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My biggest single disappointment about this week’s Lumesse User’s Conference was the missing song. The conference, in the Four Season’s Hotel in weird and wonderful Austin, TX, sat right in the middle of the live music capital of the universe. Great conversation, a well honed ecosystem, amazing users, comfortable culture. While there was an effective homegrown Lumesse jingle, the obvious musical number was no where to be found
The Monkees may be the most underrated pop band of the past 50 years. Often derided for the fact that the band was created for the TV show (shades of American idol). people overlook the fact that they jammed with Frank Zappa, kept Carole King employed and used Hendrix for their tour openings. Dismissed as bubblegummy, lots of people miss the fact that their tunes have been covered and recovered by the greats. The Monkees were, in fact, one of the great talent management stories of the 60s
In particular, the Monkees’ first contribution to psychedelia was the driving “(I’m Not Your) Stepping Stone“. Covered by the Sex Pistols, among others, the song is about a break away from chains into freedom. What could have been more appropriate for Lumesse who are, after all, the artists formerly known as Step(ing)stone.
That small omission aside, the conference was an intense gathering of about 120 people from Lumesse, the vendor community and the customer base. While there was one previous US Users’ get together about three years ago, this was the first time that the entire clan assembled under one roof.
This is definitely not your mother’s StepStone. The re-branding, designed to communicate the operation’s independence (through a management buy out) from the fabled European Job Board, is symbolic of an inflection point in Lumesse’s trajectory. With dramatic year over year growth in Europe, the company is ready to build on its tireless incremental growth in the United States.
The re-branded Lumesse is an integrated Talent Management company with a huge global customer base, a broadly integrated functional system and an alternative view of the meaning of software and service. The domestic US branch (who were the participants of this particular users’ conference) is a prime example of the company’s abiding commitments to ease of use, good manners, good times and good value.
The conference featured the standard corporate overview and technical roadmap presentations, a very funny talk show send-up, a panel of really seasoned executives talking about globalization issues, a Bersin overview of talent management, a riverboat cruise and the mandatory late night on Austin’s Sixth Street.
Day two was a smorgasbord of customer success stories and demos from Lumesse and the vendor ecosystem. Bright spots included pieces from Merck, Little Debbie, DeLoitte and others.
When most of the audience signed up for the event, the brand was StepStone. Unveiled last week, Lumesse is intended to invoke the notions of illumination, intuition, innovation and easiness. That’s how the event flowed.
Austin is a wonderful place to spend time. Between the local ambiance and the warm sense of family, Lumesse launched it’s new surge in the Americas with a bang.
Maturity Models: Oh Grow Up.
Earlier this week I was in Austin Texas where I attended and presented at the Lumesse Customer Conference (formerly StepStone Solutions). This is a presentation on Talent Management Maturity Models from research and analysis I’ve conducted in my role at HRxAnalysts.
Lumesse designed the day so that a range of alternative perspectives were in evidence. Part of their core beliefs is the idea that customers are smart and need good information for decisons rather than a diet of pablum. Stacey Harris, Bersin’s remarkable principal analyst had the presentation before me. (Check out some of her work here) She delivered a data rich view of the complexity involved in portraying the possibilities and requirements of operational excellence in HR.
The material in this powerpoint is designed to support the alternative view; that best practices are the road to mediocrity and that a maturity model is a marketing gimmick driven by vendor agendas.
Maybe the best part of the conference was the conversation Stacey and I had on the riverboat. We talked for a couple of hours about the things we could learn from each other. She is gracious, smart and sophisticated. Of all of the players on the HR landscape, Stacey’s overall view of HR and its strategic potential in unparalleled.
In the following powerpoint, you’ll notice a number of things that require deeper explanation. Expect to see those ideas flowing through the HRExaminer in coming weeks.
Please welcome Kris Dunn back to The HRExaminer Editorial Advisory Board. Who is Kris Dunn? That’s an easy question. Kris is the Chief Human Resources Officer for Kinetix, a RPO firm dedicated to growth companies. Prior to becoming a part of Kinetix, Kris has served as a VP of HR for DAXKO, a VP of HR for SourceMedical, a Regional VP of HR for Charter Communications, a HR Manager for BellSouth Mobility (subsequently known as Cingular and AT&T based on which round of consolidation you are referring to), and a Project Manager in the market research division of Aragon Consulting (gobbled up by IBM Global Services). With that track record in mind, he can say what he thought he never would – he has almost 15 years in the HR biz. Full Bio…
Sex and the CEO: You’ll Need Street Cred
by Kris Dunn
From time to time, I get to do a column/post for the good people at HR Examiner. Although I’m never at a loss for topics, here’s what the brain trust at HR Examiner wanted me to break down for you this time around:
“You are the VP of HR of a private company (less than 5K employees–big, not huge, lots of work/responsibility). There is an unusually high attrition rate for the CEO’s personal assistant. There have been rumors that she has been sexually harassing at least one of her assistants. What do you do?”
HR Examiner – breaking all stereotypes one by one. Woman CEO – check. Personal assistant who’s male (Yes – I’m making that assumption for purposes of this column) – Check.
Nice, right? I’d do the following if faced with that situation:
A. Make sure all the personal assistants we hire are single and coded as “available” on their Facebook account.
B. Ensure that all personal assistants understand that it’s their responsibility to report behavior they consider to be unwanted. “Jimmy, let’s say an attractive 40-something started giving you a shoulder massage and asked you what your favorite drink was to unwind as you were trying to work on her travel plans… You’re expected to report that if you don’t want that to continue.. Sign here indicating you understand this”…
C. Do group interviews for all applicants and have them dance it off like the candidates in this video:
Of course, I’m kidding. Maybe. What’s the bottom line here? You’ve got a sensitive situation to talk to your CEO about. It’s about your CEO and what she would consider her personal life. You’re smart enough to tread carefully, because if you get it wrong, it’s going to affect your relationship with your CEO and possibly impact your career.
Here’s the secret. Your ability to have a conversation about the topic with your CEO has nothing to do with today. It has everything to do with yesterday, with last month and last year.
Translation: You can’t interject yourself into this situation unless you’ve built street credibility as part of your relationship with your CEO.
Street credibility is an HR leader’s currency that buys the right to interject themselves into sticky situations where people might think you don’t belong. It’s built over time and involves a good bit of give and take, and no SHRM program is going to show you how to do it.
Build street credibility the right way with your CEO, and she’s going to say, “Kris has my back. When he tells me something is about to blow up, including things involving me, I’d better listen.”
Here are 5 ways a killer HR leader builds street credibility with a CEO over time:
1. The HR leader helps the CEO bury the body/issue/situation. From time to time, there’s going to be a big, nasty situation that’s going to rise up and have the need to be dealt with. You’re going to look at the situation and want to lecture someone, including your CEO. Don’t do it. Even if you’re judging them while you’re grabbing the shovel, shut your mouth and be a practical advisor, a consigliere like Robert Duval’s character in the Godfather. Help them deal with the situation and get it done. Need a visual other than The Godfather? Think “the Wolf” from Pulp Fiction.
2. The HR leader protects the CEO before she knows she’s in trouble. Street cred is also built by looking at a street corner and knowing something is messed up before gunplay breaks out. The smart HR leader isn’t neutral like Switzerland (you might be surprised how many are – er… maybe you wouldn’t), she’s on the lookout for situations where being proactive is called for. Do that enough times in situations that could have potentially impacted your CEO, and your CEO will know that you’ve got her back.
3. Never lecture or start a sermon. Seriously. I said it before related to burying the body/issue/situation and I’ll say it again. You can’t ever talk down to your CEO, even if you think you’re the expert. The CEO’s body will reject the advice based on the way it is provided. If you think everyone gets this, you’re wrong. It’s one of the main reasons that competent line HR pros will never work for a CEO. They have to keep working for other HR people, because they’re way too preachy.
4. Be the CEO’s agent, not an employment attorney. This is the senior level course on how HR leaders should interact with their CEO. The good ones just naturally know that they should never lecture, they help bury bodies/situations and protect their CEOs before they know they’re at risk. Once that’s done and proven over time, they’ve got an opening to truly give their opinion to the CEO on anything they want. But – being the smart people they are – the savvy HR pro ALWAYS provides the opinion from the perspective of being the CEO’s agent rather than being an expert in HR. Providing all opinion and unsolicited advice from the perspective of protecting the CEO from harm is the only way to maximize the probability the advice will be listened to.
Wrong: “If you don’t stop sleeping with your personal assistants, you’re going to get sued.”
Right: “I’m your right hand (wo)man, and you need to know that there are rumors out there that the turnover among your AAs is due to you dating them. I know – crazy. But the rumors might hurt you, so let’s talk about how you can stop the catty gossip.”
Then I’d hire a killer candidate for the role. That candidate would be a woman, significantly older than my CEO, much less attractive than the previous fodder, and would also weigh about 250 pounds. She’d be a rockstar at the job, but all the other stuff is what it would take to kill the rumors, be they true or be they false. I’d send a picture out of her and the CEO when I announced Marge joining the company.
Of course, I never get the chance to impose my hiring/rumor killing chops if steps #1 through #4 aren’t embedded in the DNA of who I am related to my CEO, over the course of a couple of years.
Most HR pros can’t be what I outlined above. Those who can get to work for the CEO. They also get to make seemingly meaningless yet strategic hires like Marge, because the CEO respects their street cred.
Anchor Books, 1966
What is the second stage of a company’s growth? One way of thinking about it is that the culture has matured to the point that it can be managed. The company’s culture is viable. At this point, professional managers, with process refinement skills can be added to the original entrepreneurial team. Growth is enhanced and energized through the endeavors of professionals who know how to straighten out the marketing fundamentals, tune the sales process, systematize product development and balance risk in the professional services arm.
Culture is a hazy concept. The sum total of interaction patterns, modes of thought, ways of speaking, icons, history, geography, dress codes, office layouts, the role of authority and a host of other factors, it is the “way the company works”. The relative importance of these variables is poorly understood but at the heart of the risks associated with second-stage growth, right after expense optimization and a clear track to profitability. A great second-stage manager understands, more or less intuitively, what can and what cannot be ‘tweaked’. The search for useless sacred cows, begins in earnest. The risk is in killing a real one.
In all contemporary Western societies, the labor shortage, driven by baby boomer demographics imposes additional cultural management requirements. With four observable native generations, and a host of immigrant cultures to boot, the modern workplace is a blend of nationalities, races and attitudes. Balancing the needs of each subgroup requires that the organization have a clear grasp of its overall culture and the relationship of the subgroup to the whole. Although there maybe some quibble about using the same tactics, the United Nations comes to mind when considering the problem in its full complexity.
Although the differences range from the subtle to the grotesque, cultures vary in terms of the perceptions embedded in native language and raw understandings of spatial relationships. These variations occur naturally in regional subcultures within a country and between different countries. Language variations may, for example, include specialized understandings of environmental factors or a deep rendering of status systems. Cultural approaches to space vary from the inverse of the west (Japanese focus on the spaces between objects while Westerners focus on the objects) to the absence of relevant experience (Arab cultures do not utilize ‘rooms’ with the same boundaries as the West.) The very meaning of everyday things and experiences is at the heart of the cultural integration problem faced in Western workforces.
The Hidden Dimension is Edward Hall’s time honored classic on the role of space and spatial reasoning in culture. A delightful weekend read, it will provide the sort of challenge to your thinking that will result in clearer, more effective decisions that involve cultural variables.
I’ve been writing about the Human Capital Industry for most of two decades. Over that time, I’ve made a lot of forecasts and predictions. A surprising number of them were right on target. Unfortunately, a fair number were way, way off.
This past month, I’ve been involved in any number of conversations about the future of the resume. The LinkedIn IPO has made that a hot topic. I’m not so sure that the resume is dead.
But, here’s the text of an article I wrote forecasting the imminent demise of the resume.
We’ve been asking people some simple questions recently.
- Have You Recently Prepared A Resume?
- How Long Did It Take?
- Was There Any Pleasure Involved?
- When Do You Plan To Do It Again?
In general, anyone who has recently created a resume felt like they were forced to do so as a part of the job hunt. It took from one day to two weeks to accomplish. No one liked doing it. Almost everyone would rather not do it again.
Resumes are a baby boom era invention. They require a massive effort and a change in focus. The only people who enjoy creating them seem to found small businesses devoted to the subject. The obscure more than they disclose. They seem to require a kind of behavior that resembles outright lying.
Have you ever seen a resume that said…”In my last assignment, I screwed up the following things…Here’s what I learned?” It very rarely happens. It’s more likely that a resume will describe the accomplishment of an entire team instead of the accomplishments of an individual.
Resumes make their creators feel inadequate. The conventional wisdom says (roughly) “Get it all on one page; Tailor it to each opportunity; Emphasize Managerial Behavior; Show that you took responsibility; Provide evidence of problem solving skills.” Most people, however, don’t spend their time analyzing their track records in terms of how it will look on their Resume. People who do make lousy employees for the most part.
We’re tempted to think that the Resume was designed as a tool to create entry barriers on a market that featured an overabundance of workers and a scarcity of jobs. Because it forces people to characterize themselves in ways that are unnatural, almost no one feels really good about their Resume. No one wants to do it again.
In a labor market characterized by the need for speed, the Resume is an obvious target for reengineering. Given the flawed information that a standard resume contains and the pain it generates, we’re expecting to see relatively rapid changes as the software required to manage non-resume profiles gets better.
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