Taleo announces restatement & stock down 21%

At the begining of last week Taleo announced a restatement of their 3Q results due to revenue recognition issues. At which point the stock dropped from US$12.01 on Friday November 7 to US$7.83 by close on Tuesday November 11.

“Our auditors have asked us to re-evaluate the timing of certain elements of our revenue recognition,” said Mike Gregoire, Chairman and CEO of Taleo. “This is a timing issue, and does not impact the total amount of revenue that Taleo has under contract. Taleo continues to accelerate along many vectors, as we develop innovative new products, penetrate new markets domestically and internationally, and build a platform and community that will define the future of Talent Management. In addition, our customers will continue to receive the same high level of software, services and support from Taleo that they have in the past.”

However things got even worse for them overnight with a class action lawsuit being filed by Johnson & Perkinson on behalf of investors resulting in another 21% drop during trading! Shares are now trading at US$6.05 down from a 52 week high of US$34.20. Not the sort of news the leading Talent Management vendor needs while still trying to digest it’s Vurv acquisition.  Interesting Taleo paid US$123 mil for Vurv and their market cap is now at US$190 mil.


Job loss news continues to be bad

Everywhere I turn at the moment there is more and more talk of job losses! it does not seem to matter what your industry is jobs are disappearing quicker that most news rooms can report on them. A quick round up:

The average job line might soon look like this.

Finding a job

Not only are jobs being lost but at the end of October it was estimated that $1 billion per day was being lost from our retirement savings.

But wait all is not doom and gloom, if you are a CEO your salary rose by 96% in the last six years vs the workers you are now sacking their pay packet only went up by an average of 32%. The average CEO now makes around $5 million per annum or $96,000 per week. In other positive news Indian outsourcer Tata is still hiring about 100 people a year.

How inspiring! Time for a coffee, or maybe a stiff drink!

Social media sacked employees and The Mother Test

First let me say this is not new people have been losing their jobs for years based on what they publish online, it is now the services being used are changing slightly.

Last month Virgin Atlantic sacked 13 cabin crew for criticizing the airline and its passenger on Facebook.

The action follows an investigation into the remarks posted on Facebook, which concerned planes flying from London’s Gatwick airport and insulted passengers, as well as reportedly saying the planes were full of cockroaches.

“Virgin Atlantic can confirm that 13 members of its cabin crew will be leaving the company after breaking staff policies due to totally inappropriate behaviour,” the airline said in a statement.

This week Australia forklift driver, Matthew Garry Ward, was convicted of breaching safety laws by conducting burn outs and two-wheeled stunts on his company provided forklift. How did he get caught? A video on YouTube, which unfortunately is not longer available, was found by a fellow employee and reported to management. Matthew had filmed the stunts using his mobile phone and posted it on YouTube. Before being convicted he had previously been sacked by his employer, Australasian Pipeline & Pre-Cast Pty Ltd.  The WorkSafe media release indicated that forklifts were one of the most dangerous pieces of equipment in use at workplaces.

WorkSafe’s Executive Director (Health and Safety) John Merritt, said forklifts were among the most dangerous pieces of equipment in Victorian workplaces accounting for 56 lives since 1985.  Of these 19 were forklift drivers. 

Once again while companies need to be careful of what is published on social media sites so do employees. It is going to be a long time before anyone using search engines to background check Matthew Garry Ward before his activities do not appear, not to mention any basic police check will reveal the conviction.

This comes as US President elect Barack Obama requires all applicants for senior positions in his government to disclose online activity and complete a seven page, 63 question job application process which includes:

“If you have ever sent an electronic communication, including but not limited to an e-mail, text message or instant message, that could suggest a conflict of interest or be a possible source of embarrassment to you, your family, or the President-elect if it were made public, please describe.”


“Please list and, if readily available, provide a copy of each book, article, column or publication (including but not limited to any post or comments on blogs or other websites) you have authored, individually or with others. Please list all aliases or “handles” you have used to communicate on the Internet.”

My 5 tips for managing your brand online is called The Mother Test:

  1. Make sure you have a consistent profile you are willing to show your mother. It is very hard if not impossible to remain completely anonymous online, even if you never use your real name. For example I know of several bloggers who blog under anonymous names, but I also know who they really are. 
  2. Make sure you don’t do/say anything you would not be proud to show your mother. You might not want your mother to see what you have done, but if you had to show her and example yourself would you be proud of what you had done?
  3. Make sure you don’t post pictures/videos you would not be willing to show your mother. Like doing or saying things online, if you had to explain yourself could you and would you be proud of what you have done?
  4. Is your reputation online one your mother would be proud of? You might not specifically say or post anything that is suspect but we all have a reputation, even on sites that are password protected. 
  5. Would your activities online make your mother trust you? Trust is the ultimate test of what you are doing and defines your integrity, ability, or character. 

If you don’t have that sort of relationship with your mother, substitute with your father, children or grandparents.

Year End != Performance Management

Today I was catching up on some of my feeds and noticed many of the major HR technology related blogs I follow were discussing performance management, for example Jason, Meg, Justin and, it even gets a mention on Thomas’s blog. So I felt I would get in on the game.

So let’s start at the beginning, what is performance management?

an approach to help the individuals within the organisation focus on what needs to be done to help the organisation meet its overall goals

(Paraphrased from the Performance Management unit in the AHRI Professional Diploma)

There are lots of models and method for doing performance management but as Jason says in his post:

Performance management should be about making, supporting and visualizing decisions for all levels of management that drive corporate performance.  It should cater to every talent stakeholder and answer the question that are important to them such as…

  • Managers – How do I reward and penalize individuals and teams based on performance?
  • Directors – How do I analyze and compare the performance of my team against other departments and divisions within my company?
  • VPs – How can I model my group against other high-performing regions, geographies, roles and skills to drive my company’s performance?

It is not about giving a rank to an individual based on the last X number of months work. Taking this further Justin brings up four good summary point:

1.  We believe in the concept and vision of daily performance management

2.  We believe in a future-facing performance management environment.  

3.  We believe in open lines of communication between the manager and the employee

4.  We believe in customised and relevant content in the performance evaluation

I have to say I agree with what everyone has said, and that your technology enabling performance management needs to be more that just filling in an apprisal form online!

Even more so if we assume that a vast majority of workers are now knowledge workers. Knowledge works is by it’s very nature ambiguous, complex and tends to have long feedback cycles (you don’t press a button to see a result), where employees tend to work autonomously but require collaboration with others both internally and externally to get the job done. Add to this that the outcomes tend to be more important than the process followed. (I know there is a whole core competency discussion here as well.)

So really the performance management process needs to be about supporting or facilitating the performance ahead of time not looking back. This of course needs to be part of the broader succession, development, learning, and workforce planning process. And it is not just an end of year thing!

Once the right process is being used we can then add the technology!

Career websites and your brand

Wanting your employees to feel proud of working for your brand is one key part of retention, there are many others but today I am only talking about brand. You also need the best candidates to want to join your organisation, not just anyone who needs a job. The term “best candidate” does not only refer to the best skill fit it is also the best cultural fit between the candidate and your organisation. This is why employment branding is such a hot topic in attracting and retaining staff, even in tough economic times. Let’s not forget the employee value proposition and the organisation culture are important drivers of employee engagement. Which we know without organisations struggle to deliver customer value due to the strong relationship between employee engagement and customer satisfaction. 

Best in class practice indicates that during the recruitment process organisations should target, engage, inform and respect candidates (borrowed from CareerXRoads). In addition it is very unusual for a candidate not to spend a bit of time reviewing a company before attending an interview. 

It is through the career’s website, and it’s links, that candidates answer the above questions and gain an insight into how an organisation will treat them if they were employed.

So what should be included in a best in class career website?

  • Does the site match the overall brand of the organisation? Most marketing executives would never let a print media be in non-compliance with the corporate brand so why should the career’s website be any different?
  • Can candidates determine if you have the right type of roles for them?
  • Do you explain the recruitment process so they know what to expect?
  • Do you promote the benefits of working for your organisation?
  • Do real employees provide testimonials of what it is like to work for the organisation?
  • Does it match the culture of your workforce? No point having a hip web site to appeal to Generation Y, only for them to start work and find a old school organisation focused more on command and control than free expression.
  • Is the site easy to find from the main corporate web page?

I want to pick on AMP for a minute. For my international readers AMP is a funds management company employing just over 4,000 people looking after around A$117 billion of assets under management. While the content about careers on their main web site is nicely integrated into the overall brand, the same cannot be said for the job search and application process on http://careers.amp.com.au/

By clicking the links below you will see what I mean.

Main Careers Site

Main AMP Careers Site

Jobs Site

Jobs Site

This is worse than just a bad or few missing images and a bad stylesheet. Most of the links back to the main corporate site do not work following a recent re-launch of the main site! If someone’s first entry point to AMP is via this site they are going to have a VERY poor experience. Does it show AMP is engaging, informing or respecting candidates, not at all.

So what message does this send to a candidate, maybe something like “Our marketing machine is really good, but our administrative processes are badly designed and maintained”? What about internal employees? Even more so what about the marketing team, are they aware of such a bad image?

Some potential costs to AMP of this poor integration:

  • What the abandonment rate is from the front page careers.amp.com.au site? How many people get to the site and go “Oh my what a mess” or “Am I in the right spot”? 
  • I’m not a legal eagle but are there not regulatory issues some of those broken links?
  • Some of the images on http://careers.amp.com.au/ seem to be referencing previous corporate branding approaches, does that not de-value the new approach?
  • Does the lack of integration reflect on AMP care with their investors money, I doubt it but you never know.
  • Missing out on the great candidate who abandons the application process part way through due to the branding mistake.
Any others?

Halo HP’s Telepresence Solution

Yesterday I attended a media event, as a blogger, for the Australian launch of HP’s Halo Telepresence product. The event was simultaneously held at HP’s office in Sydney and Melbourne using HP’s Halo product and included a Halo hook up to the US and audio hook up to HP’s PR company.

Down to the product:

  • It is telepresence, nothing really new here
  • HP has built a nice control panel to make using the service very user friendly
  • Halo allows both laptop sharing and a tabletop camera for the sharing of physical objects
  • It allows you to include non Halo endpoints from suppliers such as TANDBERG and Polycom
  • They have a gateway to also include endpoints that support ITU H.323, H.320 and SIP
  • A majority of the devices in each room have IP addresses assigned which means they can be maintained remotely
  • All Halo rooms have access to Halo’s 7×24 Concierge service for support.

Where the product is a little different from other systems is in the installation. HP have built Halo to be a fully managed solution, from installation to deployment and operations. All Halo rooms are connected to each other via the Halo Video Exchange Network (HVEN) a specialised fibre optic network run by HP just for Halo, HP install a 45Mbit (also called a DS3/T3) link into your premise. This enables several benefits such as reliability, bandwidth availability and cross company collaboration.

Like many I have experienced old school video conferencing before with all the issues of latency, crappy images, and crap audio. Halo, like all telepresence solutions, is none of that. The Halo meeting rooms is purpose built panelled in light brown fabric (to enhance audio), with half the room taken up with a board room table. In front were three 42″+ HD screens, at table level, with a fourth screen above for control.

On the three table height screens were the other meeting participants, almost life size and disturbingly really. The audio quality was fantastic, you heard all of the subtle noises from the other rooms, just as if the people were in the same room as you.

HP Halo

HP’s sales approach is, to reduce travel, increase productivity and support the environment, in fact the theme for yesterday’s launch was the environment with several presentations covering all the things HP is doing to be green.

My thoughts?

This is not for small business with the basic solutions starting well over A$100K not including the monthly managed service charges.  Having said that for large enterprises any product that improves productivity or reduces costs is a bonus, especially in these tough times. HP claim to be cutting up to 20,000 trips during 2008 just due to having Halo installed globally and that ROI is achieved by most customers within 12 months.

The almost real life nature of telepresence allows for significantly more interactive meetings then are possible over pure audio or older style video link ups. However given the price tag maybe virtual worlds are a better choice for many organisations who want collaboration?

Brands and Social Media

I am pulling together a bit of research into which brands are doing what with social media in Australia during the process I uncovered some interesting statistics which I will share. The list of companies I started with was the BRW Top 200 and added a couple of well known brands for the companies when required (eg Big Pond for Telstra).

  • Lots of people a squatting on accounts using the names of the top 15 companies in Australia across a wide range of social media sites.
  • The sites with the highest number (17 occurrences) of accounts (real or squatting):
    • Blogger
    • eBay
    • GMail
    • Live Journal
    • Yahoo
    • You Tube
  • The sites with the next highest number (16 occurrences) of accounts (real or squatting):
    • Twitter
    • MySpace
  • Most of the companies seem to have their brand being hijacked on at least one site, some have higher rates than others due to their brand also being general name, eg Shell.
  • The companies with the non general brands with the highest number of accounts (real or squatting):
    • AMP (33 times)
    • NAB (29 times)
    • Coles (29 times)
    • Qantas (19 times)

This work is completely unscientific at this stage but still enlightening, might do some further work on it.

Update: I’m calling this practice “social media squatting”

New content and products

Over the last week I have released a few new items on the Inspecht site.

  1. Short introduction on how to use Google to find candidates
  2. Quick overview of some key social media and Web 2.0 terms
  3. Email marketing campaign tool

The first two probably make sense to most readers but the third might surprise a few of you.

Email marketing

While blogs and RSS are where the digital natives hang out, many people have not moved away from email as a major communication method. There are two variations of the service, first is designed for internal recruiters and the other for agency recruiters. For internal recruiters the tool can be used to create newsletters to stay engaged with their talent pool, advertise specific career fairs to a specific audience and promote specific jobs to the talent pool. For agency recruiters the focus is on specific jobs to their mail list.

Why is this tool different from regular email?

  • Preview the email as you build it
  • Custom templates to match your corporate guidelines for jobs, newsletters, graduate events, what ever; you are in control
  • Control over sender information
  • Scheduled delivery options
  • Track who forwards your email and how many times
  • Detailed reporting covering who opened your emails, who clicked on which links, and who unsubscribed
If you are interested in this brand new product drop me an email and we can talk further.

Relocation activities

Just a quick post to belatedly let you all know things will be a bit quiet for a few days while I move house. The process started about 4 days ago, and while most stuff has been completed I suspect blogging will be a bit light until next week.

Anyway I am sure you all won’t get bored, there is always the US election coverage to follow.