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    Entries in HR Happy Hour (319)

    Friday
    Jul022010

    Comfortable Being Scared

    Last night on the HR Happy Hour show we talked about social media in the workplace, why organizations should have social media and social networking policies in place to guide employee usage (although quite a few listeners argued that specific social media policies are unnecessary), and some of the concerns and outright fears that many leaders and HR professionals seem to possess when these topics are discussed. After all, many of the large mainstream HR associations have trotted out a stream of speakers and 'experts' pitching at best caution and restraint, and at worst outright bans supported by a few anecdotes about miscreant employees gone wild. Flickr - Scr47chy

    Rather than contribute yet another (unnecessary) piece attempting to refute item by item the typical laundry list of 'bad' outcomes (time wasting, loss of productivity, exposure of company secrets) that may arise from the increased use of social networking in the workplace by employees, I wanted to touch upon one of the observations made on the show by our guest Eric Meyer.  During the conversation about the use of 'scare tactics' by some legal experts, Eric noted that many HR professionals are 'comfortable being scared', in other words hinting that rather than dispassionately evaluating the potential benefits of these tools and technologies, many in HR are happy to use the horror stories to keep them safely entrenched in their personal comfort zones of uninformed bliss.

    Mulling over this some more last night I don't think it is all that surprising considering how popular and often successful 'going negative' is in many other aspects of our culture.  Think about our interactions with our kids, 99% of political advertising, the stories on the local TV news, and even the relentless focus on the 'bad' or negative in the coverage of the World Cup. How much more emphasis has been placed on shoddy officiating, annoying vuvuzelas, and dysfunctional team dynamics than on any of the positive aspects of the competition? 

    Why are we so drawn to the negative? 

    Why do we try to avoid, mitigate, reduce, manage and every possible other thing except embrace risk?

    Why are so many of us 'comfortable being scared?'

     

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    Friday
    Jun112010

    The Why of Work - Show Recap

    Last night Dave Ulrich joined us on the HR Happy Hour show to talk about his latest book, 'The Why of Work: How Great Leaders Build Abundant Organizations That Win'.  It was an excellent show, and you can listen to the replay - here, or using the player below:

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    Some of the key points from the show:

     

    • Leaders need to make a difference in organizations, and leaders that best develop their 'meaning making' capacity will make the most important differences for organizations and for communities
    • People find meaning and purpose in different ways, some are driven by a quest for greater insight, some for achievement, some for connection, and others are motivated by empowerment. Understanding your personal sense of purpose making will help you better connect your work and your organization with a greater sense of meaning.
    • Many external factors contribute to and influence the organization and the individual in their drive to understand the create more meaningful workplaces, these can be grouped and assessed in categories of Social, Technological, Economic, Political, Environmental, and Demographic.
    • Workplaces that are meaning filled and abundant organizations can retain and attract more committed and engaged employees that in turn directly create value for customers, shareholders, and the community.

    It was a fast-paced and informative show, that quite honestly did not have enough time to cover all of the topics we wanted to touch upon, and we are going to try and have Dave and possibly Wendy Ulrich join us again in the future.

    Last item - last night we formally announced that Aquire Software is the first official HR Happy Hour show sponsor, and we look forward to more exciting and interesting news on that front.

    Give the show a listen and let us know what you think.

     

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    Wednesday
    May262010

    The best side of who we are

    Tomorrow on the HR Happy Hour show we will welcome Kaya Oakes, the author of Slanted and Enchanted: The Evolution of Indie Culture, and a writing instructor at the University of California, Berkley to the big show.

    Kaya also writes a cool blog at her site - Oakestown.

    The show can be heard live from the HR Happy Hour show page, or via the call in line at 646-378-1086.

    I picked up 'Slanted and Enchanted' a few months ago and once I had finished the book, I knew I wanted to try and book Kaya on the show. I wrote a blog post referring

    When I told Kaya a little bit about the HR Happy Hour and asked her to appear on the show, she graciously accepted but had to wonder, I think, why a show that (allegedly) focuses on Human Resources and Talent Management would want to talk about indie culture.

    A good question, but after thinking about the topic some more, I thought there were some really interesting and relevant parallels from the development and evolution of indie, and what is happening in the workplace and especially in the changes in traditional views of work and employment.

    Networking - The pioneering indie artists relied on their strong personal networks of peers, fans, and friends in adjacent fields for support, promotion, and even basic survival at times. Indie and punk bands relied on each other to such an extent, and there was a strong culture of reciprocity that developed. 

    What is every recent graduate, job seeker, or for that matter experienced professional told these days? Networking, giving to your community of peers, and promoting the good work done by others are all seen as absolutely essential for long-term career and professional stability and success.

    Entrepreneurship - A frequent theme of the book, and perhaps the single most important driver of indie culture is the belief that art that is created independently, for its own sake, and representing the personality of the artist alone while having little to no regard for its commercial viability possesses a purity and value that elevates it from mass produced and mass consumed junk.  Kaya observes that 'art that evolves outside corporate America can and does make a difference in the way people think.'

    Who hasn't been touched in a personal way by the deterioration of the American economy in the last two years? The traditional bonds between corporations and employees have probably never been weaker.  In an economic climate that smacks of 'it's every man/woman for themselves', the idea of collecting your ideas, talents, and personal drive and trying to package, promote, and sell them to the marketplace has become so much more resonant and important.  So maybe you are not out there 'selling' two-minute songs and T-shirts, but the mindset and drive needed to make it as a professional entrepreneur are not at all unlike what is needed to pack up the van with instruments and amps and hit the road.

    Creativity - The indie artists, mostly by virtue of the lack of restrictions and influence of outside interests like big record companies or major publishing houses, were free to unleash their creativity and passion as they saw fit.  Exploration into new sounds, sources, and inspirations were all common, they did not ever feel compelled to follow the rules and stay within the lines. It values the contribution and creativity of each individual.

    This week the results of an IBM study were released that indicated the most important leadership quality for success in business is creativity. More important than integrity or global perspectives, creativity is seen by CEO's themselves as essential for their own, and their organization's success. How does the organization find more creative people, and encourage the development of more creativity from it's existing ranks?  Could it be that a better understanding of indie and the people that are motivated to create would be high on any executive or HR leader's list?

    I hope I have made the case for the link of indie to HR and the workplace.  I hope you can join us on the show tomorrow night at 8PM EDT.

     

    Note - The title of this post comes from the below video, where Dale Dougherty of Make Magazine describes the Maker Faire festival, and talks about this culture of creativity as demonstrating 'The best side of who we are'.

     

     

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    Thursday
    May202010

    Too many choices?

    Tonight on the HR Happy Hour show we will be talking about Work/Life 'Fit', and how organizations, specifically the HR professionals in organizations can better understand how to design, implement, and measure the success of workplace flexibility programs. Our guest will be Cali Yost, of the FlexStrategy Group and WorkLife Fit, Inc., writer at Fast Company, and an expert on workplace flexibility

    In preparation for the show, I thought to write a 'Technology for Flexibility' kind of post, digging in to some of the many available technologies that organizations have and can bring to bear to better support more flexible, and in many cases more virtual work. Technologies like Google Apps for e-mail and office-type productivity, DimDim for fast and cheap screen sharing and web conferencing, and Socialtext for content creation and collaboration, internal microblogging, etc.  There are scores of solutions ranging from crazy expensive, to 100% free, and everything in between.

    But then I thought, the problem for (most) organizations and HR professionals that may be wrestling with the decision of how, or even why to implement more flexible working arrangements (that often have an element of remote working to them), has almost nothing to do with the technology.  Even I, as a technology person, have to admit this. Most large organizations have already embraced the kinds of technology solutions necessary (VPN, company-issued smartphones, web conferencing, collaborative online workspaces) to encourage more workplace flexibility.  In fact, some would argue that these solutions have indeed created the kind of flexibility that the organization desires, employees are 'working' when they are at work in the office, and they can continue to be tethered to 'work' when they are not in the office.

    That is the ultimate in flexibility is it not?  No matter where you are, work is right there too.  Sort of like that nagging bug you pick up after you get stuck next to 'Mr. Coughing the Entire Flight Guy' on your last business trip.

    To better underscore the point that technology is only a (small) part of better and more evolved workplace flexibility strategy and execution, consider this quote from author and speaker Gil Gordon in a speech given at a Telework conference:

     

    The technology for telework is very good and continues to get better. This does not mean it is perfect, or that it is always the right price. But the best news is that we have plenty of technology - hardware, software, and telecommunications - to allow telework to be effective.

    I have seen many of my US clients having a difficult time trying to select from among this big list of technology. There are too many laptops, too many kinds of remote-access solutions, and too many kinds of applications software. What is needed is a way to create packages of tested solutions for various kinds of telework situations.

    Gordon goes on to note later in the speech that 'culture', not technology is the true barrier to increased adoption of telework in organizations:

    In many cases we have failed to recognize this kind of integrated, connected aspect of telework, and we have also failed to recognize that the very culture of an organization changes when we start to change some of its parts. The very best telework programs I have seen are the ones that involve a lot of planning to consider these cultural changes, and also anticipate what else in the organization must change for telework to succeed in the long term.

    By the way, these quotes was from a speech made by Gordon in 1999! We will figure it out eventually I am sure.

    So if we believe the basic points of Gordon's talk, that increased adoption of flexibility (at least in the form of telework arrangements) as far back as 1999 presented not a technical barrier, but a behavioral one, then drawing up a list of all the myriad technologies that are available that could support increased flexibility adoption seems a bit like a waste of effort.  

    We know these technologies, we have them already, in fact we have too many of them.  Many of you are walking around with 90% of the 'technology' you need for increased workplace flexibility in your back pocket, (or in a belt holster if you are this guy).

    So for once, on a technology blog, I will agree that at least this time, it is not about technology at all.

    I hope you can join in the fun, tonight at 8PM EDT on the HR Happy Hour show.

     

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    Thursday
    Apr292010

    The Talent Show

    Tonight on the HR Happy Hour we will welcome the team from the TalentedApps blog - Meg Bear, Amy Wilson, and Mark Bennett to talk about 'Talent'.

    The show starts at 8PM ET and the call in number is 646-378-1086, you can also listen online using the player below:

    I would describe Meg, Amy, and Mark as 'talented' if it were not such a bad pun.

    But in a way, I wonder if the prevalence of the term 'talent', and the way it is applied in so many contexts and circumstances has had somewhat of a devaluing effect.  Do we even know what anyone means when they refer to 'talent'?

    There was the 'War for Talent', which may or may not be over, there is 'Talent Management', which may or may not be the same as Human Capital Management, and there are plenty of software solutions promising to deliver 'Integrated Talent Management', which possibly or not will help organizations integrate processes and better manage talent.

    For sure 'talent' is a complicated notion, but the team at TalentedApps consistently takes these complex topics and ideas and makes them accessible, understandable, and by sharing their insights and ideas they help us all get better at navigating the talent game, and putting us in a position to win, (or at least judge) in the talent show.

    So tonight on the HR Happy Hour we will look get behind some of the complexity and talk about how organizations can better assess talent, why ideas like 'job fit' are so important, and maybe even the changing nature of jobs and work and organizations.  That may be a tall order for a one hour show, but I think if anyone can help make sense of it all, it is Meg, Amy, and Mark.

    I hope you can join us for what should be a fun and interesting show with our 'talented' guests from TalentedApps.