Difficult Conversations, Ethics, Leadership, Reflective practice, Thinking differently

Your Organisation is Drifting. And You’ve Got No Idea.

New year new you!

Or something similar.

It’s natural to strive for better. You look at the previous year, note your accomplishments (high engagement score ranking – tick!) and want to build on that momentum.

What you often don’t see when you’re constantly engaging with the people within your organisation that are high performers and those that are close to you, is the organisational drift happening under the surface. You’re focusing on big changes, becoming bigger and better than the year before, all the while not realising that something insidious is eating away at the fabric of your organisation.

People may have brought individual issues up before. Some big. Some not so much. Isolated they don’t look like a pattern. Because you’re surrounded with those who are super engaged and likely are very focused on their own areas of expertise they also don’t see the cumulative nature of what’s happening.

But I guarantee your employees do.

They notice the few instances of people ‘moving on’ under cloudy circumstances with unclear communications.

They notice the difference between decisions made by management and the values of your organisation.

They notice their friends and high performers choosing to opt out after having realised that this isn’t the place with the great culture/opportunity/leadership it once was.

They see people being appointed to roles who don’t care about their teams.

They see snarky emails/veiled threats being thrown about with no consequence.

Do they bring it to you?

Probably not.

They’ve probably already made their decision. They’re out. They’re still smiling and saying the right things when you ask them, but they’re scouring LinkedIn and job boards looking for their next opportunity. They’re responding honestly when someone asks what it’s like to work for you. They’re moving to your competitors.

All of a sudden it happens. You realise that you’re no longer ahead of the game. You ignored too many warning signs. Conveniently chose to listen to those who told you what you wanted to hear, not those who would challenge you and tell you what you needed to hear.

Many organisations go down this path. Some parts of it are beyond your control. Some are well within it.

So instead of thinking of the new year as one to build on the previous – maybe take some time to reflect, engage in continuous learning practices and ‘get under the hood’. You may not like what you find, but at least you have an opportunity to fix it if you do come across something.

Human Resources, SHRM18, Working in People & Culture

Q&A with #SHRM18 Speaker, LinkedIn’s Eric Owski

Eric Owski, self-confessed sports nut, a voracious reader, traveler and above all else, a committed dad to his eight-year-old boy, leads Talent Brand & Talent Insights for LinkedIn – before that incredibly impressive role Eric was an executive at Bright (acquired by LinkedIn) where he led sales and marketing. Eric is leading the #SHRM18 session ‘Talent Intelligence: Building the Workforce of the Future’ which is getting into the detail of what we all know – your company’s cutting edge isn’t product, tech or services – it’s your people.

Eric’s passion for getting talent right comes across easily and I for one am excited to hear him speak – particularly for the passion that comes across when he discusses companies which get talent intelligence right!

Eric-Owski

What makes you tick? 

First and foremost, I’m a dad to a wonderful and curious eight-year-old boy. When I’m not hanging out with him or at LinkedIn HQ, you can find me watching a game, rooting on the Tigers, Lions, or Pistons (I’m a diehard Detroit fan, win or lose) or somewhere reading a good book. Some of my recent favorites include The Sympathizer by Viet Thanh Nguyen and Return to the Dark Valley by Santiago Gamboa. Traveling is also on top of my list of favorite things to do. I love to discover new places and often seek out the art these cities have to offer.

 

What work experience has influenced your career path the most?

At my first professional job, I held six different positions in six years. It allowed me to learn many different sides of business, and to see the whole strategic picture. What I learned during that time has helped inform decisions to this day.

 

What company (other than LinkedIn) do you think uses talent intelligence the best? Why?

Using talent intelligence means that companies are leveraging real-time insights about the movement and development of talent to inform strategic talent decisions. On average, LinkedIn sees about 10,000 requests per year for insights on talent pools, competitors, and more as the pressure to leverage data to make smarter decisions, is on.  As data reaches a maturity level where even more analytics are possible, we see companies making great progress with their talent intelligence strategies.

Take Intel for example. They were facing a shortage of software engineers at Intel’s offices in Gdansk, Poland. When searching for specialized tech talent, LinkedIn Talent Insights revealed large populations of this talent pool in neighboring cities Krakow and Warsaw. Competitive insights further revealed that professionals in Warsaw were working across many different companies, whereas in Krakow it was largely concentrated in a few top organizations. Using these insights, Intel built a strategy to run a highly targeted billboard campaign in Krakow and received buy-in from engineering leadership. This campaign, coupled with a recruitment event in the area, led to a 20 percent increase in visits to Intel’s careers site.

Atlassian is another great example. Their talent marketing team was tasked with developing recruitment campaigns that target both designers and developers. Atlassian wanted to understand the size of their talent pool in desired locations, so the team turned to LinkedIn Talent Insights. They learned that for every 25 developers in the markets they were targeting, only one designer was available. Using this insight, the team was able to recommend investing a greater amount of money in a talent brand campaign targeting the designer talent pool, in order to hit their hiring goals.

 

Do you think what Intel and Atlassian have created is transferable?

Absolutely.  Over the past year, I’ve talked to a few hundred talent leaders and the questions I hear are universal. We’ve talked about using data in talent so much that we’ve almost mythologized it. The reality is, every talent leader wants to make more informed decisions. When you’re trying to figure out where to open an office, no one wants to be endlessly debating the merits of each stakeholder’s anecdotal evidence. The right insights can quickly prove or disprove someone’s thesis and it leads to more efficient and more confident decision making. I think the vast majority of talent organizations are on their way there.

 

What do you think attendees will get the most excited by with your session?

The HR industry is feeling the pressure to use data and insights in their decisions, whether that be finding talent, or retaining and understanding the talent they currently have. Ultimately, talent intelligence can help empower talent acquisition teams to tackle both the simplest and the most complex issues. Attendees will walk away understanding how they can dig into their own data and use these insights to help build and deliver a winning talent strategy.

 

You can hear Eric speak at #SHRM18, in Chicago June 17-20 (Tuesday 19th June 2.15pm). I’ll see you there!

Career, Human Resources, Leadership, Reflective practice, SHRM, SHRM18, Uncategorized

The Disruption of HR

Disruption doesn’t happen from the inside.

The founders of Invisalign weren’t dentists. Uber wasn’t created by Taxi drivers. Airbnb wasn’t created by hoteliers. And yet now they dominate their industries after completely upending them.

The digital disruption means that everyone’s specialty is at risk of being toppled by someone else. Someone that doesn’t know your business and industry as well as they did. But it turns out that’s an advantage. Because they’re not constrained by the same limitations you place on yourself.

I’m fascinated by speakers in the disruption of HR, of how we treat people within business.

Over the past month I’ve been soaking up some gems from a few people who are the very thought leaders (without making you sick with an over-used term) who I believe will take HR where it needs to go to deliver on what the world of work needs in the future.

The futurist

I am lucky enough to know the fantastic Alex Hagan – Alex is the founder & CEO of Kienco, a workforce strategy consultancy based in Melbourne who works all over the world and as well as being generally excellent at what he does, is a lovely human. We got talking about the future of HR the other day.

The discussion centred around the ‘old guard’ (AKA those who live for policies, procedures, control and to say ‘no’), and the opportunity and responsibility of nurturing those who see the real value-add: to provide strategic people counsel and guidance to help organisations flourish along with the people within them. The ones who will guide the HR profession into the future, when the ‘no’ crowd’s value is superseded by apps and automation.

The Dr of Change

I went to a fascinating breakfast learning session the other week (often an oxymoron) where Dr Josephine Palermo spoke on the cultural disruption an exceptionally large telecommunications company in Australia – Telstra – is facing as it expands over borders and moves into becoming a technology company – rooting it’s change in the customer experience. I know. Customer experience. It’s so overdone. But what got me excited about hearing Josephine speak was this was real.

The key takeaway for me? That we need to move away from ‘best practice’ – there’s no such thing when you’re looking at such new concepts and changes. What you should be aiming for is ‘emerging practice’ and knowing your business well enough to create a fail fast safe environment.

This really resonated with me – it speaks to the core of what HR needs to understand, live and breathe and then teach others to do. If we’re all about people – then we should be modelling great change, understanding the people in our organisation (and by extension, our customers), and helping the business deliver on what’s required to meet our goals.

The Social Movement

I’m so fortunate to be a part of the #SHRM18 blogging crew – but what’s cooler about this than me being stoked to be a part of it is the company I get to keep. HR is a social beast and to continually improve we need to surround ourselves with people that do it differently, people that do it better, and learn and adapt and share what we know to help make work better – because isn’t that what we all want?

To be a part of the social movement making HR better I’ve got some brilliant recommendations of where to go:

  • (self promotion alert) check out the phenomenal crew of #SHRM18 bloggers – they’re all on Twitter and there’s also some great individual blogs that you can follow. It’s easy to set up a feed rather than subscribe to them all if that’s your thing? Feedly is a great resource to get all your blog/article/website articles in an easy-to-read magazine style one stop shop.
  • Definitely get onto HR Open Source. They are freaking awesome. What could be better than a community of people just like you (if you are also fantastic) who want to make HR and work better for everyone? There’s a tonne of crowd-sourcing of HR challenges, sharing of resources and just a great sense of community.
  • Soak up some podcasts. On your way to work? You can totally learn while you’re doing that. Check out:
    • Drive Thru HR (so good – and heaps of content!) hosted by @MikeVanDervort it is seriously good stuff.
    • HR Happy Hour – hosted by some of the best in the business @SteveBoese & @TrishMcFarlane.
    • Impact Makers from @JenniferMcClure – this is a new one but Jennifer is AWESOME and you should definitely check it out.
    • We’re Only Human – HR is about people, and Ben (@BenEubanks) is a phenomenal interviewer who has one of the longest histories in HR/work podcasting out there. Highly recommend.
    • Business, Life & Coffee @joeyvpriceHR, the CEO of Jumpstart:HR is an excellent interviewer and really expands your horizons with some really interesting business leaders and a wide variety of experts.
    • Talking People & Tech from @DaveGass & Jared Cameron looking at the intersection of HR & Technology.

(There are so many more I could go on about – but often I find out about a really good one from listening to another – it does become a bit of an addiction).

  • Get into the HR Book Club – it’s not too late! From the HR-famous (yeah, that’s a thing) @LRuettimann herself. Laurie also has an excellent Vlog series that you can access on her website.

So what do we need to do? Keep asking questions, soak up all the knowledge you can, and as you’re figuring it out make sure you share so we can all learn from you too!

HR for non-HR people, Human Resources, Leadership, Thinking differently

What’s Your HR Problem? (Or is it just you…)

HR wants a remuneration review.

HR wants to improve employee engagement.

HR wants to create a better graduate program.

HR wants to review performance management policies…

Ugh.

My problem with all this?

If it’s only HR wanting it, you may as well not bother.

You’ve got two options in your organisation:

  1. Employ a HR team to manage your legal liability, administration, check pay rates and holidays are by the book, manage recruitment… etc. Or,
  2. Be the kind of leader that prioritises ensuring you cultivate a brilliant place to work that people love and then, employ a HR team to help you and your leadership team achieve that.

If the opening paragraph of this article resonated with you (and you inwardly groaned because it all sounds so bloody familiar) I’m challenging you to consider – what if it’s not the HR team who is getting it wrong? What if it’s you?

The HR function has two primary purposes in my mind:

  • Ensure that the company is meeting its legal obligations, policies, procedures. remuneration etc. This stuff is boring critical but is crucially important for a well-functioning business.
  • Providing the leadership team with the tools, knowledge and advice so they can actualise the workplace they want for their people. This could be the cultivation of a zany, fun, creative workplace. Or a results-driven one. Or a family atmosphere. But the most critical component for me is that they enable the leadership to fulfil their mission.

What often happens instead of the latter is that either, the HR team aren’t set up for success in terms of team/experience, or, the leadership team doesn’t know what work environment they want, or they don’t think the HR team can help deliver it.

How do you figure out what your problem is?

If this is resonating with you and you recognise something has to change, I’d recommend looking at:

Step 1. Consider, where does your HR team report into?

Rather than a blanket ‘you should have a CHRO’ statement – as clearly there isn’t a one-size-fits-all structure that you can pick up and drop in – I’d challenge you to consider what your HR team’s place in the structure says about your priorities.

– Does the HR Director report to the CFO? An operational executive? Safety? What does that say about how important your people strategy is to your business?

– Do you have an HR Manager who is focused on the detail? Or someone the CEO comes to for advice, HR related or not.

– Is your HR function strategic? Has your structure been set up to give them that luxury?

Step 2. Ask yourself the tough questions:

– Are you the problem? Potentially your HR team has the capability to deliver much more than you’re currently allowing them to.

– Have you ever seen HR operate in a truly strategic capacity? If not, ask your network. What business leaders do you know who count their HR leader as one of their first ports of call when considering a strategic business decision?

– Do you really consider establishing the culture of the workplace as a priority? How much thought have you given, how much strategic planning time? How linked do you see the workplace environment to reaching your goals as an organisation?

Step 3: Conduct a HR review:

Two years ago, I completed a piece of research for my Masters on how my organisation’s shared service functions were delivering on what the operational part of the business required (and the concept of organisational drift – thanks Snook). As a part of this work I examined the literature around how shared service teams evaluate their own work, vs those they business partner with. Surprise surprise, we’re often not great at critically reviewing our own work.

Be wary of engaging a random consultant to analyse your team, instead, go with recommendations and someone who has successfully reshaped HR teams for reasons driven by the business. This can’t just be a review of your HR function either – remember, the problem could be bigger than just the team! So, as well as their capability, capacity and ability to deliver to the business, look at their remit, the support and the responsibility given to the team.

Woah! That’s a lot of food for thought. If this is something that you’re keen to talk more about I’d love hear your thoughts.

Book review, Leadership, Working in People & Culture

Your Pet Project Is Probably Going to Fail

….but there might be some things you can do to avoid it.

 

The successful execution of a project, like the creation of any effective work environment, is reliant on the leadership of the group. In a project’s case, this falls heavily on the Project Manager (PM) and Project Sponsor.

Colin D Ellis’ first book The Conscious Project Leader is an excellent guide for effective project management, and his new book, ‘The Project Rots from the Head’ really hits the nail on the head in regards to the issues with projects today and provides a guide for how project sponsors can avoid theirs ending up with the majority of projects that fail.

What Ellis gets right, that many in the project management space do not, is that projects are primarily about people – and successful projects are fruitful because of great leadership, not budgets or task lists. I’ve had the pleasure of seeing Ellis speak, and like his presentation style, the book is lively and entertaining, as well as clearly knowing demonstrating that Ellis knows his stuff. He’s passionate about people being front of mind when managing, or sponsoring a project, as it’s the people that will make it a success (or not).

Far too many times I’ve seen projects that should have been a slam dunk fail because the PM is not adequately supported by their sponsor, or worse, the sponsor has inadvertently undermined the PM’s effectiveness due to a lack of understanding of their role.

As I read the book with an HR lens, I found the lessons glaring, considering the types of projects that happen within our space, and the negative impact on the people within a workplace when they don’t go to plan (missed pays or badly planned restructures anyone?).

Ellis’ book though is not written with an HR audience specifically in mind, the lessons are universal, and due to Ellis’ easy-to-read style, also simple to absorb and apply.

Shockingly, 71% of projects fail, the Project Management Institute estimates that $3 trillion is spent annually on projects –that’s $2.13 trillion going towards failed ones each year! ‘The Project Rots from the Head’ is an excellent how-to guide, to help those that have senior leadership roles and stewardship over projects a practical way to avoid the negative statistics. The book is broken into the three key areas of project sponsorship: stewardship, decisions and results.

Ellis states unequivocally that “without strong accountability a project will fail at the first sign of trouble, time and time again.”

If you’re wondering whether this book is for you (or perhaps a gloriously suggestive New Year gift for your senior leadership team), pose yourself the following questions – which project sponsors should be able to answer:

1. What is the project vision?
2. What stage of the project are you in? (or sprint if it’s an agile project)
3. What are the outstanding decisions that need to be made?
4. What is the biggest risk to the project?
5. What is the projected cost of the project and how different is this to the business case?
6. What are the reasons for the difference?
7. What is the projected live date of the project and how different is this to the plan?
8. What are the reasons for the difference?
9. Will the benefits stated in the business case be realized?
10. If not, why not? Should the project be stopped?

#SHRM17, Career, Human Resources, Working in People & Culture

Heading to #SHRM17 as an International Attendee?

Last year I attended SHRM for the first time – it was spectacular!

Attending as an international delegate, the scale of the conference was mind-blowing – much bigger than anything I’ve attended in Australia or New Zealand. I was surprised with the number of international participants, but to be honest the biggest takeaway for me was the calibre of attendees and speakers alike.

This year the conference is in New Orleans – somewhere that would be amazing to get to!

SHRM17StreetSignLOGO

It wasn’t just the keynotes either (although they were pretty spectacular all round) – the value I got from the other attendees – in particular, the organisers, volunteers, bloggers and the people I met in the lunch lines was the absolute highlight. Being able to share in their enthusiasm for rethinking how we engage with people in our organisations and witness the evolution of HR was career changing.

As a first time attendee I relied a huge amount on the SHRM Blogger articles and the guides published on the conference website. The scale being much bigger than anything I’d interacted with before was a little (edit: a lot) daunting: multiple streams, concurrent sessions, a large venue, all meant that relying on advice from the experts in planning my time was invaluable.

Things to consider for international attendees?

  1. Check out the international lounge – you will meet a huge variety of people and it’s nice to have a ‘base’ to work from.
  2. Read up on the SHRM Blogger articles. These are the people to take advice from, veteran SHRM attendees and new additions alike, they’ve scoped some of the hottest speakers and expo attendees and will point you towards all the hidden treasures of the conference.
  3. The Smart Stage is absolutely the place to be when you’ve found yourself with a bit of time (and there’s undoubtedly a number of speakers that you want to schedule into your conference time too) – but the ‘aha!’ moments I had when just sitting down for half an hour were some of the highlights of my SHRM16 time.
  4. Plan plan plan! No you don’t have to plan down to every minute (unless that’s your thing – then go nuts!) but make sure you’ve had a good look through the schedule and find your top picks – the venue is big and if you have a must-see you don’t want to miss out because that session was at the other end of the venue or you got lost (see step 5 for getting lost).
  5. Make use of the friendly volunteers. Unless you’re a conference location savant you will be thanking your lucky stars for the hundreds of volunteers who will point you towards the bathrooms with the smallest lines, direct you to your next session and let you know where the lost property stash is for that bag you left behind!
  6. Get on to the message boards – there are the official SHRM ones you get access to with your ticket, but there will also be numerous Facebook groups spring up where people will organise dinners and you’ll hear about events happening over the time of the conference. If you’re not one to normally get out of your shell make this the exception – I’ve never met such a welcoming group of people as at these events, some who have become wonderful friends.

The most important thing to do though? Have fun! Open your mind and listen to a few speakers that have different points of view than you. Make it a mission to speak to as many different people as you can and make the most of what will be one of the best professional learning experiences you can hope for.

 

This blog post was first published at the SHRM blog for the #SHRM17 conference.

Leadership, Working in People & Culture

A Conversation With #SHRM16 Speaker Craig Briscoe

HR’s ‘seat at the table’ is something that is often waxed lyrical about, again, and again, and again. We’re given 10,000 reasons why we should already be there, why we’ll never get there, what you’re doing wrong, what your CEO is doing wrong and why we need a HR revolution to get there.

Quietly though, some organisations are evolving towards the Holy Grail of HR bloggers: a genuine seat at the table. If you’re heading to #SHRM16 you’ll be lucky enough to hear from one organisation where HR can confidently say that they’re ahead of the curve. They wouldn’t though, the lovely Craig Briscoe (VP, Human Resources – Commercial Sales and Enterprise Solutions at Dell) is delightfully humble when discussing the Dell HR team’s critical role in strategic partnership at the 110,000 strong company, emphasizing that the journey to real strategic partner is always evolving.

Craig is speaking with David Cabrera (Regional HR Director and HR Business partner at the ‘Role of HR in Dell’s Multiple Business Transformations’ session at the annual SHRM conference.

Craig describes himself as “more of a business leader with an HR bent” which I believe is exactly why he has been in a position to play such a key role in the multiple business transformations at Dell over the past 15 years. Dell itself has undergone a huge amount of change during that time – from a US centric company of around 25,000, through an IPO, privatisation and now through the biggest tech merger in history (changing its name to Dell Technologies) with the acquisition of EMC.

The process of going through multiple acquisitions, considering cultural change, determining what is important (ethics, says Craig) and what isn’t (you can keep the BBQ in your staff room) has meant that Dell is continuously learning from their experiences. These acquisitions have also meant that the HR team has fine-tuned their ability to accurately assess talent as it walks in the door. Craig says there’s been “no shortage of learning opportunities” from these experiences and the team has been able to constantly improve their approach.

Perhaps the thing that resonated with me most when hearing Craig speak about his experiences at Dell, is the fact that he doesn’t see ‘having a seat at the table’ being a choice we have to make in sacrificing great traditional HR. Rather it’s something that the HR team gets to add on top of fantastic HR consulting, generalist and specialist support. Craig describes with real respect an excellent HR leader that he works with who can strategize with the best of them, but is as equally comfortable working in the detail when required. This ability to balance between specialist/traditional HR and strategic insight results in well-rounded HR experts who have the respect of their peers and stakeholders. Craig emphasises the value of giving HR Generalists opportunities to develop in the strategic space, he says that many of our best and brightest excel in this space but are never given the opportunity to because they’re swamped with administration and the policy/procedure aspects of the role.

It is because of this that Dell have placed huge value on getting the HR structure right, being one of the first to implement a BP model with specialist centres of excellence. Craig is quick to emphasise that this is about the liberation of talented people from the transactional and it has resulted in real dividends for the business in allowing Business Partners to focus on value adds. Business Partners are often the first in the room when big decisions are being discussed, well prior to when the people implications are being sorted through. Craig takes time to keep coming back to the fact that there is no position on the HR team where it’s just thinking and being brilliant – it’s not an either or. He and other senior HR team members are in and out of spreadsheets every day, it’s a key part of their role to know the business inside out and it’s important for the team to never get too far from their roots.

Dell’s emphasis on being a great business partner to their clients has influenced its ability to harness the strategic potential of HR. In transitioning to becoming a business partner (rather than the company you just buy your server from) emphasis has been focused on the transition being in their people – because 90% of this change is in hiring and developing the right ones. This change has resulted in Dell changing how it screens for leaders differently – and Craig emphasises that HR is continually learning and evolving in this space. This has been particularly felt in high level recruitment in their worldwide operations – Dell has moved towards hiring and developing experts in the market rather than relying on expats with the technical skill set having to acclimatise to the market.

I’m so excited to hear Craig speak about these (and more) lessons he’s learned in his time at Dell. The lessons of a team who are successfully rationalizing their ‘seat at the table’ fills me with confidence that we don’t have to choose between ‘new’ and ‘old’ HR, we just have to keep learning, growing and evolving so we can make sure that we offer the best service we possibly can to the organisations we work with.

 

Originally published at the 2016 SHRM Annual Conference & Exposition site: http://blog.shrm.org/blog/a-conversation-with-shrm16-speaker-craig-briscoe

Career, Thinking differently, Working in People & Culture

How I Got My Dream Job

This is going to come across as a complete humblebrag but bear with me (interestingly this is spelled ‘bear’ rather than ‘bare’ – Google it – makes for a good read)…

How many of you genuinely work somewhere (or for those of you that consult, with clients) that really align to your values?

Not just corporate speak “oh honesty and excellence, well yeah I totally agree with those in theory” – but, right in your bones, you get to work somewhere that you’re genuinely proud of?

I get to. It wasn’t an accident. I’ve worked a few places where that wasn’t true (and one where is was the polar opposite of true). I purposefully sought somewhere where I could hand-on-heart say that I believe in what we do, why we do it and how we do it. It was a bit scary at first.

The role I began at my current organisation (OK – YMCA Victoria – it’s all over my LinkedIn and Twitter anyway :)) could have been seen as a ‘step down’ career wise. I took a role with less pay and a less impressive sounding job title – but it felt 100% right.

Why?

  • When I met with the manager of the team where I’d work I genuinely felt like he was there for the right reasons and I’d be able to learn from him.
  • When I looked into the work that YMCA Victoria do, I realised they are an organisation of action (impressively so and across a huge range of areas).
  • When I interviewed the team interviewing me where really passionate about their work. It came across really clearly and I also had a sense from both my key stakeholders (that were involved in all stages of the interview process) that they loved what they do.
  • I felt that there was potential with this organisation for future opportunities and growth.

I was hugely nervous about this decision. Actually ‘hugely nervous’ doesn’t even begin to convey just how terrified I was about the decision to leave a great job. But the payoff was worth it.

Very quickly I had confirmation that I’d made the right decision. The team I worked with was great, I was mentored by some really talented people and my primary operational stakeholder group consistently gave me extra time (while never making me feel like I was imposing) to really help me understand their world.

When I attend events or talk with my peers at other organisations I regularly feel out of place for loving what I do and where I work so much. But I shouldn’t.

I realise the economic realities and the hugely privileged position I was in to take my time in finding the right role – and being educated and skilled in an area where I can find my dream job. In saying that, I did take my time. My husband and I moved to Australia with 3 suitcases and I’ve had some shocking work experiences along the way, in both Australia and New Zealand. But being purposeful and taking a long term view has meant that I now work with people that I genuinely hope I continue to work with for 5 (or, gasp, even 10,) years.

Can everyone work in their dream job? Probably not. The way the world works means for many that holding on to a job, any job, that puts food on the table may be the driving objective.

But if you can, if there’s any way you can chase your dream job, or dream company. Do it. I cannot tell you how much my life has changed since taking a role somewhere where I’m proud to work.

 

Leadership, Thinking differently

How to Lead a Quest (book review)

The ‘Future of Work’ is very quickly becoming one of those phrases that when I hear I immediately start thinking about what I’m having for dinner.

Not because it’s a dull topic – quite the opposite! As a card-carrying HR nerd I find it fascinating – my aversion comes from some incredibly dishwater-dull speakers at conferences and ‘must read’ LinkedIn articles which espouse the importance of innovation without ever articulating what that means if you’re not a sexy tech millennial start up.

If you get excited by the idea of avoiding obsolescence (which I hope you do), pioneering into new ways of doing things and detest formulaic business books then what you need to be doing is picking up a copy of ‘How to Lead a Quest’ from Dr Jason Fox.

I don’t think I’ve ever described a business/strategy/change book as an ‘exciting read’ but here I am breaking tradition and loudly exclaiming that this book is a must read – especially, if like me, you benefit greatly from someone taking incredibly complex ideas and making them much easier to understand. #ImNotThatSmart

The added benefit of this book is the author actually manages to not only explain those complex ideas well, but make you feel like you’re now one of the smart people in the room for having read it. (I do love feeling like I’m part of a smart people’s club!)

Highlights for me (aside from Dangerlam’s awesome artwork throughout the book which greatly added to my understanding of some pretty imaginative concepts) was the blend of research-based thinking with application to many things that you run into in business when you’re intent on doing things differently.

‘Planning to Fail’ (and navigating the 9 layers of ‘Fell’/Failure Hell) is absolute gold in helping explain the failure you should celebrate (failed experiments), the failure you need to change (process inadequacy), and the failure you shouldn’t celebrate at all (apathy).

I want to provide an insightful critique here (because how else would I feel smart?) but I can’t. This book is perfection right down to the footnotes that appear at nearly the end of every page. For example, when discussing ‘culture eats strategy for breakfast’ and that your strategy shouldn’t be hiding behind layers of hierarchy or deep within documents on the intranet, Jason notes “[1] If this is the case, if people can’t find a good breakfast – they’ll default to whatever is easily available – like sticking a teaspoon into that dubious jar of peanut butter. Or that old set of performance metrics that is familiar and yet no longer aligned to the new strategy.”

How often has ‘culture eats strategy for breakfast’ been written about (so many times it is bordering on becoming a work wank word) and yet suddenly it feels relevant. Contextualizing ideas in ways that leads to intelligent conversation is a fine art and one that this book repeats again, again and again.

 

Originally published on LinkedIn

#SoMe, Brand, Personal brand, PKM, Social Media & Learning

What No-one is Telling You About Navigating Your Company’s Employment Brand Online

Are you hearing this a lot?: “future of work…blah blah blah…. millennial… blah… technological shift”?

Yes yes, it is true, it’s real, and we do need to prepare for change in the world of work. But something I’ve noticed is that we aren’t so great at preparing for is what’s just around the corner.

No I’m not talking about Generation Z – I’m talking about the critical role of social and new media in how we manage our employment brand.

You’re reading this – so I know you can use LinkedIn, Google… maybe even Twitter? I love social media for professional development (and those that know me hear me wax lyrical about it all. the. time.) – but social media for PD is an option for business folk. You might use it, you might not, but it won’t really impact on your ability to do your job (yet).

Something that is right around the corner (and already here if you’re in a big market like the U.S.) – the proliferation of employer review websites and apps. The potential impact on employment brand from social and new media is huge.

You might have heard of some of these review and information sharing platforms: Glassdoor, Vault & JobAdvisor, and apps like Whisper and Canary. If you haven’t, you will.

The likelihood of your organisation getting reviewed or spoken about on one of these platforms in the next year? Growing exponentially.

The likelihood of most HR professionals and business owners knowing how to navigate this tricky topic? Not great.

These sites are to the world of work what TripAdvisor is to the travel industry: an incredible opportunity, but a force to be reckoned with. Just one negative review might dictate 100% of your organisation’s rating on such a platform.

So wait… what?

The platforms I’m speaking about are already common in the USA… and due to the global nature of technology and it’s impact on trends in the workplace it won’t be long until your CEO or investors are asking you why weren’t you on top of this?!

A bit of a rundown on the kinds of platforms I’m referring to:

Glassdoor         
One of the most well-known of these sites, Glassdoor is a US-based site where employees (and former employees) anonymously review companies and their management and can post salary data. Glassdoor includes options for employers to pay for an enhanced profile.

Vault 
Vault is all about ranking and reviewing companies, internships and schools. With a wider scope than Glassdoor it seems to be more focused on the graduate market.

JobAdvisor 
This Australian based site is similar to Glassdoor (except I like the interface better) and has a few more Australian employers listed – similar to Glassdoor & Vault it uses a ratings system and gives you information from individual reviewers based on ‘pros’ and ‘cons’.

Whisper 
Whisper wasn’t originally billed as a site to review employers – but it is increasingly being used in reference to user’s jobs, the base concept being it is an anonymous secret sharer where users post their secrets online. It is possible for workplaces to feel the heat from this app (as there’s nothing stopping users naming their workplace in their confessions).

Canary 
Billed as ‘anonymous company chatter’ this app allows users to ‘share insider news, thoughts and rumours with your co-workers’. Aside from the potential intellectual property and privacy concerns Canary is designed to facilitate gossip, which, when it’s anonymous, is potentially an HR  (and PR) nightmare.

Don’t panic:

Just start by getting familiar with these platforms, as well as Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook along with any other collaboration systems your organisation uses if you aren’t already comfortable with them.
Conversations are going to happen, disgruntled employees are going to post damaging things online. We can write all the policies and procedures we want, but the idea of completely mitigating the risk in this space? Impossible.

What do I need to do?

  • Get familiar with these platforms yourself.
  • Asses whether your organisation is already being talked about.
  • Get out ahead: encourage your star staff to engage in this space – next to 20 stand out reviews, 1 negative review won’t look so bad. But if potential employees, stakeholders or customers just see the 1 negative one? Not good.

wordcloud future of work

Repost from LinkedIn article published 6 September 2015