The First Step in Disruption May Be the Conversation: #rcnvsTexas

rcnvs-austin-texas-30I just returned from Houston where I attended #rcnvsTexas – an event focused on the general topic of Disruptive Talent Technology and, more specifically, on providing in-house recruiting and HR professionals with a forum for discussing talent technology in 2016 – from the ATS to referral engines to mobile apps to video.

#rcnvsTexas has been planned and coordinated by the folks at Reconverse (making their first foray into the US after hosting 140+ events in the UK over the last several years) and the crew at Recruiting Daily. This was not a sit-and-listen event; HR & TA professionals who attended were not lined up, row after row, with notebooks in hand. Nope. Instead we had a balance of (1) brief speaker presentations (2) a case study/example from a global TA professional (50,000 candidates to hire 350 top achievers.. wow!) and round Table Discussions (with wine might I add) and (3) Solution Partner Speed Meetings.

I particularly enjoyed the speed meetings; picture a speed dating event (I felt like Miranda in Sex and the City…remember that episode? She pretended she was a flight attendant?) only on one side of the table sits a solution provider and on the other side sits the HR/TA professional. Key needs? Top pain points? Knock out questions? Pertinent details? You have 10 minutes to find out if this is someone with whom you may want to go and grab a cup of coffee or attempt a first date. More meaningful than a fly-by at a conference booth; far less painful than a scheduled phone call or demo.

Did I head home ready to disrupt my HR department? No. Well, sorta; but then again I have those thoughts anyway. I WILL tell you that #rcnvsTexas gave me additional ideas in order to poke, prod and explore ways in which change – improvement – and perhaps a bit of disruption – can happen.

The conversation, after all, needs to occur before the action.

Thanks to the solution providers who participated including, among others, Rolepoint, Clinch, HiringSolved, Powermeeter, and Social Talent.

Follow along as the group (they’re on a bus!) holds events in Austin (today) and Dallas/Forth Worth on Friday. Dueling hashtags (because apparently we couldn’t decide) are #rcnvsTexas and #rcnvsTX.


Data, Systems, and Workforce Management – #KronosWorks

icon-actionI’m thrilled to be attending #KronosWorks for the 3rd year in a row. I always have a great time and I’m thankful the team at Kronos keeps inviting me back. Even after I had a bit too much wine at dinner a few years back and gushed all over Joyce Maroney. Hey… she runs the Workforce Institute and is just awesome. It was justified.

KronosWorks is a user conference in every sense of the word of course; there’s one-on-one access to Kronos employees, experts and partners. Customers will get the first-look at new technologies and product enhancements. There will be battle-hardened HR and Payroll practitioners sharing their tales from implementation past and present – “here’s what worked for us” and also “here’s where we dropped the ball.”  Over glasses of wine and between rounds on the slot machines attendees will share tips, tricks and system hacks that make their jobs easier.  (aside: having run payroll in the past, I can attest that there is nothing – dare I say nothing – that payroll folks appreciate more than a labor saving/error-reducing hack).

And Aron Ain, CEO of Kronos Incorporated will take to the stage like a dynamo. Seriously; this guy is great to watch.

One of the aspects of Kronos I particularly like is the manner in which customers are placed in industry verticals. From sales to implementation to engagement to ongoing support, customers find a home based on their industry:

  • Education
  • Government
  • Healthcare
  • Hospitality
  • Logistics
  • Manufacturing
  • Public Safety
  • Retail
  • Service Industries
  • All industries

At KronosWorks this allows customers from specific industries to meet, greet and network with peers who have the same or similar workforce issues. Trying to manage scheduling in a retail environment? It’s easy to find an HR/Payroll gal/guy who has implemented a scheduling solution. Dealing with 5 unions and multiple Collective Bargaining Agreements in your municipality? Find a buddy from government who has managed the same headaches. (another aside: a few years ago at Kronos Works in Orlando I hung out with a bunch of attendees who managed HR and payroll for various fire and police departments. Oh the stories!)

I’m ready for the day and I’m looking forward to great speakers, superb interactions and, perhaps, a lucky spin or two on the roulette wheel during breaks.









Great HR: Technology Driven HR – #HRTechConf

macbook on tableI had a conversation with a colleague the other day about the upcoming HR Technology Conference and Exposition. “Do HR practitioners attend?” he asked. “I always thought that conference was for IT people.” I had to set him straight.

I told him that not only do HR professionals attend (en masse!) but they come to learn. Just a glance at the agenda shows that session topics cover current and future trends across the entire spectrum of human resources – everything from workforce planning to talent management to employee communications. The Expo Hall, my favorite place to get lost for hours, is certainly one of the largest gatherings of HR technology vendors in one place at one time. 

Of course, as the name implies, everything at the conference is anchored by technology. Unfortunately that can make some HR professionals nervous. They wonder if they’re up to the task of diving into a world populated by programmers, UI designers, and people who discuss algorithms for fun.

They shouldn’t be scared. They should be curious.

Read the rest at the HR Cloud blog….


Social Then. Social Now. #NewWaytoWork

Ibm_px_xt_colorWhile I’m certainly not a proponent of holding meetings for the sake of meetings there is value in getting together face-to-face with co-workers, colleagues or clients to ruminate, ideate, and, perhaps, innovate. Hearing a voice, looking someone in the eye, and making a human connection adds richness and depth to any working relationship.

That being said, the typical “team meeting” is not necessarily the optimal manner in which to accomplish any of that. Over the course of my working life I’ve attended my fair share of excruciatingly painful meetings and recently got to reminiscing about how – not that long ago! – the process usually went something like this:

  • The manager sent an email requesting agenda items for the upcoming weekly meeting; this email chain quickly grew to massive unwieldy proportions.
  • 85% of the invitees replied; the annoying ones used “reply all”
  • Based on the newly projected length of the gathering the manager decided to hold a ‘working lunch’ (11 AM – 2 PM).
  • She then sent another email asking everyone to choose a preferred food item (lunch to be delivered!) from an attached menu.
  • At least two team members responded (“reply all”) and reminded the manager of their food allergy and/or their need for a vegetarian/low-carb/fat-free option.
  • The day before the meeting the manager emailed the agenda to the team and, inevitably, several people requested changes or additions thus resulting in yet another lengthy email chain.
  • One hour before the start of the meeting the manager (or her designee) printed 15 copies of the agenda and all supporting documents (collated and stapled).
  • The meeting began at 11:15 (when the last straggler finally arrived) and lunch was delivered at 1:15 by which time all in attendance were famished. Despite agreements to end on time the meeting dragged on until 2:55 PM.
  • The next morning the cycle began anew.

Note: Naturally before the widespread usage and availability of email (i.e. back in the dark ages when I started working) these tactical planning maneuvers occurred through a combination of telephone calls and memos delivered via inter-office mail.

Obviously, all of this tomfoolery occurred before any actual productive work was done.

Lunch, however, was usually good.

Social Then. Social Now.

Fast forward to 2015 and the new way of working includes social workflow in an entirely different fashion. Organizations are using Enterprise Social Networks (ESN) to communicate, collaborate and work together in a whole new manner.

This is not just taking broken and ineffective processes and layering technology on top of them in some approximation of workflow optimization. Rather, incorporating ESNs and Online Communities in the workplace is about replicating the social and personal interactions that we crave as human beings while using technology to support and enable work. It’s removing the ridiculousness of that 3-hour team meeting yet maintaining the personal interactions and relationship building fostered by gathering together (even virtually) with a shared purpose.

While ESNs offer analytics, dashboards, and repositories for data and documents, many also incorporate video, messaging capabilities, and networking channels that promote real-time interaction. It’s pretty cool stuff; I was once part of a team that implemented an ESN to drive communication and cross-functional collaboration and we saw an increase in both the sharing of tacit knowledge and innovation focused on both short-term project completion and long-term planning and revenue growth.

As a member of IBMs #NewWaytoWork Futurist Group I recently received access to the latest IDC Study entitled: Worldwide Enterprise Social Networks and Online Communities 2015–2019 Forecast and 2014 Vendor Shares. If you want to read it (there’s some interesting information) you can download the report here with a quick registration. Also a shout out to our friends at IBM; they’ve been named the Worldwide Market Share Leader in Enterprise Social Networks for 6th Consecutive Year by IDC.

Bringing the Horse to the Water

Just because we build it – or implement it – doesn’t mean they’ll come though. Horse to water…am I right? If there’s a story I’ve heard many times over it’s “we reviewed products, vetted solutions, purchased a technology, and trained employees. But no one’s using it.”

Implementing anything new into an organization requires that a few key things occur; the initiative must be championed at the highest level while simultaneously being embraced and promoted by employees in the trenches who are gaining the benefit. Are change management skills required? Absolutely. Which sometimes becomes a challenge for leaders and HR professionals who, let’s face it, have often been the slowest ones out of the gate regarding technology; something they’ve viewed as inherently complex, frightening and creating transparency with which they’ve never been comfortable.

Remember though…those leaders and HR folks got just as nervous, once upon a time, about instant messaging, cell phones and email. (I have to go where and check what? I have to keep it open all day?).

Have you implemented an Enterprise Social Network? Thinking about it? How did you reinforce behaviors or promote new actions? What lessons did you learn?

Let’s discuss!

Note: follow IBM Social Business on Twitter and check out the #NewWaytoWork tour; events are scheduled for all over the country!


Big Data for Big Tools

toolboxI read an article yesterday from the Wall Street Journal entitled “Are Companies Any Good at Picking Stars?” in which the author stated that despite companies having more data than ever (big data!), predicting which employees will be successful is still more an art than a science. Those of us who pay attention to HR technology trends know that seemingly every vendor out there is scrambling to bring anything they can label as ‘predictive analytics’ to the market. Am I right? (You know I am).

As the article reminds us “makers of HR software are beginning to develop their own solutions, claiming that algorithms built using an array of metrics—from an individual’s 401(k) contribution to promotions to connections on the corporate social network—can yield information about high potentials.”

Yeah. I really want to see the employer side attorney who gets to litigate the class action suit that arises when a bunch of employees decide they were passed over for promotion because their employer was analyzing data that included their 401(k) contributions.

Now, were I the attorney for the company, I imagine I could argue that using this data point had absolutely no disparate impact on any class of protected employees; nothing at all to do with race or age or gender, et al. After all, I might argue, according to an oft cited report from the US Social Security Administration’s Office of Policy, 401(k) participation and contribution rates are not related solely to income and age. Rather, participation and contribution rates appear to be related to an individuals’ propensity to plan as well as the existence of a match (and the rate of the match) as well as access to the right mix of funds in the plan.

The research also finds that Overall, the results confirm earlier findings that age, income, and job tenure increase the probability of participating in a 401(k) plan. Education is not statistically significant, a result that holds regardless of how the education variable is specified. Age has a large impact. An eligible worker between the ages of 25 and 34 has a 14 percent greater probability of participating in a 401(k) plan than a counterpart under age 25, and the probability increases for workers aged 35 to 44. Interestingly, for workers aged 45 and over, the probability of participation is only 11 percent greater than for workers under 25.”

Also… “job tenure has a statistically significant impact; as noted earlier, one additional year of tenure raises the probability of participation by 0.7 percentage point.”

So…we can assume that if Gina is over 40 and has been with the organization 10 years (the mean is 9 years) her 401(k) participation is higher than her coworker who is 34 and has only been with the organization 7 years.

But then we get to contribution rate. According to that SSA report “….age, the presence of a defined benefit plan, and the wealth in that plan are no longer statistically significant, and education remains insignificant. In contrast, a short planning horizon continues to have a statistically significant and important effect: a planning horizon of less than 5 years reduces the contribution rate by roughly 1.2 percentage points. The contribution rate is positively related to wealth, which again suggests that the variable reflects a taste for saving. Household income has a statistically significant negative effect.”

What if Gina, who attended a state university in the Midwest, is competing for promotions against a bunch of Ivy League guys/gals with family wealth? What if Gina, a superstar employee, is not socking away as much money in her 401(k) as Tripp and Buffy? What if Gina, who does not have a trust fund, is supporting her extended family back in the Midwest and thus, at this stage in her life, is not bulking up her personal retirement plan?

Why in the world should ANY of that have anything to do with assessing Gina’s potential?

I’m all for using data to make appropriate decisions; we surely need to do a better job of that in HR. Let’s definitely look at hiring data, performance metrics, employees’ networks and collaborative reach and impact. I want us to pull in organizational data like sales figures and output and production. We need to gather and sync external market and economic data, trends and forecasts.

We don’t need to reach end-ways around our behinds though to make a labored connection that seems to indicate an employee making a 12% contribution to his 401(k) doesn’t have the same leadership chops or mental acuity as the employee who contributes 18% to her 401(k).

Give me a break.


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