Friday 31 July 2009

Reward systems and behavioural HR


   Interesting piece of research out from the CIPD today looking organisational risks associated with pay and reward of employees.

“Despite the media and regulatory spotlight on the dangers posed by bonuses around encouraging poor behaviour and performance, the CIPD survey finds bigger concerns around overall pay budgets failing to deliver improved performance. Money is being wasted because poor communication of pay and reward means budgets are being spent without anyone understanding what they and their teams are being rewarded for.”


Communication, of course, being the thing we blame, when we don’t get what we hoped to achieve - ‘oh, of course, it needed to be better communicated’.

The real problem is much more likely to be that reward systems haven’t actually been effectively designed to generate the behavioural changes or objectives that are desired – many being based upon erroneous assumptions about motivations and behaviours.



The CIPD find the most common areas of concern are:

  • Poor communication of reward leading to poor organisational performance
  • Inability to adapt reward policies and practices to the changing business environment
  • Reward failing to engage employees
  • Reward failing to attract key talent
  • Ineffective reward strategy causing poor employee relations.


In addition, they report that:

“Worryingly, only a small minority (17%) of respondents believe that their organisation is prepared to meet the reward risks identified in the survey.”



“Far from being a source of competitive advantage, many of our respondents are worried that their organisation’s approach to reward is so unresponsive it could act like an anchor and drag it below the current turbulent economic waters.”


Well, at least the potential fall-out from these problems will be less significant than what we’ve already experienced in our banks.  But it still means that we’re not getting the behaviour and performance that we’re after from our employees, and that we’re wasting very large amounts of money in the process.

I have to admit to being slightly dazed by these findings.  How organisations can be continuing to waste one of their largest expenditures in the present economic environment is beyond me.

And , come on HR!  If you’re organisation isn’t prepared to meet the risks in your reward strategy, do something about it!



Photo credit: david.nikonvscanon


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  • Wednesday 29 July 2009

    Letter to the Queen


       One of my favourite UK bloggers, Rick at Flip Chart Fairly Tales recently accused me of writing bollocks when discussing the Walker Report into financial services corporate governance:  Here are some exerts of the exchange:


    Jon: Financial services HR departments are partly if not largely to blame for the banks’ failures and therefore our current economic miseries.  And here’s a great opportunity for them to put the situation right.


    Rick: The idea that City HR functions could have curbed the massive bankers’ bonuses, thereby reining in the risk taking culture and avoiding the financial crisis, is completely fanciful. People within the investment banks who warned that the industry’s practices were unstable and unsustainable were ignored for the same reasons as those politicians who advocated bank regulation at the height of the boom. Lots of people were making lots of money and anyone who suggested caution was looked upon with the same contempt as the swotty teetotaller at a student party.


    Jon:I still don’t agree with you though – it was down to HR to ensure these organisations’ cultures DID enable this sort of challenge and debate.



    I think my perspective is supported by the recent  letter sent by a group of economists to the Queen explaining why no one foresaw the timing, extent and severity of the recession.  The letter tells of the "psychology of denial" leading to "a failure of the collective imagination of many bright people".

    One of the most critical things that HR can do is to develop an environment in which people are able to challenge each other and to take effective decisions, as individuals, and as groups, within our organisations.

    And I find it immensely interesting that within ‘behavioural economics’, there is a clear move within this field towards incorporating the way people take often illogical decisions into account, often being informed by on findings from neuroscience.   But there’s very little sign of a similar developments within HR (which you might have thought would be much more easily influenced by things which have a direct influence on people management).

    Where is ‘behavioural HR’?





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  • Tuesday 28 July 2009

    Pushing HR forward


       Did you notice RBL’s (Ulrich & co’s) comment on by recent post on HR transformation?  What do you think – which of these does push HR forward?


    Anonymous said...

    It is fun to have debates in the field. We learn from differences. But, in to this case, I (one of the authors) have to disagee with the review on two that fronts. First, for 40 or 50 years, HR has focused from the inside/out. HR has worked to meet the needs of its "customers" as employees and focused inside of the organizatoin. We strongly believe value is defined by the receiver more than the giver and that ultimate receivers of value are those outside of the organizaiton who give it resources (customers, investors, communities, etc.). It is hard to redefine HR in terms of how it creates value to those outside, not just inside, but when this happens, HR is not just an afterthought of business, but it is part of business. Our first step starts with an understanding of those market conditions in which organizations operate. Absent this focus, HR is left blindingly hoping that its work will be of sustainable value. Second, we agree totally that talent or "human capital" is one of the outcomes of good HR. But, we don't think it is the only one. When we define (in step 2) organizations as bundles of capabilities, talent is one of many capabilities. Limiting HR to only building talent is like telling IT people they can only work with desk top computers. HR outcomes, which we call organization capabilities, include speed to market, innovation, service, efficiency, accountability, leadership etc.

    By keeping HR focused inside the company only on talent leaves the field where it has been for 40 years. Time to push forward.

    26 JULY 2009 00:52
    Jon Ingham said...

    Thanks for the comment, and the detail of your response. I'm not surprised you disagree with my review - yes, debates are fun and support learning, but by the time you've finished a book, you're bound to have pretty much solidified your own views around something. However, it's my other readers that I'm more concerned about, and I hope that at least some of them will be convinced, as I am myself, that it's my approach that pushes things forward. I'll come back again shortly to explain why...

    27 JULY 2009 00:12


    Photo credit: Stougard



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  • Sunday 26 July 2009

    Ensuring alignment of senior HR team members


       One of my readers has asked me for some help with the following:

    “We are doing a small project to identify how we could ensure alignment of senior HR team members with the business.

    From your experience could you share some key performance indicators used to measure the performance of senior HR Management members.”


    My response (published here in case it helps other readers as well):


    To explain my answer first of all, although I do know what a couple of my clients have been doing in this area, I wouldn’t want to share their work, and in any case I don’t generally believe that what works for one organisation will necessarily work elsewhere.  So I hope it will be OK if I answer the question by describing the options that are available for you to do this.

    And the first, most obvious option has to be to use your existing performance management system to ensure that your senior HR people are set performance objectives that align with and cascade from your business objectives, and that they are reviewed against these objectives – just like everyone else.

    Your existing competencies should be able to fulfil the same role – or you could look at a set of HR competencies.

    Either of these two approaches will allow alignment to be identified, but neither of them provides a specific measure of alignment.  To get this, you could use a tool like the HCM value triangle and ask individual team members and others they work with to evaluate the proportion of their time / activity / output that is focused on value for money, adding value and creating value, or even isn’t value at all.  For maximum alignment, you would look for as much of this to be focused on adding and creating value as possible.

    Or there’s a useful framework in Becker, Huselid and Ulrich: the HR Scorecard (I’m not a fan of Becker / Huseild / Beatty’s HR / Workforce Scorecard, preferring my own HCM value chain, but the HR alignment model is OK – if a bit adding value focused) – see attached graphic.  The authors suggest:

    “If an organisation expects to develop HR as a strategic asset, it needs to think about alignment in two ways.  The first is the alignment between the HR system that produces key HR deliverables and the requirements of the firm’s strategy implementation system… The second is the alignment between the role expectations for the HR function and the individual competencies required to put that role into action.”


    You’ll find some examples of HR alignment measures in this book as well.  However, my experience suggests that identifying HR measures is never actually that hard.  When it is, it is because the objectives that you’re trying to measure still aren’t clear.  You need to ensure that you are – that you fully understand what you mean by alignment, and why this is important to you.  Once you are clear about this, using one or more of the options described above, I would expect KPIs to be fairly readily available to you.

    Please do come back to me again (perhaps using the comments to this post) to let me know how you get on.


    Other readers – anything else to add?





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  • Friday 24 July 2009

    Dave Ulrich – HR Transformation


       I’ve not read Ulrich’s new book but have seen and heard a few other reviews already.  So here are some early, personal reflections on his 4 step process for HR transformation.

    Ulrich’s first two steps are:

    1.   Why change? / understanding the context

    Ulrich suggests the first phase of transformation is to build a business case by understand the context within which HR adds value.

    2.   So what? / understanding the benefits

    Here, Ulrich notes the need to focus on organisational capabilities as outcomes of HR activities.  He suggests these are things like cost (Walmart), global distribution (Nokia), leadership depth (GE), accountability (UPS, Federal Express), innovation (Apple and Google) and speed (Pfizer).

    (I think these are good examples, but I’m less impressed by the suggestion in Ulrich’s interview with David Creelman that a more talented workforce, a leadership bench, a unified company culture and a more efficient HR organisation are capabilities for Rockwell.  Firstly, because there’s no idea of differentiation behind these – or it there is, it’s not identified.  And secondly, because no organisation is going to gain competitive advantage through a more efficient HR organisation!)


    It’s hard to argue with Ulrich’s first step – but I’m still going to try!

    Or more specifically, I’m going to suggest that Ulrich’s first two steps are listed the wrong way round.  Understanding the business and then identifying the outcomes / capabilities that support the business is a fine approach for adding value, but we want to create value too.  This requires us to understand our organisation’s capabilities or potential capabilities and then to identify which of these the business context suggests are opportunities for competitive advantage.

    I’m also going to draw issue with the second step in this process.

    However, I also want to note how much I agree with the step itself.  Capabilities are combinations of human, social and organisational capital, are are what this blog, and its sister blog, are all about.

    My criticism concerns Ulrich’s idea that, as the book’s subtitle suggests, HR transformation is about building HR from the outside in.  In my view, capabilities come from the inside out.  They’re so fundamental to organisations that they’re very difficult to build from scratch.  The key, as I’ve already suggested, is to identify the capabilities that already exist, or could be relatively easily developed, and then seek to understand which of these provide the basis for competitive advantage.


    Continuing the process:

    3.   How to transform? / making the change

    Ulrich notes that HR re-engineering is about

    • Changing the HR department to deliver against expectations
    • Improving HR practices
    • Ensuring HR professionals have the competencies they need to meet today’s demands.

    4.   Who does it? /  allocating responsibilities

    Ulrich says he sees line managers as increasingly accountable for HR work, with HR professionals as leaders and architects.


    I think there’s a step missing between #2 and #3.  Organisations need to develop an HR / people management  / HCM strategy before they seek to re-engineer.  The strategy will include much more than just the identification of organisational capability – for example, it will suggest the talent groups that support this capability as well.

    I also think HR transformation / re-engineering are the wrong phrases.  This isn’t actually about ‘HR’ at all.  It’s about the opportunities for people management, and the role of organisational capability, or human capital, hence HCM.

    So Ulrich’s right to note the increasingly important role played by managers.  But again, why call it ‘HR work’?  Managers are accountable for managing.  HR is accountable for the architecture.  And as I’ve also posted on previously, I believe HR should also be accountable for providing the organisational accountability / human capital that’s been agreed as well.


    So I still prefer my HCM strategy development process that I posted on a few weeks ago.  What do you think?  Does Ulrich’s HR Transformation provide ‘a commonly accepted way to think about the HR function’.  Or is it time for Ulrich to hand the baton on to Strategic HCM?





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  • Thursday 23 July 2009

    HR in the attention economy


       My favourite session at SHRM’s annual conference (from the reviews I’ve seen and listened to) was David’s Rock’s presentation on findings from neuroscience (listen to Peter Cayton’s interview on Total Picture Radio – and also see also my write-up of his session at the CIPD conference a couple of years ago).

    Rock noted several lessons from neuroscience and leadership, including:

    1. Attention is limited and we therefore only pay fleeting interest to things.  We only actively focus on one thing at a time but we multi task by flitting between this and other things.
    2. The social world is very important.  Our brains are wired to connect to and relate with people.
    3. We can improve our and others’ performance by understanding and changing our brains.  We can change our brains by focusing on certain things and practicing certain behaviours repetitively. 


    I think one interesting point arising from these lessons (that Rock also referred to) is that using new social technologies, and using them simultaneously in the way we tend to (eg keeping Facebook open while we’re working) results in our brains forming connections in new ways.  Gen Y are different because they’ve built their brains differently (and at a point where their brains were developing more rapidly).

    Secondly, Rock notes that these new technologies respond to our limited attention and need for relatedness.  The technology responds to human goals, not the other way around.  Enterprise 2.0 is a human not a technology related change (something I’ve referred to previously in my posts and my own podcasts on HR 2.0).





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  • Wednesday 22 July 2009

    HR Carnival 22 July 2009


       The new carnival is being hosted by InfoHRM.  Do take a look. 


    Technorati Tags: ,,

    Photo credit: Anita Martinz


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  • Tuesday 21 July 2009

    HRZone: HR blogging comes of age


       My latest blogosphere bulletin is up at HR Zone.  I write about the tweeting, blogging, podcasting etc which has taken place recently at SHRM’s annual conference, and suggest that this is the first sign of HR blogging becoming a bit more mainstream.

    I hope the CIPD reacts to this and we see something similar in the UK (first signs aren’t encouraging – they haven’t responded to the question I tweeted them as yet).

    I’ll let you read the full article (free membership required) but would like to re-emphasise my final points:

    “So what are the lessons from all of this? One is about the opportunity to add value to traditional events through the use of web 2.0 and social networking technologies – and is something that applies to in-company as well as sector-based events. Just imagine if your own annual conference got this much attention within your own company!”

    “And of course, this attention is something that can be generated and sustained throughout the whole year as well. Social media may raise issues over security, productivity and potential legal problems, but it provides a great opportunity to raise engagement and productivity as well.”


    I really do think there are some great opportunities for organisations here.




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  • Sunday 19 July 2009

    Talking HR 019: Involving employees in budget cuts


       In this show, we discuss the current economic environment, particularly in Ireland and the UK.  And we talk about what employers are doing to deal with the impacts of the recession, discussing in particular, British Airways’ recent wheeze to ask staff to work with no pay.

    Jon also discusses passion and engagement, in connection with the MacLeaod review in the UK, and with employees of the French firm of New Fabris threatening to blow up their factory.




    Listen to the podcast:
    you can download the podcast to your hard drive or play it streaming from the web.



    Photo credit: Sertion (the photo is supposed to be someone playing rock – paper – scissors with ‘scissors’ (ie cutting) – but you could probably interpret it as something else which might fit the BA discussion just as well!)




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    Friday 17 July 2009

    Recurring blog problems (Operation aborted)


        In early June, I noted that I was experiencing problems accessing my blog.  I later realised that this wasn’t just limited to my blog, but was something that many Google Blogger blogs are experiencing.  So I made the changes that Google have been suggesting (for example, removing my Friend Connect widget) and thought this had resolved the problem.

    However, I met someone earlier in the week who was still experiencing problems and I’m struggling to understand what else I might be able to do.  (It should at least be a temporary problem as I’m sure Google will sort it soon!).

    I’m hoping this is now a very limited problem, as no one else has been in touch to tell me about these problems, but I do want to do everything I can to resolve them and avoid you having them again.

    So, I just want to repeat my earlier apologies if you have been experiencing problems.  And to ask for your help in resolving them – if you do get an error message that says ‘operation aborted’ when trying to open my blog, please, please let me know:

    -   The page you were attempting to open

    -   The operating system and internet browser you’re using (IE, Firefox, Chrome etc)

    -   Whether this is something yo’ve experienced after reading this post or before.


    You can either leave me a comment below (or if you can’t open this page to leave me a comment!), please email me at info [at] strategic [dash] hcm [dot] com.

    Many thanks!


    Don’t forget, you can avoid any potential problems by subscribing to my blog feed in your reader at or via email at


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  • Thursday 16 July 2009

    The MacLeod Review


       David MacLeod’s review of employee engagement has also been published today.  157 pages this time and more required reading for HR! 

    The report is introduced by Peter Mandelson who in typical fashion, oversells it by claiming that the report “sets out for the first time the evidence that underpins what we all know intuitively”.  Despite this, there is a lot in here, including useful stats comparing engagement levels reported from different survey providers, and lots of short case studies too.

    Noting that engagement levels across the UK economy are low, the review goes on to suggest that:

    “If employee engagement and the principles that lie behind it were more widely understood, if good practice was more widely shared, if the potential that resides in the country’s workforce was more fully unleashed, we could see a step change in workplace performance and in employee well-being, for the considerable benefit of the UK.”


    Many of the conclusions made in the report will be underwhelming to anyone who knows much about this area, but I did find some of these quite interesting, including:

    On correlation and causation

    “Some have questioned which is the chicken and which the egg – does engagement lead to performance or is it the other way around? Marcus Buckingham, who has studied this area for many years, concludes from various longitudinal studies that it is engagement that leads to performance, and this is a four times stronger relationship than performance leading to engagement.  ISR, from different studies, have reached the same conclusion.”


    On measurement and action

    “We have also been struck by the number of people who told us of the equal importance of using instinct and judgment. It is also clear that simply doing a survey and publishing the results is not the same as an engagement strategy. Measuring engagement is simply a tool to allow you to find out how engaged your people are. Pfizer emphasised to us that engagement is a process not an event. Mark Mitcheson, Talent and Organisation Capability Lead at Pfizer, says: ‘We work hard to avoid falling into the trap that some other organisations make – assuming that doing a survey is doing engagement – it’s an important part of the process, but only part of it. There is a danger that you can spend too long looking at and analysing the figures, rather than engaging with staff on how to improve.’ As Andrew Templeman, of the Cabinet Office Capability Building Programme put it to us: ‘No one ever got a pig fat by weighing it’.”


    On the personalisation of engagement

    “There is an equally strong relationship between engagement and the drive in most organisations to ensure their workforce reflects the diversity of the UK’s people. Baroness Margaret Prosser, Vice-chair of the Equality and Human Rights Commission and Chair of the Women at Work Commission, believes that ensuring fairness and equal opportunities at work for all employees lies at the heart of engagement. ‘It’s hard to imagine an engaged workforce where one group felt that their voice was being ignored. Ensuring equal opportunities and fair treatment is an essential strand of an engagement strategy.’

    Her view was echoed by Donna Miller, European HR director of Enterprise rent-a-car.  ‘Our view has long been that there shouldn’t be engagement differences among different sets of people[…]But we are changing this view now. We’re coming round to the idea that so much of engagement and management practice success is precisely how they deal with diversity, be it working with people of different ages, sex, ethnicity. As a business we must understand different types of people have different inclinations. It makes sense when you think about it. We’re about to pilot a management training project which specifically looks at how to build trust within teams that are made up of different people and ethnic backgrounds. Our focus is keeping the widest possible pool of talent available, and this now means looking at all types of employee.’ ”


    On human AND social capital

    Many people we spoke to also pointed to the limitations of an approach which regards the workforce en masse as ‘human resources’ leading to a monolithic and one-dimensional view of people. As Will Hutton, Executive Vice Chair of the Work Foundation told us: “We think of organisations as a network of transactions. They are of course also a social network.


    Blockages to engagement

    The report goes on to ask why, if employee engagement can deliver so many benefits, is the capture of this private and public value so often blocked.  It suggests:

    “Firstly, there are still too many chief executives and senior managers who are unaware of employee engagement or are still to be convinced of its benefits. Some are put off by evidence that the benefits of investing in engagement approaches may take time to show through in performance. Others experience little external incentive: data from America shows that the stock market does not fully value intangibles such as employee engagement, even when they are made visible by a publicly available employee survey, even though higher employee satisfaction is associated with stronger company share price performance.

    Accenture point out that under half of chief financial officers appear to understand the return on their investments in human capital.

    And many people we spoke to pointed to the danger of engagement being written off as ‘soft and fluffy’ rather than as a bottom line issue; others listed reasons which enabled leaders to avoid dealing with the issue, particularly ‘it won’t work here’ and ‘I don’t have time’.”


    The real problem

    I don’t discount these reasons, but I’m not convinced that they are the main problems either.  Much more significant for me is the fact that:

    “There persists a managerial mindset that ‘demeans human beings as human resources and human capital’ in the words of Henry Mintzberg, as opposed to creative and productive human beings – as one of many factors of production rather than as the wellspring of success. Behind this mindset lies a fear of losing control of the reins. And as one chief executive asserted to us: ‘Balance sheets don’t answer back. The risk of listening is that you may hear things you don’t want to hear.’

    Poor leadership inexorably leads to poor management practice, where line managers fail to engage their staff. Where there is no pressure for engagement, poor line management can quickly douse enthusiasm. Poor management skills in dealing with people lie behind many of the factors of disengagement. As more than one person reminded us: people join organisations – but they leave managers. Mike Emmott of the CIPD pointed to the “seriously defective default assumptions” which he believes are still around, that managers get people to perform by telling them what to do – the traditional command and control model of management – or that the only thing that motivates people at work is pay.”


    My conclusions and the role of the HR department

    I agree with Mintzberg’s and Emmott’s perspectives (and I am, by the way, always careful to talk about people as providers of human capital, not the human capital itself).  So I’m not that impressed with the report’s main recommendations the government and that this should use its unique position to raise awareness of employee engagement benefits and techniques and to ensure its support is aligned and tailored to the needs of different organisations in different sectors of the economy seeking to enhance levels of employee engagement.

    This is at least relatively simple to do of course.  Encouraging companies to shift from command and control to a more listening focused style of leadership is much harder to do, but this is where the real prize lies.  And this is also the main opportunity for HR. 

    The report itself notes that:

    “The evidence indicates that for it to be successful, leaders have to champion and line managers have to lead engagement. But the HR profession and HR practitioners have a vital role to play. As Jackie Orme, the Chief Executive of CIPD emphasised to us, a key challenge for the profession was to ensure that employee engagement ‘gets put on the table’ in companies and organisations.  ‘HR can’t manufacture engagement, but we have a key role in helping companies develop the kind of organisational culture where engagement can thrive, and ensuring that managers have the skills to make engagement a reality.’ ”


    I’d go a shade further.  HR functions should take accountability for engagement levels and for ensuring they’re improved.  They may not be responsible for engaging individual employees, but they should ensure that leaders and motivated and capable of doing this for themselves.

    There’s plenty in this report to enable HR teams to deliver these improvements.  And they may also find the following of help:



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  • The Walker Review


       The review of the UK’s financial sector corporate governance conducted by Sir David Walker on behalf of Gordon Brown and published today seems to be to include some sensible ideas to avoid further stupidity and recklessness in the country’s banks.

    First up: strengthening the role and responsibilities of Non-Executive Directors – including better Board level performance evaluation (an area I spent some time working on around the time that the OFR and Business Review were being launched).

    Secondly: encouraging more active shareholding (an issue I’ve followed as a long-time Fellow of the RSA, developing on from the Tomorrow’s Company project to its current work on Tomorrow’s Investor).

    Thirdly: ensuring the way bankers are paid doesn’t further encourage stupid behaviours (something I’ve been blogging on quite a bit recently), for example by scrutinising and publishing the pay of anyone who earns more than the average board-level executive.  The report also recommends that half these peoples’ pay should be provided through a long-term incentive plan, with half of the LTIP vesting after three and the rest after five years.


    I’ve already posted on my perspective that financial services HR departments are partly if not largely to blame for the banks’ failures and therefore our current economic miseries.  And here’s a great opportunity for them to put the situation right.

    HR needs to step in and sure that NEDs have the right roles and the right training, and of course that their rewards systems and organisational cultures are effectively designed as well.

    It’s 142 pages long, but the report should be required reading for everyone working in UK financial services and beyond.


    Note though, I did think Robert Peston made a great point in his interview on the Today show this morning: RBS didn’t collapse after its take-over of ABN Amro because it wasn’t aware of the risks – it new what these were and thought they were worth taking:

    “Even smart, well-qualified people can be gripped by irrational exuberance – we shouldn’t get gripped by the idea that governance offers a perfect protection against catastrophe.”


    Perhaps guarding against irrational decision making is an even bigger opportunity for HR, and is one I’m going to posting again on shortly.





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  • Tuesday 14 July 2009

    Getting naked in the office


         I’m just catching up on my TV viewing on Sky + following a recent business trip.  First up, The Naked Office.

    I’m sure this will have already been reviewed elsewhere (see for example, this interview in the Management blog), but I thought it was such provoking viewing that it was worth a quick review.

    For those of you who haven’t seen it, which I presume will include most people outside the UK (although you’ll find quite a lot of it on You Tube – see for example, the clip inserted below), the programme dealt with a Newcastle based ad agency, ‘onebestway’, that calls in ‘top business psychologist’ David Taylor to advise them on their future.  Taylor emphasis the need to ‘bring the truth in the room’ and suggests one way of doing this is to have a ‘naked Friday’ (not a particularly original idea  as it was featured by a BBC3 series last year).

    I’m not sure about the need to ask staff to strip, and the ethics are obviously dubious, but I think the central idea of showing how much a team can do together, by working together as one, is spot on.  I often use exercises similar to Taylor’s one with a tent, to show the major impact a little bit more communication and leadership can have.

    And it’s why I increasingly talk about social capital, rather than just human capital.  It’s the relationships between people rather than just the people themselves that counts.


    The other way of looking at it of course is that this was just a publicity stunt for David Taylor and his book, the Naked Leader; the ad agency and its vision to ‘make businesses stand out’; and Virgin 1, which clearly does need a bit of a relaunch.  And I think given that this is almost certainly a significant part of the rationale, they could have done with a slightly more enticing blog.






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  • Monday 13 July 2009

    HR web 2.0 applications / Resources


         I’ve been asked by a contact of mine to suggest some resources for information on companies using web 2.0 applications within HR ie for recruitment, learning, engagement etc.

    This is my short list.  Any suggestions – what have I missed?



    Bertrand Duperrin’s Notepad

    Michael Specht

    Steve Boese’s HR Technology

    Learning on the Leading Edge

    Knowledge Infusion Centre of Excellence

    Strategic HCM

    Talking HR

    Bill Kutik Radio Show

    Matt Lafata




    Sirona Says

    Recruitment 2.0

    HR Capitalist

    Fistful of Talent

    Jessica Lee Writes


    Human Capitalist

    All Abord



    New Learning Playbook

    Centre for Learning and Performance Technologies

    Clive on Learning

    Dare to Share


    Engagement / Communications / Employer branding (I've not included things like FIR that relate to broader uses for communication):


    Polly Pearson



    As well as the above blogs and podcasts, there are a few print reports that I will also suggest may be useful, for example, the latest CIPD report.  Again, any others?



    Technorati Tags: ,,




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  • Thursday 9 July 2009

    Top talent management blog


    july09 top 25 badge


    If you think the MJ Memorial was the big event this week, you’re wrong!

    Fistful of Talent has just published it’s fourth round of talent management blog power rankings and this blog is placed at number 13 out of 130 Talent, HR and Recruiting-related blogs.


    Thanks to everyone at FOT, definitely one of my top reads.

    Here are the other top scoring blogs for you to check out too:


    The top 13 scores:

    1.    cheezhead™ (Power Index Rating - 96 | 1st Place Votes - 1 | v. 2.0 ranking - #1)

    2.    Your HR Guy (Power Index Rating - 72 | 1st Place Votes - 2 | v. 2.0 ranking  #6)

    3.    HR Bartender (Power Index Rating - 68 | 1st Place Votes - 1 | v. 2.0 ranking - #17)

    4.    Compensation Force (Power Index Rating - 66 | 1st Place Votes - 1 | v. 2.0 ranking - #4)

    5.    Seth Godin (Power Index Rating - 57 | v. 2.0 ranking - #20)

    6.    Punk Rock HR (power index rating - 51 | 1st place votes - 1 |  v. 2.0 ranking - tied #22)

    7.    Renegade HR (power index rating - 49 | v. 2.0 ranking - N/A)

    8.    TalentedApps (power index rating - 48 | v. 2.0 ranking - #24 + v. 4.0 winner!)

    9.    The Recruiter Guy (power index rating - 47 | 1st Place Votes - 1 | v. 2.0 ranking - #2)

    10.  All Things Workplace (power index rating - 45 | v. 2.0 ranking - #8)

    11.  The Business of Management (power index rating - 44 | v. 2.0 ranking - #21)

    12.  e-Recruitment/Social Workplace Blog  (power index rating - 41 | v. 2.0 ranking - N/A)

    13.  Jon Ingham's Strategic HCM (power index rating - 37 | v. 2.0 ranking - N/A).





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  • Wednesday 8 July 2009

    HR Carnival 8 July 2009


        The latest carnival is being hosted by Aaron Queen at EffortlessHR, a provider of online HR software, forms and templates for small business owners (anywhere from 1 to 500 employees).

    Rather tactlessly on my part, it includes my recent post on the low value of forms and templates!  Sorry Aaron!

    As usual, the carnival includes a whole heap of great posts from around the world (well, at least the US, UK and India), so do take a look.



    Photo credit: Alon Laudon 



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  • Tuesday 7 July 2009

    Entrepreneurship is the way to go?


       I’m out for my third week in Abu Dhabi and have been reading an interesting column by Jack Welch in Gulf News: Entrepreneurship is the way to go.

    Apologies if you’ve seen this some time ago – it’s probably been out in the US etc for some weeks now.

    However, I normally find Welch makes very sound observations, which is he got so much positive feedback from his session at SHRM last week, and I think this article is particularly important too.

    Welch notes that people have been really shocked by the current recession, and when the economy finally improves, we’re going to be facing “a whole different hiring game: changed, and harder”:

    “Many people don’t want to work for ‘the man’ anymore.  They want to work for themselves or someone they know and trust…

    A tidal wave of emotion is sweeping from coast to cost – see the hundreds of messages sent to us via our website and Twitter.  To be someone else’s employee, people are saying, is to be subject to someone else’s whim.

    The ultimate impact of this phenomenon could be profound.  When the economy recovers, many companies might, for the first time ever, have to deal with a candidate pool that’s not particularly excited about working for them.”


    While I’d point out that this change has been going on for some time (and is partly or evenly mainly why lots of people like me have already been working independently), and although I found the comments strangely parochial (I assume the coats Welch is talking about are not the Arabian Gulf and the Gulf of Oman!), I do believe these contain some important points.  And it affects much more than just recruitment of course.

    It’s also about making some big, cultural changes.  As Welch says, companies have to:

    “Stop acting as big companies – bureaucratic and impersonal – and start creating an atmosphere that’s fast-moving and vibrant…

    People throughout the organisation will need to feel that what they say really matters, regardless of rank and title.”


    Easy to say, harder to do of course.  But if you want some help in creating an entrepreneurial culture in your company, give me a ring.  I’ll be happy to help out, although I’m looking forward to some recuperation time back in the UK, resting after what’s been a rather long business trip, first.



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    Sunday 5 July 2009

    Another year / Your feedback



    OK, so it’s now two years since I’ve been posting on this blog.  And I’m looking forward to a third.

    But I’m also keen to make this blog as valuable as I can for you.  So that you’ll keep reading.  Because that makes the writing feel much more worthwhile.

    So, I’d really value your input, as I reflect on what I’m going to do with this blog this year.

    What do you like?, what don’t you like?, what would you like to see more of / less of?

    Please let me know, in the comments below, or send me an email, and I’ll do my best to provide it for you.


    Many thanks, Jon.



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  • Friday 3 July 2009

    HCM strategy: Building Human Resources from the Inside Out


    After commenting on the need to have a clear process as well as templates in developing people management strategy, I thought I should share my HCM strategy development process with you.  Although I’ve been blogging about HCM for a couple of years (yes really – it’s this blog’s 2nd anniversary this month), and of course, although I have written a (/ the definitive) book on HCM, I don’t think I’ve ever actually shared this process before.  (Although I have posted on one for developing HR 2.0 strategy which I guess is basically the same.)

    The key point for me is that HCM strategy starts with organisational capability / human capital, not the business strategy.  If this strategy is going to create as well as add value to the business, then the business strategy needs to be informed by, as well as supported by the HCM strategy.  So the first question is something about what are we trying to do; what type of organisation are we, or do we want to become; or more specifically, what is it about our people, or our people management strategy, that can help us achieve competitive advantage through our people?

    The HCM strategy then come from a diagnosis against this desired future state and it leads onto the development of an HCM scorecard, identifying the measures that will support the implementation of the strategy.  Note that in my view, the measures come here, not earlier on.  Strategy development should be a creative, artful process in which visions and stories are likely to have more impact than metrics and measurements.  I know I disagree with lots of people on this point.

    Also disagreeing with Dave Ulrich in his new book, I also think the focus is inside-out not outside-in.  It comes from looking at what make people different within a particular organisation and what this might mean in terms of the capability, engagement etc that might be leveraged better in order to produce significantly more developed capabilities than the organisation’s competitors (or in the public and voluntary sectors, will enable significant transformation in the level of services that are provided).  Outside-in perspectives lead to added not created value strategies, and therefore less impact on the business.

    Finally, the strategy needs to be implemented through a combined focus on people, the organisation, and HR and management processes.  And these often / usually need to be supported by further development of the HR and leadership / management teams.

    I’m going to be posting quite a few blogs about this during July, so watch this space, or subscribe to my RSS feed in your reader at or via email at




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  • Wednesday 1 July 2009

    Does blogging support or hinder conference attendance?


        I’ve been tracking commentary (via blogs and twitter etc) on three different conferences recently – the Social Recruiting summit at the Googleplex, Enterprise 2.0 in and SHRM annual conference in New Orleans.  All have been easy and interesting to follow, although this  is still a long way from being anything like the experience you can get from physical attendance.

    I can also image that this much social communication must add value to the attendees who are using these tools.  I have to imagine as I’ve not yet attended one where the tools are being used extensively – I usually end up being the sole person tweeting or blogging, which I still find helpful to me, and I hope others do too, but it is obviously a much more solitary experience.

    In fact, if I were to want to attend any of these conferences next year, I would probably do so in order to meet and network with these other bloggers and tweeters, rather than for anything on the formal agenda of these events.

    But am I (and probably you, as a reader of this blog) in a minority here?

    What about the non-social media user attending theses events?  (This probably applies more to the SHRM conference than the other two where most attendees are going to the conference because of their interests in social media.) 

    The good news is that heavy social media reporting is going to encourage these people to start using the tools.  (It’s encouraging that the SHRM conference post on the ‘HR Bloggers’ session, Who Are These People and Why Should I Care?, is one of the most popular, but then again this is based upon a population of people who are already reading a blog).

    The danger is I guess that even though these people are only going to see or know about a small fraction of the conversation going on on-line (blogs, tweets, SHRM Connect etc), this may be enough to make them feel part of the ‘out-crowd’, making them feel less welcome.

    Is the heavy focus on media one reason why attendance at the SHRM conference has dropped 4000 people from 2008?

    And how do we balance our need to connect and build relationships with people using these tools, while not excluding those who don’t?

    What do you think?



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