Table of Contents
You may have noticed that we’ve accelerated the pace with our Top 25 Lists. For the moment, we’ll look at the lists once a month. As of right now, there are four:
- Talent Management
Each will be updated 3 times a year. That’s the pace of change in social media.
Scores are developed in three areas. They are relative to the group of people on the list (so someone always scores 100):
- Reach: audience size/traffic including blog visitors, friends and connections
- Resonance: word of mouth; RT’s and inbound links among other things
- Relevance: the degree to which the content matches the keyword set
This month, we’re taking a look at influence in the Talent Management space. Increasingly, it seems like the Human Capital / Human Resources space is being subdivided into Social Media, Talent Management, Talent Acquisition (sometimes a part of TM), Learning and the Administrative stuff.
Talent Management is the subset of silos that include Compensation, Incentives, Succession Planning, Development Plans and Learning Management (but not the training itself), Competencies and Workforce Planning.The people on this particular iteration of the list are the ones who generate content and audiences on the subject.
There are some challenges with our measurement approach. It doesn’t inherently capture all aspects of industry influence. Some easily observable social media celebrities don’t usually make our lists because their focus is wider than our measurement or their approach is slightly skewed from what looks like the norm.
At the current moment, this is what the horse race looks like in the Talent Management Sector. If you know someone on the list, congratulate them. Our method is an unbiased measurement system that uses the absolute minimum of human intervention.
Again, Congratulations to the Top 25 Influencers in Talent Management.
The idea that marketing is a conversation between a company and an industry ecosphere is not particularly new. The Cluetrain Manifesto (full text of the book is here) articulated the idea in 2000. Much of the substance of Web 2.0 ideas and techniques are directly related to the idea that markets are conversations. In theory, this is increasingly possible with social media.
When you look at the vast majority of the material that flows from the marketing departments of our industry, you have to wonder if this idea ever penetrated our world. Loud shouting and ridiculous claims drown out any possibility of nuanced conversation. The air is littered with so many ”bests” and “biggests” that there’s little room for discussions of effectiveness and quality. It is completely impossible to tell the difference between one vendor’s claims and the next.
One has a conversation with the idea that the other people involved are peers. Sadly, the boorish behavior of most vendors (and make no mistake, third party recruiters are vendors) features arrogance as a substitute for substance. Shouting is passed off as conversation. Broadcasting is called collaboration. The customers know and the vendors can’t tell.
Having conversations that are substantial and nuanced requires an element of trust. It also requires that the participants be prepared, readily admit ignorance and learn in public. In order for a conversation to take place in a market, there needs to be room for experimentation. In order for there to be conversation, listening has to be practiced.
The other part of a good conversation is being prepared. Marketing is hard work. Someone who tells you about size and rank hasn’t paid enough attention to their product development. If the marketing is not well executed, you hear repetitive nonsense. If the job is done well, you can tell the differences between one company and the other.
So, how many companies can you distinguish in the space? It’s not a battle of broadcast themes of technical functionality. I’d love to get a list of the companies who stand out. It’s probably not the winners of this year’s shoot out or the best place to work in East Poughkeepsie.
Companies already differentiate themselves from one another on the basis of brand. It just isn’t quantified quite yet. The market knows (because customers talk to each other) which companies lie and which tell the truth, which operations are fluid and flexible and which are tight and overbearing. The market knows who keeps their promises and who doesn’t. The market knows who is an innovator and who isn’t.
Now that the economy is picking up, expect the marketing floodgates to come crashing open. As the volume increases, expect the sameness of the story to be the most noticeable feature. The winners will be the ones whose name you can remember. The winners will be talking to customers and developing reputations for making their customers successful.
Tips, strategies and ideas for any company
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Neil McCormick returns this week to the HRExaminer Editorial Advisory Board from Australia. Neil has worked in human resources and consulting services for the past 16 years building a repertoire covering human resource management, recruitment consulting, management consulting, talent management, general management and learning and development. He currently serves as General Manager for Talent2, Asia-Pac’s largest HR consultancy. Full Bio »
Criticality and Workforce Strategy
by Neil McCormick
This is the fourth post in my series on Workforce Strategy. In Workforce 101, and What’s the Objective?, we looked at the importance of defining and focusing on the organizational objective. In the Output’s Connected to the Outcome, we discussed how it is easy to fall into the trap of focusing on process and outputs and ignoring outcome.
This article will explore “criticality” and how to determine what is essential to your Workforce Strategy.
Over the past 30 years I’ve often heard people proclaim that whatever HR activity they were focused on at the time was “critical.” It usually meant either blank space on the organization chart or crisis management.
There are many definitions of criticality, sometimes within the same department. Most focus in some way on positions that should have been filled based on budgets and forecasts. Some managers indicate criticality is determined by the length of time a position is open. A number of managers believe that if a position is vacant at all, that is sufficient to say it is critical. Another approach to criticality is to determine the ratio of position-importance to resource availability.
When an organization does not have a consistent understanding of criticality, it risks spending significant effort on the wrong requirements, or at least the wrong order of requirements. It’s also very easy to be caught up in the current situation and miss opportunities to avoid future crises. This usually happens when the focus continues to be yesterday’s problem instead of a tactical framework. While vacant positions and capabilities are critical, they do not have to become a crisis. When a consistent model of criticality is applied, the people and capabilities are acquired much earlier through recruitment, development or external services.
There are many logical criticality frameworks. The problem I see with the frameworks is how they are applied. Too often, shortcuts are taken and the planning process is flawed. A key to successfully developing a strategy for human resources to support organizational objectives is to ensure that everyone clearly understands the necessary linkages from objective to capability. While it is logical to continue to deliver tactical solutions to current problems, resources need to be assigned to develop a longer-term vision of capability requirements. By doing this, organizations will alleviate most of the tactical emergencies; and this will begin to positively impact the organization’s performance.
Defining criticality from a Workforce Strategy viewpoint
Determining “criticality” for workforce strategy requires understanding the organization’s future requirements. Criticality encompasses more than mere blank space on an organization chart.
To understand criticality the organization needs to begin with its objective and then un-bundle the objective in the following order
- Define criticality for the organization and ensure it is clearly understood
- What work activity is critical to deliver the objective
- What functions that make up the work activity are critical in the delivery of the work
- What capability/competency (skills, knowledge, attitudes and attributes) is critical for the delivery of the functional activity?
- How quickly will the loss of the capability impact the organization?
The answers to these questions will show what capabilities are critical to deliver the organizational objective and what impact that loss of capability may have.
N.B. An initial lack of consideration of the future capability requirements only ensures an ever-increasing number of tactically critical capability shortages.
Once we’ve defined criticality, we then need to ask how complex or difficult is it to achieve the objectives.
- How hard is it to develop or recruit the capabilities?
- What’s the current and projected lead-time to deliver the capability?
- What is our existing depth of capability for succession?
By defining these criteria, we also address concerns about whether an individual is ”indispensable” and identified areas to plan for succession or recruitment.
In addition, the above framework should be evaluated at each stage by the three “e’s” of economy, efficiency and effectiveness to determine what activities should be undertaken internally and which could be contracted or outsourced.
This type of review should be a continuous process. Some organizations that have benefited greatly from increasing the focus on the future requirements use a quarterly review program. The actual length of the cycle will depend on the industry and market conditions.
To analyze the future, organizations need to have a clear understanding of where they are going and what is needed to get there. The easiest excuse is “things change too fast around here!” The answer to this is: If that’s the case, shorten the review cycle.
Try this in your own organization. Don’t be surprised if you can’t get the answers immediately. Allow for some degree of skepticism from leadership.
In the next installment, we’ll look at some of the tried, tested and practical ways to analyze capability requirements and begin to effect change in organizations.
I remain a little befuddled about the strengths and weaknesses of the Bersin Impact Show and HRevolution. The two events combined give you a really clear picture of what is right and what is wrong in contemporary HR. Where Bersin’s event is a clear example of using data to drive credibility, the HRevolution folks do the same thing in the opposite direction. As noted, Bersin’s event could do with more soul while HRevolution could use a chunk of data and a stats class. Both sets could also use media coaching and some additional presentation skills.
Neither universe is effective at the real issue that bedevils the profession: HR is only interesting to the extent that it drives real business results. Otherwise, it’s a set of administrative functions that are better outsourced. There are very few role models to demonstrate what success might look like. And, if they knew about these sorts of HR events, they’d stay away.
Best practices are a quick channel to mediocrity, especially when they involve the bad idea that HR is an end unto itself. Doing any HR function faster, slower, better or worse, insourced or out is an exercise in navel gazing unless it ties directly to business results. Any objective setting process that invokes pure HR variables (like time to hire or competency densities) leads away from the business and into the land of navel gazing.
The following notes are from a couple of smart folks (Jason Lauritsen and Steve Browne) who presented at the HRevolution conference. Their session was an attempt to deal with the larger question of HR’s relevance. It really speaks for itself.
The topic was “If HR is so bad . . . what are YOU doing about it ??
After the obligatory introduction of the facilitators, the session began by asking the session attendees to break into small groups and answer the following two questions:
- Why isn’t HR respected today?
- How can HR be respected?
The facilitators knew a third question was coming, but they didn’t share with the group until the first two were thoroughly discussed. When the groups came back together, this is what they had to share:
Why isn’t HR respected today?
- Too many patsies and order-takers.
It’s nice to start any session with a major stereotype !! It sets the tone of what’s about to transpire. The fact is that this isn’t a stereotype only because HR has remained a vastly administratively driven field that tends to sit and wait for others to tell them what to do/not do. HR people who take action are often seen as threats because they are such an anomaly in the business world.
- No original thought.
This is truly a challenge, but it’s also a crutch. You could make the argument that most business thought isn’t original. It’s not just an HR thing. However, this is a stinging realization when HR continues to push out the next “best practice” or “trend” in their organizations without first questioning if it even fits their company. Mimicry is not flattery – it just shows a lack of originality.
- HR DNA – we attract a certain “type”
Interesting that this was noted in a field that could be championing diversity in thought and approach. But, again, some real truth here. People felt that a large portion of the field is made up of “sheep” leading sheep. Note that this isn’t a shepherd (leader), it’s more of a compliance, rule following worker who wants to make sure people are happy at work while being risk averse and limiting liability. (Sound familiar? – Forgive the generalization). In a field that could be fraught with vibrant, deep-thinking radicals who push the field, the organization (SHRM) and others drastically forward, we tend to fall to the middle of the curve because it’s safer there !!
- Female dominated profession
This just isn’t cool. In 2011 for gender to be an issue that still questions “respect” is just archaic !! The fact that women are better at relationships between humans (in general) is a strength. To think that men are either better, or worse, in HR is just as ignorant. And, if the feeling is that women in HR are business savvy, then we may conclude that we still sit smack dab in the middle of the Industrial Revolution.
- HR lacks confidence and doesn’t command respect.
What other field tears itself down more than HR? Can you name one? This is a sad statement that the practitioners in this great field feel like they are the constant downtrodden. If this doesn’t change, there is no possible way that HR can ever hope to earn, let alone command, respect.
- HR is in the “bad news” business.
This is a fact. Much of what HR does is dealing with the dark underbelly of organizations. The problem with this is not the work, it’s the fact that HR people keep wallowing in this mire thinking that they only do the dirty work and add no other value.
- We want to be “liked” and praised for helping others.
Whether you agree with this or not, being “liked” is not a business competency. Part of this feeling may be that HR seeks affirmation on good things because they do handle the dark side of human behavior so often. However, this isn’t High School. Relationships are built on action – not desire.
- Try to make every priority a top priority.
You can also call this the “house is burning !!!” syndrome. HR people get flustered when people are creepy. They can tend to knee jerk and overreact on emotions that are flying around instead of asking for calm and looking to be consistent. This approach just isn’t possible and it’s senseless to try it.
- People are more proud to be in HR than being in Business.
This is unfortunate, but true. HR people will dive on the martyrdom sword to defend that they are in HR and they expect others to be empathetic to this. They aren’t. Steve has contended for years that people need to be in Business and practice HR. Every other field does this and HR is sorely overdue to catch up in this effective way to add value to organizations.
How can HR be respected?
- Be the business.
We know this is the opposite of the prior answer, but it’s a much deeper issue than you think. HR has to be as integral to the success of the business as every other department. This has to be the rule and not the exception. Also, if you want to be honest, this is the “at the table” reality that HR has been elusively striving for over the past decade. HR needs to buck up and join the band. Those that do will dominate the field going into the future !!
- Outsource things HR shouldn’t be doing.
Amen and amen !! (reference the gospel choir that sang during our session) Outsourcing is not a dirty word. The aspects of HR that are highly administrative and/or irrelevant need to go to companies who have chosen to do this work and do it well.
- Understand how HR’s work drives the business.
This is different than the point listed above. HR needs to position itself in this new role by showing how their work does drive the business. One tenet to remember is this . . . Ask senior management which departments in the organization have people. When they state “all of them do”, then HR needs to jump because since we lead the human factor of companies, you have a platform to build upon to integrate HR throughout. This isn’t the P&L/ROI/etc. argument. Those are facts of running any business. HR needs to live the business case it can perform to by showing how processes work through people – not in spite of them.
- Build relationships with all levels in the company – especially senior leaders.
This is the great “get off the sideline” charge !! The truth is that this can’t be a desire anymore. It has to be a fact. If HR are more concerned with their desks, their social media presence and brand, and their yearning to be liked than will developing viable, sustainable relationships, then they will disappear. That’s the cold, hard fact. Without meaningful relationships, HR will continue to churn as it has for decades.
- Get out in the business (physically).
Be where people are. It’s pretty simple, but HR needs to be visible where the work is occurring and not just sit in some office or cubicle dictating the next HR policy or procedure. Be the “H” in HR !! This needs to stop even coming up at Conferences. It is such a basic benchmark of great HR that it has to be part of our fabric and no longer just talk.
- Get connected !!!
The idea that HR can remain this field of isolationists is outdated. For those of us who are connected, i.e. HRevolution attendees, don’t think that the greater HR community hears a word you’re saying. Don’t make the assumption that the great work that’s being done on Twitter, blogs, blog radio, etc. is making this giant impact on the greater HR community. We have to come to terms that as excited as we are about being connected, that it’s time to reach out to those around us who aren’t connected. This is more than giving people a #FF. This is being intentional and making sure that all HR folks are learning how they can make themselves, their roles and their companies better !!
Jason and Steve ended their session with a challenge.
Coming to conferences (traditional and Un) are great, but if people don’t take a stand and do something significantly different, than it’s just another set of people talking passionately in a vacuum.
Each person was asked to stand and state what they planned to do differently in action (not write a blog post) to move HR forward in their circle of influence. There were some really compelling answers that people gave and it was so encouraging to hear that people not only wanted to participate in this session, but they wanted to see HR get better through their efforts.
So, as you read this summary, we now ask the whole group from HRevolution . . .
WHAT ARE YOU GOING TO DO TO CHANGE HR ??
Do us a favor and e-mail us. We’d love to hear from you as well as compile the great things that people are going to do. Who knows, your answer may inspire others?
Don’t blow this off. Don’t let it pass you by either. If you do, then don’t expect different results in HR !!