Tuesday 30 September 2008

Feedback on David Cameron, Conservative Conference


   One of Jack Welch's other competencies is 'seeing around corners', or being able to predict market changes.

None of our business leaders seem to have performed strongly on this requirement - but then very few people have predicted the financial crisis coming (at least in the extent that it has).

At least David Cameron can, and does, congratulate himself in ignoring calls to offer tax cuts in advance of an election.

And Welch explains that another element of 'seeing around corners' is the ability to get bipartisan support to make things happen  So I give further credit to Cameron for offering to support Gordon Brown (and just wish that George Bush, Hank Paulson and both Republican and Democrat leaders in the US Congress had a bit more of this ability!).


How do you think Cameron stacks up?  Provide your feedback at www.couraud.com/telldave.


Monday 29 September 2008

HR's not an end to itself (but human capital is)


   McKinsey recommend that HR respond to its declining influence by asserting its influence and providing credible and proactive business counsel and support for individual business units.

But they also warn that HR leaders should be careful not to neglect the front line:

“HR serves only the top layers,” observed one global HR director interviewed in our survey. “My head of HR in North America only works with the chief executive – nobody knows her and she doesn’t know where the talent lies in the business.”


This is also a point highlighted by the Institute for Employment Studies in a recent report (which also found that one-third of managers felt HR has got worse over the last couple of years).

Alongside 'bogged-down", administratively focused HR, they identify another dead end that organisations may end up in as they work towards "proactive HR": this is "remote HR" which uses policy and technology to keep customers away, becomes out of touch with employees and because of this is seen as irrelevant by managers.

"Managers want an HR function with its finger on the pulse of what employees are feeling and how well they are working. Senior managers particularly look to the HR function to have an independent, and challenging, view of how to balance the interests of employees with the needs of the business. They recognise in themselves the temptation to put short-term management priorities ahead of sustaining positive relationships with the workforce. They need HR to help them strike the right balance. So an HR function that is seen as remote from the workforce loses much of its unique value to business leaders."


And the IES also develop this point in the CIPD report, 'The Changing HR Function':

"HR is the function that should know about employees - why they come to work, why they stay, what motivates them.  How does it develop this intelligence if it does not come into contact with staff, but rather is reliant on whether managers articulate employee needs (potentially less than objective) or on the results of attitude surveys (which can be a rather blunt instrument)?"


The problem as I see it  is that HR is often uncomfortable with its employee champion / advocate role, and I think these three reports show how important this is (and for HR to perform it).

HR needs to be close to the business, but, as IES note, it also "needs to be more ambitious for the business and offer a vision of how the business could be".  OK, "HR is not an end to itself" , but human capital is, or can be.

HR needs to use its knowledge of, and relationships with managers and employees to think about what type of human capital: capability, engagement, diversity, quality of leadership etc, can be created that will help sustain and transform the business.

To me, this is how HR will be able to increase its influence again.


Also see these blogs' posts on:

McKinsey Quarterly Chart Focus:


IES report 'What customers want from HR':


Friday 26 September 2008

Talent management in Central Europe


    I've previously posted on two of the geographies which I think are particularly impacted by the war for talent: China and the UAE.  What I hadn't fully understood before chairing this week's conference in Prague, is the extent of this battle within Central & Eastern Europe.  It certainly didn't seem to be of the same magnitude when I used to visit the region regularly while being based in Moscow as an HR Director (87+ years ago now), or even in more recent trips to South Central Europe as a lecturer.

But it's clear that there is a war there now.  Many of the speakers spoke of 0% unemployment, and in my business meetings before and after the conference, every single person discussed the difficulty, or impossibility of growing to take advantage of opportunities in the business marketplace, because of the inability to grow from the talent marketplace.  Talent is a key business constraint, or put another way, access to human capital, not financial capital, is the key driver for business success.

So I was particularly interested in some of McKinsey's comments on talent management at the CIPD conference last week (I didn't go, but followed the conversation as best I could via Personnel Today's and other blogs).  In what I gather wasn't seen as a particularly good presentation, Matthew Guthridge explained that differentiated employee value propositions (EVPs) need to be developed for different talent groups, for example, for gen y (I couldn't agree more).

And Guthridge's colleague, Emily Lawson explained that talent management also needs to apply to the indirect as well as the traditional workforce (HCM does yes, but probably not TM - it's rare that talent groups are not employed by an organisation).

But despite these complexities in talent management, HR is not involved in the development of talent management strategies in a significant percentage of firms.  And in others, although HR may believe they are responsible for talent management, operational departments often believe that the responsibility lies with them (I explained my views on this, which I think deal with this confusion, here).

McKinsey's recent Chart Focus makes an even stronger point (repeating the points and the graph produced in 'Making talent a strategic priority' produced earlier this year), linking the failure of talent management programmes to: "the declining influence of the human resources function".

I'll come back to this issue in my next post...


Thursday 25 September 2008

Best HR Podcasts


POST NOW UPDATED AT http://strategic-hcm.blogspot.com/2009/09/hr-podcasts-update.html


I gave http://strategic-hcm.blogspot.com/2008/09/best-hr-podcasts.html out as a web address to obtain more information on HR podcasts (along with other web 2.0 HR resources - see slide) during my presentation in Prague, but as my laptop's broken, I didn't manage to put the page up before I gave out the link - grrrr!  Anyway, here's the information (my podcast first, then the rest in alphabetic order), just a little bit delayed:


Talking HR Talking HR, the new pod on the block.  Krishna De, an ex-SVP HR and personal client, as well as an experienced podcaster, and I, discuss the latest issues in HR and employee engagement in the digital economy.
Show 001 talked about podcasting in HR, and particularly in recruitment.
Show 002 is going to focus on HR's response to the global financial crisis (also see my post on doom and gloom).
Bill Kutik Knowledge infusion's fortnightly Bill Kutik Radio Show features some great, professional and interesting thought leader interviews with this leading independent analysts in the HR technology marketplace and chairman of the HR Technology conference.  As with Talking HR, you can either listen live or subscribe / download the archives.
Melcrum podcast Melcrum Podcasts - in this list, I want to concentrate on generic HR podcastsrather than ones more specifically focused on internal communication and other sub-functions (I am sure that Melrum would argue against this classification) but there's lots of great stuff on employee engagement, web 2.0 etc here that are very important for all HR practitioners (interesting though that this is the one show listed here without its own logo!).
People Performance Radio Success Factors' People Performance Radio started as some internal discussion but has developed recently into more thought leader interviews, which are also all very good (for example, check out Jac Fitz-Enz talking about HCM: 21).
Personnel Today Audio The weekly Personnel Today Audioprovides beautifully authentic discussion (described using a rather positive spin) on recent HR news and other issues - mostly only relevant to a UK audience.
CIPD podcast The irregular Podcasts from CIPDprovide some good analysis, discussion, interviews with CIPD staff and HR professionals.  Some of it will only be relevant to the UK or CIPD members, but much of it does have worldwide application, and is much more strategically focused thanSHRM's podcasts (probably not a very fair comparison as SHRM provide a weekly review).
Public Sector podcast Public Sector HR Podcast - you may think this is too focused on UK-based public sector HR people (Kirklees Council might not generally be seen as a global authority on e-learning), but I still find it well worth listening too (for example, I think the recent show on engagement provided some very interesting perspectives on public sector engagement).
Recruiters Lounge Jim Stroud's Recruiters Lounge - as I mentioned earlier, in this list I want to focus on podcasts that cover the full HR agenda rather than just recruitment, communication etc, but I think this show is so good, it deserves a mention here.
Workforce Innovations Learn.com's irregular Workforce Innovations podcast provides an irregular view on HR activities and other issues (for example, most recently, bridging the generation gap).


You may also want to check out APQC's HCM podcast, Ceridian's HR and Payroll podcast, Guy Clapperton'sHR Podcast, Mettle Consulting's On Your Mettle podcast series, the witty Orion Partners podcast and Yorkshire Business TV's Successful HR Strategies some of which I think are rather good, but all of which seems to have stopped broadcasting (at least temporarily).

Or there are a few other HR podcasts that I'm afraid I don't like too much - but of course you may, including:Mercer Select HRadio and SHRM HR Week podcast (partly, but not totally because these are so focused on the US).

I have tried to focus on very HR oriented podcasts, but there are a lot of others with a slightly wider HCM / people management feel to them - I can provide this list as well if people are interested.


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  • Prague, Budapest, 4 generations and a broken laptop


    Zetiva 4 generations   Just back from Prague.  Sorry for the lack of posting, and also the delay in broadcasting show 002 of Talking HR (which will now go out on Friday) but my laptop stopped working again (I'd only just had it repaired!).  So I've got lots to catch up on!

    The conference seemed to go well, and I enjoyed presenting and chairing, as I usually do.  I thought there were some great presentations, and particularly liked Romana Piatnicova (HR Design Director at Zentiva)'s thoughts on the future of HR, and the impact of having 4 generations in the workforce.

    This is something I'm very interested in myself, but it Romana made a very insightful presentation, and with a particular CEE angle.  I'll have to try hard not to pinch too much of it when I present on the impact of Generation Y and the Milennials at EFMA's West meets East: Recruitment and Retention conference in Budapest later this year.

    And you can expect a few more detailed posts on generational change towards the end of October and early November.

    In the meanwhile, there are plenty of other resources - for example, this Deloitte dbrief webinar held earlier this week: Multigenerational Communications: The Case for Shifting from Monologue to Megalogue.  (The webinar includes a review of the Deloitte Film Festival that I mentioned in my breakout group.)


    Wednesday 24 September 2008

    Feedback on Gordon Brown, Labour Conference


        So what did you think?

    For me, Gordon's speech worked well and I'm surprised how positive I feel about him again.

    But then, I've always felt OK about his policies - from his first 100 days through to the recent Equalities Bill.  Although I do think he deserves a lot of the blame for the preset doom and gloom.

    To me, his problem is that this isn't the problem. It may be a bit far stretched to describe him a vampire, but, even after yesterdays speech, he just isn't someone you want to like.

    His problem is authenticity. He isn't, or at least he doesn't come across as if he is.

    There may be a lot of people struggling in the UK right now, but, even those on the breadline, or in fuel poverty (on the fuel-line?), want to feel good about themselves.

    We've known for sometime that Maslow's pyramid isn't a hierarchy. I think this has been illustrated well through the homeless guy in Central Park who spends his time playing chess - if I remember the story right. He still has higher aspirations even if his basic needs aren't being met.

    And it just doesn't feel good being led by someone who doesn't seem authentic.

    That's why Jack Welch includes authenticity as one of his key leadership competencies. And in a Business Week podcast earlier this year, he talked about how these competencies apply to political leaders too.

    So, using these competencies, and in association with Couraud, who I partner with on assessment work, and their online 360 degree feedback tool, I can now offer YOU the opportunity to rate Gordon Browns (and Nick Clegg's and David Cameron's) performance as a leader.

    Just go to
    www.couraud.com/tellgordon to provide your assessment and I'll publish the results here soon.

    Friday 19 September 2008

    Doom and Gloom


       I've started two new projects this week but I've still been finding it difficult to keep smiling.  What a nightmare!  Just in the UK, we're looking at a loss of 1400 jobs at British Airways, 6000 jobs at HP, 5000 at Lehmans, up to 40,000 at Lloyds / HBOS and possibly still 10,000 at Morgan Stanley and Goldman Sachs???

    And it's not going to get better anytime soon.  The CIPD point to this week's figures from the ONS showing the worst deterioration
    in the UK's underlying job situation for at least a decade and warn that the economy is increasingly likely to experience 'an avalanche of job losses' in the coming months.

    A lot of these cuts are going to come from the City where job vacancies are down 34% compared with August last year and financial services recruiters report being flooded with CVs.

    So what's led to the turbulence of the last week?  City bosses, regulators, politicians and speculators have all been targeted for blame.  But one function that seems to have escaped so far is HR.  Perhaps this is natural enough - if we don't get the credit for our organisations' success, it would be strange and also unfair if we got named when they fail.  But then the belief behind this blog is that people, the human capital they provide, and also therefore, HR, as the function that enables this, are increasingly the basis for organisational performance.  So I think HR should take its share of the flak too.

    The Financial Services Authority have said that "bankers are to blame for exacerbating the crisis in the financial markets because they were taking too many risks".

    But why was this?  Well, earlier this year, Richard Lambert, director-general of the CBI,  put much of the blame on the City's bonus culture, and Mervyn King, governor at the Bank of England commented:

    "Banks have come to realise in the recent crisis that they are paying the price for having designed compensation packages which provide incentives that are not, in the long run, in the interests of the banks themselves."


    King was criticised for "sticking his nose in where it doesn't belong", but some of the displaced City HR people may now be wishing that they'd listened to him.

    Bonuses are any case likely to be a lot lower this year but the FT notes that "this is likely to leave many employees, who have yet to recognise the depth of the pressure on finances, deeply disappointed".

    And a survey by Morgan Mckinley found that 46% of financial services professionals expected bonuses to be at least similar to last year while 17% expected payments to be higher.

    These expectations may now have moderated somewhat, but HR is going to have an interesting challenge in reducing payments and changing the way that people are paid, for example, by following Max Hastings' suggestion that they "gamble with less of our money and more of their own".

    City firms need to understand and remember that this needs to be a cultural, and not just simply a reward policy change. The City may even need to start changing the type of people it's employing.  Perhaps a more appropriate profile for the City (without the criminal tendency of course!) would be Benedict Hancock, a bank manager at Royal Bank of Scotland who has just been jailed for channeling more than £7million from rich clients into the accounts of companies in trouble. According to his defence, this 'real-life Robin Hood' has been acting from 'an entirely altruistic motive'.  OK, this may be going a bit too far...

    Anyway, the change in culture that's required isn't simply about reward.  Remember Jerome Kerviel at Societe Generale? - it seems a long time ago already.  OK, Soc Gen's controls were weak and this had little to do with HR, but a probably more significant factor leading to Kerviel's fraudulent behaviour was the bank's arrogant culture where risk managers were treated with disdain on the trading floor.  And HR needed to have been on top of this.

    So perhaps it's no surprise that axed HR professionals could be among the few victims able to find jobs elsewhere in the City.  They've got a lot of work to do.


    Thursday 18 September 2008

    HR Carnival 17 September 2008 / HR social networks


       The latest carnival is being hosted by Sharp Brains, a great resource focused on brain fitness and cognitive health provided by Alvaro Fernandez and a team of over 15 other contributors - and this particular carnival also includes plenty of thoughts on brain research (including my own post on social connections and intelligence).

    My favourite post is  from Susanna Cesar Morton at Recruitment 2.0 and looks at HR and recruiting social networks (in the UK).

    Susanna profiles Talent Cloud, HR Space, Changeboard, HR  Zone and Talent Social,  all worth checking out.  I'll list the networks I'm a member of in a follow-up post.


    Wednesday 17 September 2008

    Feedback on Nick Clegg, Lib Dem conference


        You would be forgiven for having missed it, even if you live in the UK, but the last 5 days have seen the Liberal Democrats hold their annual conference in Bournemouth.

    They've announced some interesting policies although their leader, Nick Clegg's proposal to cut 6p off income tax seems out of alignment with a rapidly increasing belief in regulation and the role of the state.

    Clegg's speech today seems to have gone down well - a good imitation of David Cameron (with autocue) - and has helped delegates forget his pensions blunder yesterday.  So, as long as he doesn't bother too many people with his robo-calls tonight, his party could be looking slightly up in the polls.

    But what do you think?  I'm hoping shortly to give you (as someone who is most likely to be interested in leadership potential) an opportunity to rate Clegg as a possible prime minister, along with Cameron and Brown.

    Check this blog again next week to find out more.


    Kennedy Information webinar: Building your social capital for maximum productivity and retention

    Kennedy Information   I'm beginning to get my ideas on social capital a bit clearer (see my Social Business blog) and on 2 October will be sharing them on this Kennedy Information webinar.

    In particular, I'll be covering:

    • The value of social capital through the employee lifecycle, from building it through initial recruitment efforts, to maintaining it during layoffs and downsizing
    • Some examples of different strategic contexts for social capital, and food for thought about the type of social capital which might make sense for your own organization
    • Examples of virtual and “real” activities which can be used to enhance organizational social capital
    • A review of HR and recruitment processes can be tailored towards maintaining and building social capital
    • A framework for identifying the activities that can be used to develop social capital in a particular context.

    You do need to register (and pay $149) if you want to attend this webinar.  But you only pay for the line, so why not set up for it in a conference room and pay just one fee for as many attendees as you wish.

    And if you can't make the 2 October, you can still register and receive access to the full recorded event immediately following its conclusion. Listen at your leisure from anywhere with web access.

    It's going to be fun - and I've got a lot of work to get my ideas sorted out before then!


    Strategic HCM in the Czech Republic


        I'm in Prague next week, chairing and presenting at CEE HR Solutions, so I've been researching what's been happening in HR there over the last few years (I spent quite a bit of time in the Czech Republic when I worked as an HR Director, and was based in Moscow, but haven't been back in the last 6 or 7 years).

    My best reference has been AmCham's recent overview.  This suggests that although the presence of qualified, available people has been the driver for Czech economic growth over the last 15 years, there is now a lack of such people.  This is confirmed by Manpower who find that 37% of Czech employers report difficulty in filling positions (compared to just 12% in the UK and 22% in the US - and that was before the current difficulties).

    So the Czech Republic and other Central & Eastern European countries are starting to experience the same talent based constraints as China and the UAE.  In fact, AmCham believes that HRM will become the primary factor in determining how successful a Czech company is.

    The key elements of HRM strategies are therefore mostly going to include:

    Executive development

    AmCham note "Managers will need to develop highly sophisticated 'soft' skills to motivate the workforce, and developing such managers will become a key competence of good companies."

    HR also needs to encourage line managers to take responsibility for their own people.  And management development is also growing in importance as a tool to develop consistent organisational cultures.

    A focus on retention

    AmCham: "Better career development and clear systems of rewards will need to be developed to ensure that talent, once obtained, is retained."

    Although, in some ways at least, reward strategy already seems quite well developed and performance based - so, for example, PwC note that "companies in Czech Republic use performance-related salary more widely that companies in other European countries.  While in the Czech Republic the median value of the performance part is 15%, in Europe it is about 12%.  In companies with purely Czech capital, this value is higher - 27%."

    HR strategy and capability

    The above changes are also putting more pressure on HR teams to positively impact their businesses, and this is leading to more focus on the transformation and development of HR, including better information systems and outsourcing (currently only training and development, and occupational health and safety and heavily outsourced).

    In addition, although many companies' HR strategies are already linked to organisational strategy, this can be improved, and the linkage is heavily top down.  This may need to change if HRM is going to have the impact that AmCham expects.

    PwC also suggests that HR's development needs to include more measurement, and I'd agree as long as this is done in an appropriate way.  A rather dated report from Deloitte suggests HR may not know how to do this - I'd suggest my book would help.


    I'm talking at the conference about the role of HR as business partner in dealing with these challenges and optimising their organisation's response.  I'll be meeting with a few HR Directors before the conference to check out my understanding of the issues, but if any readers have a view on this, please do add your comments here.


    Tuesday 16 September 2008

    Colour test


       Interesting test available on MSN:

    "By determining which primary, secondary and achromatic colours you prefer most and least, you can figure out a successful career path based on how you approach work, the types of workplaces where you work best and how you handle work tasks.

    The Colour Career Counsellor (on CareerPath.com ), powered by The Dewey Color System -- the world's only validated, non-language colour-based career testing instrument - uses color preferences to determine successful career paths. Dewey Sadka, author of 'The Dewey Colour System', says using colours instead of a questionnaire eliminates the chasm between self-perception and self-truth and reveals your core motivations."


    Here are my results:

    • Best Occupational Category

      You're a CREATOR
      Key Words:
      Nonconforming, Impulsive, Expressive, Romantic, Intuitive, Sensitive, and Emotional

      These original types place a high value on aesthetic qualities and have a great need for self-expression. They enjoy working independently, being creative, using their imagination, and constantly learning something new. Fields of interest are art, drama, music, and writing or places where they can express, assemble, or implement creative ideas.

      Suggested careers are Advertising Executive, Architect, Web Designer, Creative Director, Public Relations, Fine or Commercial Artist, Interior Decorator, Lawyer, Librarian, Musician, Reporter, Art Teacher, Broadcaster, Technical Writer, English Teacher, Architect, Photographer, Medical Illustrator, Corporate Trainer, Author, Editor, Landscape Architect, Exhibit Builder, and Package Designer.

      Consider workplaces where you can create and improve beauty and aesthetic qualities. Unstructured, flexible organizations that allow self-expression work best with your free-spirited nature.

      Suggested Creator workplaces are advertising, public relations, and interior decorating firms; artistic studios, theatres and concert halls; institutions that teach crafts, universities, music, and dance schools. Other workplaces to consider are art institutes, museums, libraries, and galleries.


    • 2nd Best Occupational Category

      You're a RESEARCHER
      Key Words:
      Independent, Self-Motivated, Reserved, Introspective, Analytical, and Curious

      These investigative types gather information, analyse and interpret data, and inquire to uncover new facts. They have a strong scientific orientation, enjoy academic or research environments and prefer self-reliant jobs. Dislikes are group projects, selling, and repetitive activities.


    Not too bad.  Could explain why I'm currently working independently (ie in an unstructured, flexible organisation that allows self-expression) and using social media (linked to suggested careers including Advertising Executive, Web Designer, Creative Director, Public Relations etc).  There's even a mention of  Corporate Trainer and Author.

    Mind you, my horoscope (star sign Gemini) looked quite a good fit this morning too!

    Does anyone have any positive or negative experience in using the Dewey Colour System?


    Friday 12 September 2008

    Linking social connections & social media in Digital HR


    The Evolution Continues    If you were on yesterday's webinar, over at Knowledge Infusion, I hope you enjoyed it.

    If you weren't, the slides and recording (available until 26th September) are here (if you're not already registered at KI's centre of excellence, you may have to do this first, but then if you're at all interested in HCM, you need to be on there anyway).  And I know there'll be some more discussion on the COE, that I'll be joining in with, over the next few days.

    But I also want to follow up with a post on the graph from that last slide (shown here) I didn't quite manage to get to.  Because this is what my piece was all building up to, and I don't think people will have got quite the impact I was after without it.

    You'll find that post here.

    CIPD Conference 2008 (Find the Hero in You)


    I know this quiz has been around for a while, and many other bloggers used it and deleted it a couple of years ago (around the time I was just starting to take an interest in how they did it), but with  the CIPD's 'Find the Hero in You' themed conference coming up next week, I thought it might be time to dust of the old cape.

    I'm not going to be there this year (too many other conferences I'm presenting at) but HR Zone have just interviewed me about it (using my more positive and dropping the rather more critical comments) and I'm sure I'll be posting on some of the conference news next week.

    Anyway, here's my superhero style:

    I am Superman
    The Flash
    Iron Man
    Green Lantern
    Wonder Woman
    You are mild-mannered, good,
    strong and you love to help others.
    Click here to take the Superhero Personality Test



    Thursday 11 September 2008

    (British) Values


        The RSA hosted another good event, this time on British values, this week.

    The background to this debate is Gordon Brown's desire to be clearer about the rights and responsibilities of British citizenship and what it means to be British (potentially to disguise his own Scottish nationality from English voters, although it could also be seen to be an extension of Tony Blair's cool Britannia).  'The Governance of Britain', published in July last year, proposed to "work with the public to develop a British statement of values".  It is currently intended that these will then form part of a new 'bill of rights'.

    I'm not going to dwell on what these values should or might be (I recommend an article in last year's Prospect magazine to readers who may be interested in this).  But I do want to share some thoughts about the appropriateness of this quest and the current consultation process, which I think relate to the development of organisational values too.

    The main concern at the RSA seemed to be the difficulty in setting values at a national level, and particularly for Britain, which since WW2 has shied away from the idea of having a self identity and lacks a formal constitution (it was even suggested that it would be 'unBritish' to have a set of British values).

    It is also recognised that it will be difficult to define a set of values which are:

    • Specific enough to have some meaning but still sufficiently inclusive to include the full, diverse population of the country .
    • Based on our aspirations but still grounded in the way people act today (which will also be difficult given that MORI's recent research found that no more than half of British people agreed that we display behaviours aligned with equality, fairness and responsibility - and that only 18% said we exhibited the characteristics of tolerance and politeness)
    • And that the values must remain fluid and enable change (to be like porous lime mortar rather than cement which will crack and let in water the first time it rains).


    These are of course, similar issues to the ones organisations need to face when defining values, but even more difficult to deal with as there is no opportunity to align them with a centrally imposed direction.

    But do we / organisations need values anyway?

    I will admit that I am not generally a fan of values (I will of course support an organisation to develop them if that's what it believes it needs to do).  And I think this wariness comes from two main experiences.

    Firstly, I don't think I've ever changed my own values because of the values of an organisation I've worked for.  I may have altered my behaviour, although even here, probably only very slightly.  But to the extent that I have, this has been based upon my understanding of what I need to do to be effective, or to be perceived as being effective, and hasn't altered my own beliefs about what I think are important.

    Secondly, in the most successful change experiences I've been involved in, we deliberately haven't used them.

    Still, I'm aware of other experiences where they have been used successfully.  I wrote about one such example in my book - the use of values to articulate what was being seen as important at Skandia in the UK (in this case: 'creativity', 'passion', 'commitment, 'courage' and 'contribution)- and which did seem to have changed people at a deeper level than simply their behaviour.  One reason for this success seemed to be that the values were expressed as pictures rather than through words.

    There are also some good examples of values based change in one of my favourite texts, YSC's Meaning Inc, which I reviewed last year.  For example Sainsbury's values ('getting better every day', 'great service drives sales', 'individual responsibility - team delivery', 'keep it simple', 'respect for the individual' and 'treat every £ as your own') which were written up as a story.

    YSC suggest that the use of generic sounding values statements are in decline and "businesses instead  are developing values statements that articulate more precisely the behaviour they believe is core to the culture and will make for a successful working environment".  They provide Siemens values statements as examples ('I am a good colleague', 'I am a team player - I feel responsible', 'I keep my promises - I only promise what I can keep').

    I don't think YSC, and I certainly don't, mean that attitudinal change is unimportant.  I just don't think written lists of deeply held beliefs and values is the way to get there.  To the extent they are, the value comes from the process of development and communication (hence the successful use of pictures and stories in the examples above), rather than from the list itself.  (So here at least, I think the fact that the UK's government has given control of the 'British values' consultation process to the people, is a very positive sign.)

    But most successful examples of values don't use 'attitudinal values' (as in 'I value...').  Instead, they simply clarify what the particular organisation believes is important, and the behaviours it requires from its employees to support this prioritisation.

    A good example is Ritz Carlton Hotels which issue all staff with a card on which one side states the corporate motto ('We are ladies and gentlemen serving ladies and gentlemen') and on the other lists 20 basic rules, which translate the credo into real behaviour ('Smile - we're on a stage', 'Escort guest rather than pointing our direction', etc).

    So what we should be doing, rather than trying to draw out something about the organisation's (and therefore its' employees) identity, is to specify what the organisation holds to be important, and which can support its competitive advantage.

    And I think what I'm saying here, is that organisation's need a clear idea of their own mojo, which can then be translated into employee behaviour.

    That then leads us onto a discussion about British Mojo, which I think is a slightly different one to that currently undergoing consultation.  Perhaps this is about the 'wit and ingenuity' that London Major Boris Johnson has predicted we will bring to the 2012 Olympics?

    And the relevant behaviours are then about innovation, entrepreneurship, flexibility etc - attributes that I think are much more central to the success of our financial services driven economy than hopeful ideas about tolerance, fairness and equality. 


    Wednesday 10 September 2008

    Cut my pay, no way!


       The UK's Chancellor of the Exchequer (Finance Minister), Alistair Darling, has been getting a tough time at the Trades Union Congress, held in Brighton and in Second Life, after telling delegates that pay rises for public sector staff would cause a surge in inflation and lead to mass redundancies.

    One of the key issues seems to be the growing disparity between management and staff, which I posted on a few days ago, with General Secretary Brendan Barber commenting that "It's not fair that employees are facing a fall in their living standards while top bosses see their pay packets go up by 20% or even 30%."

    Yet according to  Management Today, that may not be entirely true:

    "A survey out today from salary specialists Income Data Services suggests that management pay hikes have also declined to below-inflation levels. Apparently the average pay hike for senior bosses fell from 4.7% to 3.9% last quarter, while managers across the board are getting an average increase of 3.8% - just 0.3% above the average for non-management staff. ‘Top tier management are now starting to share some of the pain felt by their more junior colleagues,’ says IDS’s Steve Tatton."


    And this week's People Management includes a thoughtful article from Watson Wyatt's Vicky Wright, Time to tighten the belt? which asks:

    "[How should Remuneration Committees] reward a chief executive who is steering a company through a tight and competitive market, with declining sales and profits? What should a director receive this year if they were paid a handsome bonus last year for winning business that turned out to be worth half the value the company thought it was 18 months ago? What should a star performer receive if the company as a whole is struggling?"

    She notes:

    "Executive remuneration has also become divorced from reward management for other staff. Chief executives’ base salaries have been increasing in the past three years at around 7-10 per cent a year, well above the increase in average earnings. Annual bonus opportunities and share grants have been rising faster. Last year, the median annual cash bonus for a FTSE-100 chief executive was just over £800,000, from £580,000 in 2006. The median value of a FTSE-100 CEO’s total remuneration package (excluding pensions/benefits) was just over £2.5m in 2007, with base salary accounting for some 30 per cent of this.

    These six- and seven-figure earnings disturb many people and certainly stir up media comment. But there is an economic rationale behind them. There is compelling evidence that the right leadership team can make a tremendous difference to the performance of an organisation, providing long-term superior returns to shareholders, better products and services to customers, secure jobs that pay competitive remuneration, and returns to the community in which it operates. Good executive remuneration design reflects this, with a significant proportion of performance reward in the form of cash bonuses and share plans that are designed to align the interests of executives and shareholders by linking the executive’s pay to profits or share price."


    I think that Wright is absolutely right, both in her analysis of this 'disturbing' trend, and in her advice to pay leadership teams for their performance.  But according to Patterson Associates survey and other research, this isn't happening effectively.  One requirement is that executive reward focuses more on the longer-term, and ensure that short-term incentives focus on lead business indicators (like people) as well as financial results (at least, as I have also previously posted, as long as the organisation has a culture of continuous improvement and operates in an environment of high business risk).

    Wright makes a number of other sensible suggestions and I'd propose three more:

    • Ensure that the organisation has a unique proposition (mojo), which is cascaded through its employee value proposition and employer brand.  If this is differentiated enough, and you select people (including executives) based upon it, you're going to be in a position where at least some of the value you offer doesn't come with a £ / $ sign attached.
    • Develop leadership throughout the organisation.  Wright's right to say that the "right [that's a mouthful] leadership team can make a tremendous difference to the performance of an organisation".  But if leadership is dispersed then a), the whole company is going to be more effective, and b), there will be a less significant differential between the impact that top executives and the rest of the organisation make.
    • Do your succession planning and grow senior leaders internally.  Ensure you have a fall-back plan if a top executive decides to leave.  Don't be held a hostage.


    Tuesday 9 September 2008

    HR Carnival 1 September 2008

       The latest carnival is hosted by Patrick Williams at Guerilla HR.

    Some great posts as usual, including HR Systems – why are they all "rubbish?" at Susanna Cesar-Morton's Recruitment 2.0.

    This one seems particularly relevant given my podcast on podcasting for recruitment last night, and webinar on Digital HR this Thursday, where I'll also be focusing on recruitment.  And if anyone does want an answer to Susanna's question,"Is there a decent HR IS vendor out there?", I do recommend talking to my partners for this webinar, Knowledge Infusion.

    Monday 8 September 2008

    Podcasting for recruitment


    Talking HR   OK, the first Talking HR show is going to be held later on today: at 2.30pm Eastern Time / 7.30pm British Summer Time; and will focus on podcasting for recruitment.

    You can listen live by calling +1 347 202 0722.  Raise your hand if you want to talk, or email us at talkinghrpodcast@gmail.com.

    Or shortly after we finish, you'll be able to download the show from BlogTalkRadio or itunes.  The feed to subscribe to this and future shows, which we hope to hold every second Monday, is http://www.blogtalkradio.com/talkinghr/feed.

    If you would like to provide feedback on the show, you have thoughts or experiences you would like to share with us, or you have ideas for, or would like to participate in future shows, please do get in touch with us at talkinghrpodcast@gmail.com.

    And if you enjoy the show, we’d also appreciate a review at itunes or at BlogTalkRadio.

    Jon and Krishna.

    Sunday 7 September 2008

    Interview in Dubai Lime


    Dubai Lime Some of your may be interested in this interview in the UAE community portal, Dubai Lime (supported by H2O New Media):



    Technorati Tags: ,,

    Saturday 6 September 2008

    HR / HCM podcast


    Listen to Talking HR on internet talk radio

    I've been thinking about getting involved in podcasting for a while.  So for example, Don Taylor, who first encouraged me to blog, suggested an HCM podcast about a year ago.

    I guess I've just been too busy blogging (as well as other things!), and not clear enough about how I'd go about podcasting to make a start (although my experience with blogging would suggest the best way to get into any social media is just to start doing it and go from there).

    And of course, I'd have to have a clear objective.

    One reason I've been blogging is that I've wanted to develop a better understanding of social media (to support my increasing focus on social capital) but I think I've now got this now, and I've never really been clear whether podcasting fits under the banner of social media anyway.  Yes, it does enable collaboration because people can email or record their comments which can be brought up in a later podcast, but I don't think it does this as well as blogging, where comments and content are much more closely connected (involving less time lapse and with both using the same media).  And podcasting does enable amateurs rather than professionals to get involved, but again not as easily as blogging, as the technology is definitely a little bit more complicated.

    Podcamper Christopher Penn has recently made a similar point, distinguishing between new media and social media, and saying that while podcasting may be new media, it's not social, because it's not interactive (he even puts blogging in the 'new' category).

    However, I am really excited to announce that I am now going to start podcasting, together with Krishna De, who many of you may know from her blog or existing podcasts, or her role as one of the Podcast Sisters.  I first met Krishna when she was a client at Diageo and we recently re-connected through social media and also the recent Employee Communication Summit.  And Krishna has introduced me to a new system for podcasting provided by Blogtalkradio.

    This system makes the technology side of podcasting less complicated, and best of all, it combines the interactiveness of blogging with the audio experience of podcasting.  It does this by combining live broadcasting, like a traditional radio show (meaning that people can email and even call in while a show is progressing in order to join in the conversation) with the syndication capabilities of podcasting (meaning that recordings are available as podcasts on Blogtalkradio and also itunes so you can subscribe and download them to your ipod or other audio player in the normal way).

    Given that I do want to continue to extend my engagement of the HR and business community, and also now that the technology issues I listed above have been dealt with, it doesn't make sense to delay further.

    So, look out for our new audio / radio show / podcast, Talking HR, coming very soon!  Look out for more announcements here, or at www.blogtalkradio.com/talkinghr.


    Friday 5 September 2008

    Unjust Rewards


       I sometimes wish I didn't have two blogs.

    I know why I have - the logic for doing this was pretty clear and it still applies.  I use this blog for two things.  Firstly, to continue developing and sharing my thinking on HCM from my book (although you'll still find a lot of great content there).  And secondly, it's my general professional blog, ie it's where I share a bit of information about what I'm doing, where I'm going etc.  Hence, Jon Ingham's HCM blog.

    My second blog is much more focused on social capital rather than human capital, and is more about supporting my learning rather than sharing my knowledge.  And it's for collecting content that I hope will inform my second book.  This is my New Social Business blog.

    But sometimes, actually quite often, I have a real dilemma about where to post.  Take this one - a review of an event on reward and inequality.  I've posted it on Social Business because it includes some thoughts about increasing social cohesion within Britain (the points will apply to the US too), and which can, by extension, be applied to organisations too.

    But the reward theme will potentially apply to a lot of readers of HCM as well.  So, anyway, if you think you might be interested, take a quick look (if you use a reader, the feed is http://feeds.feedburner.com/Social-Business).

    Thursday 4 September 2008

    HR 2.0 webinar


    Wordle Digital HR   Just another reminder about my webinar next week (Thursday 11th September) with Knowledge Infusion's CEO, Jason Averbook, focusing on what they call digital HR (the combination of consumer based technologies such as wikis, blogs, social networking and other web 2.0 technologies with the workforce facing initiatives that HR has been focusing on for the past 10 years, including employee and manager self-service, intranets, portals and reporting).

    One of the component parts of digital HR we may be discussing is visualisation technology, and I thought I would include a graphic of the announcement of the webinar, made using Wordle, on this post.  Wordle is one of a handful of systems for generating word clouds and other graphics for highlighting and presenting ideas in presentations and other applications and is now included with more analytical visualisations on IBM's Many Eyes.

    And visualisation technology is just one example of the various ways that HR can interact with employees in a more people oriented way.  Find out more in the webinar next week - register here.



    Wednesday 3 September 2008

    Jac Fitz-enz / HCM: 21


    HCM 21   David Creelman has recently conducted another insightful interview with Jac Fitz-enz, founder of the Saratoga Institute and now with  Human Capital Source, about what he calls HCM: 21 (HCM for the 21st century).

    The interview describes HCM: 21 as a four-step model for directing HR's actions:

    1.   "From the big picture to needed capabilities"

    The process starts with what I've referred to as strategic workforce planning to identify capabilities (structural, relational and human capital) like the ability to attract talent.

    I think this focus on organisational capabilities as the basis for all HR activities is absolutely right.

    2.   "Improving HR processes by using analytics"

    Fitz-enz focuses on analytics and evidence-based management to guide the actions it will need to take, for example whether it needs to improve certain aspects of recruitment.

    I think analytics can be very powerful but I also think there's a key role for creativity and imagination based management too.

    3.   "Integrating actions across HR"

    HR specialists all need to work together in a connected way.

    I agree, and this is why in my book (I don't think I've posted on it in my blog) I talk about the need to identify strategic programmes which focus on the agreed organisational capabilities and link all HR processes and developments together within these programmes.  A focus on outcomes rather than activities also helps.

    4.   "Better measurement"

    Fitz-enz suggests we should focus on leading indicators like engagement, culture and readiness - all relating to intangibles.

    "'That is where the game is today' he said, 'it's all about intangibles'.  So for example, if retention were an issue the focus should be on leading indicators like engagement, not lagging indicators like how many people left last quarter."

    Absolutely - see my Value Chain for details on doing this.


    But will it work?

    "Fitz-enz says: 'As always what I'm trying to do is just get the thinking going in a different direction.'  To me [Creelman] that's the heart of the HCM 21 approach.  For sophisticated HR departments it's a way to put a number of important ideas together into a defined process.  For less sophisticated departments, environment scanning, capabilities, intellectual capital, analytics, and leading indicators will all be new ways of thinking that will challenge them to do things differently."

    I agree with the need to get thinking going in a different direction, and think that HCM: 21 has a lot to say for itself, although I think it overdoes the focus on measurement.


    Sophisticated and less sophisticated departments are advised to contact Jac Fitz-enz at source@netgate,net.  Or you can contact me at info@strategic-hcm.com.


    Tuesday 2 September 2008

    More bad news on change


    McKinsey change   It looks as if Kotter may have been optimistic.

    McKinsey has found that only a third of transformations of any kind (eg completing a merger, dealing with a crisis, or reducing costs) are deemed very or extremely successful.

    "At companies that did change successfully, transformations were managed differently. Among the differences: they were likelier to have set clear, high goals; to use large number of tactics to engage employees; and to communicate about the change positively, not just by pointing out problems."

    So fairly similar advice to Kotter.  I still think there's more...



    Monday 1 September 2008

    John Kotter / A Sense of Urgency


       I'm a big fan of Kotter's 8 steps and have just been reading his new book, 'A Sense of Urgency'.

    Kotter notes that the he still finds the same sort of range of success in managing change that he first identified 11 years ago - that roughly 70% of change initiatives fail.

    This is a shocking finding, although there is some alternative evidence to suggest we are getting better at it - for example Towers Perrin's research suggests that post M&A share price under performed against the market by 6.5% in the 1980s but now beats the world index by 9%.

    This book deals specifically with the first of Kotter's steps - creating a high enough sense of urgency among a large enough group of people.

    Kotter explains that one major problem in creating urgency is high levels of complacency.  People tend to be either too comfortable with the status quo ("They pay insufficient attention to wonderful new opportunities and frightening new hazards.  They continue with what has been the norm in the past") or get distracted into 'false urgency': ("An enormous amount of activity") which I think is often about people focusing on activity rather than outcome (something which seems to be particularly prevalent within HR).

    I agree, although my work on HCM related change often identifies lack of ambition as a great a barrier as complacency.

    Kotter also points out that in a world where the rate of change is going up and up, "a strong sense of urgency is moving from an essential element in big change programmes to an essential asset in general".

    Kotter talks about a sense of urgency as part of an organisation's culture, but I think what he's really talking about is having this as an organisational capability.

    The book is a good read, and Kotter has some valuable thoughts on this first step in his change management process.  I particularly like Kotter's emphasis on balancing conscious, rational analysis (head) with unconscious emotion (heart) building on his discussions in 'The Heart of Change'

    "People usually treat complacency as a state of mind that can be changed solely with the 'cold, hard facts'."  But "feelings are more more influential than thoughts".

    This is something that a lot of people working with HR measurements strangely forget (strangely because HR people should surely understand this).

    However, I still have one worry about the book and Kotter's process which is that many of the 70% of failed change projects Kotter refers to will have used his process or something similar - and still failed.  And I don't think more focus on urgency would have necessary made that much difference to these.

    A sense of urgency would be a powerful organisational capability, but managing change effectively still takes more and different approaches than those Kotter identifies.  I'll post on what I think these are later this month.