The Imposter

During the the past week I have had more than one person congratulate me on how good I am at networking and self promotion, citing the success of the book as an example of this. I thank them for that, I really appreciate the time and thoughtfulness behind it.

I’d like to level with you all. I’m rubbish at networking and self promotion. I simply can’t do it. I feel uncomfortable and slightly like an imposter. At a recent event someone asked me if I was a consultant. My reply was ‘um, I guess so, I mean…technically…people pay me to do stuff, so I guess I’d have to say I was, but I’m not sure I’m a proper one or if it will last’.

Yesterday someone asked me what my areas of expertise were for a speaking engagement. My initial response was ‘I’m interested in lots of things, I’d hate to claim to be an expert’

These aren’t the responses of a natural salesperson.

From the very first black tie networking event I attended in my career I’ve felt inadequate, out of place and about to be found out. So I found ways to make the experience more comfortable.

i) I find one person who I know (or who also looks lost) and I talk to them about whatever they like

ii) I try and help them with a problem if I can – I listen and try to be useful to them

iii) I assume everyone has an interesting story to tell

iv) I open up early and ditch the formality. I’ll talk really honestly with people

So I mentally exchange my forced black tie event for an evening doing what I love – learning about people and helping them solve their problems. Last week that led to me getting a visit to Facebook, a wonderful experience. I’m happy to admit it came about through me just wanting to find someone to talk to at the CIPD Centenary Dinner, primarily so I didn’t feel like a spare part.

The volume of PR around the book has been based around not letting 50 other authors down. If this was my book that I’d written on my own? There is simply no way that I’m spending days tweeting people asking them to endorse it. That is a horrible concept to me. I’m not brave enough and it’s not in my nature.The fact there is a social ambition to it and an ability for me to create success for others is what drives my behaviour.

All the good stuff that people think is me being brave is just me running scared from failure and awkwardness. I’m not leading, I’m just finding the most creative way I can to run away.

This will probably be a problem for me if I continue to be a ‘sort of consultant’. I’m not comfortable at self promotion. I’m comfortable with sharing. I thought I’d share that in case anyone feels the same way.

So I’m sharing that if you feel awkward with self promotion – well, there is at least one other person out there who feels the same way too.

Humane, Resourced – on the way!

Kaboom!

!BoB cover

So, I’ve finally pressed the ‘publish‘ button after a near endless email chain with Hugh at Pressbooks. Essentially the issue that appears on my screen, previewer and physical Kindle – where the book starts in the middle of the index – doesn’t appear on his. I’ve therefore taken the gamble and published in the hope that for new readers the book starts at…the start. I’m hoping when I wake up it will be available in the Kindle store.

A few final notes:

-The book can only be ‘free’ for 5 days out of every 90. I therefore will make it free from Tuesday next week – so it is free to download throughout the CIPD conference

-This has been a ‘homebrew project’  – there will be formatting errors and I’m sure at least one typo will have managed to sneak in there. If you let me know any that you come across I will do an update in a month or so that will be available for anyone who has downloaded it. This a natural consequence of my relaxed nature to things like this and the speed of the book’s production.

– I guarantee someone has sent me something I haven’t included. It is just bound to have happened. To that person (or people) – I apologise, it wasn’t intent, it wasn’t an assessment of your writing – it is just me being rubbish. I’ll try and update it if I can, but please just let me know I’ve left you out without shifting into ‘I can’t believe you left me out you “£%”£$% mode’.

– There are links to videos and articles throughout, these won’t work on a ‘normal’ Kindle but will on iPad/Android/PC. It seemed a shame to leave them out and their presence is the reason that, at the moment, the book isn’t available as a physical copy. If it is successful then I might try and edit it so it makes sense in a print version. It would be nice, I’m sure, for all of the authors to have a physical copy of the book.

– There will be a second book that will improve upon the above….next year folks!

The final list of contributors is below, it is an incredible crop and I’m just delighted that the book has enabled me to come into contact with them. People haven’t just submitted articles they have supported, cajoled, edited, crafted the cover and promoted the book. They are great folk and they made this project happen for each and every one of the other writers

1.    Simon Heath (@SimonHeath1) – blog, glossary and cover
2.    Doug Shaw (@dougshaw1)
3.    Sukh Pabial (@sukhpabial)
4.    Ian Davidson (@ianandmj)
5.    Bruce Lewin (@fourgroups)
6.    Ben Morton (@Benmorton2)
7.    Richard Westney (@HRManNZ)
8.    Lembit Öpik (@Lembitopik)
9.    Emma Lloyd (@engagingemma)
10.  Gemma Reucroft (@HR_gem)
11.  Stephen Tovey (@StephenTovey13)
12.  David Richter (@octopusHR)
13.  Amanda Sterling (@sterling_amanda)
14.  Wendy Aspland (@wendyaspland)
15.  Peter Cook (@AcademyOfRock)
16.  Julie Waddell (@jawaddell)
17.  Leticia S. de Garzón (@letsdeg)
18.  Vera Woodhead (@verawoodhead)
19.  Nicola Barber (@HRswitchon)
20.  Tim Scott (@TimScottHR)
21.  Amanda Arrowsmith (@Pontecarloblue)
22.  Inji Duducu (@injiduducu)
23.  Anne Tynan (@AnneTynan)
24.  Neil Usher (@workessence)
25.  Louisa de Lange (@paperclipgirl)
26.  Megan Peppin (@OD_optimist)
27.  Ian Pettigrew (@KingfisherCoach)
28.  Steve Browne (@stevebrowneHR)
29.  Kate Griffiths-Lambeth (@kateGL)
30.  Tracey Davison (@mindstrongltd)
31.  Jason Ennor (@MYHR_NZ)
32.  Bob Philps (@BPhilp)
33.  Kat Hounsell (@kathounsell)
34.  Simon Jones (@ariadneassoc)
35.  Mervyn Dinnen (@MervynDinnen)
36.  Alex Moyle (@Alex_Moyle)
37.  Julie Drybrough (@fuchsia_blue)
38.  Susan Popoola (@susanpopoola)
39.  Ruchika Abrol (@ruchikaabrol)
40.  Simon Stephen (@simonstephen)
41.  Damiana Casile (@damiana_HR)
42.  Honeydew_Health
43.  Malcolm Louth (@malcolmlouth)
44.  Perry Timms (@perrytimms)
45.  Sinead Carville (@SineadCarville)
46.  Jon Bartlett (@projectlibero)
47.  Jane Watson (@JSarahWatsHR)
48.  Broc Edwards (@brocedwards)
49.  Sarah Miller (@whippasnappaHR
50.  Meghan M. Biro (@MeghanMBiro)
51.  Anna Lloyd (@buggilights)
52.  Luke Thomas(@springccr)

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.

HR Social – Unicorns, rainbows and pixies

Emotivism – I feel a bit bored of social media without the fighting

Prescriptivism – everyone should fight, because I’m a bit bored of social media

Yes, it’s a trite summary of someone else’s position – but it’s provocative, likely to start an argument and possibly upsetting so it’s actually ok.

————–

Yesterday I read this blog http://goo.gl/IGMvG by Neil Morrison. Neil had been tweeting similar for the past few days, so I thought I would reply. Then some people agreed with Neil, so I attempted to pop their bubbles and things got a bit out of hand. Later on things got even less professional with people attacking each other directly and losing sight of the point altogether. The final comments posted were simply not something you would ever like to see. It was just abuse. I wasn’t involved in them, but as you can see they are personal, distasteful and not fun.

I’m guessing, but I imagine Neil is delighted that he has acted as some kind of provocateur (not delighted about the abuse, but the debate), bringing more fire to the topic of social HR. Stirring up some action, creating a platform for more openness. In contrast, what I was seeing was how quickly things disintegrate when a lack of respect is shown. I saw nothing creditable, no quality of debate, none of the upside that Neil originally posted about. It was like telling everyone in a meeting that from this point on you just need to shout loudest to win. Neil’s view (lifted from his blog) is that –

Social HR should be:

Edgy

Argumentative

Difficult

Provoking

Upsetting

Social HR has become:

Cosy

Warm

Consensual

Boring

Predictable

Guess what – I think the first list paints a picture that is horribly exclusive and the second one a horrible caricature . If the point is ‘wouldn’t a bit more constructive challenge be useful?’ then the answer is normally ‘yes’. However, to think that anything (a business or a group) should aspire to a culture that upsets people and is ‘difficult’ is something that, historically, only people already in power desire.

Since I’ve started tweeting/blogging I have been reliant on the kindness of strangers, the warmth of a community and encouragement from people that I’ve never met to make a contribution. That is how this works, we get excited about first time bloggers because we recognise the bravery in those first steps. People contribute in the hope they have something to offer – quite often it may not be ‘new’, but it will always be a slightly different angle. People do this because there aren’t monsters lurking in the background waiting to leap on their mistakes.  People do this because most people realise that, deliberately upsetting other people is counterproductive, if you want to to get the best from others, rather than just ‘win” the debate. The job of leaders is to move people through the cycle of forming, storming, norming, performing as quickly as they can – not to keep it in storming just because you used to like it that way.

Ignore the words ‘HRSocial’  and you’ll find any group benefits from being welcoming, supportive and curious. If you give support and create openness you end up with ideas. If you shoot down ideas, simply because you want to upset people under the banner of debate, then you are killing thoughts. Steinbeck said ‘ideas are like rabbits, get two, look after them and soon you have hundreds’. We now have hundreds being socialised on Twitter and blogs, it’s harder to track down the ones you might want to keep as pets… but the choice….wow.

Do you know what else kills debate? Crude polarisation. The thought that if we create something ‘warm’ then it can’t have edge and must be boring. Or that consensus means there has been no debate. Or that upsetting people shows that you have edge. That if you aren’t upsetting people they only other option is that you are obsessed with unicorns, rainbows and pixies and would never challenge something you believe to be wrong.  Some of the finest people I’ve worked known have been able to challenge, provoke and shape  my thinking without ever having to upset me. In fact, if they had upset me it is unlikely I would have allowed my thinking to be challenged.

Neil wrote a ten point agenda for change in HR that I really liked. It contains the following parts that I think apply to ‘social’ as well as in business. After all, we are people in and out of the office…

We need to stop saying “no”. Our language, our communication to the business needs to be positive, not negative. We need to be owners of good news. Deal with problems individually, not by memo. Stop sending out dumb emails, if it isn’t positive, don’t send it.

We need to accept that you don’t get influence through control, you get influence through other people’s positive experience of you. Get influence through people wanting you involved not by telling them you have to be.

We need to listen to our employees and our managers. We need to stop seeing them as being “the problem” and start seeing them as being the people that we are here to help. They are the reason we have jobs, so stop moaning about them and start listening.

We need to be more human. We need to get out and talk, interact, spend time with people, we need to be empathetic and understanding, we need to feel. Sitting in the HR department bitching is not going to change anything.

I could sign up for that for being what we need to do on Twitter, with a few tweaks; I can’t sign up for being difficult just for the sake of it. There are other people involved when we are difficult. Those people matter. If you upset someone on social because that is what you think you should do then it is cowardly. You aren’t doing it face to face, you don’t have to deal with the consequences and unlike work they were giving their energy to the conversation for free. Bad form, bad form.

So what’s new?

Neil makes the point that he is bored of reading the same old things, that everyone is still talking about engagement surveys etc.  Well, that’s true, but everyone has a different angle, in fact, when I started blogging I read an article about blogging for HR that inspired me to publish my first blog, it was written by Neil and contained the following

I won’t have anything new to say
Take it from me, there isn’t a single blog post that hasn’t been written before, fact. But there are a million different perspectives to be had on a subject and with the news constantly changing, you get a whole load of potential new topics presenting themselves each week. Blogs that add insight, perspective, thought and challenge are as popular as those that try to be at the cutting edge.

I haven’t read a blog that I haven’t taken something from, even if it is just one person’s view of the world – and I’m always glad they took the time to share their view. I was glad I read Neil’s, it gave me the chance to write this. He’s written some great stuff and I’m glad we have people injecting debate, but I can never be glad when someone is the architect of conflict, because normally it isn’t them getting hurt.

(slight caveat – this isn’t the start of the ‘Dave vs. Neil’ wars to keep people entertained. This is just a counterpoint, similar to the excellent one offered here wp.me/p2YgNX-fq by Simon Heath. Which attracted less debate, but also less bile. Neil actually has been nice to me personally, supportive and welcoming. I just want everyone to have the benefit of that)

If you want to know what ‘social’ constructively might be for I’ve added a feel good video…