Productivity paradox of social networks

Social networking tends to take a bit of a beating in the mainstream press when it comes to the business value. They seem to ignore the good examples of how organisations use these tools, such as Dow Chemical to encourage their alumni and employees on long term leave to return. In the first three months of usage they had 25,000 referrals, 24 full-time jobs and 40 contract roles filled through the use of a social network (Source Gartner).

Which brings me to two very good articles I read this week. 

First up was from the UK’s HR Zone looked at the benefits social network tools provide organisations in reducing the barriers to communication.

Organisational behaviour research has shown that collaborative Web 2.0 tools are particularly effective where technical knowledge is valued. In complex organisations like multinational corporations, finding someone who possesses highly specific expertise is often difficult. One reason is that expertise remains ‘hidden’ – and consequently unexploited – within organisational structures.

They even go on to quote a UK-based think tank indicating that social networks encourge people to create productive relationships and work the way people do.

The second was from Harvard Business Review on the benefits of social networks, focused around information discovery and sharing. Here we see figures such as 7%, 30% and even 40% improvements in productivty when employees where using communication patterns facilitated by social networks. What CEO doesn’t want 40% more out of their existing workforce!

With all this research being released I hope we will see some more positive articles from the mainstream media.

Things to extreme, including interviews

Today is day 3 or 4 of the heatwave here in Melbourne, by heatwave over 40 degrees Celsius, up to 44 a couple of times (that is 104 & 112 Fahrenheit respectively), things are a bit extreme at the moment.

To match the extreme weather it is time to learn about Extreme Interviewing.

Extreme Interviewing is a method created by the folks at Menlo Innovations, specifically Richard Sheridan and Lisamarie Babik. The idea is that traditional interview techniques do not match the culture of Agile programming environments. Agile programming is the new cool developer term for getting things done fast. Actually it is more than that it is about building the right tools for the right customers with the customers and delivery tends to be very fast.

At its core Extreme Interviewing is about matching the candidate with the organisational culture. This is done by taking candidate through a process where they have to work together and are evaluated on collaboration, and cultural fit first, then technical skills. You can read a great interview of Richard and Lisamarie on CIO where they discuss what Extreme Interviewing is all about. 

More information is also available on the Menlo Innovations web site.

Top Recruiting/Recruiters on Twitter

Twitter seems to be the flavour of the month. Every day I hear Twitter this and Twitter that, many times from mainstream press outlets.

It has taken the recruiting community a while to come to terms with Twitter. This is not a bad thing as the business value needed to be understood. I first blogged about Twitter in late November 2006, putting the tool in the cute category. My first thoughts on Twitter as a recruiting tool were in January 2007.

Things have changed a lot since then.

Now everyone seems to be on Twitter or have heard about Twitter. I know individuals who have generated significant revenues from Twitter. There is true business value.

This brings me to the list of Top Recruiters on Twitter. Originally posted about by Jim Stroud on The Recruiters Lounge, Jim used Twitter Grader to create a list of the Top 50 people who had the word recruiter in their Bio. 

Then some interesting discussions the Recruiting Blogs followed about the pros and cons of using Twitter as a recruiter. Some of the cons were allowing people to “see” your candidate list, this is suggest shows a lack of understanding about social media.

Of course some people were unhappy about being missed off the list, only because they did not list the word recruiter in their bio or had recruiting. So now we have a list of the Top 100 Recruiting users on Twitter. (Have to say that I am top of the list. UPDATE: Ok not anymore but oh well.) The list is also changing rapidly as people update their profiles to include the “right” words.

The whole idea of a list of top Twitter users is very hard to define. Twitter is about the individual and as such what I find interesting you probably will not. Also just because you have lots of followers does not necessarily mean you are the most influential in that area, although quite often this is the case.

Of interest Australian recruiters Markus HafnerDavid Talamelli and Greg Dwyer made the list original top 50. Three recruiters here in Australia that GET social media.

Talking with the Recruiting Animal

Yesterday I was lucky (or unlucky depending on your point of view) to be invited onto the Recruiting Animal Show.

The Recruiting Animal is Michael Kelemen from Canada. Michael holds a weekly live show for people to call in to talk recruiting.

I was on the show with Australian recruiters Dan Naroo, and Ross Clennett. There were others from across the pond but they don’t really count now do they :-).

Being an HR Manager in a Web 2.0 company

Many people have commented that there is still a session in the HR Futures Conference without a speaker, could they fill the slot. The issue has not been there was no speaker, more that I had too many speakers to choose from! Over the last month I have been working with several people to finalise who will speak and what they will speak about. I wanted a case study so that attendees could get an “in the trenches” view of HR , Social Media and Web 2.0.

I am very happy and excited to announce that Joris Luijke HR Manager from Atlassian will be speaking, and that the program is now full!

If you don’t know Atlassian you really should.

Atlassian is an Australian software company specialising in collaboration and development tools. An amazing success story, founded in 2002, they have 14,500+ customers, 195 employees worldwide, offices in Sydney, San Francisco and Amsterdam with FY08 revenues ~$35 million. Altlassian’s wiki product Confluence was listed 2nd in the 2008 Top 100 Australia Web 2.0 Applications, top in Gartners Magic Quadrant for Social Software report, and the founders Mike Cannon-Brookes and Scott Farquhar have been listed multiple times as some of top Australia’s entrepreneurs.

Now the talk.

I have asked Joris to cover what it is like leading the HR team in a fast growing Web 2.0 organisation, where all employees are encouraged to blog, policies are stored in a wiki and generally culture is Web 2.0 in nature.

More details to come.

Twitter for Jobs a follow up

A short follow up on my post about using Twitter to find a job and find candidates.

As a recap, Brandon Mendelson (@BJMendelson) created two hastags, Have A Job? (#HAJ) and Need a job (#NAJ), the details can be found on his blog. I said the real power was you did not need to use Twitter to access the jobs or candidates that is very true but more. Now there is a tool, Hash#Jobs that is aggregating tweets that contain the following hastags, #job, #jobpost, #NAJ, #HAJ, #employment, #recruiting, #hiring.

The tools was built by Australian developer Warren Seen (@warren_s) as a bit of an experiment.

Talent Management in a down market

Reading my feeds, news reports and email lists everyday it would seem that the world is coming to an end. Jobs are being lost, organisations are cutting back, contracts are on hold, revenues are down, generally things are bad. I know personally that business has dried up very quickly in the last 2 months.


Image from All Media Cartoons

Which brings me to talent management and the role it plans in this market. Managing talent is not just hiring, it is also about developing the good employees, and removing the poor performers. When organisations need to cut back, having a good understanding of your talent pool is critical. 

There are options features within most existing HR systems that can be used to support the potential downsizing activities of organisations.  The features needed include workforce planning, recruiting, performance, competency, learning management, succession & career planning, compensation management. Sometimes information from modules such as eLearning, training administration, and core position management are needed as well.  There are specialised tools within the HR systems framework called Talent Management Software (TMS) to support these functions and processes.

When an organisation plans a downsizing activity the workforce planning, performance management, succession planning and competency management features within the system would ideally be used as part of the decision process. Core being workforce planning, however findings from a 2008 Taleo Research report “Unified Talent Management: Vital for Australian Business Performance” indicate that 80% of organisations in Australia do not include their entire workforce the workforce planning activities instead it is usually restricted to either senior management or just high potential employees. 

So without a TMS implemented across the whole workforce most organisations are unable to clearly identify the impact of cutting certain roles from the organisation. They have no way of knowing, without significant manual work, what knowledge will exit with people on the downsizing list, what projects they were working nor the potential future roles the person currently filling the role could have filled. 

Organisations could be relying on “best guesses”, “hunches”, word of mouth or immediate manager recommendations, when identifying which roles stay and which go! At best they might have previous performance review data, at worse nothing. 

Organisations who have invested in talent management over the last few years should now have a very clear view on the impact of any downsizing decisions. Organisations without, well they might just go out of business.

Looking for a job or looking for candidates? Look on Twitter.

A little experiment in recruitment has been kicked off by @BJMendelson on Twitter. Using Twitter to connect job seekers with employers through the use of hastags. Hashtags are a community driven tagging process for adding additional context and metadata to your Twitter.  You create a hashtag by prefixing a word with a hash symbol: #hashtag.

Brandon has created two hastags, Have A Job? (#HAJ) and Need a job (#NAJ), the details can be found on his blog. While Brandon is saying he will retweet the job ads the real power is you do not even need to use Twitter to gain access to the jobs and candidates.

If you are looking for staff, head over to Twitter Search and search for the hastag #HAJ, If you are looking for a job go to Twitter Search and look for the hashtag #NAJ, (Update: Ok I go the search the wrong way around!) If you are looking for staff, head over to Twitter Search and search for the hastag #NAJ, If you are looking for a job go to Twitter Search and look for the hashtag #HAJ,  You can pull this data into an RSS feed and get the jobs or candidates delivered directly to you. 

Nice and creative!

Succession planning a critical process

Managing your talent is one of the most critical activities an HR professional undertakes. Starting with the workforce plan, the right mix of hires, supporting performance and development, to planning succession which feeds back into your workforce plan. Of these steps succession planning, and workforce planning tend to be overlooked by many organisations.

For many HR professionals one of the challenges is having the time and money to develop and execute these plans. Succession planning can be viewed by senior management as not adding value to the organisation due to the long lead time it takes before the benefits are realised.

The events over the last two weeks should be a rude awakening to all business leaders who have not supported their HR team’s efforts around succession planning.

Which brings me to Apple.

For a long time there has been speculation over Steve Jobs’s health. With even rumours of his death circulating every few months. In September 2008 Steve joked about these reports in a presentation to the Apple faithful.

Steve Jobs Health

Source: AP

Which brings us to 2009. On January 5th Steve Jobs admitted to some minor health issues, caused by a “hormone imbalance”.

Then 2 weeks later, Jobs takes medical leave until June 2009. Sending the technology world into a spin and Apple stocks dive 7%. Now there are talks of investors suing Apple over the health issues. Ouch, costly.

Time for the board to execute the succession plan.

Who will step in for one of the world’s greatest visionaries? Tim Cook. Tim has stepped in before to run Apple, during 2004 when Steve Jobs was recovering from surgery. Or could it be Philip Schiller who delivered the recent MacWorld Keynote? It seems Apple’s board has been thinking about succession. But more needs to be done, most people do not know who they are, a fact highlighted by a recent Knowledge@Wharton article on the issue.

Apple has a strong bench of executives who could succeed Jobs, but major stakeholders, such as investors, customers and partners, don’t know much about them, according to Wharton faculty. The first step in any succession plan may be illustrating that Apple is more than Jobs.

But if Steve does not come back from medical leave is Tim or Philip the visionary leader to replace Steve Jobs? Or is there another solution, like the Microsoft process with replacing Bill Gates. Business guy as CEO, Steve Ballmer and technical guy Ray Ozzie.

Succession planning matters.