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    Wednesday
    Oct222014

    PODCAST - #HRHappyHour 192 - DataNow

    HR Happy Hour 192 - DataNow

    Recorded Tuesday October 21, 2014

    Hosts: Trish McFarlaneSteve Boese

    Guests: Mollie LombardiRachel Cooke

    This week on the HR Happy Hour Show, Steve and Trish were joined by two of Trish's colleagues from Brandon Hall Group - Mollie Lombardi, VP and Principal Analyst of Workforce Management Practice; and Rachel Cooke, COO. On the show Mollie and Rachel shared details about DataNow, a new research-based and data-driven product that can enable HR leaders to have better and deeper insights into research data, organizational benchmarks, and relevant insights.

    Additionally, the upcoming Brandon Hall Excellence Conference, set for January 2015 was previewed. This event is shaping up to be a great opportunity for HR leaders to learn from, network with, and engage with their peers as well as the experts at Brandon Hall.

    Also, Steve shared his indifference towards household pets ('They are sort of houseguests that don't really help with anything and just get into trouble'), and his need to escape the dreary Western New York weather.

    You can listen to the show on the show page here, or using the widget player below. And you can find and subscribe to the HR Happy Hour Show on iTunes or on your favorite podcast playing app. Just search for 'HR Happy Hour'.

    Check Out Business Podcasts at Blog Talk Radio with Steve Boese Trish McFarlane on BlogTalkRadio

     

    This was a fun and informative show about a innovative new approach to share HR and HCM research findings and insights and we want to thank Mollie and Rachel for joining us this week.

    Tuesday
    Oct212014

    Talent Attraction: The Real Reason to Keep Top Talent

    A few months ago I posted a recap of 'Why Stars Matter', a recent study out of the National Bureau of Economic Research that concluded the most important contribution that so-called 'Top Talent' makes to an organization is that they increase the organization's ability to recruit even more Top Talent.

    Here is an excerpt from my piece from April, then I will hit you with the reason why I wanted to revisit this topic today:

    ------------------------------------------------

    A recent National Bureau of Economic Research study titled Why Stars Matter, has attempted to identify just what are these 'top talent' effects. It turns out that just being better at their jobs only accounts for a part of the advantage these high performers provide and that possibly the more important benefit is how the presence of top talent impacts the other folks around them, (and the ones you are trying to recruit).

    Here is a summary of the findings of the 'top talent' effects from HBR:

    The researchers found that the superstar’s impact on recruiting was far and away the more significant driver of improved organizational productivity. Starting just one year after the superstar joins the department, the average quality of those who join the department at all levels increases significantly. As for the impact of a superstar on existing colleagues, the findings are more mixed. Incumbents who work on topics related to those the superstar focused on saw their output increase, but incumbents whose work was unrelated became slightly less productive.

    So 'top talent' (mostly) gets to be called 'top talent' because they are simply better, more productive employees. But a significant benefit of these talented individuals is that they help you recruit more people like them, who in turn also are more productive than average, continuing to raise the overall performance level of the organization.

    ------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Back to October when we have from the world of sports, specifically the NBA, this effect of 'Top Talent as a recruiting magnet' playing out with one of the league's most well-known and successful teams, the Los Angeles Lakers, and superstars, 5-time NBA champion Kobe Bryant. Except in this case, if Henry Abbott's reporting on ESPN is accurate, the 'Top Talent', i.e. Kobe, is no longer attracting talent, he is in fact, serving to repel other top players (LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony, Chris Bosh, etc.), from even considering joining the Lakers when all three players had that option this off season.

    In Abbott's short video he essentially concludes that at this stage of his career, Kobe's personality, need to take most of the shots, (and claim all of the spotlight), and his past history of not being able to co-exist with other top players has made the Lakers, once the destination of choice for NBA legends like Wilt Chamberlain, Shaq, and Magic Johnson, into a place where no top player will consider playing for.

    It is worth watcing the quick (1:20) report from Abbott, even if you are not an NBA fan, just because it serves as a reminder of what the NBER talked about in their research. Once 'Top Talent' stops serving as a magnet for other top talent, then it is probably time to take a long, dispassionate look at what they are contributing to the organization overall. Not just in what they are producing themselves, but how they might be holding the organization hostage so to speak, if they are keeping away the next wave of star talent you need.

    Happy Tuesday.

    Monday
    Oct202014

    The technology (sometimes) doesn't matter

    Before I hit the main point of this post, I want to be clear about something - I think whether in enterprises or for personal use, having the 'right' technology available is often a critical enabler of both indivdual and organizational performance. 

    Anyone that has had to deal with older, even antiquated business systems that are slow, difficult to use, have to be accessed through a labyrinth of logins and passwords, and at the end of the (painful) process can't really produce the information you need to make decisions, can attest to the importance of modern tools and technologies. Or maybe it is that aging first or second generation iPhone you are still carrying around. You know, the one that has the tiny screen and doesn't have enough memory and processing punch to be able to run the VERY LATEST version of iOS. The iOS version that you know is better, even if you have no idea how. But you NEED IT.

    So here is the point, until last week I was the guy carrying around a (by today's standards), a really, really old iPhone, an iPhone 4 to be precise. Older, kind of slow, I only had 3G network speed. Aside - does anyone actually know specifically how much better 4G is than 3G? Other than it being 1G better?  But I held on to the old phone well past its normal life expectancy for two reasons. One, despite it being old, and small, and slow, it just worked. I was able to get everything done on the phone that I needed to get done. So the small size and slower speeds didn't really matter all that much. And second, and probably more importantly, I had been running a mental debate with myself for months about whether or not to switch to one of the newer Android phones, like the Samsung S5 or the LG G3. Eventually I ended up with the LG phone, primarily since I do not run any other Apple products other than the old iPhone, and am a big user of Gmail, Google Docs, and Google Hangouts, it seemed like a smarter move to go to Android.

    But even though I knew that making the switch to Android was the right decision for me, I still put it off for months. 

    Why?

    Because I fell into the trap that lots of us do these days, whether considering personal technology or even technology solutions for our business - I was placing too much value on the technology itself, and not thinking logically and critically about what I actually needed the technology to help me accomplish.

    Keeping up with (and often failing) with Email, checking Twitter and Instagram, catching up on blogs and news with Feedly and Zite, and checking out sports scores on The Score - together these make up I would bet 90% of all the things I do on the smartphone.

    And the truth is all smartphones, ANY smartphone including my old iPhone4 are perfectly capable of handing all of these use cases. Quite simply it doesn't matter which kind of phone I chose. ALL of them would do.

    Yet I dithered on this 'big' decision for weeks and months, almost to the point where the old iPhone was just about crashing every day. 

    The point, (one more time), is that sometimes, maybe more than we think, the technology choices we make don't really matter as much as we get fooled into believing that they do. Whether it is modern smartphones or modern HR or Talent Management systems, chances are pretty good they all will suit most every use case that you can reasonably toss at them.

    The technology today is so good and so capable, that success with it is fast becoming not an issue of whether or not you have good enough technology, but rather if you can figure out how to use the capability in the most beneficial manner. So maybe the advice is spend less time lamenting which technology to choose, and more time making the most out of the technology you do choose.

    Have a great week!

    Friday
    Oct172014

    OFF TOPIC: More and Less

    We Need More:

    Really cool, interesting, and innovative ideas for work, workplaces and people (see Fuel50, BlackbookHR, Data Morphosis, BrandAmper, QUESocial, and Zenefits).

    Simple and elegant approaches to solve complex questions.

    Pumpkin donuts.

    People who don't take themselves too seriously.

    BBQ.

    Walt 'Clyde' Frazier.

    We Need Less:

    Updates on your Fantasy Football team.

    Emails sent at 11:49PM.

    Details about your latest run, CrossFit Workout, or set of push-ups you did.  You do know you get the same benefit and burn the same number of calories even if you don't Tweet about your stupid workout, don't you?

    War or combat analogies when talking about sports. 'That quarterback sure is a warrior down near the goal line.' 

    Sports analogies when talking about business. 'This new marketing campaign is sure to be a home run with the target demographic.'

    Telling us all how busy you are or how hard you are working.

    Comparing yourself to the competition. Forget the competition. Most of the time the people/companies that you are worried about are just as amazingly paranoid and possibly dysfunctional as you. Don't worry about them. There is plenty of opportunity for everyone.

    Tom Brady. I am so sick of Tom Brady. (I am a Jets fan).

    Have a great weekend! 

    Wednesday
    Oct152014

    Your HR Tech Vendor Should Tell You 'No'

    Having an interesting day at the HR Tech Tank event in Toronto meeting with and talking to a talented group of HR Technology Startups that are (mostly, I think anyway), based in Canada.

    One of the recurring themes that has come up during the day is the importance of listening to customers/prospects in the design and development process. As a couple of the startup veterans in the group have pointed out, if you run too far down a development path and have not done enough research, prototyping, and received enough detailed feedback from the most likely users of the product, then you place yourself at serious risk of building something that no one (except maybe you) actually wants.

    But at the same time, if you do too much listening to customers and prospects and focus on attempting to incorporate all of their feedback, enhancements, and feature requests into an existing product, (and more importantly, into a product that is meant to be fairly tight in scope), then you end up with a more complex product than you had intended, might miss important delivery commitments, and risk not staying true to your initial vision for the product. Probably the very same vision that sold your first employees, investors, and even customers on initially.

    It is definitely a fine line to walk for an HR Tech Startup founder and their team, and likely also for more established HR tech providers. It really comes down to having a pretty deep understanding of your product, your team's capability, the completeness of your vision and product, and lastly your philosophy about working with customers.

    There are no specific of set rules or answers for sure. Which is why creating and delivering product is really, really hard.

    But for customers or prospects it feels or seems much easier, right? Just look for and agree to continue working with only those vendors that continually say 'Yes' to all of your enhancement and new feature requests. After all, you are the customer and the customer is always right. And if your vendor doesn't react as completely as you like, and according to your timeframes then you can simply find some other one that will.

    Except for the fact that unless you are the startup's very first customer, then that means that there are others, maybe even thousands of other customers making similar requests of your vendor. And guess what? All of those other customers think their enhancement requests are just as important as yours.

    And if the vendor keeps saying 'Yes' to all of, or even most of your (and everyone else's) requests, they will end up with a product that is more a set of collected features and less of an elegant solution to a problem. A solution and vision that was what originally so compelling that you had to have it.

    The vendor, especially the startup vendor, HAS to say 'No' sometimes, maybe most of the time.

    The challenge for you, the customer, is to learn that 'No' is sometimes, maybe most of the time, the right answer. For both of you.