Thursday 29 January 2015

HR Training Courses

As well as MOOCing, I still do quite a bit of traditional training, though I tend to be the trainer rather than the learner in these (even if I still always end up doing some learning).  I don't deliver any MOOCs but I'm sure there'll be one some day!

Most of my training courses, in the UK at least, are delivered with the wonderful team at Symposium where I'm now a fairly core member of their faculty - i.e. I deliver more of their trainings than any of their other trainers and possibly more than any of these other trainers put together.  In fact I reckon I probably train more HR people than anyone else in the UK.

The courses I deliver are all focused at a strategic level, responding to the changes in the world of work and aimed at creating high impact changes in businesses.

The sessions have also largely bedded down into the following three groupings which are shown on the three axes of the cube below:

  • HR functional areas (shown on the side of the cube which faces you)
  • Planing, measurement and implementation (on the right hand side)
  • Opportunities for transformation (on the top)

The course all cover fairly similar content (there are only so many things you can say about HR) but each come at this from a different perspective,   Eg in the recruitment, and the performance management courses, we talk about planning, measurement, analytics and HR's roles, and the innovation and technologies related to these functional areas.  And in the technology course we talk about apps and systems, and other products and services, supporting planning, analytics and HR partnering which can be applied to recruitment and performance management and other functional areas too.

There are also close links between the courses which are shows grouped together and identified around the outside of the cube (and there a few more courses like this too - eg I'd really like the gamification and process design courses to be linked up too but couldn't get this to work in the visual.)  Eg the reward and performance management courses run (or will run) alongside each other quite nicely.

In fact with Symposium we actually run the organisation design and development courses and the planning and measurement, and analytics and reporting courses, as two day events - Transforming the Organisation and People Planning, Measurement and Analysis (although people can and so just attend one day of these and that is OK as well.)

Makes sense?

Right then, which one(s) do you want to do?  Oh, and don't worry - I don't include any visuals quite so complex as the one here in any of these training sessions!

And here is the full list:

HR functional areas

Planning, measurement and implementation

Opportunities for transformation

In house delivery of these or similar sessions is also available - get in touch:

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Wednesday 28 January 2015


One of the biggest changes in my life over the last couple of years has been the incorporate of MOOC learning.  Coursera is getting close to being the most commonly used app on my phone and I'm probably always doing about 30 different MOOCs at any one time.  That's not necessarily a good thing as I don't always get to finish and therefore get all the learning I might like.  But I do get lots of learning!

I remember of the things Dave Ulrich noted at Artof.HR was that MOOCs don't work because most people only audit them (vs getting a certificate) and auditing doesn't give accountability.  So adoption trails away.  Well, I think that depends upon the MOOC, and of course and individual's level of attention and interest.  And as I wrote earlier, does it matter anyway, as long as they're still learning.  (I accept it may matter to a MOOC provider but it's a great boost to the world's total amount and rate of learning.)

One of the MOOCs I started last year was Kevin Werbach's Gamification course on Coursera.  You may be able to see from the screen shot that I only managed to get into lesson 1.1.  That's no criticism of Kevin - I was just very busy at the time.  But it did look as if it it was going to be a great MOOC and I liked the way Kevin described it at the Gamification World Congress in Barcelona later in the year.

Basically the MOOC is full of projects, challenges and interactive sessions which targets participants' interests and skillsets.  For example he presented a slide with a picture like to one above, next to another from later in the course to see if participants picked up what had changed (presumably not, since I've learnt from Dan Ariely's Coursera course that we don't tend to notice these sorts of things.)  Even when it's a lot more significant than a Boggle game disappearing off a shelf.  (The Human Zoo have got some great tests on this sort of thing too.)

I.e. Kevin's MOOC has been gamified and that enables him to democratise involvement and people stay on board.  More people, anyhow.

Kevin's suggestions were directed at Education but businesses are applying MOOC so they do apply directly to HR too.  But my main learning from all of this is about creating the right environment and culture and then measuring this - and not worrying too much about completion rates for particular programmes.

Oh, and the thing that reminded me about this post I'd drafted last May was that Kevin's doing another session of the gamification MOOC on Coursera - starting now.  So here's your chance to learn about MOOCs and gamification in one go.  What's not to like?

See you there!

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Friday 23 January 2015

Stephen Dubner - HR Freakonomics at #HRPA2015

This morning at the HRPA conference we're hearing from Stephen Dubner of Freakonomics telling some stories about using data for decision making.  Stephen suggests there are some great parallels between these stories and what we have to do in HR - eg how much we can know about people etc.

We're really good at using data which confirms what we want to be true rather than what is really true.  We need to ignore declared and focus on revealed preferences.  Eg declared and actual hand hygiene rates after visiting the washroom are different - 30% of men don't wash (Stephen knows because he lingers in washrooms!). But if the non washers were in this room sitting with their friends and colleagues they wouldn't raise their hands to admit it.

HR tends to survey people about their preferences but there is a problem in doing this - a gap even within ourselves about what we do and what we think we're going to do.  Predicting future even our own own future is really hard.  Eg if price of gasoline rises 10c/gallon people say they would drive less but when price increases people don't drive less.

It's important to admit what we don't know and then find a way to get some data.  Then find some way to change behaviour.

Eg when researchers ask nurses to spy on doctors hand hygiene rate falls from 70 to 20%.  One hospital wanted to increase rate to 100%.  Sending out a memo didn't help.  Posses hiding in rooms jumping out, clapping and giving out a $10 Starbucks card when they heard doctors using the sink sounded stupid but we shouldn't underestimate the power of free (conference swag anyone?).  No doctors ever turned award down and started gamifying the system eg turning on the taps when they heard the posse was on their floor.  But it didn't work - needle didn't move.  If you offer incentives in same cases it can deincentivise people to do this on other times.  Then the bosses thought about themselves and realised their hands weren't clean.  They started putting up pictures of their hands and for some reason this incentive worked!  The conclusion - human behaviour change is hard.

Don't moralise, preach etc but find a way for people to do something differently without even thinking about it.  Eg new design and technology has changed hand hygiene in hospitals.  Rather then relying on doctors changing they've solved the problem in another way.  In Britain we have banned doctors from wearing ties because these act as giant germ swabs.

We need people to be able to think and act differently.  Eg Takeru Kobayashi's hot dog eating success.     Key lessons from this were:

  • Redefine problem you are asked to solve - often the symptom not the real problem.  If you asked a different question you come up with a whole different heap of solutions.
  • Ignore ie don't give any mental allegiance to previous approaches.  Vs we do things this way because we've always done them this way.  Ignore artificial limits.
  • Always soak our buns in warm water!

Or take Keith Chen at Yale who wanted to investigate people's way of managing money - people often treat money differently to how they say they are going to use it.  So he set up an experimental monkey economy.  This involved a communal chamber in which the monkeys lived which then came into a separate cage for the experiment and were given a coin which they could switch for food.

These monkeys think about food and sex and he wanted to add money to this list.  So could the monkeys declare their preferences by what they spend money on?  It turned out they could.  But he then injected a price shock into the economy.  If the cost of a monkey's food doubled over night would they buy less of it?

This just causes a bank heist and the monkey won't give the money bank.  Chen tried to buy it back with lods of food which just taught the monkeys that the best ways to get food is to steal the money.  Then the monkeys start to trade the money between themselves leading to the first ever case of monkey prostitution!

Some great examples here and although we did not get on to Freaky HR it does not take too much effort to start thinking about some examples of where Dubner's freakiness might apply.  Performance management anyone?

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Wednesday 21 January 2015

Empathy at #HRPA2015

I'm in Toronto at the HRPA's Annual Conference - no arctic storms this year.

And we're starting at a jet lag tolerant 7.00am, though since it's dark outside it still feels a lot earlier than the 2.00pm it shoul feel like.

Anyway, here's Roman Krznaric on the six habits of highly empathetic people. 

Empathy is the ability to step into shoes of someone else and see things through their eyes.  A topical issue with eg Obama talking about an empathy deficit in the US.

We all have it, we can learn it, and it's the basis of social relationships.  It creates the emotional bonds which makes life worth living - without it we are emotionally tone death.  It's also the basis for leadership, collaboration and helps erode conflict to create a more democratic culture.

There is:

  • Affective empathy - shared emotional response - mirroring (not sympathising with) others emotional response
  • Cognitive empathy - taking the perspective of others and trying to work out what it is like to be them so we can respond appropriately to others (as George Bernard Shaw says don't do to others what you'd like them to do to you - the 'golden rule' - they may have different tastes)

But one research study shows empathy in US falling 40% over last few years.

So we need to focus on developing the habits of highly empathetic people:

  1. Switch on your empathetic brain - we are competitive etc but we are also human and supportive eg mirror neutrons.  But although this is hard wired we can also change and improve.
  2. Make the imaginative leap - think about how other people would respond - this gets harder for more senior people in businesses.
  3. Practice the craft of conversation and empathetic listening - the basis of nonviolent communication) - listen out for someone's feelings as well as their needs and be present for these (Marshall Rosenberg - the length of negotiation is cut in half simply by asking each negotiator to accurately repeat what the previous speaker has said.)
  4. Seek experiential adventures that can change your life or at least organisation -
  5. Travel in your armchair - even this retires our brain paths
  6. Inspire a revolution - keep the bigger picture in mind.  Empathy opens the door and then rules and procedures wedge it open.

We also need to build outrespection as well as introspection (and empathy is the ultimate art form in building outrospection!)

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Friday 16 January 2015

Blogging from the Economist Talent Management 2015

And on 16th June, I'll be blogging (and also facilitating) from the Economist's Talent Management 2015 event - the fourth year in a row that Strategic HCM has been the Economist's social media supporter.

If you've been to this even before, you'll know this is THE key HR event in the UK - the best speakers, top level attendees, a great agenda - and this year I'm back on the platform again.  What more could you desire?

Mark your calendars now - I'll have a discount code for you a bit later on, and the opportunity to grab a ticket to come and sit with me at the front, though you will have to do a bit of work for me too (I'm trying to think of something creative but if you send me a guest blog post about something innovative you've been doing in your own organisation that would probably do it.)

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Blogging from Tucana People Analytics

I'm taking a short break from training and speaking to attend Tucana's People Analytics conference (22-23 April) as a blogger.

We all know analytics is increasingly important to HR, so even if, like me, you struggle with expressions such as 'data-driven HR' and suggestions that 'analytics is the future of the HR function' then you'll still know you can learn heaps from quality speakers such as:

  • Placid Jover VP HR Organisation, Performance & Analytics Unilever
  • Oliver Britnell Global Head of Workforce Analytics Experian
  • Randy Knaflic VP of HR & Internal Operations Jawbone
  • Neil Parkinson Senior HR Analytics Specialist Diageo
  • Mark Porter Corporate Workforce Strategy Manager London Borough of Havering
  • Neal Barnes Group Head of HR Services Tullow Oil
  • Max Blumberg Founder The Blumberg Partnership
  • Mark Berry Ex-VP of HR, Workforce Planning & Analytics ConAgra Foods
  • Michael Cook VP of Workforce Analytics Credit Suisse
  • Tracey Smith President Numerical Insights
  • Jonathan Ferrar VPIBM Smarter Workforce
  • Ian O'Keefe Senior Director, Head of Talent Analytics Sears
  • Alicia Scurr Head of Talent Analytics SABMiller
  • Anthony Hesketh Professor Lancaster University
  • Cole Nussbaumer Founder Storytelling with Data
  • Paolo Balboni Founding Partner ICT Legal Consulting
  • Alex Rammal Group IT Director Wolseley
  • Luk Smeyers CEO & Co-Founder iNostix

There's also a data visualisation workshop with Cole Nussbaumer and the HR analytics masterclass with Bernard Marr before and after the main event.

If you want to attend the conference with me, you can use code BSQJON for a 20 % discount on your registration.

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Thursday 15 January 2015

What's Microsoft UK doing right? (Glassdoor Employees Choice Awards)

One of the things I'd meant to post on before Christmas was Glassdoor's Employee Choice Awards - the only awards which rely on the perceptions and commentaries of employees.

My desire to do this is partly because of my press relationship with Glassdoor as their UK HR Expert, and partly because this is the first year the awards have been made in the UK and this is an important new activity here.  But mainly just because the rankings are really interesting!

No surprise about the top two companies in the UK - Google and John Lewis, sitting on their own short tail with 4.3 and 4.3 points out of 5 respectively.

In 3rd place, just at the start of a rather denser distribution, with 4.1 points, is Microsoft.

Microsoft?  That's Microsoft whose technologies increasingly belong to the last decade, which is cutting 18,000 jobs, whose CEO wants women employees to let karma take care of their careers and whose organisational culture is so competitive that collaboration is almost impossible - see the Bonkers World visual about Microsoft's and other tech firms organisation structures (though Microsoft has restructured since then).

In the US Microsoft didn't even manage to join Chick-fil-A on the awards list.  So what's happening in the UK?

I could of course contact the couple of people I know who work at Microsoft here but probably the better, more accurate, way to assess the company's culture is to consult Glassdoor:

The site summarises positive comments as:

  • "Really good work-life balance compared to other tech companies of the same caliber" 
  • "You will get the opportunity to work with smart people solving real world problems"
  • "Great benefits that are truly 1st class when compared to other companies in the industry"
  • "Lots of opportunities to move around in the company to try new things"
  • "Generally good benefits (though they've been cutting back in recent years)"

And the negatives:
  • "Work life balance is not good in some places but it really depends on your role"
  • "Performance review system basically encourage competition inside the team"
  • "Stack Ranking poisons team work (you're only as good as your last performance)"
  • "Review process focused too much on politics rather than actual accomplishments"
  • "Typical big company disadvantages that are uncommon for most tech companies"

These comments give some idea of the culture of the firm - the same great benefits which are common on the tech sector but also the particular issues around competitiveness which I referred to above (though Microsoft has abandoned its stack ranking too now.)

Individual ratings add support to this analysis as well:

  • Compensation and benefits 4.0
  • Career opportunities 3.6
  • Work-life balance 3.5
  • Culture & values 3.4
  • Senior management 2.9 (though this seems to relate more to the leaders reporting to the CEO than Satya Nadella himself - 82% of approvers approve of him.)

But these comments and ratings are based on the 8,900 all time reviews for the company (which give it a rather lower ranking of 3.7) rather than the 52 reviews that contributed to the 4.1 and the award.

Looking through comments from the UK over the period of the award calculations does give some insight on what may be happening in the UK - people complain about senior management, but also suggest that in the UK employees tend to be further away from them.  This presents some problems in terms of projects being cancelled and timezones slowing down decision making, but in general it's a good thing.  If your senior management is poor it's better to be less impacted by their leadership.

Ie it's not actually something Microsoft in the UK is doing right - it's just that we're further away from what the more generally excellent company in the US is doing wrong.

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Wednesday 14 January 2015

Employee Training Isn’t What It Used To Be

I've also got some comments on human centric learning in this article in The Atlantic:

The human resources industry is in the midst of a huge shift in how it thinks about employee training and learning. “A lot of other areas of business have already been transformed through technology, but HR, as is often the case, hasn’t had the same level of investment until rather recently,” says Jon Ingham, a UK-based consultant in human capital management...

Ten years ago, says Ingham, HR technology was mostly meant to be used by the HR department, whereas now companies are more focused on employees themselves as the primary users. In the future, Ingham would like companies to use technology not to control employees, but to enable and liberate them to increase their own performance. “The opportunity is not to use analytics to control but to give employees meaningful data about the way they’re operating within an organization so that they themselves can do things to improve their working lives and their performance,” he says.

It's employees themselves who learn, and we need to shift focus to enabling, supporting and curating - not directing and training.

It's just one more area in which to progress we need to start putting employees first.

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Wednesday 7 January 2015

Speaking on Human Centric Learning at ATD MENA, Saudi Arabia

I'm also speaking in Riyadh at this ATD MENA event in early March.

Talent development rests upon people being able to learn. Unfortunately real learning is very rare. We often do not design our interventions well: people only take on board a small proportion of what we cover; most of which they forget; and that which gets remembered very rarely gets translated into practice; and even more rarely will it have anything like the anticipated impact on the business. Attempting to deal with this we have become increasingly business focused - aligning learning programs with particular business needs and embedding learning within business processes.

However this session will argue it is only by focusing on individual employees/learners that we can make learning take hold and stick. We need to increase our understanding of individuals (which isn't just about neuroscience) and groups - particularly how they can be motivated and how we can ensure deep learning takes place.

You can read more about this idea in Learning Technologies magazine.

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Tuesday 6 January 2015

Speaking on Gamification at HR Transformation Summit, Brussels

I'm also speaking at IQPC's HR Transformation Summit in Brussels in February.
This time, it's on gamification.  I will be referring to points, badges and leaderboards but focusing mainly on opportunities to make HR transformation, and operating shared services, a bit more fun.
  • Understanding how to use gamification to transform HR strategies, raise engagement and support transformation.
  • Determining how you can change employee behaviour by using gaming elements
  • Analysing how you can encourage employees to have a clearer understanding of what level they are at and improve low engagement levels through gamified HR development strategies
  • Examining how you can use gamelytics in a variety of HR   contexts, for example to measure aptitude and give you a broader understanding of the types of applicants you are looking to hire
If you're there, do come over and say hello!

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Monday 5 January 2015

Speaking on HR and Social Capital at HRPA 2015 in Toronto

I'm speaking on the new, social HR at HRPA's annual conference in Toronto in January.

The New HR: Innovating Activities for Connections, Relationships and Conversations

50% of successful business performance now depends on collaboration, up from 20% just ten years ago. So why is it that most of what we do in HR focuses on the individual or on the whole organisation?  Why don’t we focus more on the white space between these levels–the relationships between our people?  Find out how the value of relationships, or social capital, potentially provides the largest source of competitive advantage within your reach.

I'm looking forward to three really useful days - and in particular to seeing sessions from Nick Bontis on Information Bombardment: Rising Above the Digital Onslaught, and reconnecting with HR blogger Kris Dunn, speaking on the 9 Faces of HR.

If you're there, do please come to the session and if you see me around, please do say hello!

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