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    The right tools

    Flickr - m kasahara

    Today, in two separate meetings I participated in, it was clear the frustration that results from staff not having the right tools and applications that can make their jobs easier and themselves more productive. Whether it is a simple employee directory with all the necessary information to contact, locate, and identify staff; or a robust information sharing and knowledge managment system to improve productivity and access to information, the absence of the right tools is incredibly frustrating.  It is particularly troubling for new staff, who will immediately compare your tools and applications to the ones at their former employer.  On three separate occasions today, someone commented to me that the resources and tools they had at their last place of employment were far superior to what they have now.

    So how do organizations (particularly internal support organizations like IT and HR) get into this predicament? One reason is a complete 'customer' focus.  How can a total customer focus be bad?  When support staff is required to spend 100% of their time and effort only on those projects and tasks that are directly linked to end customer objectives, then no time is spent identifying and deploying those internal tools and applications that the support organizations can leverage to improve their productivity. 

    What to do if you find your organization in this unenviable position?

    I would argue that these organizations should attempt to devote 10% of their time (at least initially) looking inward, and developing solutions to improve their own jobs and processes. Managers should take some time to gain a better understanding of the real workflow and the processes by which tasks are getting accomplished and get some insight as to what kinds of solutions are needed.

    And spend more time talking to these new employees who claim to have had better tools in their last workplace.  They likely have much to offer as to specific technologies and solutions that they have first hand experience with, and that can potentially be deployed in your organization.

    Easy access to information, resources, expertise - these are all critical components for employee success.  Ask yourself, are you making it easy for staff to find the needed information, resources and expertise?

    Or do your staff spend way too much time and energy searching?



    Links for a Friday

    For a sort of quiet Friday some assorted links to news, companies, or stories that caught my attention this week:

    Halogen Software - The great people at Halogen Software have agreed to support my class this Winter. I encourage you to check them out for Peformance Management, Succession Planning, Compensation and Learning solutions.

    Simplicant - A really bare bones solution for managing resumes and applicants for small organizations

    An upcoming Webinar from CollegeRecruiter.com on using Facebook in recruiting that I plan on attending

    From Mashable - How to monitor a multitude if Blogs in 10 minutes a day

    If you are on Twitter, and like to follow a Tweet stream of news items from your favorite teem, check out SportyTweets

    Looking to embed polls, rating, comments easily into your website or blog - Give JS-Kit a try.

    An older post, but still the best, concise explanation of how Wikis are superior to e-mail for collaboration, courtesy of the Grow Your Wiki blog

    The new Watchmen trailer was released


    More to come as the day moves along....






    HR Technology Class - Version Three

    Version three (or is it Volume Three) of my HR Technology Class at RIT is scheduled to start in about three weeks. Flickr - Charlyn L

    Preparing for the course is still a challenge, as I strive to turn over the material at least 30-40% each time, removing older readings and more dated topics, and adding the latest in technologies and trends.

    Much has changed in the business environment since the last class ended. The banking and insurance industries are in turmoil, world equity markets have dropped precipitously, and more and more organizations announce job reductions it seems like almost every day.

    Companies increasingly want less risk and exposure to traditional, or long-term software licenses. In technology, the trends continue to be towards simpler, more easily deployable solutions, mainly delivered in the SaaS model.  Complementing these technology trends are organizations that suddenly find themselves having less investment monies available for technology projects (or perhaps no funds at all for new initiatives).

    Fortunately for me, in the last class I began to devote more time and emphasis to some of these newer technologies, particularly collaborative technnologies like wikis, Twitter (and this time Yammer), and corporate social networking. I also have hopes to incorporate software from Halogen this quarter, if the details can be worked out in time.

    UPDATE : Had a great conversation with the folks at Halogen today, and we will be using their fantastic Talent Management software this class, Thanks Halogen!

    I think that as the class (and the HR Technology world) evolves, it is essential that the materials also evolve.  Sure, it would be easier for me to just roll out the same exact class each time, but that would be doing the students a disservice, and I would get pretty bored as well.

    What key concepts or technololgies do you think should be included in a graduate course in HR Technology?




    I'm happy to tell you all about myself

    The great Jason Averbook CEO of Knowledge Infusion has said 'LinkedIn knows more about your employees that you do', meaning that for many organizations, the volume, depth, and quality of data that their employees have voluntarily posted on sites like LinkedIn and Facebook, far exceeds whatever data you may have about them in your 'official' corporate systems.

    Gartner refers to this disparity in terms of 'volunteered' data (the kind on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, personal blogs, etc.), versus 'mandatory' data (the kind you compel your employees to provide, primarily for legal or administrative requirements).

    Gartner theorizes that by 2012, this so-called volunteered data will surpass mandatory data in volume and business value.  To be a leading HR organization, you need to plan for this shift, how to expoit the trend, and build processes and systems that will let you both encourage the proliferation of volunteered data as well as take leverage this information for your organization.

     Although it is very difficult in 2008 to know when or if this shift in importance and source of information will occur, there are certainly some things as HR leaders you can do today to assess the trend for your own organization.

    Some quick thoughts:

    1. Evaluate your company's LinkedIn profile.  What percentage of your staff maintains profiles?  How connected are they?  What organizations did they come from? Of folks who have left, where did they go?
    2. Is your company on Facebook?  Have smaller indivudual groups adopted Facebook groups or pages? Are your staff conducting important conversations there?
    3. Are you on Twitter? How many of your staff are?  Who are they following?  Who is follwing them?  Are your employess bypassing your standard sources of assistance to reach out to the Twitterverse?
    4. Check out Ning.  Are there Ning networks for all or parts of your organization?  Are there related industry networks frequented by your staff?  Should you sponsor or create your own Ning network for your staff?

    Let me be clear, this is not about 'spying' or 'monitoring' what your staff is up to.  This is about learning more about what your staff is passionate about, who they turn to for insight or help, and what important experiences and skills they have, that are not reflected in your old, boring HRMS.

    It is about accepting the fact that your staff is quite likely offering up critical insights and knowledge outside of the systems that you control.

    It is about accepting the new culture of collaboration.



    The Obligatory Election Post

    All bloggers must post about the Election (it is a rule in the Big Book of Internet).

    Here is my Election Story, it has nothing to do with parties, philosophy, or policy.

    It is about how cool and important it is to be able to vote and to make sure our kids understand this.

    The Story:

    Due to our work schedules, my wife and I had to vote separately, she in the early morning, and I later in the afternoon.  Both of us had to bring our 7 year old son along, he was excited about going, he likes to go into the booth and pull the levers.

    When I was finished voting, we said thanks to the volunteers (they always have tons of food and snacks), and walked out of the building.  I turned to my son and said, 'Man, it sure feels good to vote'. 

    My son replied, 'That's the exact same thing Mom said this morning after she voted'. 

    'Really, she said that?'


    It does feel good to vote, and let's make sure we always remember that.