Thursday 22 December 2011

Innovating HR - webinar


   If you want to know more about innovation in HR eg developing some innovative activities in 2012, or just improving your / your team’s ‘HR innovator and integrator competency, perhaps implementing some of Vance’s suggestions, or setting up an internal HR app store, then join me for this webinar on Thursday, 12th January 12 2012 at 4:00 PM - 5:00 PM GMT.

This is about the sixth time I’ve had to reschedule this webinar (apologies again for those of you who have tried to book before) but I’ve deliberately rebooked it for before I get too busy after the break – so hopefully there won’t be any problems (and I really will do everything I can to ensure there won’t be).  So reserve your webinar seat now at:

I hope to see you there!


Picture credit: LaurMG


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Wednesday 21 December 2011

New HR Competencies for Innovation and Technology


   Dave Ulrich’s latest update to the global HR competency framework was announced last week.  I’ve been using and talking about the various iterations of this framework for about 15 years now and on first look, it’s my favourite list so far.

The competencies are:

Strategic positioners who understand evolving business contexts, stakeholder expectations, and business requirements and translate them into talent, culture, and leadership actions

Credible activists who build relationships of trust and have a clear point of view about how to build business performance

Capability builders who define, audit, and create organization capabilities required for sustainable organizational success

Change champions who initiate and sustain change at the individual, initiative, and institutional levels

HR innovators and integrators who look for new ways to do HR practices and integrate those separate practices to deliver business solutions

Technology proponents who use technology for efficiency, to connect employees, and to leverage new communication channels, e.g., social media.


In a sense, it’s not that much of a change from last year.  Strategic architects has been renamed positioners which might not be much but it’s a useful shift because positioning suggests a sense of uniqueness and competitiveness ie it’s not just about architecting the same HR model as every other organisation.

Talent managers, Organisation designers and Culture Stewards have been grouped together as Capability builders which I think again is useful, as it emphasises that talent, organisation and culture aren’t just resources, but can be sources of competitive value in their own right.

Business allies and Operational executors have been dropped which again I think is positive.  Operational execution is the basic minimum, not the difference that leads to success.  Business alliancing is pretty basic too, and it’s removal emphasises, to me, that HR doesn’t achieve the difference that makes the difference simply by being closer to the business – it achieves this by creating unique positions of organisational capabilities.  These are what is important, and they’re different to, not the same as the value that can be provided by other business functions.

That just leaves change champions – fine – and credible activists – which was my favourite competency in the previous list.  Plus – and this is where it gets interesting – HR innovators, and Technology proponents.  (No mention of measurement which may surprise some people but I think is right.  But also no mention of facilitating decision making, which I still think Ulrich made a mistake of removing from 2003’s to 2007’s iteration.)


I think innovation and technology are essential additions too.  Innovation is critical to achieving unique positions and capabilities, and technology – especially, though not just social media - is becoming increasingly central to achieving this innovation too.

Have you seen these posts last week on HR innovation?


I’ll also be continuing to post on HCM technology next year – including on the new site linked to the HR Technology Europe conference which I’ll be MCing again next year.



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Friday 16 December 2011

HR iphone & ipad apps


   I’ve been included in this article in HR Magazine on HR iphone apps.  I write about some of the favourites that I use or have been able to find.

I don’t think it’s the best piece of writing I’ve ever done, and I think a lot of that is down to feeling rather less than excited about the HR apps which are currently available.

There are a few more apps available for ipads and I think these are generally better, but even here there are still a limited number available.  Some provide the same sorts of access difficulties I describe in my article (Workday, Globoforce etc) although one – Peoplefluent – includes a nice demo and a fun training tool (or that’s what my daughter says) – Talentastic.

I’m sure we’ll see more of, and improvements in these and other apps during 2012.  I might even do one myself to give you better mobile access to Strategic HCM!?



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Wednesday 14 December 2011

Vance Kearney on Innovation / 2


   Supporting my post on innovation yesterday, I thought I’d share with you some of Vance Kearney from Oracle’s thoughts on this topic.

Vance and I have been having an off-line discussion about this topic following his presentation at the CIPD conference (which I also blogged on).  Although it was an interesting panel, Vance felt that he didn’t get the opportunity to talk about the practical steps that HR practitioners can take to encourage innovation. He’s therefore agreed to let me publish some of our exchange of views.

Here are his thoughts:

Had I been asked what we practitioners including all those in the audience could do,  I would have said encourage the proliferation of shared interest groups and communities around products, services, technologies and processes. Support them with the very best networking and social enterprise tools that you can and also encourage them to meet physically from time to time to share and refine their ideas.

Innovation happens when passionate and interested people are encouraged to share ideas with a shared vision and ambition to create the very best.  Working together ambitiously and passionately is what drives innovation and HR can assist by making the case for the benefits of the social enterprise at the senior management level. 
Creating informal professional communities around shared product, technologies or functions and specialties is a relatively easy thing to do. Using blogs, social networking, conferencing tools can bring people together and its best if its done, by those communities, for those communities, rather than something which is imposed or heavily regulated. 
In this effort HR can encourage managers not to seek to regulate the communities but instead encourage the involvement of employees at every level, not just those with formal responsibilities from the senior levels. In my experience some of the best innovations have come from teams that have not "included" the more senior managers but instead just been given their encouragement and support
HR can champion the social enterprise to create innovation, and it does not need to carry a huge financial cost, it can even save money. Informal networking can be very much more productive than formal agenda  and powerpoint driven meetings and the cost of the tools can be more than offset by reduced travel costs.

Social networking the enterprise is the best way to encourage and create innovation.


So there you go.  I just thought these points were worth sharing rather than leaving as part of a personal communication – particularly as I totally endorse them!


Picture credit: HR Magazine


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Tuesday 13 December 2011

Innovative HR in 2012


   I presented a session on the future of strategic HRM yesterday.  Now I’m no futurist – I much prefer to focus on the opportunities that are available to us today, but I think I’ve got a good idea of some of the changes we’ll see happening over the next 5 –10 years (I’m not going to repeat them here – just have a scan through this blog).

But of course this is the time of year that everyone produces their predictions for the next one.  I’m not going to do much of this either – I never seem to get these right so there doesn’t seem much point.

But I do want to single out one thing which I’m sure is going to become more important next year.  And this is being more innovative in HR.

There are three reasons for this:

  1. It’s going to be a tough, tough year – at least for those of us in the flatlining (developed) vs growth (emerging) economies.  We cut the fat before the last recession and after a tincy bit of jobless growth, there ain’t much of that left.  Trimming further is going to be harder, and require more radical approaches, than before.
  2. There’s just a ton of stuff to do eg see Josh Bersin’s predictions which include globalised specialisation in recruitment, glocalisation of HR, integration of recruiting/HR etc, social medialisation of recruiting and in fact all HR activities, holistic engagement, transformed development, agile performance management, strategic mobility, enterprise career development, borderless leadership, flexible use of technology and big data segmentation - all of these are mini innovations in their own right (no wonder Bersin’s additional prediction was for reskilling of HR – the function is going to need it!).
  3. Most importantly, no one organisation can (perhaps just the very largest), or should (including the largest), do all of the above.  What companies need to do therefore it to understand the future of strategic HRM for them, and then pick the developments from the above list, and other things, that best fit with their own strategic needs.  Few organisations are doing this well currently, hence some broader innovation in HR’s approach, rather than just what it does, is required.


It’s going to be a tough, but an interesting, year!


Picture from my recent visit to CERN on the day that we’ve possibly confirmed the Higgs boson – innovation at its most extreme (you may also recognise Katie McNab)


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Monday 12 December 2011

Looking forward – Economist Talent Management Summit


   As well as Learning Technologies, the HR Directors Business Summit just before it, and the Enterprise 2.0 Summit shortly afterwards, there are a few other conferences I’ve already committed to attending / speaking / blogging at next year.

One of these is the Economist’s Talent Management Summit in June.  The focus of this year’s conference is going to be on the next generation of leadership, so as well as sessions on engagement and workforce planning, the event will focus on:


Differences in the next generation eg more female, and more mobile

The number of women in senior and top management roles is still shockingly small. What must be done to increase the female talent pool and get them into senior leadership positions?

  • How do businesses explain poor retention and promotion of women?
  • What can companies do to retain or increase women’s motivation to lead?
  • What strategies can help overcome invisible barriers?
  • How do you transform a corporate culture and management/employee mind-sets?

Sue Swanborough, Human Resources Director, UK and Ireland, General Mills

Future leadership teams will be composed of members of the “net generation”. How do you build, manage and retain leaders who are more mobile and eager to self-develop than any generation in the past?

  • What are their key values and motivators?
  • How should you align corporate strategy with different ways of working and career development?
  • What role can social media play in engaging them in the organisation?
  • What strategies do companies employ to win the loyalty of their high-potential talent?
A leading company will be quizzed about how they engage the net generation and help the brightest talent transition into the next executive team.


Business challenges for the next generation

Leadership quality is critical in times of change, whether moving from zero-growth to high-growth markets or managing a major organisational restructure.

  • What key characteristics does the modern leader need to succeed? In a period of upheaval, what behaviours instil trust?
  • What is that drives pattern observed in good leaders: a country’s culture or rather inherent characteristics of a complex organisation? What does this mean for selecting the right management teams for new, alien territories?
  • How do you define and find the intellectual leadership needed for serious organisational change?
  • What are the secrets of leading diverse or transforming organisations?

A panel of experts will discuss which leadership behaviours have the best chance to move the business forward in times of change and into new markets.


HR’s role supporting the next generation

  • Business-oriented HR: putting talent strategy at the heart of corporate strategy
  • How do you turn your top management into talent leaders?

In this discussion, senior management will be challenged on their views of the role of HR and talent professionals as business leaders and influencers.

Tanith Dodge, Director of Human Resources, Marks & Spencer
Doug Baillie, Chief HR Officer, Unilever


The 2011 Talent Management Summit was undoubtedly one of the best HR events last year, and I’m sure this one will be equally as good.

You can get discounted tickets up to the end of this / next month but I’ll also be looking for a couple of HR Directors who read this blog to come along as my guests – more details about this next month.



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Friday 9 December 2011

Learning Technologies conference


   I’ll be talking more about learning at January’s Learning Technologies conference.

I’ll be presenting in a session with Paul Jagger from IBM and Rachel Roberts from City & Guilds in a session arising from a tweet this Summer:

The Learning Professional

Where should learning and development fit in an organisation? During the Learning and Skills Group Conference in June 2011, Paul Jagger tweeted that L&D needed to break free from HR. Almost immediately Jon Ingham came back to contradict him: HR is the natural home for L&D. Rachel Roberts, meanwhile, has a different, third opinion. It’s an important debate to have, and we can rely on our three speakers to share their thoughts openly and to kick off what promises to be an interesting debate between each other and with the floor.


Other speakers I’m looking forward to seeing include:

  • Andy Jones, Head of Learning and Innovation, Sweet and Maxwell
  • Andy MacGovern, VP - Strategic Talent, Thomson Reuters
  • Andy Wooler, HR Technology Manager, Legal & General Assurance Group Plc
  • Antoine Solom, International Director, Employee Relationship Management, Ipsos Loyalty
  • Barry Sampson, Consultant,
  • Charles Jennings, Director, Duntroon Associates
  • Chris Bones, Dean Emeritus, Henley Business School and Professor of Creativity and Leadership, Manchester Business School
  • Clive Shepherd, Director, Onlignment Ltd
  • David Wilson, Managing Director, Elearnity
  • Denise Hudson Lawson, Head of ICT Training, Houses of Parliament
  • Donald Clark, Board Member, Ufi
  • Dr Brian Chimsamy, Head of Learning, Leadership and Talent for Barclays Africa
  • Ed Scruton, Talent Development Operations Manager, Telefonica UK
  • Edward de Bono
  • Gareth Williams, Head of Learning and Development, Cambian Group
  • Harvey Seale, Group L&D Manager, Nuffield Health
  • Hasan Adnan, Head of Learning, Global Leadership & Talent Team, British American Tobacco
  • Jacob Hodges, Associate Director to the Office of Naval Research Global
  • James Rule, Head of HR Talent Systems, Thomson Reuters
  • Jane Gardner, Learning & Talent Development Manager, Taylor & Francis Group
  • Jason Corsello, HCM Thought Leader and Commentator
  • Joanne Jacobs, Interaction Design and Social Media Strategy Consultant
  • Jonathan Garrett, Group Head of Sustainability, Balfour Beatty plc
  • Kathy Morris, Senior Learning Partner, RSA Insurance Group
  • Keith Quinn, Senior Education & Workforce Development Adviser, Scottish Social Services Council
  • Kevin Streater, Executive Director, Employer Engagement – IT & Telecoms, The Open University
  • Laura Overton, Managing Director, Towards Maturity
  • Matthew H. DeFeo, Senior Vice President Sales, Training and Recruiting, Techtronic Industries, Inc.
  • Nigel Paine, Managing Director,
  • Noreen Wolfe, eLearning Manager, Whitbread
  • Sarah Harrison, Manager, HR Operations, Thomson Reuters
  • Stephanie Dedhar, Learning and Performance Consultant, BP
  • Stephen Heppell, CEO, and Chair in New Media Environments, Centre for Excellence in Media Practice, Bournemouth University
  • Steve Wheeler, Associate Professor of Learning Technology, University of Plymouth
  • Tony Wardle, Learning Innovation and Technology Manager Global Learning Team, British American Tobacco


Hope to see you there!



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Thursday 8 December 2011

Integrating Formal, Informal and Social Learning


   The thing I don’t like about the 70-20-10 model, which I reviewed last week, is that social learning isn’t really a separate category from formal and informal learning, but a different category of these.  Ie, you’ve really got (or should want to have) these four different types of learning going on (descriptions taken from Jane Hart):



I think it is more useful to think about learning in these four ways, and to ensure that learning solutions and environments consist of all four (where appropriate).

However, the point from yesterday’s post still applies – it’s about creating a portfolio, not managing the percentages. There needs to be an overarching learning strategy too.

The model is also useful for thinking about measurements as I think these need to change in nature for each different form of learning too (whilst again, forming part of one holistic approach to learning measurement).



Moving from formal to informal measures become less quantitative and objective and more qualitative and subjective. This is just because the learning activities we are trying to measure become less tangible, and the relationships between these and the outcomes and impacts we are trying to achieve less direct and more complex.

Similarly moving from individual (or individual within a group) to social, measures become less about something which can be reported, and more about something that has to be discussed – ie more of a basis for conversation.

Incidentally, I was involved in some tweeting about this around the #SDDT unconference (another example of social learning) the week before last (see picture at the top of this post).

I don’t think there is a problem with this – some things are just naturally best measured in qualitative and conversational terms. But of course, there are things you can do to make them more quantitatively measurable and reportable. For example, technology is one big help.

But the type of technology that needs to be used also changes according to the type of learning. Despite some discussion on this, I still believe that the LMS has a vital role in supporting individual, formal learning. I think new media tools like blogging (social media tools which are not of necessity social) probably play an increasingly significant role here, helping to plan and capture the ongoing learning that takes place (a bit like an electronic learning log).

Over on the social side of things, social networking and social learning systems (social learning systems being social networking systems with more focus on learning content etc) are the prime tools.



But again, all of these technologies need to be integrated together as well.

It’s why I’m so pleased that the sponsorship of this blog, previously with Plateau, has been taken over by SuccessFactors, post Plateau’s integration (particularly now SuccessFactors itself is being acquired by SAP which I also do some work for).

Plateau gave SuccessFactors an LMS capability and Jambok and CubeTree, recently integrated as Jam, provide the social media and networking capabilities referred to above.  So you can do each separate, and the whole, thing.



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Wednesday 7 December 2011

#CIPDSocial11 & Social Engagement – in the socialmedia garden


night garden flower   I’ve had a couple of conversations with Michael Silverman, Unilever’s ex-head of engagement research, since meeting him at a Symposium event earlier this year (eg at CHRU, and the Personnel Today awards, where Michael and Unilever won the award for the best use of HR technology).

Michael uses a new research tool called Opinion Space, developed with Hybrid Wisdom Labs, which uses the new technique of ‘collaborative discovery’ to help communities suggest ideas and develop understanding about particular issues – eg engagement.

I have to say I don’t really understand the full science behind this:

(Taken from Info and Help)


(!!!)  But to me, the benefit of the technology is largely the same as any social media tool – 1, it allows people to collaborate together and 2, it’s visually appealing.  Add these two points together and it means that it’s fun and compelling.

As I wrote before, this is quite useful in engagement research.  I agree with Michael on this – it seems oddly dissonant that the tool most organisations use to measure engagement generally disengages people.  It’s another area that shouts out to be social medialised!

To give people a chance to experience the technology for themselves, Michael is running an open access research study.  And since it’s run using social media, we thought it would be interesting to apply it to the use of social media.

The starting point is to answer five questions about social media as well as contributing a suggestion about the main barriers for organisations adopting social media.

  1. Using external social media sites at work makes people less productive.  (Yes, I think it can!)
  2. I feel heavily involved in social media.  (Err, yeah!)
  3. My organisation has embraced social media.  (This one was was difficult for me to answer, so I thought about my average HR client!)
  4. HR is best placed to lead social media. (I think it should.)
  5. Successful implementation of social media is about technology not leadership. (Absolutely not!)


So these were my responses:


“HR still hasn't woken up to the opportunities provided by social for media.  In so many organisations which do use social networks if you look at the departmental take-up, everyone is there (led by IT) but not HR.  I hope the CIPD conference and this research will help generate a bit more interest.”


The thing about the garden is that then the whizzy technology displays your responses as a ‘bloom’ within a garden, where surrounding blooms are the other participant responses which are most similar to yours.  Or something.  Neat, anyway.


And then the even more neat bit it that you can vote and comment on other people’s suggestions (which changes the size and colour of the blooms).  It’s this social experience which is the key innovation for me.

Anyway, here are some slides from Michael on the results so far:


If you want to try the system out, and / or contribute to the research, you’ll be able to get an access code – here – soon (sometime in early January).  Have fun!



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#CIPDSocial11 Bill Parsons (ARM): social media and why business needs to take notice


   The CIPD’s social media conference has kicked off with a session from Bill Parsons, EVP HR at ARM Holdings.  I met Bill at ARM in Cambridge earlier this year, so this post is a combination of his presentation, and my earlier notes.

I’ll start off by saying ARM is one of my favourite companies – and in fact it’s one of the world’s favourite companies too.  ARM’s vision is to be an effective innovative company (not just a wacky one) – a creative productive machine – and it has been consistently judged as one of the most innovative companies in the world.

However the reason I like the company is that it’s one of the very few that I know about which isn’t just using social media, but has focused on becoming a truly social organisation.  Rather than following ‘the Chelsea Model’ of simply having the very best people / access to the best human capital (‘human capital is about a group of smart people who don’t talk to each other’), ARM focuses on the best social capital – ie having the best networks, relationships and trust.  Human, social and intellectual capital (the explicit stuff which they sell) are the company’s differentiation.  Social capital has been at the centre of their HR strategy for the last decade – it’s the rocket fuel of the innovative organisation.



This starts with the company’s values which focus on things like teaming and selflessness (unusual in such a profitable company) – and are definitely not vanilla.  They were developed and evolved from the organisation’s founders and focus specifically on ARM as a unique organisation (rather than the things which every other organisation does).

Part of the reason that ARM focuses so much on social relationships is that their strategy is about connecting, collaborating and hence innovating and their model for innovation is primarily about open innovation.  They therefore need everyone to behave selflessly – for the greater good of ARM - in external as well as internal networks.  It sounds idealistic but Bill says this really works at ARM (and I think I believe him).

It’s an unusual business model – ARM sees itself as being at the centre of an ecosystem of 500 competing companies collaborating.  ARM itself only employees 2100 people – vs Intel, its main competitor, with 100,000 people.  Their model only works by having a high surface area which it achieves by having its employees talking directly to customers.  The company’s values and culture makes this easy – it’s clear what provides value.

These values are then used as the basis for HR practices eg assessing promotability, fast tracking etc.  In fact the whole HR strategy is about creating the magical ingredients supporting the development of social capital.  Eg rather than the Accenture corporate model in which people are fighting to get to the top, in ARM if anyone is seen to be overtly trying to be promoted, ARM will fire them!  Rewards come to people who do things for the greater good.

So ARM does identify high flyer potential management talent and provides them with coaching and training to help them build their legitimacy.  If you don’t have the buy-in and support of your peers and the people you’re going to manage you’ve got a problem.  ARM ensures that these individuals have good business relationships and networks.

Compensation aligns with ARM’s social strategy as well.  Ensuring justice is an essential part of a social strategy and ARM provide their staff with more equity than any other European company.  This makes employees’ feeling of ownership more meaningful too.  The corporate bonus is largely collective too (just a small proportion is individually driven).

Recognition also focuses on what people do together – they hardly ever celebrate individual success.  Eg the company celebrated its 20 year anniversary last year (its been the highest performing company in the world over this time).  But the celebration was really one of international collective being eg they gave everyone an ipad (they were founded as a child of Apple and Newton Computer).  It was a 27 hour global party revisiting their global successes – not individual stories.

Leadership selection and development is aligned with the values too.  Their CEO is probably the most understated CEO in the FTSE – the one with the highest humility.  He works full time at ARM and keeps a low profile outside.

More generally ARM seek to grow leadership internally – ensuring cultural fit, and fit into the team based environment.  Their feedback and development system also focuses on the company’s values, providing 180 degree insight about what employees think of their bosses.

Social media does have a role in all of this of course, in fact they’ve been using social media for at least ten years.  This includes Skype, Linkedin and Facebook for external use, and blogs and forums internally.  In addition, it uses:

  • Internal YouTube – ARM TV
  • Yammer has taken off in a big way.
  • Video conferencing is the norm (rather than something which would be perceived to be not quite as good.)
  • And wikis are the predominant tool for collaboration.



They also run a Exec Q&A once a year in which their exec answer any question on anything from anyone.  And it’s videod and podcasted so that everyone can see it.

Interestingly a lot of this, eg Yammer and their wikis, were started unofficially and took off from there, rather than being introduced by IT.

However, in Bill’s view, social media can become antisocial media – a barrier to effective communication. So you need to do face-to-face meetings to help people get to know each other. Arguably in advance of social media.

So in ARM, traditional communications plays a part as well eg ARM run twice the number of events (with a corresponding impact on travel budgets) than they need to – these are overtly opportunities to create social networks.  Eg they have a 80 person forum in which they invite people who don’t know each other well to get together (some of which is done unconference style) to work on a range of OD topics eg on the organisation of the future.  This ensures the organisation is constantly questioning its culture.  To get round the biggest organisational barrier of any organisation which is not having the best ideas, they often invite internal customers along, and sometimes external customers too.

It all starts with dinner and drinks in the bar, and then the next morning a discussion on the topics – but what matters is the relationships and new networks that are formed.  The same in their engineering conferences, code tests, transistor tests etc etc.

ARM have tried to measure their social capital through approaches like social network analysis, and they also measure engagement, though what they’re really concerned about is organisational citizenship behaviours – do staff understand that networking is part of their day job, and that they need to help the organisation rather than just doing their own thing.

It’s an impressive case study and it’s paid off too.  ARM’s market value is £4m per employee which Bill argues is down largely to the company’s social capital and use of social media.



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Tuesday 6 December 2011

With Globoforce on Social Recognition


   I’ve just been attending an event with Globoforce and the Conference Board on social recognition.

I’ve been a long supporter of Globoforce’s work on recognition, eg this webinar we did together, and also my support for their book – see this endorsement (which I still support) printed at the start of this:

“Recognition is a hugely underused and badly misused HR and management tools.  It’s effective use isn’t helped by various myths and misunderstandings about the value of transactional recognition schemes.  Using executive and research insights, supported by a series of ‘myth busters’, Mosley and Irvine provide a clear and compelling case for a more strategic approach – the time for Strategic Recognition is here.”  Jon Ingham.


It’s been a natural progression for Globoforce to move beyond strategic recognition into the growing social HR space with a focus on social recognition too -  though in a sense, recognition has always been a social sort of thing.  (We didn’t really talk about this, but my perception is that Globoforce has moved progressively from enabling people to exchange thanks, to sharing points, badges, kudos etc – ie slightly more tangible ‘social recognitions’.)

Some of the most interesting points included in the presentation were:

  • Recognition is key to engagement.  Globoforce’s Mood Tracker suggests that ‘only’ 38% of (N American?) employees are searching for a new job, but that 49% would move to a company offering better recognition.  (I’m still not sure about this.  I think employees like recognition because of what this is likely to lead to, rather than because it’s an engagement driver itself – see this post on this Globoforce webinar.)
  • Social recognition differs from more traditional approaches by being frequent and widespread.  (Yes, although I think it’s deeper than that – it’s about meaningful recognition, and it’s meaningful because it’s from people you know, and work with, rather than just people more senior than you).
  • Social recognition allows organisations to overlay their structures with employee recognition moments, creating a representation of the power players in the organisation.  You can see who is participating in the corporate values and how deep these go across the organisation.  (Yes, though this is just one representation, and other tools will enable you to draw different types of social network too.)
  • Organisations are increasingly interrogating social recognition data, overlaying this on performance and compensation systems and identifying the correlations, providing a sort of multi-person review.  (I worry about this – firstly because of the point that was made that there is a spectrum of people who won’t give feedback, and secondly because once recognition is any way linked to formal performance management and particularly reward, the potential for dysfunctional outcomes is dramatically increased.  I’d just keep it for engagement, and individual and organisational development.)
  • Social recognition is a powerful lever for culture (deepening or) change.  Stanford research suggests that just 5-8% of the workforce providing weekly nominations is enough to develop a self-sustaining culture and significantly increase employee engagement scores.  (Yes, but 5-8% of the workforce doing anything involving discretionary behaviour is a powerful boost for change.)
  • The need for social recognition applies everywhere although the way you might encourage it varies by geography.  (Yes, although I do think some cultures would take to it much more easily than others eg African vs Asia again.  Globoforce mentioned Celestica as an organisation that had cracked social recognition in Asia Pac, but then suggested that India was particularly active – well yes, they would be.  India is a very different place to the rest of Asia – at least as far as social media is concerned eg there are probably more bloggers in India than the rest of the world combined, at least excepting the US, but there are still very few people involved in social media travelling further East.)
  • Social is broader than just social media (a suggestion you might have picked up previously in my blogs).  Eg GE managers in Asia go out to dinner with their employees’ families to support retention by applying a bit of ‘social pressure’ on the parents – a very nice idea.  (But shouldn’t you do that anyway – though perhaps with older employees with partners and kids instead?  It’s a great way to ensure you see your employees as whole people rather than just as interchangeable resources.)


Despite my concerns, it’s great to see the development of social recognition.  I recollect Euan Semple’s remark at HR Technology Europe that all this is doing is formalising something that has (or should have been) always been happening informally.  I think that’s right, and I do think the formalisation of the informal is a good thing.  It’s just too important to be left to chance.

My only remaining worry about a system like Globoforce (and therefore also with Achievers / I Like Rewards, Rypple, Sonar 6, Small Improvements etc) is whether one of more of these areas is important enough for your company that this is where you want your social interaction to be?

Or do you want this interaction in your knowledge management, collaboration, innovation or CRM system instead?  Because if so, you’re potentially going to be reducing the impact of both systems if you split the interaction in two.

So think about which you need to prioritise.  Eg if your whole organisation is built around personal and organisational appreciation (eg using AI, strengths etc) then social recognition might fit well.  If it’s based on more balanced performance management (failures as well as successes), you may need to use one of the social performance management systems.  And if it’s about innovation, then I’d go for a social system that is built around this.

Of course, over time, all these systems will become increasingly integrated (through organic development or acquisition) in exactly the same way that best of breed HCM systems have all been joined together into a small number of integrated talent management platforms over the last five years.  But until then, my advice would be to focus clearly on what it is you want.


Addendum: I thought that was a good last line with which to finish off the post.  However, thinking it through, I’ve got one more: if more social appreciation isn’t what you want, then think about whether it should be (what you should want)!

Eg if you’re going to prioritise innovation, you need to be clear about which you think comes first – ie does appreciation follow innovation (you need to encourage appreciation to stimulate more innovation) or is it the other way around (that stimulating appreciation will most likely lead to more innovation taking pace)?

I think that increasingly organisations are going to have develop their people and build their cultures first (what I refer to as creating value).  If you agree with this, then recognition is a pretty good place to start.



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Monday 5 December 2011

Social media in the hopeful continent


   I was in South Africa for a few meetings and a workshop on HR and social media last week.  It’s been a while since I’ve been to southern Africa but it was good to be back – particularly as this meant missing the news that the UK is possibly already back in recession and the announcement that austerity cuts are going to be deepened and lengthened, as well as the public sector strikes during the week (Jeremy Clarkson’s comments on the strikers were still well reported however).

In comparison, South Africa’s economy is getting along quite nicely thank you.  An article in the Economist this week suggests that Africa will grow by 6% this year and nearly 6% in 2012, about the same as Asia.  Although this relates to the continent as a whole, the article touches on a lot of the key themes from my week there too.

For example:

“Africa now has a fast-growing middle class: according to the World Bank, around 60m Africans have an income of $3,000 a year, and 100m will in 2015…

Population trends could enhance these promising developments. A bulge of better-educated young people of working age is entering the job market and birth rates are beginning to decline. As the proportion of working-age people to dependents rises, growth should get a boost. Asia enjoyed such a “demographic dividend”, which began three decades ago and is now tailing off. In Africa it is just starting…

Having a lot of young adults is good for any country if its economy is thriving, but if jobs are in short supply it can lead to frustration and violence. Whether Africa’s demography brings a dividend or disaster is largely up to its governments.”


This mixed opportunity and challenge was something that came up in several of my meetings.  Elijah Litheko from South Africa’s IPM suggested that the country’s dual economies is one of the major issues that HR practitioners there need to deal with, ie that they have a key role in nationalisation and economic development.

One of other things Elijah believes is different is that South Africans are more diverse and that therefore organisations have to deal with, and benefit from, more different perspectives (“everyone in Europe thinks the same way”).  I wasn’t there long enough to test this out thoroughly, but am prepared to accept the suggestion.

I think a result of this diversity, which I also discussed with people, and was demonstrated in my meetings, was that South African culture prioritises conversation, and that people are prepared to really listen to each other until they arrive at a consensus.  This willingness to participate also came through in my workshop (and our use of social media within the workshop, which, whilst not quite as much as I would have ideally liked, was more than I’ve been able to encourage in any other social media workshops I’ve run in Europe or Asia).  And I actually think this is a very positive indication of Africa’s future success as well.  (In the new world of work, organisations need their people to come forward with suggestions and contributions – I think the fact that some cultures don’t support this will limit their future development.)



“Africa’s enthusiasm for technology is boosting growth. It has more than 600m mobile-phone users—more than America or Europe. Since roads are generally dreadful, advances in communications, with mobile banking and telephonic agro-info, have been a huge boon. Around a tenth of Africa’s land mass is covered by mobile-internet services—a higher proportion than in India.”


We discussed this development too, building on the statistics and presentation Bill Boorman had produced for Tru South Africa a few weeks previously.  We didn’t find any HR applications for the local tween focused networking system, MixIt, but did agree that mobile was going to be key for participant’s future social media activities (eg they liked LV’s mobile focused approach to social recruiting here).

We also hypothesised about the deep take-up of social media (especially Facebook) on a personal basis, but the still limited take-up within corporates.  We thought maybe that whereas Europeans in particular tend to do a lot of their mobile social networking on, or waiting for, public transport, given that people tend to drive rather than take public transport in South Africa, and given intermittent mobile coverage and security concerns that they wouldn’t want to try using an ipad in a car, there’s less time for people to go online for company purposes.  I’m not totally convinced by this, but again, am prepared to take it forward as a working hypothesis.


I’ll be back in South Africa again during February…


Picture from The Economist article


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Tuesday 29 November 2011

Reviewing 70-20-10 at HCI Learning and Leadership Development conference


   One of the things I’ve suggested adding to my client’s learning strategy is the 70-20-10 approach. I use the form of this developed by Morgan McCall, Robert Eichinger and Michael Lombardo at CLC and popularised by Jay Cross, Charles Jennings and others in which 70% of development is provided through on-the-job experience, 20% through others including informal mentoring and coaching, and just 10% through traditional, formal training.



This version of the model was included in a slide presented by Robert Vulpis from Morgan Stanley at the HCI Learning and Leadership Development conference - the other recent partly virtual conference I’ve been reviewing:


There are also similar models which push the shift even further, for example at the HCI conference, Bob Cancalosi from GE Healthcare suggested these three amendments to the model:




There’s also this one shown by Carie Blum at the CLO Symposium:


Here social takes the top 70% (rather than the middle 20%) of learning.

Which ever model is used, I think it’s important that it is only ever seen as an indication or provocation of what a company should do  - and not as a rule! (or as an objective to be achieved).

(Slide presented by Joe Garcia from Home Depot at the HCI conference)


I guess David Forman from the HCI was making a similar point in emphasising the need to think about 70-20-10 as a portfolio rather than percentages:


Well, I did write that the model has been popularised – and I’m sure that after all of this repetition that attendees at the HCI conference (and now you, I guess) must surely be able to remember it!


By the way, if you’re not sure what types of learning go in each separate category, I recommend Dan Pontefract’s schematic:




More tomorrow…



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Monday 28 November 2011

Measurement by Belief (Liberty Mutual at CLO Symposium)


   There’s so much going on in the UK at the moment, with tomorrow’s Spending Review and Wednesday’s public sector pensions strike.  And I still haven’t got around to posting on last week’s report from the High Pay Commission.  But I’m out in South Africa at the moment and feel a bit cut off from these issues.

But today, as well as a couple of meetings, and a bit of time by the pool, I’ve been finishing off on an input to a UK client’s learning strategy, and have been reading some research and watching a couple of webinars as input to this.

One of these has been the CLO’S Virtual Fall Symposium which took place live back in October.  (Quick reporting isn’t something I always do well eg I’ll probably only get round to posting on cuts, strikes and exec pay in 2012!).

There were a few interesting sessions at this, including:


However, the one which most interested me was by Larry Israelite from Liberty Mutual.  This suggested that measurement can (I would say should) be based on an organisation’s beliefs, not just on data or current goals:

  • The data based approach is based on a cycle of data – information – judgements – actions.  As well as being HR driven, focused on the current state and reactive, the main problem with this approach is that there’s a disconnect between actions and data – you can take actions but don’t know what led to the data in the first place.
  • The goal based approach is based on a cycle of goals – measures – results – actions.  It’s still HR driven, but focuses on refining the current state, defining outcomes and being more proactive.  You’re looking for the impact of what people do but you still don’t know what these things are and they’re difficult to control so your ability to influence them is severely compromised.
  • A cycle of beliefs informing behaviours followed by measures – results – actions addresses these issues because you can influence the behaviours, and if necessary revise the beliefs.  It’s also business driven, focused on achieving the desired state and much more proactive.


It’s about faith – a firm belief in something for which there is no proof, and something that is believed with especially strong conviction.  Eg Liberty Mutual’s beliefs include hiring the right people.  Their talent management measurement reports focus on 34 measures which reflect these beliefs.  Tracking against these strategic measures means they don’t have to prove how HR impacts the business: “We believe we’re effective and successful because the CEO believes we’re effective and successful.”


There were some good points in this – I agree that data without a strategic backdrop to underpin it is often valueless – which is why I am a firmer supporter of ‘big strategy’ than I am of the opportunities of big data.

And I also agree with the importance of beliefs, though I think we can push deeper and get to more unique needs than just something like recruiting the best people.   It’s why I like Gary Hamel’s focus on ideology (definition taken from Hamel’s forthcoming book, What Matters Now):

“Here's a word that probably doesn't get much airtime in your organization: ideology. Do a search of your company's internal website and I'm willing to bet you won't find a single reference. That's a problem. As managers, it's our creedal beliefs that prevent our institutions from being more adaptable, more innovative, more inspiring, and more noble-minded. We are limited by our management ideology.”


Also see my post on HR scorecarding – an approach which combines some of the aspects of Israelite’s goal and belief based approaches, without restricting focus to behaviours, and which also makes the data which is collected make more sense.

The separation between outcomes and business impacts in my model is why I also don’t support Israelite’s suggestion that a business has to be performing in order to be a good case study.  An organisation can have well developed behaviours and other human capital which, for a number of reasons, don’t result in the business benefits which are intended.



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Thursday 24 November 2011

Jack Dee on HR (or, “the comedian and the HR practitioner walked into a bar and…”)


    As a judge of the Personnel Today Awards, I get invited to their swanky black tie event on Park Lane.  Last night’s ceremony was another excellent event, unaffected by snow as was last year’s do, and only let down, from my perspective, by the failure of my iphone’s batteries meaning I couldn’t tweet.  Given this, I promised to blog on the event…

I suppose this was largely as I expected some deep insights (or at least sharp observations) on HR from MC Jack Dee.  And we started with something about the HR professional being 80% female and him and David Williams, and then the average age of the audience being 39 meaning that with him, it fell down to about 36.  You probably had to be there… although actually, I don’t think he lived up to Marcus Brigstocke last year.  And anyway, that was about it.

So, what else can I post on?

How about the social media crew at the event?  As well as me and Rob Jones (missing from the photo of our parties meeting outside the hotel) and (who else do I need to add?) there was Doug Shaw, Gareth Jones, Neil Morrison, David Heny, Mervyn Dinnen, Steve (Rick) Toft and Kevin Ball (so doing our best to equalise the gender ratio):



And the awards?  Well, you can see my pics of these here:



Special mention perhaps to Sue Ryder which won the Corporate Social Responsibility Award but needs an extra £50k GBP to continue their work over the next year and are looking for an individual or organisation to sponsor them.  I actually visited one of their homes when I was at school in Leeds (a long, long time ago) and have kept an eye on them since then, so I know this would be a great value investment – if not to your own bottom line.



But congratulations to all the winners.  And if you didn’t win (or even if you did), well perhaps you need to develop some even better HR practices next year!

(And if you need help to do this, well, give me a call - on +44 (0)7904 185134…)



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Friday 18 November 2011

#CRSS2011 CERN social recruiting: social not just social media


   I’m at CERN today for a session that their head of recruitment, James Purvis (in the picture, sitting in the middle) has put together.  The session is on recruitment and sourcing, not just on social recruiting, but that’s been the main focus this morning.  There’s over 50 people here (over 30 who didn’t get squeezed in) and more people (from over 40 countries) watching on live streaming.

There are a couple of different reasons why I think the event has proved so popular but one is the tour round CERN that we’ll be going on shortly (looking for higgs bosons), and the introductory keynote from Dr Robert Cailliau (in the picture, standing), who together with Tim Berners Lee developed the world wide web (the set of conventions and standards for delivering over the internet).  This was a great session, particularly for someone who used to be an engineer, but it’s not the focus of this blog, so I’m not going to go into here.  However, I did want to comment on Robert Cailliau’s closing statement:

“Let’s share what we know, not hide it away – that’s how we’ll save the planet.”


I really like this.  Robert Cailliau and CERN both deserve huge amounts of kudos for giving the www away free, but both realised that it would have no value if kept as a proprietary tool.

And I especially like the fact that this has become a key principle of social media and social recruiting – that organisations are increasingly realising that they need to invest time in relationships, with an understanding that this may (but may not) result in returns later on.

In fact this applies more broadly to recruitment in general of course.  I had a very small role in helping get one of James’ team a job here (not that this was particularly altruistic – I was simply trying to get a Geneva tweet-up group established – a need that Etienne Besson has now filled).  And this was done over social media (Twitter) – but – the intervention had the outcome it had because it was social, not just because it used social media.  I was talking to both people and thought that they should be talking between themselves (I shared what I knew, not hid it away).

I was tweeting about the same thing with Gary Franklin this morning.  Yes, of course, if you’re job hunting, you’ve got to go to job interviews (though using Sonru night help?).  But if I was job hunting head of recruiting, I’d want to be right here – putting myself in an environment where I could be socially recruited….



Anyway, what I really liked about today was that this wasn’t just a demonstration of social media, or even social recruiting, but that it was, in itself, a demonstration of being social.

Yes, Robert Cailliau and the higgs bosson were both a big draw.  But actually, I think most people came here because of James Purvis being so social – being prepared to ask people to come along and find out what CERN have been doing and exchange some experiences and views.  It may not be quite as big an output as the world wide web, but I still think it’s a great credit to James, and CERN, that they’ve been so happy to share what they know.



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