Humane, Resourced – almost there #bookofblogs

UPDATE! GOOD UPDATE! NEWS!

So, today I spent most of the day cutting and pasting and swearing and exporting and grumbling and drinking tea. It looks like we are one step away from publishing a book – an incredible achievement when you consider the original ‘anybody fancy doing this?’ blog post only went out in mid July

I have just sent the review copy off to People Management – that is quick.

Over 50 authors – that is big. BoB cover

Simon Heath, who designed the cover, spent a chunk of the day at my house, sipping tea and solving problems. We have one problem left which is that when I move the book from Pressbooks (where we designed it) to Kindle it opens in the middle of the index. This isn’t the end of the world, but it is far from ideal.

I hope a couple of service calls I’ve put in will resolve the issue and the next button I get to press on Amazon says ‘SAVE AND PUBLISH’. 

I’d extend thanks to lots of people – several are mentioned in the book – but Peter Cheese, CEO of the CIPD spent his Sunday writing me a foreword. That is a classy and supportive thing to do.

So what can you do to help if you are an author or want to support the project?

  1. Tweet and Linkedin when we launch – Google + if you can and certainly Facebook
  2. Remember it is all for charity
  3. Consider updating your LinkedIn profile with the book cover or something imaginative
  4. Talk to people – you’ve been part of an amazing community journey, share that. We have inspiring content but we also have an amazing story
  5. Enjoy it – if you weren’t before you are now a published author

I’ll let you know more when I’ve stopped breaking things.

Dave

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…

Simple things – language and HR

The Official Dilbert Website featuring Scott Adams Dilbert strips, animations and more

It isn’t that hard.

I’m not saying it’s easy, but the things we do actually aren’t rocket science. Unless you are currently a very involved Business Partner for NASA ( in which case, apologies – but it’s hardly brain surgery).

It does seem that s all too often we require the comfort blanket of credibility that is jargon. How can HR become more ‘commercial?’  – is it by asking people to ‘have a bluesky roundtable, lasered in on improving synergistic dialogue that will improve idea socialisation and then to carpark any issues to take them offline’?

Do we really believe that the leadership teams we work with hear something like that and think ‘great idea, team!’ – or are we hoping they will be so confused that it will act in a way similar to Latin in a legal document – to distance understanding to the point where most believe they are reliant on an ‘expert’ to make sense of what is going on.

If we want transparent and inclusive organisations (most people do) then don’t make language a barrier make it an ‘enabler’ – better still, just make it helpful.

So here is my brief list of words that we could probably kill without anybody thinking less of us, feel free to add more

Add value – try just helping. Everyone understands help. ‘Am I helping you?’ is a powerful question. ‘Am I adding value?’ is asking for reassurance

Engagement – if you can’t define engagement  in a way that doesn’t immediately make someone think of a survey – then try another word. Are you scared of people being passionate about working for you and believing in what you do? Does it sound too woolly? Or was that what you wanted in the first place.

Stakeholder management – you have customers, shareholders and colleagues.  Which ones does this impact? Go make them happy. When I think of stakeholders I think of this drawing by the fantastically talented Simon Heath (@Simonheath1)

Contracting – try just agreeing. You are agreeing something with a person, don’t turn them into a transaction – you both lose out.

Big data – you probably don’t know what this means. Have a look http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Big_data Suprised? Stop using it because it is trendy – try doing some basic analysis of your data

Performance management – when you say you are ‘performance managing’ someone do you mean ‘I’m finally accepting I might have to sack them so I’ve started some documentation’? Thought so. What were you doing before? When they are performing you weren’t managing their performance? That’s a bit embarrassing – you only appear to have a role in failure. Awkward

Employee attrition – you made a bad hire or someone found somewhere better to work. It is unlikely that someone ‘attrited’ – it just feels nicer to say it because when we use technical language it loses some of the immediacy. ‘What percentage of our people didn’t want to work here anymore last year?’ is actually a far scarier and useful question than ‘what is our annualised attrition rate YTD?’. People leave, they don’t attrite. At the point you apologise for ‘having to attrite the party early’ it will be acceptable.

Managing expectations effectively – just let them know why you are going to miss the target. They are a grown up, you are – have a chat instead of attempting to manage them

Generation X/Y/Z – imagine how you would feel if you went out for a meal and were allocated your food based on age… How annoyed would you be? Or if the cinema automatically ushered you away from the movie you wanted to watch – because you were 6 months older than their target demographic. Doesn’t feel like a great way to run a business does it? So don’t do it internally, learn about your people and be flexible in how you treat them – not because generations are different, but because people are. Kierkegaard wrote ‘if you label me you negate me’ . If even his generation understood that….

Significant culture change –this appears to be interchangeable with ‘transformation programme’ which in turn seems to involve ‘significant structural change’ which in turn seems to require HR professionals who are ‘experienced in consultation’ which in turn seems to involve people ‘familiar with large scale redundancy programmes and TUPE’.  They aren’t interchangeable terms, I appreciate the interdependency, but changing a culture does not primarily involve needing to be able to sack people with minimal risk

So, that is my list of shame, please feel free to add more in the comments or on Twitter.

Dave