Friday 19 October 2012

#E20S - Social HCM?


   There’s a new term in town – social HCM.  Or so it would seem….

It might just be coincidence of course, but I recently received a press release about a UK based system called Fairsail, linked to the USA’s HR Technology conference last week.  Of course many HCM systems are already quite socialised (see this post) and Saba branded itself the people collaboration system for a while, but this is the first time I’ve seen one describing itself as a Social HCM system.

Then I got a Facebook invite to discuss Social HCM with Bjoern Negelmann who runs the European Enterprise 2.0 Summit in Paris and which has led onto a Google + Hangout discussion I was supposed to talk at on Wednesday, but unfortunately didn’t manage to make (actually it’s a Hangout On Air which means you can watch the archive on Google / YouTube too).

So what is this thing – social HCM? Well you can see Bjoern’s thoughts here.  As usual, I have a rather different take.  One of my beliefs about HR – taken from Dave Ulrich – is that we need to focus much more on outcomes than we do on activities.  This 1. makes us more strategic as we avoid investing in activity for activity’s sake; 2. makes us more credible as people who deliver things are always viewed more highly than people who do things; 3. gives us a chance to take accountability for the outcomes we produce; and 4. gives us more opportunity to create value by taking these outcomes to our business colleagues as things we can deliver which will help the business improve, rather than just talking about how we can support the business to do what it already needs to do (ie moving from adding to creating value).

It’s why I define HCM as managing people to create human capital – activity to provide an outcome.

So what’s social HCM?

There are probably three possibilities.  The first is doing HCM – or probably more realistically HR – in a social way (activity).  As Bjoern suggests, this might be about being more open, co-creating, collaborative etc.  These are great approaches but this still leaves the door open for following these approaches for their own sake.  Also I’m not convinced that all organisations need to use them.  And I expect that those who believe most organisations are going to become highly open, co-creating, collaborative are being overly optimistic.  I can’t see it happening, and don’t necessarily think it needs to anyway.

The second possibility is focusing on creating human capital through social approaches (a mix of activity and outcome).  For example trying to raise employee engagement by creating a more collaborative environment, as most people – though not everyone – would agree this is one of the major engagement drivers for employees around the world.  This is good too, but is really just an aspect of HCM – I’m not sure there’s enough to justify a new name for it.

And the final option is about creating social human capital (outcome) – which you can just call social capital really – so social capital management (SCM) then, ie the management of people to accumulate social capital.  The problem with this is that you can’t really do this – ie manage people to create this outcome.  You have to lead and enable them instead.  (Actually the same thing applies to HCM but the requirement is even more pronounced with social capital – and the dissonance associated with calling it SCM therefore that much greater too).

It’s the third of these options which excites me, and I’d suggest organisations, their HR functions and Enterprise 2.0 practitioners need to think about.


Also see my posts from the E2.0 Summit last year:


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