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    Worlds are colliding, Jerry!

    Last week I posted a question called 'Ask the Tweeps', essentially wondering where folks are turning when in need of information and expertise. As you would expect, the answers were pretty mixed, people rely on internal co-workers in many situations, and turn to their external networks for 'new' or 'different' questions that may not have in-house sources of expertise, or if they are interested in more diverse or alternate perspectives.

    This is altogether natural and expected, and I think understanding the 'mix' of expertise and information requests in an organization could certainly become an important part of a company's talent management efforts. 


    Just how often are our employees reaching outside the organization for information and advice?

    What kinds of things are they asking?

    Do we really have that knowledge in-house already, and our employees just don't know how to find the right person or resource?

    And finally, how might the organization capture and leverage employee's external connections for longer-term organizational benefit?

    Should they even try?


    Lately a number of collaboration and information platforms that are designed to better enable employee communication and knowledge sharing have started offer at least some insight to these questions by  incorporating 'external' sources of content like Twitter updates, Delicious bookmarks, and FlickR images.  Solutions like Socialcast, Obayoo, and to some extent Socialtext all offer the organization the ability to combine or mash-up classic 'internal' content and communication with heretofore 'external' data that has been traditionally viewed as private or personal in nature.

    Conceptually, this makes sense.  If knowledge workers find a great website that helps solve a problem, it should be bookmarked for others in the company to potentially leverage.  If an image on FlickR helps to explain a concept, then it would be great for the rest of the team to know that it is available.

    But while the 'blending' of internal content (discussions, status updates, documents) with external content (Twitter feeds, RSS feeds from blogs, Delicious, YouTube. etc ) can make sound business sense, I wonder if many employees are prepared and comfortable to open up in this way.

    These new collaborative tools try to help organizations exploit what everyone knows is going on: employees rely on external sources to accomplish their tasks. But will employees be willing to more fully open up their private and personal worlds to others in the organization.  Will they need to create dual accounts on these external sources, so that their 'company' Twitter feed can be shared with the organization and their personal Twitter feed can be kept private?

    Worlds are colliding more and more each day.  It may not be as easy as it seems for organizations to take advantage, just ask George Costanza.


    HR Happy Hour - Episode 3 - West Coast Special

    We are back!

    After a one-week hiatus the most popular live internet call-in show about HR and held on Fridays returns!

    That's right, HR Happy Hour will be back live, this Friday, June 19 and this time my co-host Shauna Moerke (The HR Minion) and I have decided to push the show start time back to 9 PM EDT that is 6 PM PDT.

    So West Coast USA folks, you have no excuse not to join in on the fun.

    Here are the particulars:

    If you want to listen live go to: HR Happy Hour - Episode 3

    If you would like to call in and participate - call 646-378-1086 during the show, and you can chat with Shauna and I and whomever else wanders in to Happy Hour.

    I don't really have an agenda in mind, just a casual and fun hour and hopefully some folks that I have never had the chance to speak to before will call in to chat.

    After the show is over, you can listen back here:

    See you at the Happy Hour!


    Guest Post - HR and IT, Part One

    Note - This guest post is from the Creative Chaos Consultant, a 20 year retail professional and HR practitioner. He currently works for a major fashion retailer with operations in more than a dozen countries. His focus is primarily on employee relations, compensation practices, change management, and compliance.

    In this post, the Creative Chaos Consultant examines the relationship between HR and IT and offers some observations on how to enhance the partnership.  In Part Two, I will examine some of the current trends in this dynamic, particularly the issue of HR or the organization side-stepping IT in the introduction of new technologies.


    Aside from HR no other department gets more of a bad rap than IT. Blaming them for the bad day you're having is the game that everyone loves to play. Who else gets more angry phone calls and e-mails when the following happens:

    That's right, it's IT.

    That's a big mistake to make, especially amongst us HR professionals. For one thing our roles tend to be more similar than not. The bulk of responsibility that IT and HR handles is administrative or tactical (although that's changing). Oftentimes both groups work without having enough resources. They don't always get the respect they deserve. And of course, they both utilize technology to get their respective jobs done.

    Second, IT has one major characteristic (and advantage in my opinion) that HR lacks-they speak their own language. The field is a technical one at its core so the terminology reflects this. This works to standardize processes and ensure smoother operations. And while some terms have become more common, most of them are unique to the field. This is an advantage because it means that you have to work with them. This is a position that a lot of HR folks wish they were in. However, this adds to the frustration that people can have about IT, especially when things aren't working right.

    Third, and most importantly, if the IT department doesn't support an initiative, it doesn't get done. Remember that fancy HRIS you want? IT plays a crucial part in the vendor selection process. If IT says no (for example, the organization can't support the hardware/software requirements) then you can't have it. They help to define what tools an organization uses. This, in turn, defines the organization's strengths and weaknesses.

    HR pros must develop stronger partnerships with their IT brothers and sisters. This would help serve to bridge misunderstandings, get crucial projects supported, and lessen the frustrations that people may have with both groups. And the first step of the process is to understand the language of IT. With that, I know that  Steve Boese reviews most of the key tech-related terms that every HR professional should know in his HR Technology class, and it is certainly an essential first step in the Tech education of an HR Professional.


    Ask the Tweeps?

    A knowledge worker in search of information or answers to specific issues or problems has several possible alternatives at their disposal to attempt to find the right answers, and solve their problem.Flickr - Thomas Hawk


    1. Ask an internal colleague

    2. Search the available company information databases or systems

    3. 'Broadcast' a question to numerous other internal colleagues, or even the entire company

    4. Google it

    5. Leverage 'external' contacts, via e-mail, phone, or social networking

    Lately, it seems like more and more I am turning to my 'external' networks, usually my Twitter friends, when I have a question, issue, or am looking for some opinion and feedback on issues that are not 'inside' in nature.

    My question to you is : Who do you turn to when you are in need of information, or insight?

    Do you find yourself asking your Twitter, Facebook, or other 'external' contacts more or less than your co-workers?

    Are your 'external' contacts more important and vital to your success than your co-workers?

    And finally, what should organizations be doing (if anything), if indeed many employees are relying on external contacts and social networks for answers and information?

    Let me know your thoughts.


    Carnival of HR - Oasis Edition

    The latest Carnival of HR is up at Rowan Manahan's excellent Fortify Your Oasis blog, and I am extemely pleased to be included and batting leadoff!

    In addition to my contribution, you will find posts from some of my personal favorites Meg Bear from Talented Apps, Lisa Rosendahl from HR Thoughts, and Jon Ingham from Strategic HCM, as well as many, many other excellent writers.

    Thanks very much Rowan for organizing the Carnival, and for including my offering with such a fantastic collection.