Where in the world is S.E.T.H? Logging in from…

Today S.E.T.H. is going to focus on one of my favorite topics:  technology.  Trends that you can’t ignore…

Ubiquity – the horse is out of the proverbial barn – technology is everywhere and the semantic web is what the thought leaders have labelled the future of technology.  The semantic web is suggesting our stuff will be connected to the internet. 

Our fridges, clothes, etc. will do the work for us.  What does this have to do with work?  Maybe customer service jobs no longer have to wait for the customer to notice they need service, their product will do it for them, contacting your organization’s CRM, searching for information and setting up an appointment automatically.  This article explains how the infrastructure is working towards this and 50 billion devices will be connected to the web by 2020.

Back to today’s technology – every company has the ability to connect, communicate and collaborate for a very low cost, even using consumer tools if they choose.  Telecommuting is not solely for the knowledge workers.  Your organization could likely identify many tasks that could be done remotely if it chose.  We see hints of this already in the HEROES – Highly Empowered and Resourceful Operatives- concept (basically these service reps monitor social networks for comments about their products and intercede at the point of need, not based on their set shift).  We’ve all participated on some kind of online collaboration: Google Docs, Skype, Twitter, etc.  HR needs to stop trying to ban the use of these tools and figure out how to harness the power of them.  Realize your workplace may transcend borders and time zones, even if you are not an international organization.

Mobile – the devices available now enable people to connect from their phone.  The laptop is now a desktop and the tower computer is a dinosaur.  Mobile phones are more powerful than early desktop computers.  You can video call, record, learn, publish, share all with a smartphone. We may not all get a company-owned smartphone but I know of many people who carry their own.  Sometimes in addition to their company owned phone.  Do you?

Expertise location – this applies both within an organization and beyond.  The ability to locate experts in a particular thing is very valuable.  Technology can help this both internally(like Sharepoint 2010 or Cisco Pulse) and externally (like LinkedIn).  Enabling employees to access the web of expertise within your organization, field or industry is the foundation of collaboration.

Crowdsourcing – with services like InnoCentive (problems are publicly posted with payouts for solvers) – the potential for any organization to go global is huge.  There are hundreds of free collaborative tools out there – it really doesn’t matter which one you use.  It does matter that you consider them as you design work. 

People can work from anywhere/anytime and many organizations are still stuck in the face-time mode, where your worth to the organization is measured by how much you show up.  HR is put in the position where we have to create telecommuting policies and play attendance police.  I don’t know about you, but for me, this just doesn’t value my contribution to an organization.  I think it’s fair to say that technology is pushing us to options that might be outside of our comfort zones, but whether you like tech or not, it is going to change the way we design work.

Holly MacDonald is an independent consultant with well over 15 years of experience in the learning & development field.  Holly is a bit of a techno-geek and can often be found playing online.  When she steps away from her computer, she spends time outside: hiking, kayaking, gardening and of course walking the dog.  She lives on Saltspring Island and is a leader in the live/work revolution.


What’s the Future of Work? It’s all about S.E.T.H.

Human Resources

Image by zachstern via Flickr


Recently I wrote about Results Only Work Environment (ROWE) and how it presented one option of job design (or non-design).  There seems to be buzz about ROWE: Netflix kinda does it, BestBuy does it, even the Girl Scouts do it.   And Dan Pink promotes it.  I like Pink.  

I would really love to expand the simplistic equation {work = job} to {work = a variety of options to fit a variety of needs}, or something a little catchier (suggestions welcome!).  But don’t want to just blindly support ROWE.  I know that those in my “social media circle” have talked about the networked economy/enterprise 2.0 and the impact on work: herehere, here, here and here.  

I think there are 4 major drivers for this work overhaul and will take a series of posts to describe them in a little more detail. 

  • There are forces that are happening on a societal level.
  • There are the obvious economic drivers to consider.
  • Like it or not, technology will not disappear in the future, so we need to track those trends.
  • And last, but not least are the demographic or human resources aspects.

Hence the name “SETH”. 

I hope that you’ll weigh in and tell me where I’m wrong or misguided.  Futurecasting (forecasting + imagination) is not an exact science as well all know, and I hope these posts are useful or at least thought-provoking. 

Holly MacDonald is an independent consultant with well over 15 years of experience in the learning & development field.  Holly is a bit of a techno-geek and can often be found playing online.  When she steps away from her computer, she spends time outside: hiking, kayaking, gardening and of course walking the dog.  She lives on Saltspring Island and is a leader in the live/work revolution.

Fortes fortuna adiuvat

Just in case you’re one in the few people who hasn’t seen yet, here’s how a young woman to quit her job in 33 pictures in a story titled, “Girl quits job on dry erase board”.  In another time, I’m sure I would have felt very differently about how this woman named Jenny left her job.  But in a world where personality and personal connections (which HR professionals call “organizational fit”) fares equally with experience for job hunters, I think it’s hilarious!

I certainly don’t admire the fact that Jenny chose not to give her employer adequate notice that she was leaving but I do respect the fact that she had the courage to leave a position where she neither felt respected nor valued.  I also applaud the fact that she expressed her reasons for leaving.  Many times, angry workers stomp off and never express what it was that upset them – that’s a disservice to the organization (since appropriate changes cannot be made) as well as a disservice to the individual who quit (since they leave without a sense of closure).

It may seem inappropriate for a broker to publically behave in such a way – since she wants to work in a position of high responsibility and risk – but her actions may have been exactly what she needed to do in order to be noticed by the future employer of her choice.  Who knows what Jenny’s career goals are?  Even if she still wants to be a broker, she may still find work with other brokers who share her sense of humour. 

The Latin proverb, “Fortes fortuna adiuvat,” means “Fortune favors the bold.”  As the layoffs of 600 employees are announced at Service Canada, it seems that this is the time where fortune will only favor the bold.

Geraldine Sangalang is an HR pro working at the Robson Square Courthouse.  She volunteers as a BC HRMA GV CAN Networking Co-Chair, as well as a recruiter for Meaningful Volunteer.  On her private time, Geraldine loves scrapbooking, hiking, kayaking, and dining out with friends.

Remember when it was called a weblog?

A few weeks back I received an out of the blue email from a fellow HR professional, Stephanie Andrews of Alberta, asking if she could be one of our featured bloggers.  How flattering!  Thanks to our team of bloggers, this blog’s readership has grown in the last few months and now we’re starting to cross borders.  I feel like a proud mama… the HR world is coming of age and feeling more and more comfortable participating in the Web 2.0 world.

Although the internet is borderless, I unfortunately must do the sometimes uncomfortable HR policing thing and enforce the rules:  Stephanie didn’t belong to the BC HR association and therefore was not qualified to participate.  But being the rock star that she is, Stephanie submitted a draft post for my creative feedback and subsequently posted on Renegade HR.  Now she’s looking at starting up a blog with her HR association.  Can’t wait to see it and all of our writers should be thrilled that they are inspiring their profession.

So, here’s an open recruiting call to B.C. HR professionals if you want to join in on Fireside HR.  Do the self-sufficient thing and check out the details here.

 Helen Luketic is the manager of HR metrics & research at BC Human Resources Management Association.  Besides editing this blog, researching and running the HR Metrics Service, she ponders when the next season of The Bachelorette will begin.

Just back away from the keyboard

I’ve been in the learning field awhile now (since the ‘90s) and I’ve seen trends come and go.  One thing that has been very prevalent has been the persistent rise of technology to create and deliver training.  Don’t get me wrong, I love technology.  I tweet, blog, and connect with the best of them.  But, it’s with purpose.  Lots of people I talk to are trying to figure out how to use social media for internal use – training and communications, but they start with the technology, not the intent.   I’d suggest that we all back away from the keyboard just for a moment to reflect.   Don’t fall into the “solution-in-search-of-a-problem” trap.   You know the one.  It goes something like this: “have you heard of Yammer?  It’s like Twitter but behind the firewall”.  Everyone’s using it.  But, without a good business rationale for using it, it is just another cool technology tool that might end up siphoning off interest from a less-sexy technology that could really make a big difference in terms of business results.  Here’s my best advice when you are faced with the latest techno who-ha, in 3 simple steps: 

  1. Find out a bit about it.  What does it do, who uses it and why. 
  2. List the “pain points” in your organization: low attraction rate, significant number of leaders poised to retire, ancient internal systems, etc.
  3. Test latest who-ha against your list of pain points.
    1. If there is a possible match, then you can explore the option of a tool such as this (partner with IT, let them help you sort through the technology aspects).  Find out if there are others in the market with similar technology, but be careful you don’t end up with a who-ha patchwork.  Not pretty.
    2. If there is no obvious match, then you can happily shelve the who-ha in question. 

You may now return your fingers to the keyboard!

Holly MacDonald is an independent consultant with well over 15 years of experience in the learning & development field.  Holly is a bit of a techno-geek and can often be found playing online.  When she steps away from her computer, she spends time outside: hiking, kayaking, gardening and of course walking the dog.  She lives on Saltspring Island and is a leader in the live/work revolution.

When social networking, it’s all about quality

This is a meerkat in case you were wondering.

If you are a reader of other HR blogs and in particular Fistful of Talent, you’re probably familiar with the one of the main writers, Jessica Lee.  Jessica flew in from Washington D.C. to speak at last week’s BC HRMA Conference 2010 on “Social Media as the Great Recruiting Equalizer”. 

I sat up like a meerkat when I heard her say something that spoke to my recent post on LinkedIn connections, debating whether it is more beneficial to have large quantities of connections or a smaller group of quality connections.   Jessica said that the number of connections we had on any social networking site (Facebook, LinkedIn, and so on) was irrelevant.  Instead, we should care that we’re connected to the right people.  In other words, as a recruiter, it doesn’t matter if you’re connected to 500+ users, what matters is that you’re connected to people who might be interested in coming to work for your organization.  Or that you’re connected to people who know the people who might be interested in coming to work for your organization.  Sorry if you had to re-read that last sentence a few times! 

So according to Jessica Lee, it’s about quality connections, not quantity.  However, I guess what really differs for each of us is what defines “quality”. 

A few other tips from Jessica when getting started with social networking:  authenticity matters!  Don’t be afraid to show your personality and have a voice that’s your own.  Jessica’s own experience has shown that personal networks are far more popular than the corporate ones.

LinkedIn connections… is it about quality or quantity?

Recently I did a webinar for BC HRMA called “Linking Metrics to Strategy”.  Essentially the course was in response to the question “which metrics should I track?.”  While HR could report on hundreds of metrics, there’s really no point in doing so.  Instead, you’re better off choosing a few metrics that are all focussed on your strategy.   I kick started the webinar by talking about how we were taught to write an essay in highschool, where you presented one idea and then spent the rest of the essay talking about it:

Beginning paragraph – intro to your topic, present your theory, describe what you’re about to talk about
Middle paragraphs – prove your hypothesis is right or totally wrong
Last paragraph – summarize what you just said

My teachers always talked about the length of the essay and gave some sort of word count requirement.  Everyone always stresses over these word counts and inevitably the same question always came up:  would you be docked if you wrote more?  less?  The answer was always along the lines “quality is more important than quantity”. 

I always wrote alot more than I needed to.  Why?  I don’t know… perhaps I felt my work was inadequate, perhaps I thought that I wouldn’t look “smart” if it wasn’t lengthy analysis, perhaps I was just bad at editing with a critical eye.  The good news was that I never had marks deducted for making the paper longer than required.  The bad news was I was deducted for being redundant or wordy.

So, grasshopper, it is the way with HR metrics.  Tell your story, stay focused on proving/disproving the theory, summarize.  No epic novels to fill a void.  Quality over quantity, all the way.

So now, let’s switch it up –  same theme, different topic.  LinkedIn connections:  what’s more important, quality or quantity?

When I first started on Facebook, I was accepting Friend-vites from anyone that asked.  Over time I started to get uncomfortable; I had “friends” who I barely knew and who now had complete access into my personal life.  And so began the process of ignoring friendship requests and even unfriending some.  Ahhh… social media… I hate the way you make me look so mean sometimes!

So when I started on LinkedIn, I focussed on professional contacts only and stuck to connecting with people I knew.  Besides, given that LinkedIn is about building a professional profile, I figured who you’re connected to was important (and have been advised to keep my connections open for anyone to view).

But others are using LinkedIn in a different way, connecting to anyone willing to connect, to maximize networking opportunities.   If I was a recruiter, I could see making the most of this connectivity.   But if you’re trying to build an online brand and tell the world who you are and what you do, is there a benefit to connecting to everyone and anyone that asks?

P.S. Yes, my last post was an April Fool's joke.