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    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.



    Technology Quiz -What Platform am I talking about?

    Here is a Technology quiz for a Wednesday - Name That Platform.

    Some background - this platform can be considered very similar to an employee information portal, where a user logs in, and is presented with a combination of user-specific and tailored content as well as 'organizational' content and information.

    Here are some of the key features:


    Extremely easy to use - in fact inexperienced users often learn all the necessary functions with no 'formal' training, and only occasional reference to the available online help.

    Cool User Interface - one or two click access to all the most important and commonly used functions, layout is intuitive, and consistent. Users can efficiently conduct a wide range of transactions and processes in just a couple of steps.

    Interactive elements - animated 'guides' are utilized to describe certain platform features, and provide extra help and assistance. These 'guides' help the user navigate some of the newly introduced features of the platform.

    Educational Content - interactive learning, quizzes, and tons of information on a wide variety of topics, rewards for completing educational modules built right in to the platform

    Staff Profiles - quick access to detailed profile information on your network, with pictures, their current status, and links to connect with them in numerous ways

    Connection to other users - embedded chat, 'following' or 'friending' capability, and opportunities to interact with other users for mutual benefits.

    Engaging - users of this platform consistently indicate the platform is fun, they get the information they need, and they actually enjoy working with it.

    Lightweight - It is 100% deployed over the web, it supports hundreds of thousands of users all over the world, and while I do not have statistics, the uptime and reliability is first-class.

    Okay, any ideas yet?


    The information platform I am describing is Webkinz World.  If you are not familiar with Webkinz, they are small toy stuffed animals that come with a unique code that can be used to 'register' your Webkinz in the online interactive platform Webkinz World.

    Once the user logs in to the platform, they 'manage' their pets (think employees) they can take online quizzes (educational content), interact with other users (internal social networking), and review and optionally respond to Webkinz messages (intranet, or information portal).

    Home Page - A nice information portal welcome page, a little busy maybe (we are dealing with a target user between 6 to 9 years old).  News from the company in the center and right, and links to the user specific information along the bottom menu bar.  Note the large 'Things To Do' button on the lower right which opens up a menu of all the actions the user can take from here.


    Here is the 'Things To Do' menu.  All the important options, information, and functions can be launched  from this menu.

    Think about many corporate systems and portals that require the user to navigate through a byzantine menu structure to find the correct link to launch the desired function. In Webkinz World, launching the desired function is typically never more that two clicks away.

    And these functions are grouped nicely into various categories according to their use and even include some colorful icons to help describe the function (potentially a good idea if you have users that may not have English as their native language).

    The last cool feature of Webkinz World that I think has parallels to many of the newer HR portals and Talent Management Systems is the Profile Page. In Webkinz World, the 'profile' page displays to the user information on each of their registered pets, in the corporate systems environment this kind of profile page would potentially display your direct reports, your project team members, or the search results from some kind of an expertise query.


    Profile Page

    Here is the main profile page, think of a page like this one displaying rich employee profile information instead of some of my son's 'pets'.


    At a glance the profiles show information on pet 'happiness, health, and hunger', perhaps in a corporate environment these could be 'availability, performance review score, or recommendations'. Clicking on your 'pet', launches yet more information and the ability to interact. In Webkinz this may be feeding or playing a game, in the corporate environment this could be an IM, e-mail, or request for a video chat. More details of the employee's past assignments or projects can be captured, to facilitate staffing of new projects or initiatives.


    What can we learn from all this? The layout, design, and user experience of an informational and interactive portal aimed at 7 year olds does have some applicability to the HR portals and systems you use today, or may be interested in using in the future. I mean, if the system can be 'learned' by little kids, with no help or training, provides a wealth of information, functions, and is somewhat tailored to each user then why can't the portals and systems that we make available to our workforces have all those things?

    If you have a child, grandchild, niece, nephew, etc. in the 6-10 demographic ask them if they can give you a demo of Webkinz World, you just might pick up some ideas you can use in your corporate HR systems.

    Thanks to Patrick for giving me the demo!