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.

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.

Most importantly, LinkedIn doesn’t have any Balloon Boy stories

Aaaand I’m back from my holidays.  An e-round of applause to our guest bloggers Suzanne Boyd, Jonathan Lowe, Ian Cook and Kellie Auld who did an excellent job in the last 4 weeks offering their opinion on the world of HR.  Now back to my point of view.  (Hey, I’m not being harsh here, they can go get their own blogs!)

So,  Mylie Cyrus is no longer twittering!  She said “the reasons are simple… I want my private life private – I’m done tryin’ to please.”  Wow, me and Mylie aren’t so different after all.  I don’t want the world to know about my personal life either, unless you really want to know that I’m taking my mom shopping tonight….

But what about using Twitter for business to garner more customers or revenue?  In HR, folks are using this tool for recruiting to generate interest in job openings and garner more applicants.

I previously mentioned my dislike of Twitter.  Perhaps I’m too much on the cusp of Generation Y to understand it.  For Twitter to work, you have to “follow” people in order to get people to follow you and therefore receive your latest posts looking for a “Customer Service Rep extraordinaire”.

I’m not on Twitter because I believe I’ll explode from information overload.  If it was all about business, well, I may be convinced.  But Twitter crosses the line between personal and professional and I unfortunately I’d have to wade through stuff like the Balloon Boy phenomenon.  During the in-flight saga, people went nuts posting on Twitter to the rate of 1000 tweets a minute.  OK, I get the in-the-moment frenzy, afterall I was on CBC reading the latest story.  But if I wanted to use Twitter for business, what did I really get out of this social media investment?

show me the moneyWhat I would like is to hear from folks who are using Twitter for work and using it well.  And most importantly, show me the money!  I want to hear whether or not you can prove it’s working for your business.

One thing I certainly don’t understand is the HR community’s inability to grasp the concept of LinkedIn.  For those of you who groaned, it’s not Facebook folks, it’s a professional site.  Other professionals are on it busily networking with their customers, suppliers, potential employees and even other recruiters.  The smart folks are using LinkedIn to find out about important events and have discussions with others on topics such as how employers are dealing with the H1N1 flu.

Not taking advantage of the wonderful world of LinkedIn is like telling someone “I know you’re offering me $1 million dollars but really, I can’t be bothered to do anything with it so just give it to someone else”.

I’m showing you the money.  So why are you leaving it on the table?

The LinkedIn Bible

mr burns 2If you’re not maximizing LinkedIn yet on the job or for your career, I feel sorry for you.  No, I don’t really feel sorry for you but I do think you’re not focusing enough on the right stuff.  Lucky you, I scored a great online resource to help you get the most of it.  Excelleeeent….

LinkedIn Bible: Everything You Need to Know About the Social Network for Professionals – CIO.com – Business Technology Leadership

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