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    Thursday
    May032018

    PODCAST: #HRHappyHour - Oracle Spotlight - Episode 1: Making Work More Human

    HR Happy Hour - Oracle Spotlight - Episode 1: Making Work More Human

    Hosts: Steve BoeseTrish McFarlane

    Guest: Gretchen Alarcon, Group Vice President, Product Strategy, Oracle

    Listen HERE

    This week on the HR Happy Hour Show, hosts Steve Boese and Trish McFarlane kick off a special series of podcasts with our friends at Oracle HCM. On Episode 1, we are joined by Gretchen Alarcon from Oracle to talk about how organizations are increasingly seeking to make work more "human".While you may have seen this concept before, on the show we break it down to more tangible, actionable, and relatable ideas for HR leaders, and highlight some key ideas, considerations, and approaches to creating more "human" workplaces. 

    On the show, we talk about three distinct elements of creating more human workplaces and making work more human - making work enjoyable, making work smarter, and finally, making work supportive. With each concept Gretchen shares insights and practical approaches that HR leaders can take, and discusses how innovation in HCM technology supports, augments, and provides important context for these initiatives.

    You can listen to the show on the show page HERE, on your favorite podcast app, or by using the widget player below:

    This was a really interesting conversation and one we will build on in upcoming episodes of the Oracle Spotlight series.

    Thanks to Gretchen for joining us and thanks to our friends at Oracle HCM for making this series happen.

    Subscribe to the HR Happy Hour Show on Apple Podcasts, Stitcher Radio, or wherever you get your podcasts - just search for 'HR Happy Hour'.

    Wednesday
    May022018

    #HRTechConf Update: Submissions Open for Awesome New Technology and Discovering the Next Great HR Tech Company

    NOTE: I had an important HR Technology Conference update that I posted yesterday over on the the Conference's HR Tech Insiders blog, but I did want to cross-post here too, to make sure any and all interested HR technology companies and solution providers had the news. Thanks!

    From HR Tech Insiders...

    Attention HR Technology Solution Providers: Submissions to be considered for the annual HR Technology® Conference and Exhibition "Awesome New Technologies for HR" and "Discovering the Next Great HR Technology Company" sessions are being accepted and can be submitted on the HR Tech website HERE.

    In case you are new to these sessions, here is what they are, how they work, and who is eligible for consideration for each session.

    "Awesome New Technologies for HR" showcases larger, more established HR tech solution providers, (publicly traded, been in the market for several years, maybe running TV spots on CNBC, etc.), who are invited to submit their latest, most innovative solutions for consideration. These can be new modules for an existing platform, a reinvention of one or more of their solutions, or something totally new and unique in the HR tech market. During the summer, I will review, arrange demonstrations, and select 5 or 6 solution providers to present for 10 minutes on our main stage at HR Tech and be recognized as an "Awesome New Technology for HR" for 2018.

    "Discovering the Next Great HR Technology Company" is for the startups, less-established, or emerging HR tech solution providers in the space, and works a little differently than "Awesome New Technologies." From the submissions we receive on our website, HR Tech works with a group of industry experts -  George LaRocque, Principal Analyst and Founder of HRWins , Madeline Laurano, Founder and Principal Analyst of Aptitude Research Partners., Ben Eubanks, Principal Analyst of Lighthouse Research & Advisory, and Lance Haun, Practice Director for The Starr Conspiracy to select eight semi-finalist HR tech solution providers.

    Then, during the summer our analyst coaches will work with the eight semi-finalists to hone their messaging and demonstrations, and will be posting videos and additional information about the semi-finalist startups.

    In July and August we will be looking to you, the HR Tech Insiders audience, to vote online on the HR Tech Insiders site and help us select from these eight semi-finalists, the four finalists that will get to present to the audience at the conference in Las Vegas in September. And in a new wrinkle for 2018, the four finalists will be joined by a fifth company - the winner of the 1st Annual HR Technology Conference Pitchfest which will take place during the Conference. Finally, this will culminate in live demonstrations from the five finalists on our main stage after which Conference attendees will select the Next Great HR Technology Company for 2018 live in Vegas!

    We encourage all interested HR technology solution providers for either session to submit an entry for consideration here. The application deadline is Friday, June 29th, so don't wait too long to submit.

    I can't wait to review the submissions and see all the incredible HR technology innovation I know is out there!

    Tuesday
    May012018

    Emotional surveillance - coming to a workplace near you?

    I am going to submit today's dispatch from the HR Happy Hour Home Office without much commentary, as like many tech-driven developments we hear about, this one is probably too extreme to have much of an effect in the US or any of the other places where readers of this blog reside, (Hi Canada!).

    From one of my favorite sources on all things going on in business in China, the South China Morning Post, here is a little bit of a piece titled 'Forget the Facebook leak: China is mining data directly from worker's brains on an industrial scale':

    Workers outfitted in uniforms staff lines producing sophisticated equipment for telecommunication and other industrial sectors.

    But there’s one big difference – the workers wear caps to monitor their brainwaves, data that management then uses to adjust the pace of production and redesign workflows, according to the company.

    The company said it could increase the overall efficiency of the workers by manipulating the frequency and length of break times to reduce mental stress.

    Hangzhou Zhongheng Electric is just one example of the large-scale application of brain surveillance devices to monitor people’s emotions and other mental activities in the workplace, according to scientists and companies involved in the government-backed projects.

    Concealed in regular safety helmets or uniform hats, these lightweight, wireless sensors constantly monitor the wearer’s brainwaves and stream the data to computers that use artificial intelligence algorithms to detect emotional spikes such as depression, anxiety or rage.

    The technology is in widespread use around the world but China has applied it on an unprecedented scale in factories, public transport, state-owned companies and the military to increase the competitiveness of its manufacturing industry and to maintain social stability.

    Wow, pretty wild, fairly extreme - even by the looser standards for what is ok and not ok in the workplace that still prevail in most of China.

    But here's the interesting thing, we all have already come to accept certain kinds of monitoring in the workplace. We make hourly workers punch in and punch out every day, (and remind them to be sure to punch out before taking lunch). All kinds of call center representatives have their calls and interactions with customers reviewed and even listened to in real time by supervisors. Warehouse workers are often subjected to really close and detailed kinds of monitoring - how fast they find items for an order, how many errors they make per shift, and how closely they achieve "goal" performance each week.

    Ever white collar jobs are subject at times to really close monitoring and supervision. Most lawyers and consultants are still billing by the hour, so they must keep and have reviewed detailed time and activity logs. Many organizations require receipts for every dollar spent on employee travel in order for the employee to get reimbursed. Are you sure you had that Dunkin' coffee for $2.65? Even the rise and increasing popularity of workplace chat apps like Slack have created more environments where your 'status', i.e. are you currently working, is visible to everyone and monitored by most.

    The point being that sure, this idea of monitoring employee brainwaves in real time, or as one Chinese official described it, conducting 'emotional surveillance' seems ludicrous, it can also be seen as just the next, tech-enabled step on a path that lots of organizations are already walking. And the deployment of these kinds of technologies for workers in dangerous, important roles like airline pilot or high-speed train operator could offer another level of safety for the public - a pilot judged to be in an emotional state prior to takeoff could be pulled from the flight as a precaution.

    I don't have a great, insightful conclusion to this story at the moment only to say that while it is inevitable that technologies will continue to advance, and offer better, more, and more personal information about workers, it is (hopefully), going to be the role of smart HR people to help guide organizations as to the best, fairest, and 'right' use of these kinds of tool. The pilot on the above flight is not just a pattern of brainwaves after all. He/she is an actual human.

    Have a great day!

    Monday
    Apr302018

    One podcast, forty minutes, three solid talent management lessons

    Regular readers should know by now I am a huge fan of the podcast format. Perfect for when you're in the car, waiting in the Dr. office, on the treadmill, on a plane - or really anywhere when you have a little bit of time. Of course my primary interest in podcasts is the one I co-host, the HR Happy Hour Show, but I also listen to plenty of others during the course of a week.

    Recently I caught an episode of a basketball-themed podcast, The Woj Pod, hosted by legendary scoop-chaser Adrian Wojnarowski from ESPN. On the show, Woj interviewed Steve Clifford, longtime NBA head and assistant coach, who recently was let go as head coach after a pretty decent 5 year run with the Charlotte Hornets. Sure, this was a basketball pod, but the best part of the conversation almost had nothing to do with basketball - but rather when Clifford shared some of the leadership and talent management lessons he's learned from a three decade career in basketball coaching. These lessons, while 'learned' by Clifford in the context of a basketball team are pretty valid for just about any leadership, coaching, and talent management scenario, I think.

    I will just break them off, one by one, without too much additional commentary, as like all the best leadership advice, these concepts pretty much are really easy to both understand, and to visualize how they would fit in your context and organization.

    1. Never address your team unless you really have something important to say - Clifford used the example of a coach halting a practice to assemble the entire team and saying something silly or obvious like 'Guys, we need to hustle more'. Professional basketball players, and likely the experienced folks on your team too, don't need you to repeat the obvious. They need you to help them navigate issues, understand challenges, and align the organization with the bigger picture. Wasting the team's time with nonsense is the sure path to them tuning you out.

    2. If someone asks the people on your team about you, the answer you are aiming for is 'He/she wants me to succeed' - Clifford made the important point that pro basketball players all care about their own development, careers, and future opportunities as much, if not more than the team's success. It's silly to ignore that, the best coaches find ways to balance to the two sometimes competing goals and motivations. And the key to to that is not exactly 'caring' about the players/employees, (it is fine to 'care' about them, don't get me wrong), but what you really need to do to get the best effort out of the players is for them to think and see evidence that you want them to be successful. And sometimes that means tough, hard to hear feedback, but most players, (and hopefully) most employees, will see that not as you don't care about them or don't like them, (again, neither matters all that much comparatively), but that you ultimately are invested in their career success.

    3. Leadership and coaching is not the same thing as skill development - Last point on this again had a basketball context in the pod I referenced, but does carry over to the real world too. For pro basketball players, developing new skills or improving their skills has to be seen as one of the basic elements that can lead to career success. But Clifford sees that as largely the responsibility of the player, with support from coaches and other members of the staff. The head coach/organizational leader really is responsible for understanding each player's skills, assessing how individuals fit best within what the team is trying to achieve, and to reach back up to Item #2 above, how to position each player for the best chance at success. And one more sub-point to this, Clifford made a great point about how it is important for players to not lose sight of their strengths while they simultaneously look to develop new skills.

    Solid stuff I think, and a pretty good use of about 40 minutes while I made a half-hearted attempt at improving my cardio fitness on Sunday.

    Have a great week!

    Friday
    Apr272018

    In praise of the ordinary job ad

    We are probably all a little tired of or at least raise a cynical eyebrow when we see yet another job posting advertising an amazing work culture, fast-paced environment, incredible colleagues, and off the charts compensation and perks. We all know that every job ad is a kind of marketing message, so a little bit of hype and exaggeration is kind of a given and kind of expected and accepted. But at the same time most all of us with even just a little bit of work experience know that not every workplace can be a Top/Great/Awesome/Admired place to work, not every job is actually a great opportunity, and not every workplace is blessed with a great, supportive culture.

    Sometimes a job is just a job. And there is nothing wrong with that. Beats watching Cable news all day.

    And in the spirit of the acknowledgement that sometimes a job is just a job, even one that seems as cool an opportunity as being a teacher in a university, I want to share this story, seen on the excellent Sixth Tone site, of how one average university in China has decided to advertise on very average job opportunity.

    From the piece on Sixth Tone:

    A recruitment notice from a university in southwestern China impressed readers with its bluntness on Tuesday, and has been shared on social media as “the most honest job ad.”

    The ad from Xingyi Normal University for Nationalities in Guizhou province seeks teaching staff who hold doctoral degrees in languages and linguistics. It begins by introducing the college as a “very, very ordinary” institution that is not part of any prestigious national tertiary education leagues and describes the salary and conditions as simply “standard.”

    The perk, however, is that the role is fairly undemanding. “There’s not too much pressure and no research obligations; it’s entirely up to you whether you want to apply for projects or publish articles — if you just want to teach classes, that’s fine,” the advertisement says, adding: “The students here are comparatively unsophisticated … don’t teach anything too esoteric that they might not be able to absorb.” The post also includes some attractive features about the city of Xinyi — such as the low price of beef - 35 yuan a pound cheaper than in other cities.

    I have to admit I love this ad for its bluntness and self-awareness.

    An 'ordinary' institution offering a 'standard' job with 'average' compensation, but having the benefit of being 'undemanding' and serving 'unsophisticated' customers/students.

    While on the one hand you would think a job ad of this type would only attract 'B' or 'C' type candidates, (and you could also argue that any 'A' player or top talent would not be happy in a role like this), the University has actually reported that the responses so far to this honest, ordinary ad have been really positive.

    According to reports, the Dean of the University had received many inquiries, including ones from graduates of some of China's top schools.

    So maybe this honest job ad, seeking candidates for an average job at a standard rate of pay where the successful candidate won't have to work too hard might just achieve for the University just exactly what any job ad is meant to do. Attract not necessarily the 'best' candidates, but rather the 'right' ones.

    Do your job ads manage to accomplish that?

    Have a great weekend!