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    PODCAST: #HRHappyHour 331 - Accountability, Culture, and Workplace Investigations

    HR Happy Hour 331 - Accountability, Culture, and Workplace Investigations

    Hosts: Steve BoeseTrish McFarlane

    Guest: Dana Barbato, InvestiPro

    Sponsorsed by Virgin Pulse - www.virginpulse.com

    Listen to the show HERE

    This week on the HR Happy Hour Show, hosts Steve Boese and Trish McFarlane talk about workplace investigations with guest Dana Barbato, Founder and CEO of InvestiPro, a cloud-based employee relations platform that supports HR through employee incident reporting, automated workplace investigations, and timely prevention analytics. On the show we talked about the current climate of HR and workplace investigations, how it probably has never been a more important topic in HR, (think about Uber, Intel, Papa John, and so many more current examples), and how when done right - workplace investigations can strengthen an organization's culture, create accountability, and show employees how much the organization is committed to their values and mission.

    Dana shared some of the most important things to remember when carrying out effective investigations, and how modern technologies can assist HR leaders in creating the consistency needed to undertake the investigative process, and reach the best and most fair outcomes.

    Additionally, we had a heated debate on the merits or demerits of flavored or 'stunt' Oreo cookies and the importance of air conditioning in the summer.

    You can listen to the show on the show page here, on your favorite podcast app, or by using the widget player below:

    This was a really interesting show, thanks Dana for joining us.

    Remember to subscribe to the HR Happy Hour Show wherever you get your podcasts - just search for 'HR Happy Hour'.


    From 20 Years Ago: 5 Things We Need to Know About Technological Change

    Over the weekend I found my way, (don't ask how), to the transcript of a 1998 talk given by the late author Neil Postman, ('Amusing Ourselves to Death, 'Technology: The Surrender of Culture to Technology' and others).

    In the talk, titled 'Five Things We Need to Know About Technological Change', Postman runs down how he saw advances in technology, (computers, cars, planes, medical devices, etc.), impacting people, society, work, and even technologies coming next. It is an incredibly interesting, and I think prescient, take on how technology disperses across the population, influences our behaviors, and changes, well, almost everything. And what was just as interesting to me was the fact that much of Postman's thinking and work about the impact of technological change was done between 20 and 30 years ago.

    I definitely recommend reading the text of the full talk, (link here), but in case you don't have the time, here are the five main points Postman made on technological change (with a little bit of commentary and perhaps an update for 2018 from me).

    Point 1 - Culture Always Pays a Price for Technology

    In this point Postman was essentially stating that every technological advance is accompanied by some negative repercussions and impacts. He wanted us to make sure we did not only focus on a new technology's advantages and gave equal attention to its inherent disadvantages. Postman was specifically talking about computers here, but in 2018 the obvious example would be social media - Facebook, Instagram, etc. For all the benefits of these platforms the negative consequences have to also be considered.

    Point 2 - There Are Always Winners and Losers in Technological Change

    Postman states "The advantages and disadvantages of new technologies are never distributed evenly among the population. This means that every new technology benefits some and harms others. There are even some who are not affected at all."

    Everyone's experience with new technology is unique. And some technologies are going to harm or displace or even render non-essential people and jobs that a particular technology disrupts. And of course some people are going to benefit from that disruption. We are cognizant of this, just think about how many 'robots are going to take the jobs away' articles you see, but at the same time we're not sure how it will indeed play out.

    Point 3 - Every Technology Has a Philosophy Which is Given Expression in How the Technology Makes People User Their Minds

    There was actually a little more to this point, but you can read the entire talk for the additional context. But Postman was basically saying that every technology has a kind of predisposition, or that proponents of a given technology are often predisposed to think a certain way. For 'tech' people, every problem is one of data, analysis, algorithms, etc., and they can have a tendency to think about the world and its problems as simply data challenges. The drawback of this approach is to limit the importance and influence, (or to ignore altogether), human factors like emotion, judgment, even empathy. We have to always be mindful of how our chosen technologies shape and inform our thinking.

    Point 4 - Technological Change is Not Additive, it is Ecological

    This point is perhaps Postman's most intriguing idea about technological change. He makes the point using an analogy of placing a drop of red dye into a beaker of water. Soon, the entire beaker of water takes on a subtle shift from clear to light red. Every part of the water has been changed by the one drop of dye.

    Extending the analogy to business-driven technology change, Postman suggests that the modern-day technology business innovators, (Gates, Musk, Zuckerberg, etc.), are effectively creating massive changes in how people and businesses interact with technology, and like the red dye doesn't care that is changing the entirety of the water, these tech leaders don't care about the massive changes their technologies are driving. Postman cautions us back in 1998 about this phenomenon and in 2018 I don't think we have to be reminded about the potential for negative effects in society of too much power and influence accruing to a small group of technology titans.

    Point 5 - Technology Tends to Become 'Mythic'

    By 'mythic' Postman means that once technologies achieve a level of adoption, we, (especially newer generations), forget that these technologies were actually invented by someone, and at a particular place and time. The internet did not always exist. Neither did texting or Tweeting or having GPS on our phones at all times. The caution of this mythic status, argues Postman, is that once these technologies become an essential and inherent element of our lives they are exceedingly difficult to change. Postman uses the example of television in his talk, but in 2018 we could easily think about how much people would revolt if changes were suggested to social media or mobile phones. What if Facebook decided to limit your time on the platform to 10 minutes a day? Most of us would be better off, probably, but we would never let it happen.

    Really interesting observations, and probably perhaps a little ahead of their time as well. While in 1998 when this talk was given society had seen and was seeing some pretty dramatic advances in technology, and the rate of mainstream or widespread technology adoption was accelerating, it is probably safe to say that now, 20 years later, these kinds of advances are even more dramatic and important.

    Have a great week!


    Succeeding with HR Tech, Five, Make it Six Things HR Needs to Know

    I did a Human Resource Executive Webinar on Tuesday titled 'Suceeding with HR Technology, Five Six Things HR Leaders Need to Know (and an HR Technology Conference Preview), and while it would be hard to share the information shared in webinar in full, I thought I would pull out the FiveSix 'Remember This' kinds of takeaway slides to share here, along with a little of the pithy commentary I dished out on the live Webinar.

    Also, if you head over to www.hrtechconference.com, you can probably access a recorded copy of the webinar when it posts in a day or two.

    (Email and RSS subscribers may need to click through to see the images)

    Number One: In the Pre-Contract stage of the project, here's my one thing you need to know/remember:

    Always. Be. Negotiating. Don't fall in love with the first demo you see or with the vendor that takes you out to the swankiest dinner at HR Tech. Play the long game if you can. You have just about all of the power before the contract is signed.

    Number Two: In the Planning stage of the project, here's my one thing you need to know/remember:

    We, all of us, humans primarily, are terrible at estimating how complex most undertakings actually are, and how long they will take to complete. Planning for HR tech projects is not immune to this phenomenon. Take your time, find some experienced implementers, challenge your assumptions, and be realistic about your organization's willingness, capability, and capacity for change when you set goals and milestones down. And it might not hurt to add another 15% for 'you never knows'.

    Number Three: In the Teambuilding stage of the project, here's my one thing you need to know/remember:

    One of the surest ways to limit your success with HR tech projects is to fail to devote the necessary resources for the needed time to the project, and get them some relief from their normal, day jobs. Almost every large project struggles with this to some extent. Getting a resource for 10 hrs/week does not automatically free that resource up from their normal duties, and you just may have added 20% workload to a key person you are counting on for the project.

    Number Four: In the Managing Relationships stage of the project, here's my one thing you need to know/remember:

    Your HR Tech project team will likely consist of a slew of different groups and organizations - core team, project sponsors, vendor staff, external consultants or SIs, and maybe even independent contractors. Managing the ownership, accountability, and communication across and among these different groups is so important, and a skillful and savvy project manager spends a ton of his or her time in this area.

    Number Five: In the Technical Considerations stage of the project, here's my one thing you need to know/remember:

    While many of the technical tasks have migrated from customer-owned to vendor-managed in the HR Cloud environment, most medium to large scale HR Tech projects have important technical considerations, chief among these are the integration needs from cloud solutions from different vendors, as well as the integrations from HR cloud solutions to legacy and sometimes on-premise downstream or upstream systems. And be mindful of the Planning Fallacy from a few steps ago when planning, scoping, and finding resources for your integration tasks.

    Number Six: In the User Adoption stage of the project, here's my one thing you need to know/remember:

    Most people don't like change. We like what we know, but maybe would not mind it if things were just a little bit better or faster or easier or more enjoyable. A good approach to user adoption is to couch and describe the change you are creating as the beginning of a movement towards something better, not necessarily a complete overhaul of systems, processes, and the way people work. We like 'better'. We don't always like 'different'. It's a subtle difference but maybe one that will make user adoption efforts and results more effective.

    Ok, that's it for my Top 6 things to remember. If I would have had more time on the Webinar I could have come up with more, but these are a decent starting point. We will be hitting all of these topics in much more detail at the HR Technology Conference in September - use my code STEVE300 to get $300 off the best rate available when you register here.



    PODCAST: #HRHappyHour 326 - High Tech HR: Innovating and Expanding Opportunity at Red Hat

    HR Happy Hour 326 - High Tech HR: Innovating + Expanding Opportunity at Red Hat

    Host: Steve Boese

    Guest: DeLisa Alexander, Executive Vice President, Chief People Officer, Red Hat

    Sponsored by Virgin Pulse - www.virginpulse.com

    Listen HERE

    This week on the HR Happy Hour Show, Steve is joined by DeLisa Alexander, EVP and Chief People Officer at Red Hat - an 11,000+ employee high tech company built on open source technology and committed to the idea that sharing, community, and being open can unlock the potential of people and organizations.

    On the show, DeLisa shared her perspectives as an HR leader in a large, growing, technical company, and the major challenges and opportunities facing HR leaders today, and some of the ways DeLisa and her team at Red Hat are approaching these challenges. Chief among these are competing for technical talent in a highly competitive labor market, expanding opportunity (especially in tech), to traditionally underrepresented communities, and preparing the environment for them to succeed at Red Hat, and how Red Hat's culture and ethos around open source and community building informs and supports everything they do in HR and talent.

    You can listen to the show on the show page HERE, on your favorite podcast app, or by using the widget player below:

    This was a really informative, interesting, and fun conversation with an innovative and progressive HR leader at a leading organization in a competitive space - I hope you enjoy listening as much as I enjoyed the conversation with DeLisa.

    Thanks to DeLisa and the folks at Red Hat.

    Subscribe to the HR Happy Hour Show on Apple Podcasts, Stitcher Radio, Google Podcasts or wherever you get your shows - just search for 'HR Happy Hour'.


    Learn a new word: 'Foldering'

    From the world of 'the lengths people will go to in order to keep their employers, law enforcement, and/or the government from snooping on their digital communications' comes today's Learn a New Word - 'Foldering'.

    Not familiar?

    Neither was I until I saw the term pop up in one of the (many) legal scandals and issues swirling around in the Federal Government lately.

    Here's the definition of 'Foldering' from our pals at Wikipedia:

    Foldering is the practice of communicating via messages saved to the "drafts" folder of an email or other electronic messaging account that is accessible to multiple people.

    Foldering is sometimes described as a digital equivalent to the dead drop.Like the dead drop, it has no usage outside of clandestine communications.

    So you want/need to send someone an email, but want to (try) to make sure that no one but the intended recipient gets their eyes on its contents?

    Well, since we know employers can see your sent emails and so can big tech like Google or Yahoo (once they get an order to turn over data from the Feds), you try this 'Foldering' tactic.

    You set up an email address, create your intended email, but instead of sending the email to your recipient, you save the message as an unsent Draft. You then share the email account's login credentials with your recipient, (hopefully not in an email), and then they simply log in to the account, read the draft message, and then update the draft message (again without sending).

    The two of you then go back and forth updating the message(s) in the Drafts folder instread of actually sending any email - thus the term 'Foldering'. Once the needed information is shared, someone deletes the draft - the idea being that by not ever sending the message it is less likely to be ever discovered by outsiders.

    But the practice of Foldering while not that common, appears to be pretty well-known by Federal authorities who tend to interpret the act itself of indicating some kind of questionable or sketchy behavior. It isn't illegal per se, but it sends a red flag to information security and law enforcement types for sure.

    I don't know if this really has too much of a workplace connection, unless your workplace is, well 'unusual', but it might be something you want to check on with your IT folks once in a while anyway. Maybe your kids too. Except your kids probably don't use email.

    Learn something new every day. Like a new word. Like 'Foldering'.

    Have a great day!