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    Trying out Rypple

    Heard of Rypple?

    Until a few days I hadn't either until I read this post, from the HR Capitalist blog.  After reading the post, and checking out some other press and buzz on Rypple, I applied for the Beta program and thanks to David Priemer at Rypple, I was quickly invited to participate.

    Why was I so intrigued?  Well, Rypple has a great concept, it enables anyone to solicit fast, meaningful, and anonymous performance feedback on literally any topic.

    The process is straightforward and intuitive. Ask a question, enter three attributes or criteria to be assessed, and invite folks to provide feedback.  Responders are not required to give their name or e-mail address, so the responses are assured to be anonymous.

    For my test, I decided to use Rypple for a quick, mid-course evaluation for the students to rate my performance as an Instructor.  Rypple lets you pose a topic or question for feedback and then indicate three criteria, or attributes that are to be evaluated.  You can re-use these same attributes or tags on further feedback requests, enabling you to get a view over time of your performance against a key measure like 'Creativity' or 'Leadership'.

    So for my test, I asked all the class members to respond to the following question:

    How do you feel the Leveraging Technology class is doing in these three areas?

    The three categories or attributes I asked to be evaluated on were challenging, interesting, and relevant. Respondents can also enter free form text responses to 'What you like' and 'What can be improved'.

    I sent out the request for feedback on a Sunday morning, and within 10 minutes I already had received feedback.  Within an hour or so, I hade received feedback from six students, and three or four more gave their feedback in the next day or so. Most of the feedback was really solid, and I immediately noticed a theme in the responses, something I need to improve in the second half of class.

    So about ten students gave precise, informative, anonymous feedback in a day or two, and the entire process took me about 15 minutes to set up, and each student no more than three or four minutes to respond.

    My other alternatives to soliciting this kind of feedback would be to use a tool like Survey Monkey (good, but certainly takes more time to create and administer), or the survey tool in my Course Management System (not that good, and I would waste time figuring it out since I've never used it).

    The advantages of Rypple - ease of setup, anonymity, sheer speed of the feedback loop, cost (free).

    The shortcomings of Rypple - not easy to get summary information, no ability to export feedback into another tool or system for further analysis. 

    But honestly, Rypple seems designed for one thing, simple and fast performance feedback, and it does that one thing very well.

    I encourage you to check it out - Rypple.



    Google Reader Envy

    Do you ever open up Google Reader (or whatever feed reader you use) and see those 'new item' alerts Flickr - Ucumarifor all your favorite blogs, or the blogs of your competitors (assuming you are tracking them and you should be)?

    And then did you ever think to yourself, 'Oh Crap, everyone has new content today, and I spent all weekend watching football, barbecuing, and otherwise goofing off and I didn't write a new post for everyone to read when they got to the office on Monday?'

    Then you try to make a rationalization that you were busy with your kid's birthday party, your house is for sale and someone wanted to see it, and you have about five other 'side' projects going on that are competing for your time. But still, you look at that feed reader, see your blog, and see a big fat zero for new content.

    So, what do you do?  Slap together a half-hearted post just to get something, anything out there? Well, sure sometimes you do just that.  But today, I am not going to resort to that cowards way out.  No, I will do something ever lower, rather that even try to create some compelling, original content, I will simply link out to a few of those 'new items' that were in my Google Reader this morning and made me feel so inadequate.  Since I did not come up with anything interesting for you to read, try some of these posts, from some obviously more 'together' and dedicated bloggers. Enjoy!

    From the HR Maven - HR in Higher Education

    From HR Thoughts - 'Blitzing' your way up the career ladder

    From Michael Specht - the critical need for Succession Planning

    From the Human Capitalist - Has Google's Recruiting Model lost its luster?

    From systematicHR - Should your Applicant Tracking System be more like a CRM?

    From the Taleo Talent Management blog - Why do most boards have no HR types?

    And finally, one non-HR related item in my Reader today.

    The Baseball Prospectus blog takes a break from baseball to note - soccer player Kaka set to earn $37M per season with Manchester City

    So there you have it, a sampling of the 250 or so 'new' items in my reader this morning. Since I did not produce any meaningful content this weekend, at least these folks did.

    Back with some new, compelling HR Tech content tomorrow, (I promise).





    Performance Management Tech - Part I

    In my HR Technology class this quarter, we are fortunate to get the chance to use a 'real' Performance Management system, courtesy of Halogen Software.

    Before class this week, only one out of sixteen students had ever 'touched' an automated performance management system before.  Since these systems are so critical in supporting numerous crucial enterprise management functions (goal setting and alignment, pay-for-performance, potential RIF, support for development plans and succession plans, to name a few), the opportunity for students to test, examine, and offer comments on a real enterprise-strength performance management system is incredibly valuable.

    After running through the basics of configuring a performance appraisal process, we jumped in to have the students complete a self-appraisal, and once submitted, move on to a manager's appraisal of a direct report. 

    As 'live' software exercises go, it went really well, one or two minor glitches (one resolved by a student) and overall the students were really impressed and energized with the activity. 

    Of the many features we discussed in class, the one that generated the most excitement was the 'Comment Helper'.  This tool, common in many performance management solutions, provides the manager with some sample comment text to support a particular performance rating of a competency.  For example, if the manager assigns a 'Below Expectations' rating for the competency of 'Decision Making', the comment helper will default in a comment like "Joe frequently fails to make a decision in a timely manner, causing delays and errors".  Halogen also offers a neat tool called 'Nuance', which allows the manager to simply click an 'Up' arrow to make the comment slightly more positive, or a 'Down' arrow to make the comment more negative.  After the 'suggested' comments are filled in, the manager can revise them further as desired.  Better still, the 'Up' arrow is colored green, and the 'Down' arrow is red.  The students really enjoyed experimenting with this feature, and one student indicated this ability would make him much more likely to author more detailed, meaningful feedback when writing appraisals, avoiding the 'blank page syndrome'.

    The point?  A relatively simple technology feature like the comment helper can really go a long way towards helping managers in a critical business activity, giving accurate and relevant feedback to employees. Technology is not always the answer to business problems, but sometimes it really can be.

    Once again, many thanks to Halogen, especially Connie Costigan, Brent Eyre, and Maggie Patterson.

    If you find yourself in the market for Talent Management solutions, you really should give them a call (or an e-mail, or a Tweet).





    HR and New Technology - follow up

    A quick follow up to the HR and New Technology post from earlier this week.  A point I should have made originally, in fact. Here it is:

    If HR does not start learning, trying, embracing some of these new Technologies (Twitter, Yammer, YouTube, Facebook all the usual suspects), they will take root in the organization anyway, HR won't know what the heck happened, and jump back into classic 'regulate, monitor, make a policy so we don't get sued' mode.

    Months ago I 'claimed' the Yammer domain for my organization.  I invited two or three HR colleagues (who are pretty tech savvy) and tried to get some interest and momentum in the tool.  But nothing happened.  Could not get the HR folks to see the value (or even attempt to see the value) in a tool that allows micorblogging, threaded discussion, image and file sharing, groups formation etc.  In a 'perfect' world, HR would lead the drive to adopt these types of tools in the wider organization.

    Today, out of nowhere, I noticed a flurry of activity on our Yammer network.  It appears like one class of students have decided to sign up for Yammer and create a group to facilitate collaboration and information sharing. This could have just as easily been a faculty or administrative department, the specifics don't really matter.  What matters is that the organization did it on its own.

    And what happens if this group discovers Yammer to be a great tool and spreads the word to the wider organization?  Maybe they'll get some kind of recognition or be recognized as 'innovators'.

    Exactly he kind of PR that most HR departments really need.  That's ok, keep processing the forms, keep folks paperwork up to date, and try not to get noticed.

    Rant off.



    HR and New Technology

    Over the cold, snowy weekend read this quote from Gartner's 'The Effects of Social Software on Your Employer Brand'

    The typical HR department's failure to understand or take seriously social software and its effect on employer brand and Generation V is a significant weakness, and it will affect the ability to reach Web-savvy candidates and to mine the company's current talent base.

    Flickr - Matt Hamm


    The article goes on to exhort HR departments to take a few simple starting steps to begin to understand the Social Software environment and the potential impact on your Employer Brand.  Here a just a few simple, basic, and essentially free steps that any HR Department can take starting right now:

    1. Start listening - review what employees and prospects are saying on Twitter, Glassdoor, and by Google Blog searches
    2. Create some simple 'Day in the Life' videos hosted by some of your superstar or well-know employees and post them on YouTube
    3. Create a survey or wiki page to collect and evaluate real candidate's experience and impression with your employer brand, your corporate website, and your application processes.  You may think you have a great site and simple process, but it doesn't matter what you think, it matters what the candidates think.  If you wnat to be bold, embed a Meebo chat room on your job site, and start interacting with candidates in real-time.
    4. Start a blog. If your HR director does not blog at all, you are missing a huge opportunity.  The HR Director's title really could be 'Chief Talent Marketer'.  So marketl!
    5. This one is important - Get out of the HR Department (yes, put down those files, I9 forms, and direct deposit authorizations) for a while and talk to your Marketing, PR, and even IT departments about what they are doing in Social Software.  Learn from their experiences and explorations and see if you can't leverage the internal experience for your HR initiatives.

    There are loads of other approaches and opportunities for the informed HR pro to start leveraging and exploiting the new landscape. I won;t go on and on, if you want an even longer list, see Michael Specht's excellent list on 52 Social Media Ideas for HR.

    The point really is, You can't get away much longer as an HR department ignoring these opportunities.

    Otherwise, you'll still be pringing three-fold 'It's fun to work here' brochures and feeling satisfied.