Saturday 30 March 2013

Cloud, big data and social media transforming HR

Screen Shot 2013-04-11 at 23.25.57.png  I only recently came across this interview in Computer Weekly that I provided during HR Tech Europe's Spring Warm-Up.  I talk about the need for HR and IT to work more closely together and then go on to say:

"In most UK organisations, the technology used to underpin HR operations is "woefully inadequate" compared to level of IT used in the rest of the business, Ingham said.

“What you have is a huge gap between what organisations are doing and what they could be doing, in one of the areas that is becoming the most important for business,” he said.

Ingham advised HR professionals start learning about the impact that social analytics, cloud and other technical innovations could have in driving the effectiveness of business."


The first paragraph sounds a bit stronger than I really believe but I did mean what I said about the gap.  And we do need to get much more closely connected to the developments in HR tech...


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Tuesday 26 March 2013

Social Talent Acquisition

Screen Shot 2013-03-22 at 17.58.23.png  Probably the best example of social talent management exists in recruiting.  I think there’s a good few reasons for this, including that:

  • Recruiting is fairly process oriented, with an extensive adoption of traditional technology use
  • It is often one of the least well executed areas of HR (see my post on the candidate experience) so has the most potential for improvement
  • It’s externally oriented and therefore more impacted by the general uptake of social media outside business, which is generally ahead of uptake within organisations
  • There’s also more opportunity for external stakeholders ie candidates to make more of a fuss than internal ones ie employees when things don’t go well.



In my presentation at the Enterprise 2.0 Summit I referred to Glassdoor and the impact this and other sites having in forcing companies to get their act together here.  I know a lot of readers know about this site, the ‘TripAdvisor of recruitment and employment’, but an awful lot of recruiters still don’t.


But I know from my trips to the States that many people are now looking here before they have a look at a company’s career site.  And that if they do decide to apply they’ll look in Glassdoor for information on roles, salaries and the employment experience.  And that if they get an interview, they’ll look on the site for information about tests and questions etc.  I also know that when I search on US based HR people, the top entry which comes up is increasingly an entry about them on Glassdoor (and it’s often not that nice).  We will increasingly see the same thing in the UK, Europe and beyond.


A lot of people dismiss all this as just something that’s going to happen and that people with gripes always comment more than people with good feedback.  And that’s true, but the ratings are still pretty valid (see Lauri Bassi’s book, Good Company) which is why candidates feel able to rely on them.


Zwi Segal also shared some similar if less comprehensive data on this as part of his presentation, again confirming that there is a link between Glassdoor ratings and company performance.



It’s because of these factors that I think more recruiters than in other areas of HR realise they need to move to a more social approach, combining traditional recruiting technologies with the use of social media.  But even in recruiting, a lot of the use of social media isn’t very social.  Sure we can use Linkedin and other tools to advertise our jobs.  But we also need to change our approaches to be more social, helping us connect and communicate with our candidates in a way that we’ve not had the need or the ability to do before.


There are really just two key needs which I can demonstrate using iCIMS Connect product (I’ll also explore iCIMS’ social jobs distribution tools at a later date).


Firstly, you need an ability for candidates to connect with you without having to apply for a specific job.  Doing this also helps avoid the high applicant to hire ratios which do nothing for employer branding or the ability to make sensible recruitment decisions.  iCIMS support this through their Social Connect Portal: with as little as one click candidates can share their social media profile to subscribe to recruitment communications and be informed of new positions that meet their interests.


Secondly, you need an ability to connect and easily communicate with your candidates on a regular basis.  iCIMS’ email tool allows you to create Talent Pools of candidates by function (e.g., Sales, Engineering, G&A) and to personalise the experience based on hiring needs, available talent and business activity.

Screen Shot 2013-03-22 at 17.50.27.png


So the technology is there, but you do also need a mindset which gives the candidate much more attention and focus than we’ve often applied to them in the past.

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.


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 25 March 2013

#E20S Social Talent Management


Screen Shot 2013-03-22 at 16.46.49.png  My own session at the Enterprise 2.0 Summit was on Social Talent Management.  Unfortunately attendance wasn’t great so I’m going to post here covering the key points of my presentation.

I was asked to talk about the evolution of talent management and I wanted to start by pushing back against the common tendency, which seems particularly strong in Enterprise 2.0 circles, to present roadmaps and journeys that all organisations are or should be on.  I don't believe this is true in general and it's certainly not the case for talent management.  There are many different approaches in talent management, and many different directions of travel going on at once as well.

To the extent that there are common trends, the use of social media is certainly one.  But I still don't think this means talent management has become particularly social.  I took people through Gary Hame's thoughts on management 2.0, which should really apply to the whole of Enterprise 2.0 too, but I think they have, or should have, particular resonance for talent management 2.0 as well.

But there's not much going on in talent management that demonstrates Hamel's principles:

  • Everyone has a voice
  • Capability counts for more than credentials and titles
  • Commitment is voluntary
  • Power is granted from below
  • Authority is fluid and contingent on value-added
  • The only hierarchies are ‘natural’ hierarchies
  • Communities are self-defining
  • Individuals are richly empowered with information
  • Just about everything is decentralised
  • Ideas compete on an equal footing
  • It's easy for buyers and sellers to find each other
  • Resources are free to follow opportunities
  • Decisions are peer-based.

So the good news is that there are things happening in just about every sub-process of talent management, except for, in the main, reward.  We'll be discussing all of these over the next year at the Google Plus Social HR community, so if you're interested in finding out more, join us there too.


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Thursday 21 March 2013

#E20S Management Hackathon


photo-11.jpg We've been running a short hackathon process looking at innovating management within a social / enterprise 2.0 business.  We were takes to identify principles that would underpin action in the organisation.

Here are some of the outputs:


photo-7.jpg  Organisation #1

  • Exponential organisation - able to grow quickly
  • Network organisation
  • Fractal organisation - hierarchies within hierarchies
  • Based on diversity supported by flexible working
  • A bit like a club, enabling everyone to follow their own needs
  • Always thinking about the customer
  • Based on social media and big data
  • Transparent



photo-2.jpg  Organisation #2

  • Traditional core of the organisation
  • Fractal and pod ideas from Dave Gray
  • Enabling both project based and continual operation type work
  • Enabling people to move around or doing the same thing
  • Managers acting as sponsors for a project
  • Processes for rotation between projects
  • Tenure limits to stay in the core (don't want people to stay as the boss)
  • Fail forward - encourage people to fail - pay them for their failures
  • Accountability in the core and the pods
  • Self regulation


photo-6.jpg  Leadership #1

  • Different to management (fossilised leadership and management is no longer necessary)
  • Distributed - everyone is a leader
  • Empowered to decide and act
  • Listening
  • Emerging, recognised as a leader for their charisma, not appointed
  • A feeling, a way to do things
  • Introverts as well as extroverts
  • Able to handle fear, supporting failure
  • Being inclusive, comfortable with difference, leveraging diversity
  • Developing and using collective intelligence
  • Alternative = authentic, honest and transparent
  • Chasing their own passions
  • Embracing change so fluid and transient
  • Remaining open question on whether we still need leaders or even a CEO


photo-8.jpg  Leadership #2

  • The why of the organisation (management is the how - empowering and developing people)
  • Walking the talk in order to be credible
  • Driving soft and social skills
  • Supporting complexity
  • Being able to be challenged against an environment of constant change
  • Experimenting on the edge.


There were also two groups using lego.


photo-9.jpg  Lego 1:

  • People with good networks
  • Open flexible structure - based on creativity
  • A clear vision of where we want to go
  • Open, agile minds looking into the future
  • Bringing the whole organisation together
  • People on top


photo-10.jpg  Lego 2 with an image of an airport:

  • Users in a plane trying to take off
  • Empowered by ingredients, enablers and values of respect
  • And some leaders
  • The wind of serendipity
  • Growing motivated people
  • A bridge to bring people together
  • An airport tower with complete view of the whole organisation



I wouldn't support all of these points but we did better than I thought we would.  But I thought we could have done with more structure, some pre-formed relationships, and clarity in what we were trying to develop (I still don't think we're all sure / agree what social / 2.0 is - see the above point on 'users'!).

I really liked the team presentations that demonstrated some of these points, e.g. the teams that gave themselves a name, supporting these relationships (the age experimenters, and the change eggperts as they had trouble deciding between the chicken and the egg).  And the teams that worked in the the style of the organisation e.g. demonstrating distributed leadership with full team presenting together.


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#E20S Jon Husband on the future of work

Photo 1  We're onto day 2 of the Enterprise 2.0 conference in Paris.  I've already done my session on social talent management and today we're starting off with a slot on the HR perspective on E2.0.
The key speaker here is Jon Husband of wirearchy fame who I met for the first time yesterday.
Jon doesn't think organisations will become democratic - they exist to get things done.  But they would do well to adopt some democratic principles, which makes them more difficult to control.
So we need Social Business 2.0?  This about going deeper.  Most of what we;re trying to do is to reach customers better, not engage our people or respond to the changes in the world of work by focusing more on purpose and capability leading to resilience.
This is supported by effective leadership which is made clearer through an effective structure - hierarchy plus network.  We also need to be able to manage paradoxes - centralisation and decentralisation etc.
The good news is that there are things happening.  Jon disagrees with Gary Hamel that there's been no innovation in management.  There has, but it's been in areas like learning and development, organisation development etc helping people become the owners of work.
Eg participative work design - elbow room for decision making etc.

So, wow.  A lot of content - too much for me to capture, but check out Emanuele Quintarelli's Social Enterprise blog.
I can't say I agree with all of it - I think organisations will become more democratic, not just look more democratic, e.g. see WorldBlu.  But I agree with most - particularly the need to change the language - a point I often make to HR (our desire to talk the language of business i.e. finance is at odds with the shift in the language of business to become more people shaped - there's a big risk of these two ships missing each other in the night).

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Tuesday 19 March 2013

#HRTechEurope: Caitlin Hogan on Google People Analytics

BFuBoz5CYAE2zc6.jpg_large.jpg  Draft - but I want to get this up before Martin Couzins!


Google People Operations (HR) team - same rigour to what we do in HR to what we use in any other area of the company.

What we do in HR Operations e.g. satisfaction on food, fitness and perks

Use analytics to attract engage retain and improve the experience of Googlers

Googlegiest top of mind go oglers today

Make people data accessible and useful - managers with more than 3 respondents get a personal report - Googlers can see these results for their location and function.

Are a laboratory for innovative people research e.g. on social networks to improve co-operation throughout the company.




HR experts for context

Data analysts statistical techniques and methods

All huge data geeks


Find most important and interesting questions, test with data and take action on results


Finding, growing and keeping Googlers

Finding - use data to hire the best people - high performers excited by their work, comfortable with ambiguity and have a cultural fit

Hiring committees vs individual hiring managers, may talk up to five Googlers (based on analytics pointing towards optimum number of interviews)

Over 2m applications per year.


Mine resumes for teams that show hiring potential through automatic text analysis

Scored a second set of resumes

Good link quality and numbers hired.


Ran algorithm against resumes available on the internet - particularly to increase diversity

Also internal candidates - found rejected candidates



Grow them

Project Oxygen

400 variables

Had completely got rid of managers in some parts of the company - didn't work that well

Remaining stigma that managers don't matter

Performance and how managers are perceived from the Googlegeist survey


Most go oglers happy with their managers

Regression analysis - higher scores lower turnover, happier and higher performing teams


Qualitative data understand Googlers themselves


Perofrmnace reviews

Double blind interviews (neither m or e know whether manager was high performing)


From a position said let's get rid of managers started recognising them.

Great Manager Awards


8 points (Oygen has atomic number 8)

Thursday 14 March 2013

Engaging in Working Time Change

  Today I’m at the second day of Working-Time Solutions’ annual forum where I’lll be presenting on employee engagement.  But first, we’ve got another keynote from John Jeffrey, Head of Waste Management and Street Scene at Cheshire West and Chester Council.


The project John described followed on from a Labour led £50m efficiency programme and has been in response to the then new coalition government’ austerity drive requiring a further 30% budget cut over three years, and a more recent £26m cut over the next three years.  Gulp.  As John suggested, in this environment incremental methodologies salami slicing 3% of the budget are no longer enough,  Instead what was required was a fundamental rethink to maintain a high quality service and current levels of employment as well as to achieve financial savings required.


John’s a fan of Deming and particularly likes this quote: “85% of the reasons for failure to meet customer expectations are related to deficiencies in systems and processes, rather that the employee.  The role of management is to change the process rather than badgering individuals to do better.”


The key to this, and any working time change, is to start by understanding the demand eg what’s the balance between planned and reactive service?  This was done largely through focus groups with employees.  John had thought he already had integrated, mobile teams made up of multi-skilled employees but it became clear that he hadn’t.  The challenge was therefore about matching resources to the demand and work to meet the challenge has included:


  • Optimising routes and productivity - removing over sweeping etc - allowing them to improve services, better allocate resources and save costs, eg they’ve been able to take out one of the six expensive sweeping machines they were using.
  • Removing reliance on agencies, overtime and unpaid goodwill to deliver services
  • Introducing new shift patterns.  For example, mobile teams had been working till 4.30 every day but couldn’t actually continue working in the dark, so now their winter schedule allows them to finish at 3.00.
  • Removing voluntary overtime (street operatives are paid £15 to 18k but could make £31k through voluntary overtime).
  • This has also included rostering in holiday entitlement (which was a big issue for staff used to complete flexibility in scheduling their holidays but was also a show stopper for John.  Always wanting to remove flexibility, his compromise was leaving flexibility for 10 out of employees’ 30 or 25 days holidays.
  • Changes in employees’ terms and conditions.  These dated back to the 1960s with the most recent review in 1974.  Peoples’ personal schedules is now part of their contract of employment.  And these also include the martini clause (‘anytime, any place, anywhere’).  “The lads don’t like it, in fact they absolutely hate it” but it is now becoming an accepted part of the job.



The changes have also required a big mindset change to get people to understand the benefits of this new approach.  That’s not been easy.


John worked with the Council’s HR Director to try to increase engagement.  The changes were supported by extensive briefings, functional working parties, individual area meetings, whole organisation events, service work groups, formal union negotiation meetings.


But it sounds like it was a very difficult process and John wasn’t successful in getting the changes agreed through negotiation.  Instead they had to fall back on Plan B, the ultimate sanction: dismissal and re-engagement.  This applied to the Council’s full 7000 employees as part of a wider requirement for efficiency and harmonisation of terms and conditions, though it’s only John’s 220 people to be working the martini clause in practice.


So there has been industrial unrest including strike action before Christmas.  And there have been in industrial tribunals: one case brought by someone who had said too much in the canteen and needed to leave to keep face - which was lost; and one wider tribunal claim about the process used for the full 7300 employees, which continues.


John also hasn’t been made very welcome in the depots.  More worryingly still, the GMB campaigned against both the changes and John personally - including writing open letters suggesting that John has become mentally ill (he stopped paying his £38/month union fees at this point).


Absence has also increased slightly from 4.45 to 4.54 days per FTE


But overall the project’s been a success.  Eg the national performance assessments (Ni195 ) conducted by the Tidy Britain group have substantially improved.


John also believes the changes have created a healthier working culture and environment.


And yes, it’s delivered £500,000 in savings.


But the approach has not yet being taken up in many other Councils


The obvious question is why not?  I’m not a fan of the government’s over emphasis on austerity, but I guess organisations do sometimes need this type of radical challenge to make them do things which should really have been done decades previously!  Working time change has clearly worked here and it will work elsewhere too.  And it’s far preferable to just about any of the other alternatives I can think of.


I will say that I’m not keen on the martini clause - as I think this shifts the balance of power too far to the employer - or the way it was introduced - as this will have a profound, long-term impact on engagement, but it does sound as if the requirement for this approach was created by the union.  It’s sad to hear that unions still haven’t shifted as much as you’d expect and sometimes read or hear about.



In my session I talked about the need to engage employees in working time changes, and how working time change can create engagement - eg by focusing on the needs of the employee, as well as the business.  But I also emphasised the need to create a positive culture of engagement before embarking on this sort of change.  Given that the age of austerity is going to continue for the forseeable future, and also in light of most organisations’ low levels of engagement, we’ve left doing this a bit late.  But there’s still no better time than now to begin.

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Tuesday 12 March 2013

Economist's Change Ambassadors

Screen Shot 2013-03-12 at 18.34.33.png  I love the variety of things I seem somehow to get involved in these days.

One interesting programme I'm supporting this year is the Economist's new Change Ambassadors awards - open to individuals who have driven change in their organisations, rather than the usual thing or recognising the organisations these people work within:


"Sometimes employees just don't get the recognition they deserve. We can change that.

Change Ambassadors is about recognising those employees who, often behind the scenes, have helped execute successful change- big or small.

The competition is for organisations, divisions or departments of all sizes.

If you or a colleague have implemented change that has produced tangible business outcomes, then you qualify.

Why Enter?

  • Get national recognition for you and your company
  • Win an executive seminar at one of the UK's top business schools
  • Enhance your industry profile
  • Have your achievements viewed by our well-respected judges
  • Ensure your hard work over the past two years is celebrated at the Awards Ceremony on Thursday May 16th 2013

The hard work has already been done. It's easy to enter. Make sure you get the recognition you deserve."


Neat idea huh?

I'm going to be a judge for the people & culture category of the awards - recognising the successful execution of change initiative within a company’s workforce or culture (e.g. a person who successfully implemented a health and wellbeing programme; person who made the company more attractive to universities and graduates etc).

If you're interested in applying, you can do so here.

By the way, in case you've been confused by the picture - I do get involved in an interesting activities, but I'm not, of course, Unilever's CHRO! - I'm sure the Economist will have that changed soon!


Also, don't forget about my current competition for tickets to attend (and blog at) the Economist's Talent Management Summit this Sumer! 


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Friday 1 March 2013

TENEO Recruitment in Engineering and Technology


Screen Shot 2013-02-26 at 13.16.36.png  Another conference I'm looking forward to this Summer is Teneo's Recruitment in Engineering and Technology conference in Frankfurt on 12th and 13th June.  We know how in demand technical staff such as engineers, IT technicians and telecommunications specialists so it's a great opportunity to apply some new practices within recruitment to these key verticals.

I'm co-chairing this conference together with Kate Bellingham from Tomorrow's World.

Speakers include:

EADS – Germany - Head of EADS Recruitment Center
Siemens – Germany - Head of Global University Relations
AGFA -- Belgium – Group VP of HR
British Airways - UK - Head of Resourcing
British Airways - UK – Lead Resourcing Manager
CERN – Switzerland - Recruitment & Sourcing Specialist
Belgacom – Belgium – Head of Recruitment
EDF Energy – UK – Head of Resourcing
Caterpillar – UK – Head of Recruitment
Intel – Germany - TES Marketing & Channels EMEA & Talent Advisor
Cisco – Denmark - Senior Manager, Global Staffing, at Cisco
Atkins global – UK – Director of Resourcing


More details at and it'd be great to see you there.


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