Monday, 21 July 2014

Finance are from Mars, HR are from Venus



At the end of last week I was following the tweets from Eversheds HR Summer School which I spoke at last year and spotted this tweet, relating, I think to a presentation from the CIPD's Peter Cheese: "Finance are from Mars, HR are from Venus."

Despite the fact that the tweeter also suggested this doesn't apply to her - she loves her FD - and Peter Cheese's response with #HRlovesFDs (a hashtag which - you might be surprised - hasn't quite managed to go viral) I do think there was something in the phrase.

In fact it was something I was thinking about anyway as I'd been reading a few other things about CFOs including Management Today's suggestion that CFOs are developing into change agents.

Then there was this - a fairly offensive rant from Ram Charan suggesting we split HR in half because the function is so completely rubbish and that in future we should continue just doing administration.  The strategic part of what we do would then be led by high potentials from Finance.  That really annoyed me...

Firstly, although we're all used to 'I hate HR' articles, writers normally make a point of acknowledging the lots of good people who work within the function - few such allowances from Charan (only really where they're Finance people already running HR).

I thought this was particularly cutting as we've always given a lot of respect to Charan.  Even when he turned up clearly worse for wear to present at Singapore's Human Capital Summit in 2011 we muttered quietly to each other but didn't challenge him about it.  (You might not be surprised that attendees in SE Asia responded so politely but I also chose not to tweet or blog on the session.)  Well no such respect was shown to us from him.  Perhaps if we'd challenged him then he'd have respected us more - so I'm trying to make up for the earlier omission with a robust challenge now.

Secondly, I think Charan's reading of the situation is absolutely and completely wrong.  He suggests HR (the strategic bit) needs to be led by the business, which is why he wants Finance to run it.  I think that business needs to led by HR.  Business is about people and needs to be a lot more people shaped than it is now.  HR understands how we can do this.

Charan wants HR to be able to deal with real business challenges, being more like the rest of the business.  I see little point in being more like the rest of the business whilst business is in such a mess.  Business needs new thinking and new ways of operating which HR people with a different - not the same - perspective to CFOs can bring to it

This may mean that HR can be seen as a little bit different to other functions - and that's a good thing.  Let's celebrate our difference, not obscure it.  And let's not worry about criticism from people like Charan who clearly represents the past rather than the future.  Because if there's one function which is going to be split in half in the future it'll be Finance not HR (or as I recently suggested we could just outsource it.*)

* = I know some great Finance people, though I've worked with some nasty examples of inhumanity from within that function too.   But this article isn't written to disrespect them, Charan-style, but simply to argue that their function isn't as important or as strategic as our own (or if it is now, that this is just a hang over from the past, and the situation is already changing.


In fact the above changes are already taking place - many HR Directors are already acting as 'the consiglieri of the C-suite' (this article by Saatchi & Saatchi's Richard Hytner is much more sensible then Charan's diatribe.)

Therefore I do think Peter Cheese has lost the plot a bit when he suggests that HR needs to use data, engage with other departments (Finance) and get fluent in finance speak in order to be taken more seriously.  We do, but prioritising this is just a recipe for continued irrelevancy.

So I'm not suggesting we shouldn't engage Finance - of course we should.  But let's do so from a position of strength.  It's HR which interfaces with the people in the business and despite MT's suggestion, has the best ideas and experience around engagement, performance and change agency.  So let's talk to Finance, but change the agenda that Peter has suggested to how we can help them become more talent centred, using emotions and developing fluency in people speak. 

We do need to get together on one planet, but let's help Finance to come to Venus rather than having us moving off to Mars.  This isn't intransience - it's just that it's Venus, not Mars, which today provides the best environment for the future of our businesses.


  • Consulting - Research - Speaking - Training - Writing
  • Strategy - Talent - Engagement - Change and OD 
  • Contact me to create more value for your business
  • jon [dot] ingham [at] strategic [dash] hcm [dot] com


Thursday, 17 July 2014

Keynoting on Datafication at Employee Benefits Live



I've got quite a few conferences coming up after the Summer, and in particular will be giving this keynote at Employee Benefits Live in London in September:

The Datafication of HR - What Next?

  • How is data-driven HR displaying results for early adopters?
  • What are the new roles and skill sets HR needs for a top-notch analytics team?
  • What impact will HR analytics have on talent management?


I don't like the term datafication (Josh Bersin's fault!) but there's no doubt that the quantitative analysis of information relating to HR and especially reward and benefits is providing a growing challenge and opportunity to practitioners.  So it'll be an interesting session.

Hope to see you there.


  • Consulting - Research - Speaking - Training - Writing
  • Strategy - Talent - Engagement - Change and OD 
  • Contact me to create more value for your business
  • jon [dot] ingham [at] strategic [dash] hcm [dot] com


Wednesday, 16 July 2014

Glassdoor UK Employment Confidence Survey Q2 2014



Along with all of the data on Glassdoor's own jobs and careers community, the firm runs a quarterly survey of employee confidence, conducted by Harris Interactive.  The second quarter UK results are out today and contain some important messages for all businesses employing people here.

In particular, a lot of the general commentary about the UK’s economy and the high cost of living at the moment suggests that many people are not yet seeing the benefits of an improving economy.  The findings from this research supports those general conclusions:

  • One in three (32%) employees believe their company’s business outlook will improve in the next six months, although this has dropped two percentage points
  • 37% of employees expect to receive a pay rise in the next 12 months, up from 34% in Q1
  • More than a quarter of employees (29%) are concerned that they may be made redundant, up significantly from 21% in Q1 this year
  • People looking for a job are more confident – almost one in three (30%) of those unemployed but looking for work report optimism that they could find a job matched to their experience and current compensation levels in the next six months. This is an increase of five percentage points.


It is certainly good news that more employed people are finally expecting pay increases however it’s a big worry that so many employees feel so uncertain about keeping their existing jobs, particularly as most also still feel uncertain about their ability to find another position if they do get laid off.

This is particularly important since if people are worrying about their jobs it’s going to make it harder for them to do their best work.  Indeed it may move them into a ‘threat state’ in which peoples’ concern about their jobs can close down their ability to think clearly and behave optimally, particularly in displaying the sort of discretionary behaviours which are so critical in many jobs today, for example in providing great customer service and developing new ideas to improve work activities.  This may be one reason why UK productivity is remaining so low as well.

The findings also reinforce what we already know about the impact of pay being quite limited.  So although employees are seeing positive developments in their salaries, incentives and monetary benefits and their confidence about future pay rises is increasing too, at the same time they are feeling less secure about retaining their current employment.  Future salary increases are unlikely to have much impact on job security either and so in addition to whatever they can do to increase pay levels, employers need to confront job insecurity head on.

The main reason that people are worrying about their jobs may well be the increasing amount of restructuring that employees are seeing together with a continuing high level of redundancies taking place.  Employers may therefore want to look at ways in which restructuring can be conducted without large scale redundancies - perhaps trading off a certain amount of potential efficiency savings later on in order to provide greater effectiveness and higher productivity today.

In addition, I suspect the general tone of the debate about the UK’s economy is leading employees to feel less secure, and employers will benefit from communicating openly about the specific circumstances of their own businesses, involving employees where there are issues and problems, and communicating confidently where there are already positive changes underway or there are signs of new opportunities for the future.

Finally, it’s also good news that we’re starting to see the confidence of those who are currently unemployed increase.  This might suggest that the job market is actually improving and it is just the commentary about employment and the economy which has not yet caught up.  As the commentary becomes more positive, this could help to reduce employees’ current uncertainty as well.


By the way, I'm acting as Glassdoor UK's HR expert, helping to promote the findings of this research so look out for more comments from me in the press!

  • Consulting - Research - Speaking - Training - Writing
  • Strategy - Talent - Engagement - Change and OD 
  • Contact me to create more value for your business
  • jon [dot] ingham [at] strategic [dash] hcm [dot] com

Friday, 11 July 2014

Walter Mitty and HR Transformation


I've recently had this post published on the ASTD / ATD's gloabl HRD blog - HR Artistry on a Global Canvas - again supporting this November's Art of HR Conference.

As well as describing the 'canvas' which enables HR to be more artful, consisting of ambition, bravery and creativity, I take Walter Mitty's similar A, B, C and suggest that I often like to think of the creation of a new, artful HR as a bit like the transformation from Walter, the office worker, into Walter, the adventurous, brave, and creative skateboarding global traveler / astronaut!

This isn't about being more strategic or having a seat at the table etc, it's just about grabbing opportunity with both hands and not letting go.

And if you want to Walterise your HR function, come along to the Art of HR taking place in Dubrovnik in November.  Or you can join in the conversation about artistry in our Linkedin group.

  • Consulting - Research - Speaking - Training - Writing
  • Strategy - Talent - Engagement - Change and OD 
  • Contact me to create more value for your business
  • jon [dot] ingham [at] strategic [dash] hcm [dot] com

Thursday, 10 July 2014

Anthony Hilton as HR's Most Influential?




I met up yesterday with Arvind Hickman, Editor of HR Magazine, to talk about the Art of HR conference I’m organising, and will be chairing, and at which he’ll be  speaking at as well.  Arvind mentioned he was keen for further promotion of this year’s HR Most Influential (HRMI) programme which sets out to identify influential thinkers and I’m happy to support!

In fact I’ve already made my suggestion for Anthony Hilton’s City Column at the Evening Standard.

I should explain that this year Arvind is looking for suggestions of written work which supports a thinker’s thought leadership.  Now I often challenge the magazine’s methodology and will do so again now - most HR people aren’t influenced via written work but by face to face, small group and one-on-one conversation.  (That’s why I’m not blogging here so heavily anymore but am putting much more time into running training sessions and getting in front of people at small group events.)

You may disagree with me, and of course, you are reading this here.  But you’re the exception.  Certainly in my experience most senior HR people don’t read books, magazines or blogs (perhaps just mine), don’t go to conferences (perhaps just Art of HR hopefully!) and in fact vastly underinvest in their own capability development.  I shared this view with a group of suppliers in a panel for the Learning and Performance Institute (LPI)'s Learning Directors Network meeting yesterday afternoon and most people there seemed to have had similar experience of practitioners in Learning & Development at least.

I think it’s a problem.  As was suggested yesterday afternoon, we’ve got to a situation where many in the workforce - business leaders and line managers in particular - are putting more effort into their own learning than HR people whereas it ought to be the other way around.  But for as long as this remains a situation, influential HR thinkers need to find different ways to communicate their ideas.  (Of course this isn’t going to stop places like Ashridge writing books assuming that HRDs will read them, or even from developing research on influence, like the HMRI survey, around written thought leadership, even if this isn’t really how influence takes place.)

However this year’s methodology is what it is and that’s why I’ve nominated Anthony Hilton.  This is down to two or perhaps three things.  First up is that although Hilton isn't an HR journalist, he writes what I think is some great work on HR topics, amongst other things (and which I tend to agree with.)

My second reason for suggesting Hilton is about the place where he publishes his writing.  If HRDs don’t read blogs or HR publications (I would have written ‘HR Magazine excepted’ but actually even they didn’t come off that well in the LPI research we looked at in the afternoon) then we need to take HR thought leadership to HRDs, and the Standard is about the best place you’re going to find many of them.  I suspect that because of this Hilton has more influence than just about anyone else I could think of (Lucy Kellaway came to mind briefly but most I don't think most HRDs read the FT either.)
 
Then finally is that, although I do like to read the Standard, I'm not a fan of the paper’s London-centric, Boris Johnsonite agenda as I think this panders too much to residents of the city and forgets about the views of those of us who are regular but temporary visitors (and who probably get to spend longer reading the newspaper.)  So I’m particularly impressed that even within this editorial context, Hilton makes such well articulated, highly appropriate and important challenges to poorly designed elements of reward and other aspects of employment which are generally found most commonly within the City (excessive bankers’ bonuses and CEOs’ pay awards etc.)

In conclusion, I hope I've influenced you to read of some of Hilton’s posts.  And if you don’t get a chance to pick up a copy of the Standard, or if you worry like me about the environmental damage all of these freebie newspapers are having, then you can read them here as well.

And I do hope you will have a think about who you personally find influential.  What book, article or piece of academic work has influenced you this year?  And once you’ve thought of something, do let HR Magazine know.
 
Finally, if you didn’t find it easy to think of several influential thought leaders then you’re not opening yourself to enough new ideas.  I suggest you need to change this right now.  HR is racing along into a completely new way of operating (S curve) and we need to question ourselves and learn new things faster than we’ve ever done before.  We all need to be identifying the influential thought leaders and then following their work - which is why, despite my reservations, I do think HRMI is a useful piece of research.
  • Consulting - Research - Speaking - Training - Writing
  • Strategy - Talent - Engagement - Change and OD 
  • Contact me to create more value for your business
  • jon [dot] ingham [at] strategic [dash] hcm [dot] com
 

Tuesday, 8 July 2014

New strategic HR website / blog


As some of you will know, I've been blogging here for seven years this month, and am firmly committed to continuing to do so, if not quite to the same rate I did in the past.

However, I also recognise that although I think there is some great content on here, not all of it is easily accessible, for example a lot of it is hidden in blog posts connected to an event or something else which was going on that appeared interesting at the time, but isn't that relevant for today.

I'm therefore starting up a new site, at joningham.com, and am republishing, slightly edited, some of what I think is my best blogging work, in a more ordered sequence, and without all of the other extraneous information.

You can see this blog / 'advice column' at http://www.joningham.com/advice and can subscribe to the feed at http://www.joningham.com/1/feed.

I'll be posting daily for at least the next six months and then we'll see where that, and this blog, go.


PS I know the site still needs a bit of tidying up and that'll be done soon too.


  • Consulting - Research - Speaking - Training - Writing
  • Strategy - Talent - Engagement - Change and OD 
  • Contact me to create more value for your business
  • jon [dot] ingham [at] strategic [dash] hcm [dot] com



Thursday, 3 July 2014

Google Glass / Augmented Employment



Yesterday I got to try on Google Glass at their new London Basecamp.  It was an interesting experience but I escaped with my £1000 unspent.

On a personal basis I don't think I was ever likely to buy a Glass at the moment.  I'm not a geek and generally don't buy-in to new technology until it's fairly well established, the bugs have been ironed out and the functionality enhanced.  It's pretty clear that although Glass is a transformational piece of technology, it's still at a very early point in it's development.  I'll probably wait until I can get full augmented reality rather than the tiny little rectangle above my field of vision, more apps ('Glassware' apparently) eg the ability to identify people through Google + as I'm walking down the street, and higher quality sound and pictures.  Or at least until I can get something like the current functionality at say a tenth of the current Explorer price.  As a glasses wearer there's also the additional costs of prescription frames and John Sumser's experience hasn't helped motivate me to go down this route.

On a broader basis I'm still very interested in what this type of technology may be able to do for business and potentially for HR.  I don't think it will have much of a role in recruitment and certainly not in selection interviewing, though if a recruiter wanted to use one, particularly in a technology oriented sector / role, allowing them to scan through a CV or take a video of the interview, I wouldn't see this as a particular problem as long as they explain this is what they're doing too.  Sourcing may provide a much greater opportunity, but only once the functionality has been quite a bit enhanced.

Learning probably provides a more significant opportunity.  Informal learning has taken great strides forward with the development of Google and other search engines, and with the ability to use these tools via mobile devices.  Google Glass is going to take this to another level yet again.  I increasingly see learning as not just putting stuff into my own head but ensuring I can get the information that I need, whether through the right connections and relationships or my 'external brains' (Evernote and this blog.)  The capability Google Glass will provide us to find and store or reference information is going to be profound - remember Neo learning to fly a helicopter? - well that scenario is coming one step closer today.  It's also going to require a major cultural and behavioural challenge to ensure that people are focusing their learning and not just tiring themselves out through massive cognitive overload.  (There are also the difficult policy issues like do you still ban Glass wearers from accessing Facebook! - no, not really, though I'm sure some companies will try.)

Performance management or at least performance support is probably going to be a bigger opportunity again.  Knowledge workers, and others, should be able to do better knowledge work and this includes HR too.  To some extent the ability to get easier access to HR data and analytics is going to continue the development of HR to become more data and evidence based.  More importantly, to me, might be the opportunity to improve relationships with and between other people.  Picture for example a team meeting where all team members are glassed up and can see the agenda and action notes appearing before their ideas.  That might keep things on track and everyone much more focused on what they need to do as well as their own roles in supporting the team in doing it.

I'm sure there'll be more opportunities we'll discover as we progress with using Glass too.  So although I didn't make a purchase yesterday I'm now even more convinced that this as the future of personal technology.  Walking along looking down towards my iphone, whilst still an amazing step forward from what we used to be able to do even ten years ago, is clearly not an optimal was of receiving and exchanging information.  To be able to get the same details whilst looking at what I'm looking at whilst I'm walking, driving or whatever else I'm doing is clearly the way to go.  I can't see putting all of this on my wrist is going to be a massive improvement from carrying a phone around so I don't think the iwatch and its kind is going to be much of a step change development.  Google Glass is, even if this is bound to be superseded by contact lenses or something at some point.

Our employees are going to be using this.  Maybe not this year but certainly within the next five years everyone is going to be wearing Glass or something like it.  Human augmentation is here.  This is the big issue for HR, not what we can use it for within our own function and activities.  If everyone is wearing Glass what does this mean for our organisations and the way they work?

Currently, I'm still not sure I have much of an answer to this question.  But I do know it's an important question to ask.  HR needs to get on top of this technology and start thinking about how things are going to change.  So you might not want to bother checking your bank balance, but if you're in HR, and in the UK, you need to get yourself down to the London Basecamp and try Glass out.  And I'd be interested in how you get on.


  • Consulting - Research - Speaking - Training - Writing
  • Strategy - Talent - Engagement - Change and OD 
  • Contact me to create more value for your business
  • jon [dot] ingham [at] strategic [dash] hcm [dot] com

Thursday, 26 June 2014

#ECTalent - Darren Chlds: Putting himself on the line


Darren Childs, CEO of UKTV at the Economist Talent Management Summit 2014


Well due to the French air traffic control strikes I missed the sessions I really wanted to see but we've had a couple of good sessions on diversity (Jean Marting arguing that businesses needing to progress people from unusual sources and a panel providing lots of examples about this not happening.)


And now we've got Darren Childs, CEO of UKTV talking about corporate culture.  He spends half his time on this as it's the biggest indicator of success.  His view is that any company that focuses on building a command and control structure rather than engaging staff will be out of business within the next ten years.

When did you last put yourself on the line - being prepared to jeopardise your own position for the good of the position of your people and your company.

Leaders need to be prepared to be judged.

Eg participating (unofficially) in the Sunday Times Best Employers survey - asking employees about whether Darren is an inspirational leader.

Results suggested that the business wouldn't be able to reach it's potential, or even stay in business there was so much destruction going on.

So he started speed dating the whole company.

In just two years they've increased from 24% to 81% of employees now agree the company is led based on strong values.

And in 2013 and 14 they won the Best Companies award.

Their business is about creating culture so they ned a culture in which people can create - an ideas culture in which people are motivated to come forward with ideas.  And that people can develop their potential without a fear of rejection.  Their mantra is 'imagine more'.

They've been doing some interesting things with workplace design - eg their 'Eden' room is fitted out with park benches.  And they have big kitchens where they can talk to all of their staff about what's important.

They have a behaviour about generating ideas linked to their values and they recognise this - staff make a short video about people they want to nominate which are aired in front of the whole company.

There are smaller programmes too eg any manager can give any emploee a chocolate bar containing a small gift eg a lie in the next day or they can go home early on a Friday afternoon or get a whole duvet day.

The second essential step is bringing these ideas to life.  They have an innovation pot and anyone including the cleaners can apply for money to bring their ideas alive.

Most important is a culture that is supportive not cynical.  This is his biggest role as CEO.  His measure is that people will tell him they are doing their best work in their careers.  His role is faciltator not conductor.  Other people take centre stage - he builds the stage for them.

When he interviews staff about two thirds of the time is spent on their alignment to the company's values and culture.

They also support staff in things like surfing lessons if this will support their potential.  And they support work in the community.

He doesn't mind skeptics but he actively manages cynics out of the company.  Eg the people who don't turn up for their meetings in the over sized kitchens.

  • Consulting - Research - Speaking - Training - Writing
  • Strategy - Talent - Engagement - Change and OD 
  • Contact me to create more value for your business
  • jon [dot] ingham [at] strategic [dash] hcm [dot] com

Monday, 23 June 2014

The New Global Currency



I'm looking forward to the Economist's 2014’s Talent Management Summit on Thursday.
        
My main focus as a consultant is helping HR respond to changes in the world of work so the sessions I’m most eager to see are the earlier ones on the new Global Currency, and the later ones on the New Work Order.  (That’s not to say I’m not looking forward to the ones on Boardroom Conversations and Redefining Leadership too!)

I’m going to devote this post to the New Global Currency and I’ll be blogging here on all the other later sessions, as well as these earlier ones, at the conference.

So what is this new global currency we’re talking about?  (Hint: it's not Bitcoin.)


Well this is what the marketing literature suggests:

“Most companies publicly state that their people are their most valuable asset. So why aren’t talent and leadership strategies keeping pace with today’s fast-changing world?

  What strategies will keep you ahead of the global skills race and defend your talent from potential competitive raids?

  Why are companies still struggling with building an effective global leadership pipeline?

  What are the best operating models for high performing, adaptive, global, mobile leadership teams?


Attendees will hear first-hand perspectives of corporate executives and thought leaders on how businesses can leverage their talent and leadership currency to compete in the face of such sweeping change.

So the new global currency is talent and leadership - people, and well be finding out how to accumulate this new type of cash!
Well I must admit Im in two or three minds about equating people with money.  On one hand I agree that people need to be more clearly recognised as the new source of competitive success and that the old school of thought that (old style) cash is king has had its day.
On the other hand I dont think that being talked about as currency will be that engaging for many employees, which is a problem given that engagement is certainly a key part of realigning talent and leadership strategies with the new work order.
I face the same problem with my brand - Strategic HCM or Strategic Human Capital Management, i.e. the management of people to create human capital.  However I always explain that human capital is what people provide, its not jargon for the people themselves.  I think its important to call people people.
Thirdly, thinking of people as or like money isnt going to be helpful even if we dont refer to them as such.  There are some critical differences between talent and old style cash - the main one being that cash is scarce and talent is abundant.
Cash needs managing with a scarcity mentality - it can generate amazing returns but unless its spent carefully, it gets flittered away.  (Thats why companies are still sitting on a record amount of cash despite the improving economy.)
Talent benefits from an abundance mentality as it can also deliver amazing returns but not if it gets hoarded.  The more we use talent (the more we practice), the more the quantity and quality of talent we get back.
Therefore a key concern to me, that relates to the Economists initial question about why HR isnt keeping pace, is that most surveys of potential suggest most people are using just a small fraction (generally about 20 to 30%) of their potential in their jobs.  If we could free up the remaining 70% wed get more work done, but wed also accumulate more new global currency in the process.
So how do we move on? - how do we manage people - talent, leaders - in ways which enable not constrain; engender passion not boredom, and support collaboration not petty politics and turf warfares?

Arvinder Dhesi (Korn Ferry), Gary Elliott (Diageo), Tracy Robbins (IHG) and Rita Vanhauwenhuyse (BP) - as speakers in this session at the conference: answers please!

And readers - I hope you might be at the conference to listen to Arvinder, Gary, Tracy and Rita first hand and if you are, please do say hello!
And if not, please do check out my blog posts on or after Thursday.

And regardless of which of these you do, please do take some action - we want to see a completely new agenda next year, not an even more urgent rehash of the question asked this year.  In fact my dream topic for 2015 would be Outsourcing Finance - as obviously with people being king, we wont need so much focus on that traditionally more important function!
The kings no longer what it was.  Long live the king!

  • Consulting - Research - Speaking - Training - Writing
  • Strategy - Talent - Engagement - Change and OD 
  • Contact me to create more value for your business
  • jon [dot] ingham [at] strategic [dash] hcm [dot] com