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Social Media Reconsidered
I’m in the middle of a social media siesta. I’ve toned down my participation in Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and other online communities. It’s an experiment.
As an early adopter of the technologies and one of its strong proponents in the recruiting industry, I wanted to test my perceptions. What happens when you step away from the powerful swirl of online interaction?
I’ve always argued that online interaction is the new literacy. I’ve encouraged all of the children under my care to spend a lot of time online. In general, my perspective is that reading and online interaction are one and the same. All of the kids have become both great readers and regular users of social media.
But, it’s easy to drink your own bathwater.
In Australia, there’s a wonderful cliche about a “self licking ice cream” (SLIC). A SLIC is an object whose only purpose is to consume itself. (or, more subtly, a self fulfilling prophesy). In my experiment, I wanted to see if social media was my self-licking ice cream.
Very clearly, social media is a game that rewards the players on the field and penalizes (or simply ignores) those who are not immersed. Social media rewards those with the time and interest to engage in self-promotion. When you pull out of the fray, it moves on without you.
It reminds me of the idea that “you can never put your foot in the same river twice”. The flow of social media is fast and all encompassing. But, it seems, it’s just a river.
It’s a tool for some people some of the time.
Thinking About Measurement
The old saw goes “What gets measured gets managed.” That is the simplest way to describe the fundamental workings of management as a discipline. Here, at the dawn of truly strategic Human Capital function, we are often surprised at the degree to which people want to argue about measurement systems.
First of all, measurement systems are always inexact. They measure an aspect of things and never provide the whole picture. Measuring tools provide quantitative guidance for decision making. “Measure twice, cut once” is the way that carpenters deal with this obvious fact. No system of measurement is precise enough to guarantee sound decision making from a single glance. Measurement implies study and additional measurement.
In every department of the organization, besides the touchy-feely HR folks, the lesson of measurement was learned during the days of Total Quality and Re-engineering. The rule in this game is “If the first measurement system seems wrong, devise an alternative.” The subtext of “What gets measured gets managed” is “Study and experiment until you find the right measures.”
What is important about measurement is not the measure itself but the attention paid to the problem as the result of measuring it. In other words, using a measurement approach brings the problem into clearer focus. When one measure fails to capture the entire problem, others have to be devised. Management is, precisely, the art and science of devising increasingly accurate and descriptive measurements.
Any measurement system can be manipulated. Our kids all stand taller and straighter when we measure their height on the family growth wall. Once they started getting taller than their mother, she occasionally wore heels for her measurements. Men are traditionally accused of misunderstanding the difference between centimeters and inches while the stereotype of a woman includes pounds that have 20 ounces in them.
Measurement becomes critical feedback once it is internalized. Ultimately, a significant aspect of an organization’s (or person’s) self concept becomes tied to its measures. “We are a Billion dollar company.” “I am 6 feet tall.” “Our applicants receive a friendly response within 6 hours of submitting a resume.”
The more something is measured, the easier it is to understand and manage changes. “We need to increase the number of leads by 40% in order to guarantee a sales increase of 8%.” “These days, we need about 100 resumes to find just the right candidate.” and so on.
Why is this important?
HR systems are undergoing a moment of profound transformation. From workforce planning to web traffic management to copy development for job advertisements, the new processes require the development of new measures and new views of decision making. Some of the hardest work involves the creation and articulation of company specific standards and goals.
It is critical that the people involved in these efforts understand that bringing something under a measurement regime involves a commitment to constant renewal and the search for ever better tools. It is simply inadequate (and lazy) to argue that one form of measurement is imprecise or flawed without proposing an alternative and improved approach.
Our sponsor Pinstripe, Inc. designs, builds and delivers high-performance talent acquisition and management solutions. Pinstripe’s innovative approach to Recruitment Process Outsourcing (RPO) integrates sourcing, recruiting, hiring, on-boarding, and engagement into a complete, end-to-end solution. Pinstripe on-demand hiring solutions are tailored for specific clients across a spectrum of industries including financial services, healthcare, technology, telecommunications and other major industries. For healthcare organizations, Pinstripe Healthcare works with clients to attract the best available talent so they can deliver high quality patient care and reduce overall labor costs.
Marketing that works well has the net effect of reversing the flow of the phone traffic and lead generation. With no clear marketing strategy, the enterprise is forced to identify every potential sales target by name and then reach out and create the relationship. The hard work of physical lead generation is a part of building or rebuilding a business. Marketing, when executed effectively, is all about making the prospect of doing business with you so attractive that the normal dynamics of promotion become inverted.
It is an offensive game that deteriorates at the moment that it shifts to the defense.
Recruiting, as currently practiced, is a defensive and reactive process full of promotional techniques. Placing an ad on a job board, hiring a staffing or search firm, and, filling a requirement after it is identified are all reactive behaviors executed in defense of a set of circumstances that happen out of the control of the recruiter. The industry that has grown up to support Recruiters and other HR professionals.
The problem with promotion as a development tool is that it makes people want to run away. Promotion, as demonstrated by the cold call or the surprise demonstration, introduces the ‘prospect’ to a strange thing and asks that s/he consider it without regard to schedule, quality or need. The presence of fear in promotional tools is precisely the reason that cold calls and direct marketing approaches have such low rates of closing. When you reach out cold to a prospect, your batting average falls rapidly.
Attraction, on the other hand, gradually and interestingly introduces the prospect with no threat of immediate sales pressure. Usually, attraction oriented tools and processes give the prospects something of value well in advance of the sales pitch. Advertising is much more about attraction, through increasing brand awareness. Advertising takes time and focus. It operates on different rhythms than the direct approach. It is friendlier with a relaxed pace. Community development is an even longer path.
Now, of course, you have to beat the bushes to get started or restarted. Recruiting in an early stage enterprise has a higher promotional content than a mature operation should have. But, promotion as a development tool is best left to fly by night operations. The question is why the Recruiting industry has avoided the more productive approach of building attraction into its basic processes.
The acquisition and maintenance of Human Capital requires a solid infusion of regular capital. Since the question is rarely understood in those terms, Recruiting is treated as an expense rather than as an investment. Recruiting is an investment and always requires an investment at the front end. Technique that attract candidates are the best ways to convert so called passive seekers into active seekers.
Toby Dayton is one of the industry’s least known, most effective entrepreneurs. JobDig, his first offering, is the midwest’s parallel to the Southwest’s Jobing. JobDig delivers recruitment advertising a combination of print, radio and web in Oklahoma, Minnesota, Iowa, Kansas, North Dakota and South Dakota.
Like Jobing’s Aaron Matos, Dayton understands that Recruiting is local and that recruitment advertising is built on a base of local transactions. In the wake of the newspaper industry’s complete failure to keep the local employment markets informed, the two entrepreneurs are building major league operations. Local presence, local messaging and local opportunity are at the heart of the value proposition.
That’s part of the reason that LinkUp is such a head turner. Dayton’s latest enterprise is an internet-wide job aggregator that competes in the market with SimplyHired and Indeed. The scale is beyond local but the same attention to detailed market development is at LinkUp‘s heart.
LinkUp‘s strategy is to differentiate based on quality. In other words, they are trying to solve the problem that the other aggregators have: bogus jobs, fake opportunities and redundant postings. The message is that ‘we won’t waste your time’.
They solve the problem by limiting their job scraping activities to bona fide companies. They don’t scrape other job boards or Craigslist. That way, the jobs are as clean as the company websites from which they are aggregated.
It’s brilliant. The more established players are stuck in a web of business development, revenue and partnership that drives the data quality problems in their offerings. By making this market position, LinkUp pins them into their positions.
We think that the message will resonate with job hunters.
Please welcome Dr. Dewett as the newest member of the HRExaminer Editorial Advisory Board. Dr. Dewett is a leadership expert and professor at Wright State University, author, speaker, trainer, consultant, and Harley nut. Full Bio…
Many people-related innovations in the workplace are adopted for the wrong reasons. And I will hazard a guess that half of these people-related change initiatives are actually failures (defined as not living up to expectations). Whether you are talking about the rush towards online learning, the proliferation of telecommuting, the spread of coaching, or the current mad rush to master social media – most of these efforts are misguided. Not wrong per se, just misguided.
There are three common reasons companies adopt the latest people-related fad. First, the fashion makers said they should adopt. The consultancies, gurus, and pundits have spoken! Second, the competition adopted the practice. This is very important to know, but it also true that you and your key competitors are different organizations. Finally, everyone believes (falsely) that change is the only constant. Thus, to not jump on a new trend and adopt a new practice is simply wrong.
When new trends hit the horizon you should definitely explore the possibilities. However, there are only two valid reasons to grab a seat on the latest people-related bandwagon:
• Honest fit, and
• Sufficient change capacity
It’s as simple as that.
Fit refers to a genuine understanding of the match between the tool, practice, or partner being used and the cultural fabric that defines your organization. Sometimes lack of fit will lead to non-adoption. At a minimum, considering fit will help you tweak the innovation to better align with your unique organization.
Likely the most important consideration is change capacity. Every organization has a finite ability to reinvent, improve, and transform itself at any one point in time. Driven by the need to keep up with the Joneses’ and other lackluster motivations, companies regularly exceed their change capacity. The very best of innovations regularly fail when the company is already drowning in change.
Equally as simple, a prescription for improving your hit rate.
First, scan the organization for all large change initiatives of any kind currently underway and make an honest assessment as to whether, right now, there is any gas left in the tank. If you implement your latest people innovation when the employee base is experiencing serious change fatigue, your odds are not good.
Second, cut the number of trends, fads, and fashions you adopt by fifty percent, adopting only those with the strongest fit.
There is some irony in our current predicament. Not many years ago we desperately needed to adopt more people-related innovations. We needed some coaching. We needed OD. We needed leadership development. We needed all of them! And interestingly, we have accepted these realities so thoroughly that we have reduced our capacity to effectively implement any single one of them. Take a step back, and try to improve your hit rate by taking those two easy steps above.
Take one step back, and two steps forward.