Friday 28 December 2012

HR Talks

Screen Shot 2012-12-19 at 22.11.49.png  I don't want you to think that I didn't enjoy the conference by the way - most of my criticisms are down to the limitations of traditional events.
I mean people complain about meetings but what about the wasted time listening to unprepared speakers giving poor presentations on boring case studies with no interactivity and in ignorance of the twitter stream! - it's an absolute disgrace.
It's one reason I'm so keen on the unconferences we run within ConnectingHR.
Another interesting event is being piloted next year by HR Magazine.
Their HR Talks will have speakers presenting for no more than 10 minutes each and then having a discussion with the audience.
At the end of each session the speaker has to give people three essential pieces of advice.  The 50 top pieces of advice will be given out to delegates at the end of the day.
It should be much more engaging and interactive than traditional events, and therefore I'll bet on it being much more valuable too.
Speakers include:
  • Darren Hockaday, HR director, London Overground Rail Operations - employee engagement and customer services
  • Amanda Menahem, HR director, Hastings Direct - talent strategy
  • Jayne Billam, director of HR, University of Lincoln & Andrew Walsh, head of resources, The Pensions Trust - performance management and reward
  • David Smith, group HR and communications director, LV= - Web 3.0 recruitment technology
  • Sarah Perkins, UK healthy living manager, American Express - data for health and wellbeing
  • Janet Burr, HR director, Thames Water & Valerie Hughes D’Aeth, group HR director, Amey - change management
  • Simon Brown, head of learning transformation and group learning, Lloyds Banking Group & Paul McGhee, leadership and development manager, City of Edinburgh Council - innovative, value-added L&D
  • Dr Benjamin Reid, head of the creative industries programme at The Work Foundation and Professor Adrian Furnham of the department of psychology at University College London - innovation and creativity
  • Fiona Deal, executive director corporate services, AmicusHorizon & Sam Owens, HR manager, Merlin Entertainments Group - employee engagement
  • Catherine Griffiths, HR business partner, organisation strategy, Birmingham City Council - technology
  • Wendy Cartwright, director of human resources, London 2012; Gillian Hibberd, strategic director (resources and business transformation) Buckinghamshire County Council & Catherine Devitt, director of people and organisation - HR excellence.
I'm going to be going along, so if you want to feed questions into the event you can add them as comments here.

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Tuesday 18 December 2012

How can Academic Research help Practice?


academic research.jpg  One of the sessions at Monday's Engage for Success conference focused on the links between academia and practitioners.  Or rather I thought it was going to do so.  Actually, it provided three different academic inputs on different aspects of engagement (the definition, SMEs and MNCs) but didn't really address the linkage between academics and practitioners, which I do think needs to be addressed.  So...

Actually I guess the issue was addressed to an extent, but - even to that limited extent - only from the perspective of the way academic research needs to be informed by what's of interest to practitioners.  Which yes, it does.

But what about the other way around?  That's the biggest question to me - how does practice get informed by academia?

I worry about how limited HR's knowledge and understanding of academic research and insight often is.  (And how the word 'academic' is used as a criticism of new insight.)

It's why I struggle when its suggested that unknown academics are our most influential.

So one of the things the CIPD's Peter Cheese talked about later on in th was Dan Pink's book Drive.  The CIPD are going to run some masterclasses on this, which is great.  But actually the book was published in 2009, written in 2008, and based on research conducted over the previous couple of decades.  We've got to get both better and quicker at this.

To me, although both academics and practitioners play a part, it's the groups that fit between these two which are probably going to be most important in closing the gap - this includes consultants and suppliers, analysts who help practitioners navigate that market, and bloggers and tweeters and obviously more traditional journalists too.

I think a session with practitioners, academics and these other groups as well would have been a whole lot more entertaining, and more insightful as well.


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Monday 17 December 2012

#E4S case studies - BT, Capital One...


DSCN4993   As well as hearing from academics, we’ve got a couple of sessions from practitioners today. In fact, we’ve also got a session on ‘how can academic research help practice?’, which I’m really looking forward to, later on today.

But after a couple of these I was beginning to worry whether these case study sessions were going to live up to the challenge that E4S provides and David Guest described earlier - if there’s been such as huge management cock-up as there certainly has, we don’t get out of it by a slight shift in management as usual.


As it turned out, I didn’t need to worry as there were a couple of impressive case studies:

Firstly, BT, which has an interesting approach which was presented well by their head of engagement, Sharon Darwent.

But I still think their approach fits too much within existing management paradigms.  Eg Sharon was talking about how data obsessed their people are and therefore emphasised the need for her to provide data. So she took us through more of the data from the ‘Nailing the Evidence’ report and some of the key data points from within BT too. Both of these are powerful. In BT in particular Sharon is able to show that the company’s 34% disengagement costs them £2 bn in salaries. This really got the accountants’ attention.

Yes, but does approaching engagement from an accountant’s perspective ever work? Or do we need to change the way many accountants think? (see for example this post on Mohan Pai’s move from Finance to HR.) I think it’s this accountancy mentality that often gets in the way of engagement and that providing data can sometimes add to the problem rather than provide the answer. An example is BT’s policy of giving feedback on their team’s engagement levels to every manager of more than 50 people. That certainly shows how important the company believes engagement to be, but I believe it can also put more focus on the transactional vs transformational approach to engagement.

I was also bemused that the presentation didn’t include anything about BT’s journey to organisational health which to me provides the most important context for engagement within that company currently.

Having said all this, it’s an impressive case study, and does show some signs of moving to a more human approach as well – eg in that half of BT’s engagement survey questions are now qualitative so that they don’t lead peoples’ responses.


However, I thought a rather better demonstration of the transformational opportunity for engagement was provided by Karen Bowes at Capital One. That’s partly just because of the improvement in engagement levels they’ve see there – see the graph at the top of this post. (And OK, I realise it must have been relatively easy to improvement engagement from their previous level of 26% particularly as these were exceptionally low as they followed a downsizing of the organisation from 2,500 to 1,000 employees following the failure of their earlier business strategy.  But building this up to 83% is highly impressive regardless of the low start.)

But I also thought Capital One’s approach demonstrated what I was suggesting is important before - ie a sound logical framework, executed with emotional understanding.

The thing which was most important for Capital One was what E4S define as a strategic narrative (one of the four enablers). This is articulated in the company’s new vision, ‘Let’s Make Lives Better’ which come from the heart of their CEO. For employees, the company has committed to ‘dare to be the best’. Making this real has involved admitting they’ve had a problem in the past (a bit like being an alcoholic) which has included assuming that call centre staff, particularly in an outsourced environment, don’t care - they now realise they got that wrong.

The second priority has been engaging leaders and managers first (E4S’ second enabler) and the third has been sorting the basics eg IT and free milk???

Capital One have got data too, but it’s the qualitative kind that Karen spent most time on - the fact that they’re now the UK’s second highest Great Place to Work - and this quote:


“Capital One is part of my life, not just a pace I work. I love it and it’s made me a better person.”


OK, we can’t expect everyone to engage like this but we’d all benefit if we recruit people who can, and then provide the environment in which they can do so.


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#E4S David Guest on Engagement (why would employees want to be engaged?)


   I’m at another Engage for Success conference today (my last conference this year, yay!), this time for one organised by Katie Truss at the University of Kent at Canterbury.  There’s a great speaker list and I'm just here as an attendee / blogger so there should be plenty of posting today.

The first input has been from David Guest at King’s.  I try not to post on the same academic more than once (though I do seem to mention a select few including Dave Ulrich, Peter Cappelli and John Boudreau much more frequently) but I do like David Guest’s work so am going to post on his inputs again.

David’s perspective on engagement is that this is generally the same as his wider focus on high commitment HRM (you can see another one of the slides he showed today at the bottom of my previous post on his insights.)  I’m not sure this worked for everyone here – eg there’s been a bit of tweeting about a lack of humanity in his approach, linked to one of the key E4S beliefs that we’re all people, not a human resource’.

I’m a big believer in the need for a logical framework to underpin the way that we manage our people, so I tend to respond more positively to David’s approach (thought I’d reafirim that this then needs executing in an emotionally rich way.)

I also like David’s key premise that there’s no reason why employees should want to be engaged.  In particular some people only work for instrumental reasons – they get their engagement elsewhere.  We therefore have to earn an engaged response.  Lack of engagement is therefore an enormous management failure (see my post on ‘Engagement or Entwistle’ - I wonder if a high proportion of fat cat CEOs are part of David’s instrumentalists group, which might be one reason for the failure?)

David suggested these 12 actions we can take to earn engagement (so a G12 vs Gallup’s Q12):


That strikes me as a fairly sound list.

Probably the one thing I’d add to it, which I think it particularly important for engagement, rather than just generic HRM, is a sense of purpose – the answer to the question ‘engagement to what?’.

Anything you’d add to it?


We’ve got a presentation from Harry Donaldson from the GMB talking about ‘what’s in it for the workers’ so I may come back to this topic again later on.


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Friday 14 December 2012

People Sourcing Certification Programme


   I’ve had a long standing interest in the field of sourcing (finding people who might be a good fit in your organisation / role vs recruiting – trying to get these same, but unknown people to send you their CVs), really ever since we developed the idea into an approach we called head farming when I was an HR Director at Ernst & Young.

Though head farming was horribly expensive, social media makes the same sorts of approaches straight forward, eg this case study from Coca Cola, but still requires a good level of skill.

And I’ve sort of thought I know quite a bit of what I need to in this area (or quite a bit of what you need to, since I’m not actually a sourcer or recruiter, but I still want to understand it to show you what you’re missing out on.  And actually I still use the approaches in various other applications – eg finding business prospects.  I’d almost suggest it’s becoming a core skill that everyone should be taught at school in today’s networked world.)

That’s until I tried Irina Shamaeva’s international people sourcing contest a couple of month’s ago.  And…  err…  well, I realised I didn’t know quite as much as I thought I did (basically, I didn’t have a clue.)

So, I’m currently setting out doing some initial self-study (I might post more about this in early January) and will be attending Irina’s People Sourcing Certification Program on, and following on from, 29 January.

Again, I’ll give you a taste of what I’m learning around then, but if you really want to understand sourcing, and how to do it, why not take the programme too?


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Monday 10 December 2012

Guest Post: 7 Essentials for the Virtual Recruiter

800px-STS-131_Training_Space_Vehicle_Mock-up_Facility_3.jpg  Finding, identifying and employing skilled workers is one of the most overwhelming challenges organisations are faced with today.

Competition for eligible individuals is continually growing, and thus resulting in confined pools of talent and more struggles for available applicants. In the meantime, resources of HR departments are drained, and further complicate the task of finding, identifying and recruiting highly qualified candidates.

Here are seven essential tools which can assist virtual recruiters in increasing the efficiency and effectiveness of their work.

1. Recruiting Infrastructure

As a virtual recruiting contractor working from home, you need to have office space fully equipped with basic recruiting needs; a computer, high–speed internet connection, a professional email address, and a multifunctional scanner with faxing capabilities.

2. Applicant Tracking System

A virtual recruiting contractor also requires an applicant tracking system, which can actively manage full cycle recruitment. SendOuts ProSmartRecruitersChameleon IMaxhireBrightMove, andZoho are amongst the leading applicant tracking systems online. Many of these systems are free to use, whilst others give members a 30 day free trial.

3. Skype

Skype has become the most used and popular video chat application. It is an easy–to–use tool that is available on computers, TV, and even mobile phones to make voice and video communication possible. In addition it can be a great alternative to spending on a long distance phone plan as you can use it to interview applicants virtually.

4. Social Recruiting Tools

With the advent of cloud applications and social media networks, there are some great tools out there that can address the labour–intensive process involved in identifying and hiring suitable employees.

Some of the new guard of socially driven recruitment tools are; Resumator - a tool designed to help hiring managers keep real–time tabs on their job listings; RemarkableHire - a new cloud–based, talent–sourcing platform; and InternMatch - a recruiting tool exclusively focused on part–time and/or unpaid internships. Other useful social recruiting tools include: LinkedIn Talent ProBranchOut,Social Mention and many others.

5. Industry Research Tool

ZoomInfo – a site that compiles data on companies as well as potential passive candidates is among the top and most recognised industry research tools for virtual hiring contractors. Linkedin and other social networking websites are advantageous for people who use them for both networking and recruiting.

6. Screen Capture Tools for Recruiting

Tools such as Contact CaptureEvernoteGreenshotScreenshot Captor, and Zscreen are great tools that can help virtual recruiters manage full cycle recruitment both on and offline.

7. Recruiting Productivity Tools

Finally, tools like Focus BoosterGistAny MeetingFefoo, and RecruitAlliance are all recruiting productivity tools designed with convenient platforms to help you manage your hiring tasks from the comfort of your own office space.

About the author

This article was written by Joe Linford from Office Genie, the UK based office space search engine.

Photo credit: NASA/James Blair

Wednesday 5 December 2012

#SympEventsTech – Mobile Learning and ensuring the capability of the learner


   I spent some of yesterday morning at another of Symposium Event’s conferences.  The most interesting session for me, just because of my own interests, was Andy Wooler’s one on mobile learning.

Andy quoted his colleague, John McClements, at Hitachi Data Systems Academy, defining mobile learning as:

  • Chunks of useful information
  • Delivered at time/place of need
  • Supporting performance
  • Easily accessible through many devices
  • Promoting learning at user's convenience
  • Self-paced learning
  • Key messages: alerts, updates, news
  • Rapid development and deployment.


Out of these, Andy spent most time on the importance of performance support, eg in the picture above, in sustaining competency levels post a training event.  This is partly about shifting training from an event to a process.  But it’s also about supporting learning in a way that’s going to lead to better retention of new knowledge or skills.

I thought this was interesting given my previous post on about shifting recruitment to focus on better generation of new capability through emphasising quality of hire.  It’s the same thing here.  Instead of worrying about the quality of training, we need to shift our focus to the competencies we’re creating, and sustaining – in a ever changing work environment.

I’ve often thought that this is one of the key benefits of social learning ie it’s not just that most people learn most things more easily in a social setting, it’s that when people have learned something with others, particularly if these are the people they’re then working with, it’s more likely that learning will be reviewed and revised – either because the people will make reference to it, or just because the people are there it’s going to act as a trigger to recollect the initial social learning activity.

So instead of the Ebbinghaus / Buzan forgetting curve, in which competency slopes off and fairly quickly pretty much disappears, competency is retained and potentially even further enhanced, as in Andy’s picture above.


If you’d like to know more, you may be interested in the session on enabling more effective Learning & Development that I run for Symposium.  Our next sessions are on:

  • 27 February 2013 – London
  • 1 March 2013 – Birmingham
  • 14 Mar 2013 – Manchester


This post is sponsored by Symposium Training, the training and workshops brand of Black and White Trading Ltd and one of the UK’s leading independent training providers for HR and related professions. With over 90 events a year, our conferences and seminars target delegates with interests in:
- HR Strategy & Practice
- Recruitment
- Health & Safety, Employee Well-being
- Pay & Benefits
- Employment Law
- Training & Development
- Diversity & Equality
- Employee Relations.

Symposium conferences typically feature 8-12 expert speakers per day, including professionals with first hand experience, academics, industry observers and other experts. Events generally provide strategic analysis of an issue and explore practical solutions for the workplace.

Also see HRreview - a news and information resource for human resources and related professionals. Updated news items are posted daily and there are regular updates to the features and analysis section, looking in depth at topical HR issues. HRreview’s website is supported by a weekly email newsletter (please register to subscribe).

Tuesday 4 December 2012

iCIMS - Technology for Induction - and ensuring Quality of Hire


Screen Shot 2012-12-04 at 06.42.38.png  There’s been quite a bit of reporting in both traditional and social media recently about improving quality of hire.  That’s great to see - it’s something recruiters should be focusing on much more than they do (rather than just recruitment time and cost).


There are two issues I think recruiters, and other HR professionals, need to understand in order to get to grips with this more important objective / metric.


The first thing is that quality isn’t just about the skills / competencies / capabilities that someone is selected with.  Instead, we need to focus on how well a new joiner will be doing in their jobs someway - eg 100 days or  6 months - into their jobs or even their careers (one of my clients has recently restated its quality of hire metric as the proportion of new hires that get taken on for the company’s high potential programme).  It’s much more important that someone can get to this future level of performance, and do so quickly, smoothly and cost efficiently, than that they had the required capabilities when they came in.


The second thing is that performance is always contextual.  Eventual performance is probably always as much about what we do with the candidate as anything internal to them.  The high first year turnover experienced in many, many organisations isn’t usually down to poor selection, it’s about everything else that’s going on instead.


These areas include effective organisation and job design; alignment of the new hire with the organisation’s EVP; supportive manager and colleagues; and professional management from HR.  But the topmost requirement - the thing which most often makes the difference between great and mediocre performance, as well as complete failure - is effective onboarding / induction.


And as is often the case, the key enabler for effective onboarding is effective technology.  And one very good example of effective onboarding / induction technology is the product provided by this blog’s sponsor, iCIMS.


This system helps ensure employees are productive as quickly as possible - having access to all the information they need, and being able to provide their own data online.  Perhaps less intuitively, iCIMS are also seeing positive impacts on their client’s engagement scores and retention rates as well.


The product also provides a management dashboard which helps HR teams co-ordinate other departments to ensure onboarding is completed effectively, and in the most efficient way.


It’s a great tool in ensuring quality of hire is consistently high - you may want to take a look?



This post is sponsored by iCIMS.


iCIMS is the leading provider of talent acquisition software for growing businesses. Through the implementation of easy-to-use, web-based solutions, the iCIMS Talent Platform helps organisations manage everything from sourcing, to recruitment, to induction all within one streamlined application.


Key features of the Onboard product include:


  • New Hire Onboarding Portal: Immerse new hires in corporate policies and culture with a personalised New Hire Onboarding Portal. This portal is uniquely tailored to your organisation and may include content such as a welcome message from the CEO, social activity information, and insights into current projects.
  • Communication Center: Create messaging that reflects your brand by generating a complete library of onboarding correspondence. Engage employees with consistent communications regarding company goals and how they can help achieve them.
  • iForms Library: Automate induction with more than 20 universal forms and 70+ specific to the US, UK, and Canada. Send new-hire packets electronically and capture electronic signatures.
  • Induction Reports: Measure global metrics on HR productivity and key performance benchmarks. Run reports to gather data on induction by location, workflow, iForm completion, and more.
  • Access Levels: Manage departmental tasks with access levels that streamline process inside the platform.
  • Reporting Center: Create custom searches and reports, while also gaining access to a set of standard reports that help determine induction programme effectiveness, such as turnover.



Check out a free walk-through of the iCIMS system or make contact at +44 (0) 118 9000 706 or


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Monday 3 December 2012

Speaking at SHRM Annual Conference


   I’ll  also be speaking about social media at SHRM’s annual conference in Chicago next Summer.  Actually, my session won’t just be about social media, but all of the various elements of an organisation that help us develop its social capability.  Social media is the newest of these enablers, and in some situations it’s likely to be the most important, but many of the other tools we have at our disposal have the potential to be even more impactful.

My proposal was actually a response to reading the tweets and blog posts about Malcolm Gladwell’s session in Atlanta last year.  I love Gladwell’s thinking, but I didn’t think he linked his inputs to the activities HR already understands, or the social technologies with which it is becoming increasingly comfortable.  So I wasn’t sure that HR practitioners would be able to maximise the opportunities that social network design provides.

So I wrote:

“Malcolm Gladwell has introduced SHRM attendees to the importance of networks and social organisations as opposed to hierarchies. Many are now conversant with social media. But these are just a couple of the many tools available to HR to redefine its focus.

The point of performance in most organisations has for a long while been the team. And increasingly, this focus is being supplemented by the increasing importance of communities and networks too. So why is it that most of what we do in HR focuses on individual – their engagement and capability etc, and on whole organisations – structure and processes etc. Why don’t we focus more on the white space between these levels – the relationships between our people?

These relationships are important. The value of relationships, or social capital, potentially provides the largest and most untapped source of competitive advantage within a resource based strategy (which is also increasingly being seen as the main opportunity for competitive success as opposed to strategic positioning or the use of core competencies).

Increasingly, organisations are attempting to influence their peoples’ relationships, mostly through the use of social media and networking (enterprise 2.0). These efforts are typically led by IT. However, the success of these tools depends on effective behaviour and cultural change and hence this really falls within HR’s remit. In addition, many more traditional tools from HR’s kitbag can be used to develop social relationships. These include team based HR activities, facilitation, organisation development, community focused leadership development, workplace design etc.

The key need is not simply to use all the potential tools but to shift HR’s focus onto this new agenda – using social networks and technologies to enable social capital – this is the New HR.”


And I’m on:


I hope I’ll get to see you there!


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CIPD Social Media session

Screen Shot 2012-12-03 at 12.17.39.png  I wasn't able to get up to the CIPD conference in Manchester his year as I was chairing the T-E-N event in London that I've just posted on and also delivering a keynote and delivering a workshop at HR Norge in Tonsberg, Norway.
This keynote was on HR, social media and the social business, which I've been speaking about in a few other sessions too, e.g. at the Middle East Summit in Dubai, at HR Performance, and last week at a session organised by CIPD Central London.  This attracted about 50 people with another 15 unfortunately turned away.  Then today, the CIPD in Wimbledon have their HR and social media conference.  It looks as if things on this front are picking up finally!
You'll find lots of information on HR and social media on this blog, and social business on my other one, so the only thing I'm going to include for my CIPD session is some of the tweets - these will give you an idea of what I covered...

CIPD Social Media for HR (Storify)

If you do want to know more, I'll be delivering the same session for CIPD Central London again this Spring.
Or come to this training session I'm doing with Symposium.

Also see the CIPD"s report, 'Harnessing social media for organisational effectiveness', and associated comments.

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Saturday 1 December 2012

Innovation vs efficiency

Screen Shot 2012-12-03 at 10.17.03.png  I try to post on most of the conference I attend, but sometimes struggle to get as much time as I'd like.  One that I've missed posting on was T-E-N's session on HR Innovation for HR Excellence which I chaired recently.

The conference was run without press attendance to encourage authentic contribution so I can't post on the proceedings, but I would like to comment on the key topics of the agends, which were:


My key question for this last topic was how innovative do we really want to be.  There is a fairly prevalent view around that HR is just about doing basic things well (e.g. this post).  In contrast, my own perspective is that there is a huge need for new thinking.

I thought it was interesting that the CIPD annual conference which was taking place at the same time was also reviewing the same topic, with Gary Hamel suggesting that 'management is a busted flush'.   I'm on his side on this debate.

So whilst it's great to see the CIPD doing new research on HR and innovation...

"Competing in a global economy in difficult times requires new ways of thinking and doing. It’s easy to think of innovation as invention, challenging product development and refinement. However, in reality a great deal of innovation is about rethinking and reorganising systems, processes and structures. It’s about changing the way people work together and how work is performedand organised."


… it be even better to see them focusing more deeply on innovation within HR.


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Friday 30 November 2012

Diversity rising up the Agenda

Screen Shot 2012 12 03 at 07 14 27  I seem to be have been having lots of conversations about diversity recently so was interested to see a new report from the CIPD and Bernard Hodes, 'Diversity and Inclusion - Fringe or Fundamental?' suggesting that 57% of employers say diversity and inclusion will become more important over the next five years.

83% of organisations have an articulated strategy, written policy or set of guidelines relating to diversity and inclusion and 40% are using metrics - mainly demographic data and employee survey results - around diversity.

All good news!  Less positive however is that most of these strategies are devoted to compliance with legislation or (still important but) lower value issues such as bullying and harassment (87%), interview and assessment (82%) and candidate attraction (76%).

Many fewer organisations have linked diversity into talent and career management (34%), performance management (28%) or reward and recognition (21%).

There was also a suggestion that organisations need more diversity champions.  I'm not so sure of this.  My worry is that having these individuals will drive more tactical initiatives.  To really drive diversity and inclusion these need to be integrated into a broader HCM strategy, and the HCM champion take overall accountability for all these areas, as part of driving growth in human capital / organisational capability.

I'll be sharing more on this agenda from the Economist's Diversity Summit 'The Value of Inclusion' - onThursday.


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Top Socially Shared HR Blog

Screen Shot 2012-11-30 at 10.04.54.png  It's great to see Strategic HCM included in this list of the 25 most socially shared HR blogs (those linked to on Twitter, Facebook etc), produced by Bamboo HR.

The top ten socially shared HR blogs on the list are:


It was a bit tight though - Strategic HCM came in at #24 out of the 25.

However this once again puts Strategic HCM at the top of the list for the UK and the EU (not though for the whole of Europe as Suzanne Lucas's long running blog, the Evil HR Lady, now produced in Switzerland, comes in at #17).

And I'm lucky to be included anyway because I don't do that much sharing myself - I do think social influence is important, but my main interest is in understanding - and blogging about - this, and helping clients understand what they need to do about it, not necessary being that socially influential myself  - my Klout, Kred and PeerIndex scores are nothing to shout about either.  (By the way I do like the fact that PeerIndex thinks I'm knowledgeable about food - particularly cheese!).

And of course, you don't share my posts much either - in fact you don't even do much commenting here, do you?!  That's OK by the way - I know this blog is read by senior, strategic HR folk who don't tend to do much commenting or sharing on social media - yet.  It's why it's those lists of the most insightful HR blogs that I'm keen to see Strategic HCM included on.

So thanks for my inclusion on this list are probably mainly due to the highly socially influential Willian Tincup and Mike Morrison who do regularly tweet my posts.  Do please keep it up!

And to my other readers, I do appreciate any commenting and social sharing that you do decide to do!


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Thursday 29 November 2012

#PTAwards - Sunderland City Council and HR Technology


DSCN4945.jpg  I was back at the Personnel Today awards last night.

I was there as a judge for the 'HR through Technology or Social Media' category.  So although this was a great event as usual, compered by PT's Rob Moss helped out by Hugh Dennis this year, it was the HR Technology awards that had my main attention.

One of the things which keeps me working as an independent is the breadth of my portfolio - and acting as a judge for this type of award programme is yet one more interesting activity I perform.  I like to see the breadth of work going on in the award submissions, and suspect the HR Technology category is particularly diverse - ranging from neat assessment systems to big, hairy eHR portals; collaboration systems to data warehouses.

Though the quality of the actual submission varies widely too (something some organisations may want to put more into than they do), it's clear that all these projects and systems and important to the organisations concerned and dear to the hearts of those who have submitted the entries to PT.  So it really does feel like a privilege to have the role that I do.  And I do take the task of judging very seriously.

However, although this is the third year I've been doing the judging for this particular award, I still find it a very difficult thing to do.  How can you really compare a slick new piece of technology developing one organisation's employer brand to another more traditional approach transforming the effectiveness of the whole business?  Still, we try.

Anyway, I was in no doubt about the best submission in the category and very pleased to see Sunderland City Council win the award. 




One of many great submissions, this dealt with the enormous challenges sweeping through the public sector at the moment - particularly a reduction of 30% in what the Council is able to spend - but also the need to create a better organisation, in this case by supporting the 'Sunderland Ways of Working' and their values of 'proud, decent and together'.  It's great to see innovative technology being used, not just to generate major savings in efficiency, but to support change, or actually in this case, continuity, about what is at the heart of the organisation too.


All applications to the awards process are commercial in confidence, and I've probably already described more than I should, but I'm sure you'll find more about the programme in Personnel Today at some point in the future. 

And if you're interested in the opportunity to use HR technology and social media to support your business, you may want to take a look at:

-   Symposium Event's HR Technology conference next week


-   HR Technology Europe's first UK based event on 19 and 20 March 2013 

-   HR Technology Europe back in Amsterdam for the third year on 23 to 25October next year - bigger and better than ever, though I don't yet know whether I'll be chairing this for the third time too (I'll definitely be going - and blogging): 


 Alternatively, you can get in touch with me: 

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  • jon [dot] ingham [at] strategic [dash] hcm [dot] com


Main picture: nominees for HR Director of the Year:

  • Amanda Menahem - Hastings Direct
  • Irene Stark - ATS Europmaster
  • Jane Walker-Smith - MHA MacIntyre Hudson
  • Julie Holdaway - SSP UK
  • Robin Pring - Heineken UK
  • Tea Colaianni - Merlin Entertainments (winner)

Congratulations to these and all other winners and participants, and to PT for another excellent event - thanks for involving me in this and the judging process.


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Monday 26 November 2012

Archie Norman at the #E4S Launch conference

DSCN4927.jpg  We're kicking off with Archie Norman talking about work in the production era from his time at McKinseys - firms paid people, measured them.  Everything was easy.  But you can't pay spot rates like that now.

We treated people as transactions and they treat their work and the people who work for them as transactions too.

Everything has changed, particularly people and their attitude to work.  The days when people come to work just to work have work have gone (err, well, to an extent).  When, where and how you work are voluntary.  We need to give them a fair wage, involve them and then entice them to perform.

Some of the changes:

  • Bonuses don't work - they create resentment and unfairness - they can support a culture but can't create a culture.
  • Hiearchies are dead - people don't assume a higher position on the org chart makes them superior or gives them the right to command
  • Offices and car parking spaces divide people - they all need to go
  • Job titles don't mean anything to people
  • Younger people in particular come to work in search of meaning - they want to be part of the change.


It's not just people who have changed - businesses have changed (err, well, to an extent - not yet enough!).  The difference between leading and failing businesses is their culture.

It's 22 years since Norman went to Asda as the FTSE 100's youngest CEO.  Their employees often had very low self-esteem - making a job at ASDA doesn't naturally make them think they've made it.  He saw his job as helping them develop this pride  All they had was their people and values so they set out to create values to die for.

When he went to ITV people weren't open about things - he started telling the truth about what he was seeing.  People are receptive to this and we don't help things by hiding it.  We need to be open about what's wrong with our businesses.

But people aren't always comfortable with this - you need to reach out to them and reward and recognise them for this.  He ran one of the UK's largest suggestion scheme and wrote out 4000 thank you letters - if people write to the boss, they want to hear back from the boss.  If you're not going to do this, don't do it.


Great presentation including loads of great lines (heavily tweeted).  My favourite: "People come to work to shine, and our job is to help them shine."


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Monday 19 November 2012

#HRSummitExpo - The Credible Activist


DSCN4878.jpg  There are some nice links in the programme at the Miiddle East HR Summit.  So after Dave Ulrich yesterday talking about his outside-in competencies, today and tomorrow is organised by competency area.

We're starting with the Credible Activist competency and a well delivered presentation from Christel Heydemann, EVP Corporate HR from Alcatel Lucent.

Christel has presumably been selected for this session because she was a business executive who was selected to run HR because the CEO thought this function said 'no' too often.  She got lots of good feedback on her appointment because she was someone who had been in the field and understands the company.  (Not that pure HR people can’t develop this level of credibility but it’s a useful warning shot to those who haven’t or say no too much.)

Christel saw her challenge as making HR simple, selling it and executing:

-   Simplification because Alctel Lucent face the same issues as other organisations.  And a lot of what they do is common sense (Christel repeated this point several times).  So Christel grouped activities into three areas:

  • High performance culture
  • Execution of strategic workforce plan
  • Attract and develop talents


-   Sales because the company had lots of initiatives but people weren't clear what these were for.  She spent time explaining to managers what they were doing and simplifying corporate initiatives.  Often this was about explaining what the team was already doing - so there was no resistance.

-   Execution - doing what was needed well.  For example, one activity I quite liked was setting up an internal job opportunity market, 'ijob', where employees post CVs (or use their Linkedin profiles), and hiring managers post internal job opportunities.


Credible? - yes, clearly.

Activist? - yes - Christel clearly understands what she wanted to do in the business.

Great HR? - well, I’d have liked to have seen more...  That's not a criticism of Christel or Alcatel Lucent HR - they've skillfully executed the approach they’ve wanted to use.  It's just that I personally would have focused more on developing their HR strategy.  Please note that I'm not arguing for unnecessary complexity.  But I do think great HR has to involve more than just common sense.

This is part of my issue with outside-in.  Christel talked about listening to what managers, employees (and yes, customers) want and translating these into HR terms.  Fine - that's going to help you gain credibility.  But I’d have wanted to see more in this presentation (other than the ijob site) that would help Alcatel Lucent gain competitive advantage.  Doing the same as other organisations, or doing common sense things well doesn't do achieve this.

And to me, creating competitive advantage is the key opportunity for HR.  So I don't think practitioners can really be seen as credible activists unless we're focusing on this agenda.

But I suppose that’s also more about the Strategic Positioner competency which we’re moving onto next…


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Sunday 18 November 2012

#hrsummitexpo Middle East HR Summit & Expo - Dubai

DSCN4853.jpg  I'm spending an interesting day with Dave Ulrich (and about 500 HR leaders in the Middle East) at IIR's Middle East HR Summit where I'll be presenting tomorrow and Tuesday, and running a masterclass on Wednesday.

The focus so far has been largely the outside-in approach that you may already know I'm not a great fan of.

Having said that, Ulrich has provided a couple of great examples of where outside-in adds value.  For example one of his ideas that I've not come across before is that HR should spend 2-4 hours per week doing sales calls.  HR can go out with a sales manager and at the end of the sales meeting affirm the sales manager and explain to the client that their job is to build the talent and organisation that will ensure the company will gain 90% of the client's spend over the next ten years.  It helps HR be focused on the customer and cements the client's relationship with the company too.

The outside-in idea is built on one of Ulrich's long-standing concepts that value is defined by the receiver more than the giver.  So HR needs to listen, to understand, and to provide the value the receivers want.  For Ulrich we've now gone past this e.g. instead of just knowing the business we've got to develop the business in the context we work within.

I'm still not sold on this - for me, the future needs to be about providing the value we know the receiver needs.  We need to create new, not just add to existing, value.

This means the need to influence our stakeholders is even greater than Ulrich has been describing.  But I still like his suggestions for the three ways to do this:

  • Give them information (e.g. that's the role of the new E4S report I've posted on recently)
  • Get them to behave as if they're committed (cognitive dissonance - people become committed to something after they've done it rather than before - e.g. get best talent to do referral hiring)
  • Reinforce it - financially and non-financially.


So a bit more friendly criticism, but I will say this morning has included a barrage of great insights, and this post simply can't do all of that justice.  So also see -


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