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    Entries in HR (357)


    5 Reasons Why I hate this #HR blog post

    Presented in no particular order... (and yes, I admit my guilt in having committed some or all of these transgressions)


    1. The title of the post starts with a number. 

    Each time another post like '7 Ways To Rock Your Cubicle' or '13 Tips to Become a More Social Leader' gets published a little puppy dies. It's true.  Please, no more '3 Ways You are an Idiot at Work' posts

    2. It contains no less than four links back to other posts on your own site

    You know what is really cool? Coming up with some kind of half-baked thesis about the future of work, or automation, or robots, or hipsters and using as your reference material just a bunch of stuff you have previously written. Readers just love learning more about what you think. Truly.

    3. Infographic!

    Below is just one of the top infographics I found by doing a Google image search for 'Inane infographics'. But look how pretty!

    4. It includes any one of the following:

    A. Advice on cover letters and/or resumes

    B. Tips to make your LinkedIn profile 'stand out'. Note: These kind of posts are almost always combined with 'List' posts, as in '37 Ways to Jazz up your LinkedIn Profile!'

    C. It mentions Marissa Mayer and Yahoo!. 

    D. It pretends to know more about running Yahoo! than Marissa Mayer does.

    E. It pretends to know more about anything than Marissa Mayer does.

    F. Starts with 'A reader sent in this question....' Can't you come up with your own ideas? Do you have to steal them from the readers?

    G. Contains a picture of an adorable puppy

    H. Uses a Twitter hashtag in the post title. (I have done this one a bunch of times, and I feel like I need a shower after hitting 'Publish'.) 

    I. Has a really bad premise, but about 400 words in it is too late to bail out (and lose the 28 minutes already invested) and simply plows through to the end

    So let me tell you about cover letters. No one reads them! Or check that, some times people read them. So you should write one. Oh, and be sure to customize your resume for each job you apply for. Because in the six seconds that a recruiter spends on your resume it is really important that they don't sense 'Generic resume' by about the fourth second. And that recruiter somehow, might have read one of the other 2,159 resumes you have sent out in the last 18 months. Or not. Wait, what we we talking about again?

    5. It follows the below sure-fire workplace/HR blogging formula:

    One part recent current event

    One part celebrity name drop

    Dash of sports metaphor

    Links to mainstream press articles on above mentioned items

    Dash of homespun HR wisdom 'What can we learn about management from....'

    Mix thoroughly, (and use some bold type at about the half way point to wake up the reader)

    Finish with common sense observation on human nature, (e.g. all humans are terrible).

    So did you catch all the drama with the Obamacare website rollout? I mean, there is no way that a Bill Gates or Steve Jobs would have botched a product launch like that, you know what I mean? If there is one thing that the legendary basketball coach John Wooden taught us, it's that we need to prepare to prepare in order to prepare to succeed. HR leaders can take away some important lessons from all this mess for sure. Don't be incompetent I suppose is one.

    Those are my five reasons why I hate this blog post. Feel free to add yours in the comments below!


    On our wearable technological future workplace

    If you haven't yet, you should really spend some time reading Josh Bersin's excellent piece on Forbes, 'The 9 Hottest Trends in HR Technology... and Many are Disruptive.' In the piece, Josh combines his insight into the HR and HR technology markets to offer up his view of some of the most important, and potentially impactful trends for HR and the workplace in the near and semi-near future. 

    Josh hits some trends that have been brewing for a few years now, (video, social, and Big Data in talent management and HR), but it is his last trend 'Watch for Wearable Computing and the Internet of Things', that interests me the most, and I wanted to touch upon briefly here.

    Josh describes the potential for recruiting applications that run on wearable devices like Google Glass, (something I wrote about on the blog some time back), and a different kind of wearable device from Hitachi that monitors employee movements, activities, and interactions in the hopes of helping the organization (and the individual), 'learn' about when and with whom they are most productive, inspired, and efficient. I even blogged about a similar technology all the way back in 2011.

    We all like to say that endless meetings suck the life out of us at work, but with a kind of 'work logging' device that could track the time and participants in a meeting, then perform some analysis about how much or little 'great' work got done soon after, then an organization might be able for the first time be able to 'know' the true cost of their propensity to endlessly gather around large, wooden tables.

    And as I wrote about in 2012, a 'Glass' type device to help inform, monitor, and help an interviewer (or manager) adapt on the fly to interactions with candidates or employees seems to hold incredible potential for increased accuracy and productivity. Additionally, the ability of Glass (and presumably other technology), to record and immediately make available digital records of these interactions will provide a real-time capability and mechanism for in the moment feedback, coaching, and improvement.

    But there is a downside to this, certainly, for the worker anyway. The loss of perceived privacy namely. While we have all come to accept the fact that while on company time and using company equipment and networks that our digital activities can be and probably are being monitored, most of us would be less willing to sign up for offline (hallways, meetings, the cafeteria), monitoring as well.

    At work, we like to be able to steal away from the computers and phones and have side conversations, chats in the break room, even the occasional adult beverage or two with our peers and colleagues. The beauty of these kinds of interactions is that they are generally completely unscripted, informal, and more relaxed. Exactly the kinds of interactions that smarter people than I like Marissa Mayer talked about when she famously put a stop to remote working arrangements at Yahoo a few months back. But will these interactions be as 'free' and as valuable and productive if they are being tracked, monitored, recorded?

    I do think the horse is just about out of the barn, at least on these technologies themselves. Many organizations will indeed see these kinds of wearable, always-on, always tracking, always recording devices as a simple extension of phone, network, and email monitoring that is generally accepted and expected in the workplace. Most employees have adapted to this reality by generally keeping personal, controversial, and potentially inflammatory content off of corporate devices and networks. But once the corporation extends 'monitoring' to the person, and not just the tools the person uses? Well, that is a different situation entirely.

    Whether or not it takes two years or more like ten, it seems to me that we will almost certainly see more tracking, monitoring, and recording of workers of all types - from service providers out in the field, to customer service folks, to information workers at the corporate office, and who knows, maybe even to the big shots in the big offices too.

    It will be really interesting when, as I first asked back in 2011, whether or not employees are going to be excited about wearing a 'workplace wire'. 


    LIVE Tonight - #HRHappyHour recaps HRevolution and HR Tech

    HR Happy Hour 172 - HRevolution and HR Tech 2013 Recap

    LIVE - Thursday October 17, 2013 - 8:00PM EDT

    Call in on 646-378-1086

    Follow and join the backchannel conversation on Twitter - use the hashtag #HRHappyHour

    This week the HR Happy Hour is back with a special LIVE show with a recap and review of all the happenings at the recent HRevolution and HR Technology Conferences.

    Join hosts Trish McFarlane and Steve Boese for a look back at both events - the sessions, the parties, the exhibits and all the fun from what was a memorable HR week in Las Vegas.

    You can listen live tonight at 8:00PM EDT on the show page here, or using the widget player below:


    If you were in attendance at either HRevolution or HR Tech, then you are invited to call in to talk with Steve and Trish and to share your thoughts and observations from the events.

    Who made you think?

    Who made you laugh?

    What was the most amazing HR Technology that you checked out?

    We will hit all the highlights and also have a few laughs as well.

    You won't want to miss this one, as the HR Happy Hour returns with a LIVE show, Thursday, October 17, 2013 at 8PM EDT.


    Can you help a reader out?

    For a Friday, here is a simple question lifted directly from the blog mailbag:

    Hi Mr.Steve, 

    I have been into HR for the last 4 years.

    What should I do grow in my career.


    Avis Federick (name changed to protect the reader)


    Have any ideas for the 4-year HR pro that wants to grow or get ahead, or maybe just wants to learn something new?

    And is desperate enough to ask me for advice?

    Hit me up, take yourself back to when you were four years into your career, what advice would you want to give the 25 year old you?

    I have some ideas but I'd love to hear yours.

    Have a great weekend!


    Mr. Steve



    The bumpy road from HR to the CEO chair

    If you are an HR leader that aspires to move up and potentially out of HR one day to sit in the CEO, COO, or some other 'C' chair that doesn't end with 'HRO', then you really should take a few minutes to read this piece on Bloomberg BusinessWeek titled - "Mary Barra, the Contender: GM's Next CEO May Not Be a 'Car Guy'", about current General Motors Chief Product Officer, (and potential future CEO), Mary Barra.

    Ms. Barra has come up through the ranks in a long (33 year) career at the auto manufacturer to hold an incredibly powerful and high-profile position - as the GM leader of the $15B vehicle development operations group, she sits in a position where the success or failure of the entire company rests pretty squarely on her and her team's ability to deliver. This is the kind of role that is the logical 'last step' before assuming the CEO chair, where if she were to make it there would be distinctive for a few reasons. One, Ms. Barra would be the first female CEO at any of the US-based auto makers, and two; she would be one of the highest profile CEOs that had a prior stop as the Head of HR along the way.

    That is fantastic, right? The former CHRO becoming the head of Product, then CEO? What could be a better path. Well, it may not be that simple.

    More on Ms. Barra's time in HR and what it may mean to her prospects as future GM CEO from the BW piece:

    Barra’s most high-profile moment came in 2009 after then-CEO Fritz Henderson put her in the HR role to help groom a new generation of leaders as the company worked to come out of bankruptcy. She allowed employees to wear jeans. “Our dress code policy is ‘dress appropriately,’ ” she announced in a memo. Barra had been attacking GM’s bureaucracy, slashing the number of required HR reports by 90 percent and shrinking the company’s employee policy manual by 80 percent. But loosening the dress code drew a flood of calls and e-mails from employees asking if they could, in fact, wear jeans. One manager was upset about the image this might send to company visitors. “So you’re telling me I can trust you to give you a company car and to have you responsible for tens of millions of dollars,” Barra responded, “but I can’t trust you to dress appropriately?”

    The anecdote reveals quite a lot I think about Ms. Barra and the lingering perceptions of HR as a corporate function. It seems like she was doing 'good' HR - slashing rules, working to empower employees and managers, and encouraging people to think and act independently. But even that kind of 'good' HR (along with all her other accomplishments as an engineer and product leader), might not be enough to elevate her over and past the typical 'car guy' model that GM and the like have always had for their highest execs.

    One more shot from BW:

    When (current CEO Daniel) Akerson appointed Barra senior vice president of global product development in 2011, though, she had just spent a year and a half as GM’s head of HR, which did not sit well with the car guys in the company and around Detroit.

    “She had a difficult time getting credibility because she was in HR before, even though she is an engineer,” says Rebecca Lindland, an industry consultant. “It’s sexism, and I think it’s the HR title.” Her vanilla style probably didn’t help, either. Bob Lutz, the swashbuckling former Marine pilot and legendary car executive, used to fly his own helicopter to work.

    The path to the CEO chair at a massive company like GM is a tricky one, but there are a few rules of thumb that are typically followed. The person would have deep industry experience. Would have a demonstrated career progression and documented success. They would have lots of contacts and allies. And they would have served in leadership roles in more that one discipline - some operations, some sales, some finance, maybe marketing - you get the idea.

    On the surface, it seems Ms. Barra possesses all these qualities, and indeed, one day she may well become the CEO of GM. But if she does not, I wonder if she and others will look back on the (fairly brief) stint as the Head of HR as a mistake. 

    I wonder if she will think that having to spend more than five minutes talking about the gosh darn DRESS CODE as something that tainted her just a little, and reinforced the traditional thinking of HR as the 'rules police' and any head of HR, no matter how enlightened and progressive, as not really a true business leader.

    It will be interesting to see how this plays out and whether a former 'HR lady' can become one of world's most powerful 'Car guys'.

    Have a great week!