HRExaminer v3.05 February 3, 2012
Table of Contents
Employment Branding is the craft of being so completely organized that you are ready with the right message for the right person when she comes along.
Let’s take that a bit further.
A brand is a relationship. Brands only matter to the people who care about them. Mention the brand name outside of the circle of people who have the relationship and you will receive shoulder shrugs. Mention it inside the circle and you can spark a conversation full of passion and opinion.
The only brands that matter are the ones that people care about.
The theory and development of branding has been reserved, historically, for companies that could afford large broadcast media campaigns. The best examples of brand marketing are consumer product companies, from automobiles to popular music to varieties of American Cheese. The term brand is used to cover a wide range of circumstances from name recognition to deep affinity.
The notion of a brand has been extended to cover some surprising things. FastCompany , the periodical manifesto for those who want to change organizations from within, extends the concept as a metaphor for personal marketing. Peppers and Rogers, the authors of popular books on database and relationship marketing, move the concept to tightly grouped members of a database.
It is useful to think about branding as an early stage technology.
Purely a 20th Century invention, branding, like many first generation technologies, began in organizations that could afford clumsy and inefficient approaches because of their sheer size. For the past 70 years, branding has been a game of extensive spending to attract large numbers of people to a single product or company.
Today, however, the tools needed to build very clear, very small niche oriented brands are readily available. Like much of marketing, the tools are now available from the desktop. This “downward evolution” of marketing, covered in our earlier work, creates both expanded opportunity and expanded responsibility at the department and operating unit level.
The combination of a multigenerational workforce and demographic/skills shortages creates a new requirement for the development of Relationships between Employers and demographically defined pools of candidates.
This process, which is an outgrowth of the emerging changes in the basic concept of management are nothing less than a redefinition of the boundaries of the organization. The combination of need and trend is fortuitous.
As the generational workforce change unfolds its consequences, the competition for employees must become increasingly precise. Over the next several years, we will continue to witness a series of increasingly successful branding exercises that focus clearly on the branding of sub-components of the organization.
What makes Company X the employer of choice for Unix professionals is unlikely to be the dynamic that attracts candidates in accounting. A brand, as it is commonly understood is a good place to start. But, the focus on being a generic “employer of choice” is an inadequate vision for effective long term labor supply management.
Please welcome William Tincup to the HRExaminer Editorial Advisory Board. William Tincup lives outside the box, leaps naked emperors in a single bound, and knows all the words to Soul Rebel by Robert Nesta Marley. William runs Tincup & Co, a firm that helps HR teams see things clearly, find solutions, and do great work. Full Bio »
A Business Case for Intolerance
by William Tincup
SHRM & HRCI are more important than anything else in the entire HR ecosystem. They are more important than you, me and or anything that’s in the cloud. <start rant>
Society for Human Resource Management
SHRM is our national association that represents all things workplace. That just is. Do they get things wrong? Sure. Do they make mistakes? Yuup. Do they represent your particular interest and/or agenda to the fullest? Prolly not. Do they listen to you? Sometimes.
SHRM has one goal… legislative power. The larger the organization, the more power it has with congress. Smaller membership equals little or no power. SHRM helps to shape ALL workplace laws. That’s what we need them to do… shape things. Here’s the rub… it can only do so much with 250,000 members. But let’s say SHRM had 3 million members; they could advance a bolder legislative agenda. Congress would take note, and we’d have better, more refined HR laws. Not the hacked up crap we usually get from congress.
SHRM tries to be all things to all people. Kinda noble. That said, we need to position SHRM in our minds differently. The sheer size of SHRM membership is good for everyone that cares about the HR ecosystem. So, using this line of thinking… SHRM membership is NOT just for practicing HR professionals… it should be for everyone in the HR ecosystem — from vendors to consultants to analysts to bloggers to thought leaders to anyone that remotely cares about talent / human / people / workplace stuff. A large professional association is good for HR professionals in that it further legitimizes the HR profession. And it really doesn’t cost all that much… prolly less than what you spend on Starbucks in a week or so.
HR Certification Institute
HRCI is the organization that helps us further legitimize the profession because they maintain and develop the certification exams PHR, SPHR, GPHR. These exams are important for both practicing HR professionals AND everyone else that interacts with them. Think of two different layers… those that studied for and those that passed these important exams. For instance, I know a large payroll and talent management provider that pays for and gives bonuses to sales executives that pass the PHR exam. While they can’t own the distinction because they don’t have enough on the job HR experience, it shows a level of commitment to the industry that most vendors that sell to HR lack. This provider understands the complexities of HR… and, in truth; it prolly helps them sell software. I’m okay with that because they cared enough to learn more about the profession.
We need more people certified and the entire ecosystem supportive of these distinctions. Again, IMHO, HR pros that aren’t certified have no business in HR. Take the test and support the profession. I get it, you’re busy… we’re all busy. Take the test. Can you imagine a lawyer not taking the Bar Exam but wanting to practice law? No. Do you want rent space in a skyscraper that was designed by an unlicensed architect? Hi, my name is disaster, have me met? Feel like submitting tax returns for your $20M firm to the IRS from unlicensed CPA? Not a chance in hell.
You get the point. We don’t argue at cocktail parties whether lawyers, architects and/or accountants are legit professions. We sure do when it comes to HR. Let’s stop that self-loathing shit. Again, you might not like HRCI… totally get that. HRCI is what we have now… so, let’s get everyone within the HR ecosystem to respect and support the profession by supporting the distinctions we do have. Those that don’t or won’t get on board… then let’s kick them out of the ecosystem. I’ve become intolerant.
If you want to fix shit. Great. Get involved… join SHRM, get certified and volunteer… and fix shit from within. But for the love of all things holy, stop complaining about having little or no voice and/or just bitching for bitching sake.
Lastly, these two things are related right? Yes, of course they are. At the core of becoming more intolerant is a pursuit of respect. All forms of respect but most notably self-respect and getting others to respect the HR profession. Tons of folks make money and/or profiteer from HR while flipping HR the bird while doing so. Let’s stop that. Let’s require anyone that intersects with HR to pay a toll… that of becoming a SHRM member and supporting our accreditation process and outcomes. Apply this to everyone… vendors trying to sell you software to analysts that sell reports to bloggers that write about workplace stuff. Filter them. Are you a SHRM member? No, then fuck you. Yes, how are you supportive of HRCI? Oh, you’re not… then fuck you. It really is that simple. Once people understand how serious we are about these two things… most will be supportive (read: get the fuck on board) and those that aren’t won’t be in business that long. So, fuck em.
Become intolerant of those that don’t really really love you. And, IMHO, those that don’t support SHRM and/or HRCI… don’t love you. <end rant>
HR and Innovation or Mama, Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up To Be SPHRs
William Tincup suggests that the HR ‘profession’ is best served by increasing the density of people with certification. According to our newest member of the HRExaminer Editorial Advisory Board (EAB), “HR pros that aren’t certified have no business in HR.” Tincup goes on to note that “We don’t argue at cocktail parties whether lawyers, architects and/or accountants are legit professions. We sure do when it comes to HR”
Somehow, certification is supposed to fix that.
(Actually, at the cocktail parties I go to, people hope I won’t talk about HR very much.)
Tincup goes on to suggest that constructive criticism (or outright distaste for) the profession ought to disqualify vendors from serving customers in the space. He seeks a land of Kumbaya where everyone is happily smoking the same dope out of the same pipe. One wonders if he’s been to many of the dismal events that pass themselves off as conferences (of course he has). He seems to think that drinking more of the kool-aid they give away there is the cure to our ills.
It was a great way for William to join the EAB. In our EAB manifesto, we say:
We are constantly on the lookout for those thinkers whose work illuminates HR Management. You are extremely unlikely to find much in the way of so called ‘best practices’ or implementation guides on HRExaminer. These things lead directly to mediocrity. Mediocrity is extremely easy to find.
Like the kind of thinker we’re looking to celebrate, Tincup noted the orthodoxy and smeared some mud on it. It was a great move. Transformation requires conflict and William lit a fuse on a great argument.
Still, mediocrity, best practices or the sharing the accumulated wisdom of HR is not going to make the profession a better place. A quick scan through this SPHR Study guide will help you understand that certification is the Gateway to jargon and a sense of entitlement that precludes innovation.
Increasing numbers of HR Departments are coming to meaningful approaches to making HR a profit center. That means reimagining the work so that it pays for itself. That requires seeing the core functions and figuring out what good they are elsewhere. To do this, you have to have a clear view of operations and the ability to rearrange those processes. The people who are good at this typically don’t want certified professionals in their organizations.
It’s not that certification is a bad thing. It’s that best practices are the opposite of innovation. The industry’s approach to licensing its professionals has no room for new ideas or the principles on which those ideas might be founded. Like good lawyers and CPAs, professional certification helps identify the sturdy and reliable players who can make the trains run on time.
It’s that having the right answer is the enemy of finding a better answer. Lawyers, CPAs and HR folks are already on the organization’s dog heap. The so called “table” is populated with un-credentialed people in product management, operations, sales, purchasing and marketing.
Further certification of HR will simply increase its irrelevance.
The debate about certification over the past couple of days has produced some interesting insights.
From what I’ve seen, the legal profession is coming under an even more withering assault than HR these days from clients unhappy with the pay-by-the-hour model. The fact that the legal field has changed so little over the past 200 years has more to do with their control over the laws and regulations that govern their industry (and the rest of us) than with any inherent perfection in their way of doing business.
More to the point and with accountants and architects, I think we are debating a couple of distinct subjects. Professional licensure is a fundamental requirement of working as an accountant or architect because knowledge of the building codes or tax laws are intrinsic to the practice of these professions. That said, no one hires Santiago Calatrava to make sure their staircases are the proper width. Compliance is like the steering wheel on your car: you’d better have one, and it had better not fall off, but there’s little competitive advantage to be gained by investing heavily in steering-wheel development.
Visionary talent management, in my mind, is about nothing less than understanding the role each person plays in creating value within the business, which has close to nothing at all to do with FMLA, HIPAA, EEOC, or any kindred acronym. At best, it is a process which at some point requires the advisory input of a compliance expert to make sure you’re not barking mad. In my view, talent management is quite simply one of the core disciplines of management. Now just because a person chooses to become a compliance expert does not mean they are tainted and incapable of mastering this broader domain, but it no more prepares them to do so than being a travel agent prepares one for running an airline. For the record I don’t think any particular business function (e.g. sales, product management, finance) is all that much better as strategic management is a combination of art, trade, science, and religion. They simply attract more of the kind of person who eventually grows into this type of manager.
The second issue, and one where I am at least in partial agreement, is one of respect. Bashing HR is the perennially-fashionable black of the business world. While Santiago Calatrava may not spend so much time these days thinking about codes, I suspect he has a team of people who do, and whose contribution he appreciates. The HR profession has its structural shortcomings (as do all such fields) but dismissing them as a bunch of undifferentiated paper-pushing drones is to deny yourself access to a lot of wisdom. Yes, the drones are many in number, but there are plenty of wretchedly backward sales managers, incompetent technical leads, and narrow-minded controllers, too. If you can’t find HR people with a desire to innovate and good ideas and a voice within their organization, then the problem may be you.
We’ve also had some interesting websites tossed our way:
- The US Government’s Office of Personnel Management is an interesting argument in favor of standardization and certification. OPM offers an amazing set of tutorials on basic HR practice including a pretty interesting set of hiring tools. The government’s HR workforce is mammoth and a centralized library of tools and techniques is an essential part of getting it right. It’s interesting that there doesn’t seem to be a government wide certification process for HR practitioners.
- The US Army makes their Recruiting Manual available to the public.
- Workforce.com makes a seven year old guidebook to Recruiting available.
Mostly, however, the wisdom of the Recruiting crowd is under lock and key. While there are plenty of publicly available HR policy templates, there is precious little open source information about how to do HR.
That’s kind of surprising when you look at the enormous load of verbiage being generated by people with blogs. (Current estimates of the number of HR blogs is around 7,500). It’s somewhat surprising, given the generous nature of most HR practitioners, that there isn’t some sort of open source movement for HR practice guides.
This is the great benefit of open, conflict laden dialog. Between the poles of Tincup’s advocacy and my cynicism, Colin’s midpoint (above) is a nice balance. While name calling is entertaining, solid discourse can produce interesting results.
Glassdoor introduces Inside Connections, company reviews from your Facebook friends
There is a lot of fuss going around about using your social network(s) in job hunting. The theory is that your friends can help you find a job. Some how, some way you should be able to bet your future on the folks you know.
On LinkedIn, it’s possible to store your resume (or its equivalent) online so that Recruiters can find you. There isn’t a very good way to actually engage in a job search. If you are disciplined enough to search for all of your friends and acquaintances, you can build a network that may expose you to some opportunities.
A trip through the pages of Glassdoor will tell you about working conditions, the job interview process, salaries and what employees think of the CEO. It’s a sort of a Michelin guide to employers. Over many years, the company has curated an enormous bounty of reviews, reports, salary data and help for navigating the internal HR process.
By itself, it’s a diamond in the rough waiting for people to come and get smart about the companies they want to work for. Increasingly, Glassdoor is recommended as the first stop in any job hunt. The primary question you can answer on the site is “What’s it like to work for Company x?”
This week, Glassdoor is merging two other streams of data to create a single environment for job hunters.
Glassdoor has always had a flow of millions of job listings. When people come to research jobs and companies, they get the webs most comprehensive picture of the inside of the company, the jobs available, what it’s like to work there and the details of the hiring process.
With Inside Connections, Glassdoor allows job hunters to harness their Facebook network to round out the rest of the services. Using Facebook to log in to the site makes it possible for Glassdoor to evaluate your network to see who can help you with the job hunt.
It’s a Social Job Hunting Trifecta. Opportunity, inside info and connections.
Glassdoor is built on anonymity and the company goes to extreme lengths to keep members’ information private. Posting a review or salary on Glassdoor is still anonymous. You still get to choose the information you share, such as your job title and location.
There are a host of services in the marketplace that try to serve job hunters by using social information. Glassdoor is the first to provide a comprehensive research environment where results are driven by the users’ social network.