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    Entries in HR Tech (192)

    Friday
    Dec022016

    Learn a new word: The Feature Factory

    Quick shout-out to John Cutler writing at the Hackernoon site for this outstanding piece (and the source for today's 'Learn a new word' submission - The Feature Factory.

    What is a 'Feature Factory' in the context of a software development function?'

    From the piece on Hackernoon, '12 Signs You're Working in a Feature Factory' to get an idea -

    I’ve used the term Feature Factory at a couple conference talks over the past two years. I started using the term when a software developer friend complained that he was “just sitting in the factory, cranking out features, and sending them down the line.”

    How do you know if you’re working in a feature factory? (SMB Note: there are 12 signs in the post, I am just going to grab two of them here, but you really should read the entire piece)

    3. 'Success theater' around "shipping", with little discussion about impact. You can tell a great deal about an organizations by what it celebrates.

    7. Obsessing about prioritization. Mismatch between prioritization rigor (deciding what gets worked on) and validation rigor (deciding if it was, in fact, the right thing to work on). Prioritization rigor is designed exclusively to temper internal agendas so that people “feel confident”. Lots of work goes into determining which ideas to work on, leaving little leeway for adjustments and improvisation based on data. Roadmaps show a list of features, not areas of focus and/or outcomes 

    Really, really good stuff for project managers and development teams to think about.

    Why should this matter for readers of Steve's HR Tech?

    I can think of two reasons straight up.

    One, it is worthwhile to think about your current and potentially future providers of HR technology solutions in this context. Does your provider talk about their product roadmap for the next year or two in the same way you run down your holiday shopping or grocery list? Do they talk about the future as simply the container in which they will 'ship' more features and gadgets? Or do they discuss their plans and directions using your challenges and your desired outcomes as the context in which they are organizing and planning to deliver new solutions? I know I have written about this before, but it is worth repeating - almost any provider can build the capability you need if they think they have to. What is much more important for your long term success with a tech provider is if yours and their visions of the future are in alignment, and the methods, pace, and you feel confident in the manner in which you will both grow and evolve to be better prepared to succeed in that future. That is what is really important. Not just "shipping."

    And the other reason that this idea of the 'Feature factory' is important? Because in late 2016 it is pretty likely that all but the very smallest organizations have in-house IT and development teams themselves, and these teams are comprised of folks that both do not want to work in an environment that could be described as a feature factory, and at the same time have lots of career options that don't include your organization. As HR leaders, it is probably worthwhile from time to time to check in with some of your really important, hard to find, and harder to replace tech talent types and see how they really think and feel about the organization's development climate. If you are treating these talented and in-demand folks too much like cogs in the machine, chances are they won't want to stay in that machine for too long. They will see your shop as a skills and resume builder stepping stone to somewhere more interesting, more fun, and more challenging.

    Ok, that's it from me. Tip your servers.

    Have a great weekend!

    Monday
    Nov282016

    Onboarding the algorithms

    During the Ideas and Innovators session at the HR Technology Conference last month, my pal Michael Krupa gave an outstanding talk about automation and advanced 'learning' kinds of technology, and some of the implications for HR and organizational leaders who are choosing to incorporate these technologies into their people and talent management programs.

    In the talk, (and once I get the video of this, I will be sure to update the post with the link), Michael used a great expression to illustrate the deliberate and measured approach HR should take to adoption of these 'smart' tools. He called it 'Onboarding the algorithms'; a way of comparing the introduction and deployment of these technologies to the structured and immersive process that most organizations follow when onboarding new employees. The larger point - HR and business leaders need to carefully evaluate, understand, assess, and introduce algorithms and other advanced, intelligent, (and often predictive), tools carefully, and insert them into the HR and talent processes intelligently and intentionally - just like we do when hiring and welcoming new employees.

    I think Michael's analogy was a great one as it serves as a kind a warning to HR and business leaders eager to adopt these kinds of advanced and predictive tools for functions like evaluating a slate of job candidates, making decisions about which employees should be considered 'high potential', and thus granted more development and growth opportunities, scheduling the 'optimal' mix of employees for a given day or shift, or to provide intelligence and decision support to managers making decisions about the allocation of salary and bonus pools.

    I have no doubt that organizations and HR leaders will seek to adopt these kinds of tools more and more in 2017, but at the same time I think it also we be important, to use Michael's phrase, to 'onboard' these tools and algorithms effectively, in order to ensure we not only utilize the tools to their potential, but we also understand how these tools are actually designed and how they are performing. Kind of like how we know the background of every new employee that comes onboard the organization and how we like to keep track of their assimilation and performance - usually in a pretty structured 30-60-90-180 day kind of manner.

    This is a pretty important and complex idea for sure. One that can't be completely explained in one blog post. But I think one good place for HR and business leaders to start is to have really open and honest conversations with their HR technology providers of these smart tools and algorithms to gain a better understanding of how they are designed, how they work, (or are meant to work), and how transparent are the machine's thought processes they end up in a decision, (or at least a recommendation, i.e. 'Hire this person, and not that person.').

    A great starting point for HR leaders who need to know what questions to ask of your HR tech providers is the Principles for Accountable Algorithms statement from the  Fairness, Accountability, and Transparency in Machine Learning organization. They break down the five key guiding principles for algorithm design, (responsibility, explainability, accuracy, audibility, and fairness), that HR leaders can look for, (and seek answers about), from their technology providers. Of course there is plenty more for HR leaders to consider when evaluating and deploying these tools, but the FAT/ML document provides a good starting point. You can learn more about that organization and what they do here

    Just like every good HR pro knows that we just can't toss new employees blindly into the fire and expect that they will produce desired outcomes, (and be happy), we can't expect that we can simply insert new technologies, no matter how 'intelligent', and think we will get optimal outcomes. If these tools are meant to become a fundamental element of you and your leader's talent and people management playbook, then you need to understand them as well as you need to understand all the members of your team.

    And you need to be able to tell when the algorithm is wrong too.

    Have a great week!

    Wednesday
    Nov232016

    HRE Column: On Recruitment Marketing

    Here is my semi-frequent reminder and pointer for blog readers that I also write a monthly column at Human Resource Executive Online called Inside HR Tech that can be found here.

    This month, in the aftermath of the recent Talent Acquisition Technology Conference and thinking about all the innovative and potentially disruptive HR and talent acquisition technology solutions that continue to appear in the market, I thought about how much I have heard and seen lately about the concept or category of 'recruitment marketing.'

    Both at Talent Tech and at the recent Smashfly Transform event, the strategies, tactics, and technologies that HR and talent acquisition leaders are employing to define and communicate their unique employer brand and value proposition, as well as find, engage, and convert their targeted candidate communities were on full display. This field or category of recruitment marketing has seemingly emerged from the combination or confluence of a tight labor market, powerful and purpose-built technologies, and HR and talent acquisition strategies that are leaning heavily on consumer marketing precepts and concepts. 

    It is a really exciting, interesting, and fast-moving time in this new recruitment marketing space, and I thought it would be fun and hopefully valuable to share with HR Executive readers my thoughts about this new and emerging space. I came up with a few observations for my latest HR Executive column.

    From the HRE piece:

    One of the highlights of the recently concluded Talent Acquisition Technology Conference was the emphasis on recruitment marketing as an emerging new recruiting discipline. The definition of recruitment marketing is pretty straightforward: "the strategies and tactics an organization uses to find, attract, engage and nurture [sought-after people] before they apply for a job, called the pre-applicant phase of talent acquisition." (As an aside, you know a new concept has "arrived" when it has a Wikipedia page for its definition.)

    In some ways, recruitment marketing is just the natural extension of the widely discussed "HR should act more like marketing and/or sales" argument that has become popular in recent years. While that argument has indeed proven durable, it may not always be appropriate in all cases, as George LaRocque from HRWINS, one of the conference speakers, pointed out. LaRocque correctly showed that, while most consumer marketers serve only their ultimate external customers, recruiting leaders and recruiters often serve several kinds of customers: candidates, hiring managers, and even HR and organizational leaders.

    But even if there is not a perfect analogy between recruiting and sales/marketing, many progressive organizations and talent-acquisition leaders are successfully using consumer-marketing strategies, tactics and approaches to more effectively "market" their organizations and employment opportunities to potential candidates. This discipline of recruitment marketing has indeed emerged and grown more prominent in just the last few years and since not all HR leaders might be completely familiar with the concept and approach, I'd like to explore at least a few important points and share some thoughts on how HR and organizational leaders can begin to incorporate these ideas into their talent acquisition strategies.

    Why is recruitment marketing different than just posting job ads?

    In her closing keynote at the conference, Stacy Zapar presented a comprehensive review of the many strategies organizations can and perhaps should employ to more effectively define, communicate and market their unique employer brand and employee value proposition to the candidate marketplace. While posting specific job ads on the company careers page and ensuring these ads are distributed to additional outlets such as Indeed or LinkedIn are certainly part of most organization's candidate-attraction strategies, Zapar correctly emphasized that these efforts are only a small part of the optimal overall recruitment-marketing strategy.

    Read the rest at HR Executive online...

    Good stuff, right? Humor me...

    If you liked the piece you can sign up over at HRE to get the Inside HR Tech Column emailed to you each month. There is no cost to subscribe, in fact, I may even come over and rake your leaves car or clean out your gutters or even help you re-purpose the Thanksgiving leftovers. 

    Have a great, long Thanksgiving weekend!

    Thursday
    Nov172016

    PODCAST - #HRHappyHour 267 - Recruitment Marketing, Branding, and Technology

    HR Happy Hour 267 - Recruitment Marketing, Branding, and Technology

    Hosts: Steve BoeseTrish McFarlane

    Guest: Jared Nypen, GreatClips

    Recorded live at SmashFly Transform in Boston, Massachusetts

    Listen to the show HERE

    This week on the HR Happy Hour Show, Steve Boese was joined by Jared Nypen, Director of Talent Acquistion for GreatClips, With more than 4,000 franchised salons throughout the United States and Canada, Great Clips is the world’s largest salon brand. Great Clips franchisees employ 40,000 stylists who receive ongoing training to learn advanced skills and the latest trends.

    On the show, Jared shared how he and his team support the GreatClips franchisees with their talent acquisition, recruitment marketing, and employer branding programs and needs. Jared shared his perspectives on the emerging category of recruitment marketing, and how recruiters need to develop and sustain their own employer brand distinct from the consumer brand through these marketing efforts.

    Additionally, Jared shared some of the strategies and technologies that he and his team have engaged with in order to enable, scale, and measure the effectiveness of these branding and strategy programs and ultimately help GreatClips get more than its fair share of the available talent in a competitive labor market.

    You can listen to the show on the show page HERE, or by using the widget player below (email and RSS subscribers click through)

    This was a fun show, thanks to Jared for sitting down with us, and thanks to SmashFly for having the HR Happy Hour at the Transform event.

    And of course, thanks to our HR Happy Hour Show sponsor Virgin Pulse - www.virginpulse.com.

    Reminder: subscribe to the HR Happy Hour Show om iTunes, Stitcher Radio, and all the podcast player apps - just search for 'HR HappyHour' to subscribe and never miss a show.

    Wednesday
    Nov092016

    PODCAST - HR Market Watch 2 - What Great HR Technology Looks Like

    NOTE: Really excited to share the second episode of HR Market Watch, on the HR Happy Hour Podcast Network family of shows.  Check out the details below and be sure to subscribe to HR Market Watch and all the HR Happy Hour Network shows on iTunes, Stitcher Radio, and all the major podcast player apps. Just search for 'HR Happy Hour' to subscribe and never miss a show.

    HR Market Watch 2 - What Great HR Technology Looks Like

    Host: George LaRocque

    Guest: Roger Philby, CEO, The Chemistry Group

    Listen to the show HERE

    HR Market Watch puts a special lens on new and innovative HR technology from emerging and established technology companies. Join host George LaRocque, Principal Analyst and Founder of the #HRWINS, as in this episode he is joined by CEO Roger Philby of The Chemistry Group, one of the Top 3 audience selections at the HR Technology Conference in the "The Next Great HR Technology Company" competition. George and Roger talk about some of the key elements in hiring, assessments, culture and more, and how technology is helping organizations make better talent decisions.

    Also, find out what the latest #HRWins research points to as one of areas most ripe for disruption in talent acquisition process and technology!

    You can listen to the show on the show page HERE, or by using the widget player below, (Email and RSS subscribers click through)

    This is a fun and interesting conversation with one of the most exciting and innovative HR technology companies in the market.

    Remember to subscribe to HR Market Watch, and all the HR Happy Hour Podcast Network shows on iTunes, Stitcher Radio, and all the major podcast player apps. Just search for 'HR Happy Hour' to subscribe and never miss a show.