This time it’s personnel – for all HR authors

This time it’s personnel – for all HR authors

Happy New Year and I hope you all had a great Christmas. I deliberately left you alone and went quiet for a bit – but the relentless, trundling communication will now return in earnest.

This post is an update for any authors – or potential authors – wishing to contribute to the follow up to Humane Resourced. If you’d like to join in then fill in your details here – if you know anyone who you think might then please share this link. Key points

  • all for charity
  • no experience needed
  • don’t be scared

We have over 60 authors signed up now so we are well positioned to create a book that is longer than the first and even better. The first chapters have been created (very exciting) and more people are contacting me for passwords or contact details to submit their chapter. I’d like to get to over 70 authors – so please think about how you might know who could add something to the book. Remember we are working towards early Feb for having chapters completed.

I could do with your help on the following things

  • we STILL need more US authors. If you know any people who’d like to contribute then please share and encourage. Remember, we are going for the #1 spot in the US charts and so the more US contributors we have the better – both in terms of reach and quality. Special thanks to Steve Browne for all his help so far and happy birthday to him too
  • Tim Scott and Perry would like a little of your time for their piece here
  • Last time we charged the minimum price we could for the book – under £2. It would be great if people could give their thoughts in the comments below as to how much we should charge this time and why

Please share this – Google+, tweet, LinkedIn, email and word of mouth. We have a Google+ page here by the way – feel free to post, share or +1.

Any questions – please get in touch

Thanks,

DDS

Gamification – the early years

It was my daughter’s birthday at the weekend. Two things happened which made me reflect on the nature of playing games.

The first was that Kate Griffiths-Lambeth gave my daughter a game, it was actually a Christmas present, but I wanted my daughter to open it early. The game was one that I’ve never seen before and is designed, at its core, to increase collaboration. It says that on the box. Kate said it was one of her favourites as a child.

image

I’ve worked alongside Kate for the past few months and had a chance to observe Kate in action. Collaboration, help, support, team – I smiled when I saw the game – as it was exactly the kind of thing you would have expected to see Kate play as a child.

I wonder how much impact what we play as children has on how we behave when we are older. We are now starting to appreciate the power of the systems of games as tools in the workplace.

How much of a difference does what we play in our formative years make?

Did the individuals behind the banking crisis play Monopoly with their pals and delight in everyone else going bankrupt? Maybe rig the card deck so that they always got out of jail free?

Are the top surgeons in the country the individuals who just kept on playing Operation long after everyone else had finished? When the batteries died they wouldn’t rest until they could test their steady hands again?

Are our best structural engineers the best Jenga players?

I was addicted to Trivial Pursuit as a child. All I wanted to do was test myself against the adults. If somebody wanted me on their team on Trivial Pursuit then I got to stay up late . My freakish capability at Trivial Pursuit at a young age became something for my family to show off when people came over. That stimulated me to read more and get even better. In the end we used to play all of my family against me to make it fair. If you keep doing things you keep good at them. There was nothing special about me, it wasn’t about me being smart or making claims about my ability. It was about what Matthew Syed describes as ‘purposeful practice’.

Believe you can get better, approach learning in a controlled way and test yourself. Trivial Pursuit allowed me/encouraged me to do this. I was a product of that environment.

So, what lessons is my daughter learning? Well, at the weekend she had  a birthday party. We had a game of pass the parcel and my wife and I fouled up. A real parenting low point. My daughter waited for all of the other children to receive presents and then there was nothing left for her. Her bottom lip quivered but she kept it together.

I can imagine the moment being played back as part of an interview on a chat show when she is older.

‘I’m sure my parents did love me, but one of my first memories is being the only child not to receive a present in pass the parcel – at my own party’.

Plenty of other parents came up to us to say that their child would have thrown a tantrum. We are lucky we don’t have one of those children.

Doug Shaw suggested that it was a genuine life lesson for her. He may be right, but it isn’t one that I had planned. Maybe I should have. The Marshmallow Test is a fantastic example of understanding the importance of self control and more and more work on the importance of ‘grit’ to success is being produced.

Maybe I should be planning more life lessons through games for her. Or maybe if I really want her to help others I should just dust off Operation?

Final thought.

People play games every day. We tend to view people in the office who ‘play games’ as a bad thing. It suggests engineering a result for them, using other people as pawns. It is worth remembering there are more positive results available if you play nicely with others. Same is true for Social Media, same is true for life.

(written on the train, may have multiple errors, all apologies)

#CIPD13 – Hacking HR #CIPDHack

So, panel discussion on hacking. I love hacking. I like disrupting things. I want to hear more…

I hope this is good, as if it isn’t and we can’t find ways to involve people to change things for the better quickly… well, I’m not sure we deserve a conference to be honest. I’m not entirely sure some of us deserve jobs. We improve things or things die. Hacks are about stepping up and saying we can do that now. So, on to the discussion….

Peter Cheese

‘I’m always up for new ideas’. That’s a good start.

The nature of work is shifting so how do we shift and adapt rapidly to do things differently. The future is already here. Jobs that aren’t jobs now exist. What are the barriers to adaptability – how do you capitalise on trends rather than see them as barriers? – we are off to a good start

Michele from Mix (who helped run the hack)

Starts by thanks hackers and individuals who ran the hack. A hackathon is a collaborative event to collectively and radically solve challenges. We can make things better through this process. Anyone who wants to contribute can. Framing of the problem is important as is equipping people with tools and building a community.It is about leveraging collective intelligence.

Frame -> invent -> develop -> what did we discover.

*My note: The above is a nice model that was shared, but I’m perplexed as to why the final stage isn’t DO or share. THAT is what change looks like. Sorry to be grumpy*

150 minihacks were developed and then the list narrowed down to 60. 1700 people were registered to work on the hack

*My note: not sure of how many people stayed for the duration?*

Helen Amery from Boots – the mix it up hack

How do you reduce silo working? We need to help people connect dots to see the bigger picture – people make the difference, not process.

Nice model of how to short visits to difference parts of the company to encourage learning. Not secondments – this is short introductions to a role. Just mix it up.

Benefits – break down silos, develop individuals (not just ‘top talent’), help people feel invested in, help people understand purpose, help support succession planning, help support career development and organisation, supports a culture of ‘trying stuff’, supports connections and problem solving together.

Great stuff so far – simple, fast, fun. It won’t be perfect from day one but you will get there together.

Loved that. Quick, smart, great replacement for secondments

Monique Jordan – Pearson, work for the customer and not ‘the man’

How do you move the customer into the centre of the conversation? The issue is the manager designs most elements of jobs. Task orientated and with odd vague outcomes that aren’t connected to the customer.

Customers can feel like an interruption. The employee isn’t in a position to solve customer problems.

A nice outcome based approach was described where you start if you know what requirements need to be met for the customer – as well as what the manager needs to do to support that.

It’s simply brilliant and brilliantly simple to be honest and apparently it reduces the amount of valueless work. And let’s face it, who likes valueless work?

List what you do -> group into categories ->understand need you are fulfilling -> that is your framework

Gem Reucroft – Tunstall HR – Chuck out your chintz

Starts by confessing that the idea was stolen – most of the best ones normally are.

How do we think about removing admin and process and being about people? It links back to the keynote about not having stupid rules in organisations.

Gemma shared a hugely stupid rule. A rule of inherent stupidity and lack of sense. It’s called the fruit rule – contact her and ask about it (that is your connecting challenge)

There are three impacts of this stupid rule making

i) we miss out on value

ii) it impacts on our reputation as a function

iii) people stop thinking for themselves

So what is the test to help you reflect…

take what you do and check it adds value, does it have a positive output, do we have to legally do it, does it work for us, are we doing it as ‘best practice’

Gemma’s team have freed up time to make other things happen – they slimmed down policies by 50%, stopped writing reports that nobody read, shred the handbook (literally).

This has happened and has seen benefits – that’s a good thing. Spot your Fruit rules and kill them

—–

I’m off to tweet now, if you’ve read so far then please don’t think ‘interesting’. Think, this is what it is all about.

This is what we are here to do

  • make change
  • make things easier
  • make things better

 

Humane, Resourced – early reflections

Last Wednesday we launched a book.

It was a far from perfect book – I really appreciate the time of the awesome people at Pressbooks who sent me an email full of flaws in the formatting for me to update. Their software was brilliantly useful in helping us create the book before exporting to Amazon.

But it was a book full of good things and you should really buy it  and then leave a review. We’ll be doing a second one so honest reviews – as well as generous reviews that author’s tend to attempt to solicit – are equally welcome.

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Humane-Resourced-A-Book-Blogs-ebook/dp/B00GA323TW/ref=zg_bs_362197031_3

My goal throughout this process was to get people into a book, it never really crossed my mind that we might sell any, it just seemed nice that people could say ‘I was in a book’. That seemed a worthwhile use of my energy.

On Thursday morning someone sent me a screengrab of the book in the ‘bestselling business books list’ in the UK Kindle store. It was number 8.

Then a couple of minutes later someone sent me a link to the HR books section on Amazon (all books, not just Kindle). It was number 1.

Here is some of the odd stuff that happened last week – for a book with no formal backing, no PR plan and created in 4 months.

Peak positions:

  • #29 Organisational change (US)
  • #32 HR (US)
  • #1 HR (UK)
  • #7 Business (UK)
  • #2 Business management and leadership – only outsold by the new Gladwell book
  • #81 nonfiction (UK)

Books that we were sitting above in the charts at some point during the week:

  • Outliers by Gladwell
  • Thinking Fast and Slow by Kahneman
  • Women, Work, and the Will to Lead By Sheryl Sandberg (COO Facebook)
  • To Sell Is Human AND Drive By Dan Pink
  • 5 Dysfunctions Of A Team – Patrick Lencioni
  • Karen Brady’s biography

We also moved Who Moved My Cheese?. Things have quietened down a bit now (although we remain the #1 bestselling HR book)

I’m still not quite sure how this happened. I feel slightly like I have a moral responsibility for plugging the book as so many people contributed for free – so my twitter feed is currently full of ‘buy this book’ spam.

I apologise for that and if more people could share that would be wonderful. The CIPD have agreed to us doing some promotion at the conference next week, which is very generous of them and unexpected.

But if we don’t sell any more – and we simply peak at a top ten selling business book and the bestselling HR book in the UK – well I guess that is ok.

 Amazon.co.uk Best Sellers The most popular items in Human Resources - Google Chrome 02112013 092921.bmp

Business Sexy

Let’s talk about sex.

Brief Encounter
Brief Encounter (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Recently I read a blog by Neil Morrison about making HR sexy (http://change-effect.com/2013/09/29/get-your-sexy-on/). I agree with it entirely, if you want people to do things differently they need to be interested, if you aren’t going to make things interesting – well, you fall at the first hurdle.

Quite often we take lessons from ‘real life and apply them to business. I think that sometimes we can benefit from doing the reverse. It reminded me of a conversation I had a few years ago about how business best practice can be applied to both relationships (and sex).

Before I continue I’d like to make the following disclaimer: I’m happily married (‘no recent experience’) , I’m useless with the opposite sex (‘no track record in this sector) and I’m therefore giving this advice confident in the fact I’ll never need to use it.

Think of it like being a bit like bad exec coaching.

So, on to the lessons from business that you can apply to your very private life…

Market strategy – when choosing a partner you either need to be first to market (not literally, they may have had other joint ventures previously) or you need to be able to commit wholeheartedly to delivering a differentiated offering. Try to stay away from crowded sectors when advantage may be competed away before you can establish a commanding market position. You want to enter an untapped market and create significant barriers to entry for other interested parties. Occasionally you may find an opportunity that is potentially high yield, but has been dismissed by other investors. Depending on your risk appetite you may want to ‘go early and go big’ in this instance.

Recruitment policy – recruit for attitude and train for skills. This is where the sex comes in. The conversation I had was with a lovely woman looking for a new partner and they listed all the attributes any potential partner would need. It took some time. It was a long list. It finished with ‘good in bed’.

I explained that their wish list would exclude every male on the planet, except a younger George Clooney – and I’ve always told my wife that everybody knows he is really poor in bed. Accept that if you find someone you like then you should invest time working on the team dynamics in the bedroom. Whether you attempt this inhouse or as an away day event over a weekend is entirely up to you – but the point is the hiring decision should be based on fitness and potential, rather than current competence. Yes, I suppose you could read ‘fitness’ in a couple of ways in that last sentence.

If you do use psychometrics within the recruitment process be clear on how much of the decision this will inform and ensure that all feedback is constructive and timely. People can get offended if, in certain intimate situations, you explain that you are disappointed that they aren’t more of a completer finisher.

Above all remember that a disappointing candidate experience will have an impact on your broader brand.

Onboarding/induction – the individual was most likely a poor fit with their previous organisation, so it is worth dealing with any angst from this in the onboarding phase, whilst not dwelling on any painful experiences. Depending on your individual policy you may have a probation period. Be clear with individuals what situations may cause them to fail this probation – bringing particular attention to the fact that they are contractually obliged to refrain from working for a competitor whilst engaged by you.

Next move onto some tiered skills training to get them to match your performance requirements. I would advise against the use of an external coach during the training. The training environment usually cannot comfortably contain a third participant and it can make a significant negative impact on dynamics in a traditional structure.

Alongside this you will be undertaking a cultural induction – letting them know exactly how we do business around here. It is really important to be clear about your own Values and ensure that your recruit will be comfortable with them over time. This is particularly important if you expect them to be employed, longer term, in producing successors within your family business.

Performance reviews – my wife runs these quite relatively effectively for me. I get regular on the spot feedback from her combined with more formal reviews .I know these are formal reviews as

i) I’m expected to provide detailed evidence of having made a contribution and this is given considerable scrutiny

ii) she regularly sets me clear targets at the end of the conversation that are very specific, measurable and most certainly time bound. We differ on whether they are achievable and reasonable.

iii) She will also revisit these conversations (regularly) and refer to agreements made within them over the course of the year.

I’m expecting a performance review right after she reads this…

I’ve failed people

Fail Road
Fail Road (Photo credit: fireflythegreat)

I’m failed people and I’m embarrassed.

Most of the time your brain is working double time (in the background) to build up a retrospective rationale for the things you have done -so that you can sleep easy at night, in the sound understanding that you did the best you could.

That is why your mistakes are always understandable but other people’s are indicative of a lack of competence. If you think you are a balanced reviewer of your own efforts – you aren’t.

So when I openly admit I’ve failed – it means I’ve been so rubbish, that even my built in mental defence mechanisms can’t muffle the clanging sound of my errors.

What did or didn’t I do?  

I’ve never hired anyone with a disability to work in HR (that I’m aware of). I’ve never worked with anyone with a disability (that I’m aware of) whilst in HR. I don’t think I’ve ever interviewed a candidate with a disability.

I’m not unique in this – a recent twitter chat confirmed lots of HR professionals have the same track record. That just makes us as bad as each other – it doesn’t make me any better.

I’m sure I’ve had multiple conversations with other people outside of HR about how they should have an inclusive hiring policy and the talent they might be missing out on. I just never stopped to think about what I was doing enough to realise my hypocrisy.

For the past half decade I have been senior enough to have influence on issues like this and to call out a lack of inclusion (with respect to disability – I’ve actually worked in quite diverse teams otherwise). It never crossed my mind.

I have no idea how many people I have hired directly in the past few years where I have failed to think as effectively as I should. It never crossed my mind. 

I’ve been a hypocrite. It isn’t a lack of openmindedness – it is a complete lack of thinking. Complete negligence on my part.

I’m not blaming fear, politics, the organisation I worked for – this is my repeated failing on a very personal level. I don’t think I’ve done anything illegal. I just haven’t done anything useful.

so… I’m making a change.

The next time that I recruit I will challenge my own approach and see if I can give someone a chance that they probably already should have had –  but they don’t due to failings like mine.

I’m also making the opening chapter of the upcoming book (Humane, Resourced) a showcase for some great observations by Anne Tynan on this issue http://annetynan.wordpress.com/ . When people read the book the first chapter now will be one provoking their thoughts on this issue.

In short – I’m going to influence where I can.

What change can you make?

You can wait for your professional body to create an initiative – or you could just act differently on your own. If enough people do that then we don’t need any other form of intervention.

There are good people whose talents we are missing out on. That is a business problem.

There are good people who are just missing out. That is an issue of right and wrong.

PS – I realise that people can get sensitive about the wording on topics like this. Please respect the intent rather than concentrating on ‘I wouldn’t have put it like that’…I reserve the right to be clumsy yet well intended.

 

Humane, Resourced: Twitileaks

Secret Bunker
Secret Bunker (Photo credit: marcmo)

The list of authors is growing and is here: http://wp.me/p3wxuY-70 – I’m trying to keep it up to date but there is some lag.

Update on yesterday’s leak

I thought I’d write a brief note explaining what happened yesterday. A chain of events took place (with great intentions sitting behind them) that for a brief time meant that the book was circulating in an unfinished form. There is no harm done and it was completely unplanned. I wasn’t involved and it wasn’t part of a viral campaign. I was out shopping for socks when suddenly lots of people were tweeting about the book and copying me in. Nobody starts a viral campaign whilst shopping for socks. It’s not that the book is secret, it is that it isn’t yet ready. Also the front cover by Simon Heath is so cool that I would have included that.

I’ll be leaving it open on that link (rather than setting it to private) as someone tweeted lots of business/HR publishers with it and I’d rather they didn’t get a dead link.

Due to the leak I did want to set some people’s minds at rest by making some points about what was circulated as I got quite a few tweets/DMs

Have you axed me from the book?

No, you haven’t been axed from the book. The book isn’t finished yet, contributions are still coming in and if you weren’t in the list of authors at the back that is simply because I only put that list in (about a month ago) to remind me to put a list it. It hasn’t been updated since. The policy remains the same as long as what you have written isn’t a plug for your product or offensive you will find a home in the blog

I sent you my blog, but it wasn’t in there

Contrary to popular belief I’m not a blogging hermit. I have a family and occasionally go out in the sun! If you sent me your blog to update manually that will happen, but I was hoping to go the whole weekend without doing anything on the book. It hasn’t quite worked that way.

I thought the deadline had passed?

The original deadline was set to indicate pace. I really, really, really appreciate people who got work in on time or early. The nature of Twitter is that some people get to hear things later than others – I’ve chosen to welcome those people to the project. The nature of life is that people get busy and other things get in the way – I’ve chosen to understand that. Every author we gain is someone else to share your work, so please look upon the later additions positively.

When will it be published? 

I hope very soon, within a month if I can.  For clarity the factors in play with this are

i) I’m hoping the foreword will be produced by someone very senior in HR in the UK. They have generously agreed to this, so it will be well worth our wait to let them produce this

ii) I’m slowly making press contacts (but juggling this with attempting to find gainful employment) so if it makes sense to delay the launch to get ‘megapress’ we will

iii) We are reliant on the Amazon publishing process working as well as Amazon claim it will. I don’t foresee that being a big block, but if we lost all the formatting (for example) that would cost us time. We’ve used software to specifically avoid that so that is a reasonably well mitigated risk

iv) We are still receiving blogs so I won’t start a final edit or clear up until that stops (this week)

Anything I can do to help?

I thought you’d never ask. Anything you can do to promote the book, any contacts you have, any opportunities – bring it on! Also, anyone who would like to help with the proofreading would be much appreciated

Final thought

One of the lovely aspects of the leak was seeing (on a random Saturday morning) the support and enthusiasm for the book that already exists and also receiving tweets from people I didn’t know looking forward to the release. I received lots of tweets congratulating me – I have mixed feelings about those.

I’m proud of having the idea to bring people together but without 50+ other people I would currently have just written a foreword. This is a book that people shouldn’t be thanking me for but every other contributor – it took discretionary effort from a group of people to reach a viable length for a book. Thank everyone, not just me. I’m just the ideas guy.