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    Just about every college student is on Facebook, no?

    More and more faculty members are on there as well.

    Should faculty members 'friend' students and vice versa?

    Facebook profile pic - old folks usually include their kid

    Some research from the Gartner Group, The Business Impact of Social Computing on Higher Education makes the following observations: 

    1. The current popularity and continued growth of higher education users' (students) participation in social software suggest (these tools) should be added to the existing range of collaboration support options.

     2. Many innovative and interesting intersections exist between institutional structures and  extrainstitutional environments.

    If every student in your class is already on Facebook, with at least some of them connected to each other, doesn't it make sense to try and engage them there?  Would possibly some students prefer that to the more sterile, academic course management system?

    It is amazingly simple to post content, make comments, recommend sources of information there.  Additionally, the wider audience of past and potentially future students can also be engaged.

    I started this blog as a class example of how simple it is to set up and begin a blog.  I (mostly) tailor the content to students and really expected most of the readers would be students. 

    The reality is when students do read the blog, they almost always do via a posted item from Facebook (or once in a while from Twitter).  I have had more student interaction on Facebook Wall posts than on Blog comments.

    Marketers need to find their target markets, if your target is college students, you'd better start on Facebook.

    So to answer my original question, I am not seeking out students to 'Friend', but if one reaches out to me, I will certainly accept. Would some students prefer not to have an Insructor poking around their posted photos from some college party?  Probably, but students also need to understand the same photos they might not want their instructor to see, are probably going to be checked out by a recruiter or hiring manager down the road.






    Class Introductions

    What kinds of information about the students is it important for an Instructor to have before a new class begins?

    Most instructors, I would think, do some kind or introduction activity (unless the class is too large) in the first class session.  Most of these are kind of dull, normally the standard, 'Tell us your name, where you work, what are you hoping to get from the class' kind of stuff.

    I have made Wordles from class introduction statements, which are pretty cool, but don't really tell me that much.

    This class I am going to send out a pre-class survey to get a better feel for the students and whether some of my more unorthodox approaches are going to work.

    Some questions I am considering:

    What philosopher said - 'Wars not make one great'?


    Flickr - niallkennedy

    Choose one - Death Cab for Cutie, Band of Horses, Jack's Mannequin or Who the heck are they?

    If you could be a superhero, which one would you choose?

    What is Twitter?

    I know these kinds of questions have nothing to do with academics, or HR Technology, but I need to know how loose and fun and willing to explore new things the class will be.

    What else should I ask the class before the first session?



    Welcome Aboard!

    In this time of economic turmoil and layoffs a post about new employee onboarding may seem out of place.

    But, in many organizations the hiring and onboarding process never really stops, it may slow down a bit in a downturn, but there are always folks retiring, resigning, or otherwise leaving, and some new hires turning up. Getting your new employees off to a good start is really critical, most employees make the 'stay-or-go' decision within the first few months, and as many as 4% of new hires will leave after a disaster of a first day.

    FlickR- MEADEH

    Or, as in the case in many organizations, long-standing vacancies have recently seen an uptick in applicants, and all of a sudden a minuscule, mediocre applicant pool has some really talented prospects. So now is probably a really good time to assess your onboarding process and make changes as necessary.  

    If you are like most organizations, your onboarding process mainly consists of a checklist of administrative tasks (payroll forms, computer account requests, parking passes), followed by some scheduled meetings with the department manager and possibly some other key people to get the new hire started in understanding the role, the organization, the processes, etc.  Larger organizations usually offer some type of New Employee Orientation workshop, where various support and administrative departments talk to a group of new employees regarding policies and procedures, normally the HR department organizes and facilitates these sessions.

    All sounds pretty good right?  But what typically is missing is the ongoing support and networking that is usually critical for the success of the new hire. Who are the key sources of knowledge? Where is the repository of crucial information, the kind of stuff that is not in the 'official' company handbook.  Does any new employee truly succeed by doing what is in the handbook?

    Since networking and access to knowledge are the key factors in new employee time to productivity, what are some of the tools and technologies available to better manage this process?

    Corporate Social Networks - these are robust solutions offering features like employee profiles, discussion groups, blogs, etc.  The best known vendor in this space is probably SelectMinds. Jive Software's Clearspace product is also well regarded. These are 'big' solutions designed for larger organizations that have a well-developed strategy on employee collaboration. These are designed to give new hires a 'pre-built' network of the key folks in the organization that they will need to rely on to succeed. 

    Public Social Networks - Set up a company or division page on Facebook, and LinkedIn, and encourage your employees to register and connect their.  This approach will emphasize the 'social' aspect much more than the professional, but if the point is to foster better and more meaningful connections amongst your staff if may work.  Besides, many of your employees are already on Facebook, and unless you are planning to block the site (generally a bad idea), you may as well go where they are.

    Blogging and micro-blogging - There is almost no reason why your leadership (CEO, CIO, CFO, whatever) should not have at least a private, internal blog.  Executive blogs (and more frequently the comments) can reveal to a new employee more of the pulse or sensibilities of the organization.  These tools can also allow a new hire to introduce themselves to the conversation,  in a less formal or intimidating way than the traditional, 'march around and get introduced routine'. As for micro-blogging, set up your company on Yammer, and encourage your new hires to sign up.  Yammer (if you can get some key adopters) can be a great source of company news, projects, and discussion. 

    These are just a few quick thoughts, ranging from the big and complex (a corporate social network) to simple and free, (Yammer).  There are lots more ways to approach this, and I will cover a few dedicated onboarding tools in another post.



    Why have an HR Technology Course?

    So why is there an HR Technology Course in our Human Resource Development program?

    FlickR - Pete Reed

    Here is why:

    1. All the essential HR processes, Payroll, record-keeping, Benefits Administration, compliance reporting are all deeply rooted in technology.  And understanding of these concepts, and the important vendors and solutions in these areas is necessary for any HR leader.

    2. Increasingly, the strategic HR functions known as 'Talent Management' rely on modern, sophisticated technologies to support business strategy and deliver real business value. From recruiting, performance management, succession planning, training and development, and compensation planning, organizations are more and more looking to technology, and those HR leaders that can harness it, to lead important strategic initiatives. 

    3. HR can and should take the lead in efforts to increase employee productivity, enable more effective collaboration,  and increase the sense of community in the organization. Content management, collaboration tools, social networking are just some of the scores of technologies available to the HR leader in this space.  How to begin to understand these technologies and their application is a key aspect of the course.

    The HR leader must have a better grasp of technology beyond e-mail, IM and Outlook calendars.

    HR and Technology are from now on an inseparable pair.

    And that is why we have an HR Technology course.



    HR Technology Conference

    The 11th annual HR Technology Conference is underway in Chicago.

    Sadly, as I am right in the middle of the Fall Academic Quarter I am not able to attend this year.

    There are scores of product announcements made each year at HR Technology, but I thought I would point out two of the most interesting announcements from this year's conference:

    Cornerstone OnDemand  

    Cornerstone OnDemand is adding a new social networking platform to its integrated talent management suite of software and services. Cornerstone Connect helps organizations reach both internal and external audiences via Web 2.0 features ranging from communities of practice, blogs, wikis and user profiles, to rating/sharing content, knowledge management (including alumni), podcasts, RSS feeds and more. Using Cornerstone Connect, organizations can improve employee performance, foster connections, cultivate informal learning, and engage customers and partners to drive innovation and lower support costs.


    Softscape will introduce the new science of Talent Management – Softscape TalentGenetics™. This latest innovation from Softscape provides a new level of talent visualization never seen before to capture and share employee knowledge. The platform also offers embedded social-networking and expanded functions for social knowledge sharing.

    What I find interesting about these, is the emphasis on the integration of Web 2.0 features into 'classic' Talent Management platforms.  These vendors are among the very early adopters of this approach, to try and merge these features like social networking, tagging, RSS etc. into traditional, typically dull applications.

    This integration of Web 2.0 features into existing HRMS applications is a growing trend, and one that I think more vendors will try to get in on in the coming 12-18 months.

    I am looking forward to seeing the results of these product launches, and hope to get to demo them in my HR Tech class very soon.