Yankee captain Derek Jeter as its 'Sportsman of the Year', an annual designation given to the person or team that best exemplifies success, integrity, and class.

    For those not familiar with Jeter, he has been the Yankee shortstop for 14 seasons, and has helped the team win 5 World Series championships during that time, including the 2009 season that was recently concluded.

    Jeter, while individually an outstanding player, is more revered for his reputation as a 'winning' player, one whose contributions to team success are actually greater than what can be found be simply reviewing his statistical performance.  In the Sports Illustrated piece, Jeter shared what be felt were the five barriers to team success, and while they were described in a sports context, I think there are many lessons for business and personal success that can be drawn.

    1. Individuals who don't care about winning

    In sports, there is success, and there is winning championships. Some players (and teams) are satisifed with having 'good' years. Decent results, perhaps winning a few more games that they lose, but not really competing seriously for championships.

    2. Self-promoters

    Players that care more about themselves than the team, and make it a point to constantly draw attention to themselves can be a detriment to team success.  Can we say 'personal branding' anyone? I am starting to think the incredible increase in focus on employee's personal brands could start to inhibit team performance and success. If your team of five folks has four that are obsessing over their personal brands, I think you are going to have a hard time winning.

    3. Looking only at statistics

    Baseball is a complex game, and while seemingly every activity is recorded, tracked, and analyzed statistically, there are still many nuances of the game, critical to winning, that are not measured quantitatively.  In organizations the primary measurement of employees is an annual performance review score. But in many organizations these reviews are done poorly, don't necessarily reflect all the contributions people make to team success, and can actually be biased and misleading. Perhaps more effort should be exerted in companies to uncover these 'hidden' contributions, one way is by using Social Network Analysis.

    4. Injury talk

    To Jeter, no one cares if you are injured.  "You either play, or you don't play. No one wants to know what's bothering you. Sometimes it's a built-in excuse for failure." In the organization there are always going to be constraints and limitations. Competitors will have bigger budgets, regulators will impose ridiculous rules, your technology will be inferior, or people will get sick or go on vacation at the worst possible time.  You know what? No one cares.  Either you can get the job done, or you can't.

    5. Negativity

    When Jeter had gone though an 32 at bats (about 8 games) without a hit early in his career, he refused to admit that he was in a batting slump. Focusing on the negative in situations becomes a habit, and it gets too easy to constantly approach situations with why you can't do something instead of how you will get it done.  I was on a major system implementation once, on a team of about 30 people that was beset with this kind of negativity.  Finally we declared a new policy, no more 'problems' could be logged on the official 'issues list' without first solving one of the open issues. We started to focus more on solving problems in a positive manner instead of just battling each other to uncover more problems, and perpetuate the negativity.

    I am a New York Mets fan, so it is not easy to write a post about a Yankeee, but Jeter has been such a winner that it is impossible not to respect what he has accomplished.

    I'll close with an example of a 'winning play' that would never appear in the box score from the 2001 playoffs.





    The HR Executive Conference - What Wasn't Said

    Earlier this week I was fortunate enough to attend the Senior HR Executive Conference organized by The Conference Board, (my summary of the first day of event is here).

    While there were so many excellent presentations from the HR Executives on a wide range of topics, read this piece from HR Ringleader on the Unilever 'Agile Working' program for an example, I want to focus on what wasn't said at the event.

    In a day and a half of presentations, casual conversations, lunches, and networking the subject of social networking use in HR and the leveraging of social media tools and technologies for HR, was largely absent from the discourse.   In total, I think we (the bloggers that were invited to the event) only Flickr - JFChenierobserved two mentions of social networking; one a reference to sharing family recipes on Facebook, and two; a representative from PricewaterhouseCoopers talking about how PWC using social networking tools to connect with interns and intern candidates.

    That was it.

    No discussions on using new tools for workforce collaboration, for internal expertise location, to improving the 'connectedness' of their global organizations, and definitely no talk about implementing innovative strategies and approaches for using social networking to find, attract, retain, and engage top talent.

    Last night on the HR Happy Hour show, a 2009: Year in Review, we spent a large portion of the time discussing social networking and social media as one of the most significant themes and trends for HR in 2009, (when we were not playing the Sad Trombone).  

    What gives? If social media and social networking for HR were really that significant in 2009, shouldn't there have been at least some talk about this development at the HR Executive Conference? Shouldn't have one Senior HR leader talked about how HR was able to exploit employee networks, new technologies, or public sites like Twitter or Facebook to drive some truly innovative solutions?

    Why might there be a disconnect between those of us active in social networks and technologies for HR and what we heard (or more accurately did not hear) from the Senior HR Executives?


    ROI- On the Happy Hour, Jessica Lee made an excellent point.  She essentially said that HR Executives have not seen the real organizational ROI of social media and social networking for HR initiatives, and therefore do not yet consider it important and/or essential.  I think Jessica is right on with this observation.  These executives don't want to hear 'Look our company recruiting Facebook page is up to 823 fans!'. They want to know how these tools and strategies produce results, better hires, at lower cost, and improved results.  That is it.

    Echo Chamber - The HR folks involved in social media and active in social networking have formed a nice, tight cocoon around ourselves, and since we keep telling each other this 'stuff' is important, then darn it, it must be important.  But we are not doing a good enough job in and out of our organizations reaching the broader HR community, and certainly not the highest levels of HR Executives. Until those of us that are proponents of these approaches start doing a better job on outreach, the executives will simply not even notice, let alone care.

    It really isn't that important - So much of the conversation and presentations at the conference centered around implementing consistent performance evaluation processes, identifying and retaining high-potential employees, and managing the workforce through this recession. While at least in theory social technologies and strategies could assist organizations in these areas, it certainly is not necessarily obvious how.  In these organizations more tested and traditional approaches seemed to be the preference, and based on the presentations, many companies claimed successful outcomes.  Maybe it still is possible to solve important workforce and organizational crises without social networking.

    It's still too new - It quite likely could be too early in the widespread understanding and adoption of social networking strategies in HR for them to have 'bubbled up' to get the attention of the average senior executive, or to have achieved the kind of success that an executive would want to actually talk about publicly. Maybe when I attend the 2010 Senior HR Executive Conference (please invite me back!), there will simply just be more to say on the topic.  While 2009 was truly a year of dramatic growth in HR's use of social media and networks, it still really has a long, long way to go.

    I have to say I was indeed a bit surprised how little attention these ideas received at the conference, but truly after reflected on them a bit, and from the comments and discussion on last night's HR Happy Hour, it does make sense somewhat.

    For HR folks invovled in social media and social networking, what do you think needs to be done in 2010 to get these topics on the radar of the most senior leaders in the discipline?