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Social Media Reconsidered II
Old friend Colin Kingsbury (who is the president of HRMDirect) sent along a note in response to the first article in this series.
” My take on social media is that while they present some unique modalities compared to other communication channels, they are not sui generis. For instance, consumer products have long had a 1-800 number to contact the company; most people do not think of this as a 1-to-1 relationship because it’s clear you’re connecting with a giant faceless organism. As online connections move from “Friends” to “Fans” and “Followers,” the relationship converges back towards the old mass-media broadcast model. To the extent that it doesn’t, I would argue that this is as much or more a result of a conscious decision by the company to allow deviations from brand orthodoxy and corporatespeak than any quality inherent in the medium itself.
What the Web does today is make this sort of thing much more pervasive and efficient. If Coca Cola says, “Post your video on Youtube and tag it MyCokeFan,” it will probably get a lot more responses than “mail your videocasette with #10 SASE to ….,” and the former makes them visible to all the world and not just the interns in the marketing department in Atlanta. And word-of-mouth, which has always been critical, is much more so in a world where every opinion is publicly posted and searchable. But all this means, as far as I can tell, is that maybe brands become somewhat less monolithic. This is significant, but it’s not revolutionary in the way that the rise of national and global brands were in the 19th century.
All of which is perhaps taking the long way around to saying that social media is simply another channel for connection and promotion, one that is better-suited for some purposes and worse for others, and investment in it will yield results in proportion to the quality, precision, and quantity of effort just like any other.”
The breathy popularization of social media for purposes beyond keeping in touch seems to be the province of the mostly unemployed. Meanwhile, critical problems, like the spectacular failure rate of the Recruiting profession remain unaddressed. This is the fabled Shiny Object Syndrome (SOS).
“It’s [SOS] not quite ADD/ADHD. It’s more that a new idea captures your imagination and attention in such a way that you get distracted from the bigger picture and go off in tangents instead of remaining focused on the goal. We think of a new idea, we hear of a great new gadget or marketing technique, and ZOOM, we’re off! There’s great energy and excitement in starting something new.
Of course what happens is that that everything always gets started, but nothing ever gets finished. In addition, countless hours and dollars are wasted in pursuit of the new, shiny object without having thought through whether this new item, technique, service or product is “right” for your business. (Shiny Object Syndrome. )
In the search for competitive advantage, SOS is an occupational hazard. The real trouble isn’t the Shiny New Object, it’s remembering why you started using it in the first place. A Social Media Siesta is just what I needed to think about what I was trying to do in the first place.
Social Media Reconsidered III
Calling it a decision makes my Social Media Siesta sound like the work of a much smarter person. Truth is that life caught up with me. Years of routine web publishing, 18 solid months of Tweet-aly-dee, a range of Facebook experiments and a host of other assignments had me in the groove. Tell me the day of the week and I could tell you the content, its shape and my schedule.
Like a falling house of cards, the life transition cascaded into place. All of a sudden, I was immersed in strange organizational politics, an encounter with my own mortality, big deadlines and a couple of standard melodramas. Something had to give. The easiest place to find slack was in the hours devoted to social media.
Bye-Bye, social media. Hello, Siesta.
A number of commenters have noted that the only reward from social media is attention and that doesn’t seem like much of a payoff. All I can tell you is that the feedback loop is bracing, addictive and seems bigger than all of that. We live in an economy that runs on attention and social media is its nuclear reactor. To dismiss attention as either payoff or currency is to misunderstand the motivational structure of the workforce. Great Recruiters can not afford to make the mistake.
To say that I gave it all up is a little disingenuous. I’ve been doing this stuff for nearly 20 years. When I go cold turkey, it’s more like a chain smoker cutting back to a half a pack a day. I follow some of the Facebook flow and a little of the twitter chaos. The automatic content generators are still turned on.
Even so, much of my standard content disappeared and I had an unexpected chance to reassess. (If you’ve been watching my work for long, you know I love opportunities to reassess.)
Here are some observations and questions:
- Other smart folks are deriving great benefits from the use of the tools. My takeaway is not that social media is useless. Rather, it is an important and useful tool for very specific situations.
- As Animal notes, Social Media is like a Professional Association. You get the benefits when you go and don’t when you don’t go.
- I always find it humorous when someone who isn’t interested in money claims that it isn’t a motivator. Both Jerry Albright and Steve Levy made the case that attention is not much of a reward. I’m sure that’s true for them. It works for lots of people. Much of the fuss about ‘candidate experience’ is really about the candidate’s need for attention.
- At this point in the Siesta, I am beginning to wonder if Social Media isn’t really great access to impassive (active) candidates. It seems to me that the requirement that one be active for it to work makes it less useful for ‘passive’ candidates. There are obvious exceptions in Marketing, Media and PR.
- Mark Hornung offers a great observation about our collective inability to understand the meaning of technology. I wonder if we have any real idea what this is all about. It’s likely that the ultimate meaning of social media is yet to be formed.
- If you read Paul DeBettignies closely, you’ll see that he believes that the right way to use Social Media depends entirely on the context in which you operate. That’s really simple and really right.
- Chris Havrilla clearly understands this as well. The reward you get is dependent on the reward you seek.
- I wonder why no one seems to be writing about the inherent limitations of the new tools. They work great for some things and not so well for others.
- I am noticing that a lot of development is going on beyond the glare of active publishing in social media. I am starting to see new products that focus on the communication channels and the underlying computing much more than the ‘social’ aspects.
- I wonder if ‘social’ isn’t a misnomer. It’s really limiting and doesn’t account for the important status communications and itsy-bitsy news bits. My sense is that the phenomenon is simultaneously way bigger than ‘social’ and way smaller. As long as the idea is that you have to be a part of a conversation, it will be limited to online extroverts.
The most important note I can make about this emerging technology is that I made friends with each and every one of the people I mentioned in this article by being online. I would never have to repeatedly look up the spelling of DeBettings if that were not so. My life has been immeasurably enriched by folks I’ve encountered through social media.
As you might guess, I am really interested in developing more questions. What are the things you wonder about social media?
To wrap this up tomorrow, Roadside Tweets on My Social Media Siesta.
Social Media Reconsidered IV
I live in Sonoma County in California near the ocean. It’s a remote outpost. Almost no one lives in my neighborhood. There are lots of raptors and you can hear the sea lions barking at night. But, it’s a long way to anywhere.
Periodically, I go out into the world to collaborate. (That’s sort of a play date for grownups who work at home.) These days, I am working on some projects with an old friend who lives in Napa.
It’s a 90 minute ride across wine country through hills and valleys laced with vineyards and dairies. There is one sort of big town about halfway there (Petaluma). But for the most part, it’s two lanes, light traffic and astonishing beauty. Sometime, take highway 116 across Northern California
The last time I drove to Napa, I came upon a construction crew. They were fixing pot holes. There were six men, a truckload of asphalt and one of those signs with its own generator. You know the ones. They use lightbulbs to make messages. They were the origination of the idea of an LCD.
This time the sign said “Expect delays. Roadside construction May 22 to 30.” then it flashed and said “To see where we’ll be next, follow us on twitter @sonoma116“
It got me to thinking that we haven’t begun to explore the real utility of the various emerging forms of new media. Short status messages about a variety of things are exactly what I want. There are a ton of questions that I’d like short answers to:
- Is the mail in?
- Does the Fish Bank have Fresh Halibut today?
- Did the funds clear?
- Is baseball practice still on?
- Can I expect traffic on the way to Sebastopol?
- What’s the delay at the Doctor’s office?
- Did you meet your deadline?
- Is everyone on time for the meeting?
- When is dinner?
- Did the shipment arrive?
- When is high tide?
- What’s the weather in Cleveland?
- Did we hire the candidate?
- Did you get my resume?
- Did I get the job?
- What’s the phone number and login for the conference call?
- When is the next interview?
Email is too much and grunting is too little.
These short questions are all the sub strata of the news. There’s an endless flow of status that could, if I had predictable access to it, make me more productive and predictable.
My bet is that so called ‘social media’ will be quickly dominated by information like this that is essentially provided by a machine for a machine over the twitter transport mechanism. That means that I’ll have channels of tweets that tell me about my traffic environment, my workplace, my projects, my shopping requirements.
My refrigerator will have a Twitter account.
My view, for the time being, is that we’re working out the kinks in a global status system?
What do you thnk?
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Leadership 301 – Holding the Talent Management Paradox | Editorial Advisory Board Contributor Mark McMillan
Please welcome Mark McMillan as the newest member of the HRExaminer Editorial Advisory Board. Mark is co-founder of Talent Function, where he combines executive coaching expertise with ten years of recruitment software industry experience. He started his software career for the Oracle Corporation and later joined BrassRing as a Director of Strategy and Business Development. Full Bio…
The air that staffing leaders breath today is full of “Talent Management.” Ding! Buzzword alert. So is it smoke? Or is it a breath of fresh air? The answers to these questions are worth consideration, but the questions themselves spotlight an advanced leadership principle – and great leadership minds have the capacity to hold both sides of a paradox.
Stepping back and tracing it to its roots, the phrase “Talent Management” originally came about as a marketing concept in the HR software market. Terms like “knowledge management” or “social recruiting” or “talent management” are typically the brainchildren of a venture-backed software executive who is looking to create a new market category of solutions. And if the strategy works, said software exec becomes a market leader and wealth is created by all those involved. So, software vendors, in a sense, create artificial movements to entice minds companies to buy their software. But, of course, good thought leadership strategies are based on a perceived marketing pain. And if the movement is around long enough then there is a kernel of real substantive change.
And so we have a paradox. Talent Management is part artificial movement and part real substantive change.
Effective minds possess the fluidity to stay open to the flow of complex ideas. They have the ability to hold both sides of a paradox as true. And that’s important because it enables one to stay engaged to more people and to more situations. Conversely, when people “dig in” on one side of a paradox they shut off part of their mind and end up giving power to the other side – just think about those political discussions you sometimes have with “that” friend who has a completely black and white position.
Talent Management is a marketing movement. This is the first side of the paradox. If you ask ten HR or recruiting practitioners what Talent Management means you will get ten different answers. It seemingly combines staffing with performance management with a myriad of process inclusions. Recently, we informally asked our clients if their organizations are re-organizing their staff around the Talent Management concept. The answer was unanimously no. Or try finding a “Talent Acquisition” software vendor and ask them why they stopped using the term recruiting. There won’t be a client-driven answer. They’ll likely say that they did it to conform to trend of Talent Management marketing. The examples abound –the great Talent Management hype.
Talent Management is a real evolutionary movement. And then there’s the opposite side of the paradox. It absolutely means something when the two largest, competing public recruitment talent acquisition software vendors organize their product suites around Talent Management. And companies are increasingly issuing RFPs to software vendors that combine performance management and recruiting. HR Leaders are now looking to infuse employee performance data with their talent acquisition processes because data needs seemingly go hand in hand. Talent Management is a real movement.
It is anyone’s guess as to whether we will still be using the phrase Talent Management in five years. A new marketing movement in the HR software space will surface and we’ll have new buzzwords for our vocabulary. But if you hold both sides of the paradox, you will stay connected to the dialogue that will offer opportunities. Marketing movements can get you resources. And wading through a bit of hype will ultimately lead to a substantive discussion about real practices with your peers.
Please welcome Bob Corlett as the newest member of the HRExaminer Editorial Advisory Board. Bob has worked in staffing and consulting for over 25 years. He is the founder and President of Staffing Advisors, a retained search firm near Washington DC. He developed The Results-Based Hiring Process® and is one of Washington’s best known thought leaders on staffing and recruiting. Full Bio…
This is a tale of two HR leaders, pre-recession.
Frank had just become head of recruiting at a major customer service organization. Employee turnover was epidemic, recruiting consisted of “post and pray” job advertising, the company spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on outside staffing agencies, interviewing was wildly inconsistent and most managers bypassed HR on hiring matters.
Frank was good at what he did though. He tamed the unruly hiring process, rebuilt his internal team with skilled recruiters, and managed to cut turnover in half. Managers began to trust HR again, fees paid to outside agencies plunged, and Frank finally had time to put some metrics in place that went beyond just looking at turnover. He wanted to measure how his department contributed to overall company success. Then the recession hit, and Frank’s team and his recruiting budget was slashed, and then slashed again. His metrics project was shelved, and with no metrics in place, Frank was powerless as the CFO treated his department budget as a piggybank – the place to make the deepest cuts in the organization.
At the same time Frank started his job, Lisa took over as the head of HR at a large nonprofit. She had a team of 20 and an annual budget over $3M. HR had been languishing for years prior to her arrival – delivering the same results in the same way for many years – nothing really new, nobody really complaining about it. It could have continued that way for many more years, but Lisa (on her own) decided that HR needed a three year strategic plan. She gathered stakeholders, surveyed what was needed and crafted her plan for HR as other department heads looked on with mild amusement – after all, nobody else had a three year plan, why should HR?
Then Lisa began to execute.
The essence of the executive function is to constantly allocate scarce resources to where they will make the biggest impact, and Lisa used her own strategic plan to decide where to allocate precious resources. It was not easy, it was not painless, but Lisa achieved more in three years than had been done in the decade prior to her arrival. She introduced changes that both reduced her budget and improved service to the organization. Every initiative had a timeline and a budget, every proposal had a metric for success, and she could demonstrate the business impact of everything her team worked on. Unlike Frank, when Lisa was in a tough budget battle with other departments, her initiatives got funded when others did not. Unlike Frank, when competing priorities emerged, most of the time Lisa’s priorities carried the day. Both managers reduced their budgets, but unlike Frank, Lisa chose where to cut her own budget.
Now, as we emerge from the recession, Lisa’s team is intact and her job is secure – while five other members of the senior management team, including the CFO, have been replaced. Both Frank and Lisa accomplished quite a bit, but what did Lisa get right that Frank missed? And what can you do?
- Look beyond the current problems at hand.
- Commit – publicly – to a course of action.
- Make a business case for your course of action (up front), and then take full responsibility for your outcomes.
- Risk public failure every day. After all, as Yogi Berra said “It’s tough to make predictions, especially about the future.”
- Win the internal battles and get resources and funds because you have a yardstick to measure success with – your own yardstick.
If you want to beat your CFO (in an argument, that is) go get your own yardstick.