Archive for December 28, 2011

Don’t Harsh My Mellow: HR and Social Media

How to get HR professionals involved in social media is certainly not a new topic; we’ve discussed, dissected and analyzed it to death.  There have been lots and lots of blog posts where we they some HR/Recruiting professionals encourage their HR peers to adopt social media. There have also been plenty of posts where those who have ‘fallen behind’ have been chastised and, dare I say, scolded, for their apparent lack of interest, inquisitiveness and initiative.

Great resources have been shared.  Enthusiasm for social media, or more precisely, lack of enthusiasm, has been analyzed.

But still here we are. Fighting the good fight and continuing to talk about social media as a catalyst for changing the way people share information, communicate and interact with each other.  The naysayers with whom I still come into contact swell with pride when they say …”I don’t need Facebook. I pick up the phone and call my family.” “That Twitter is a waste of time,” they scoff, with an accompanying eye-roll. “I signed up for an account once but I never used it.”

And then they log into their Amazon account and browse the reader-shared book reviews before placing their order.


Every channel, tool and shiny new social media platform isn’t for everybody.  There are those who would be bereft without Pinterest just as there are those who couldn’t imagine a day without a spin through the land of LinkedIn.   Personally, I can go days without even thinking about visiting Facebook yet am continuously seduced by the siren-call of Twitter.

I just remind myself of the good old bell-curve which is, let’s face it, everyone’s go-to probability model. I apply this simple model to all sorts of complex situations like when I want to predict how many employees will complete Open Enrollment on the last day.  So I know that eventually, inevitably, people who don’t like social media, or resist social media, or just like to be obstinate, will eventually realize they are participants.

But in the meantime, I’ve decided that rather than work to get them on the bandwagon, my best approach may be to remind them – – – “Just because YOU don’t like, use or understand social media – don’t diminish its impact and importance to others.”

Here’s to Year Long Merriment

So the work week and the work year is winding down.  We’re soon to arrive at the long-awaited Christmas/New Year’s break and hit the midway point of Hanukkah.  Not to mention that other holiday tradition known as the Bowl Championship Series.

Some people have already mentally checked out at work and I’ve noticed an uptick in activity over the last several days as people participate in the annual ritual known as “I’m-taking-an-extended-lunch-hour-to-get-that-last-bit-of-shopping-done.”

Once we hit Thanksgiving week in the American workplace we begin to notice a bunch of good cheer, smiles, and plain old-fashioned good will.  Over the last several weeks, the general conversational opening by one-and-all has not been “how you liking this weather?” but rather “are you ready for Christmas?” (note: in the  US of A, especially in the south, the natural assumption is that one celebrates Christmas and not Mithras, Yule or nothing-at-all…)

And it’s all rather pleasant.

Companies are handing out gift cards, hams, bonus checks, and towering baskets of fruit. CEOs and managers are hosting office parties and closing the doors early to give employees extra time off.  Accounting Departments are holding Ugly Xmas Sweater Contests and awarding top prizes to HR ladies even though the nice ladies didn’t know the competition was being held, nor did they enter it.  But even those unwitting award-recipients, being in the holiday spirit, are laughing it off and making mental notes to stay on top of hipster trends from 2007.

Good will indeed.


Sadly, however, that spirit of camaraderie, general joy and merriment seems to have an expiration date.  We hit January 2nd or 3rd or 7th (whenever the celebrating ends and the office re-opens) and it’s back to business as usual.  Barb from the M&A Department places her punchbowl with the 16 coordinating cups back on the closet shelf in her spare bedroom, sighing wistfully as she realizes it will be 12 months before she has reason to prepare her Holiday Punch with raspberry sherbet for the department pot luck.  Carl from IT deletes the 2011 Party Music playlist from his iPod and resigns himself to having to wait until next December before he can showcase his DJ skills once again for the guys and gals who work in Customer Support.

Not so pleasant after all.


So I’m making a vow.  (Not a resolution cuz I suck at keeping resolutions.)  I vow to identify ways to keep the spirit of merriment and goodwill alive in the workplace all year.   Not just in the 5 weeks between Thanksgiving and the day everyone trudges back to the office, worn out and exhausted – but all year-long.

Ugly sweaters not necessary.

But I might ask Barb to make her punch.  That stuff is pretty damn tasty.

A Little Warm Milk and a Plate of Cookies

The wonderful team of Wempen and Tincup over at Drive thru HR is known for one particular question, usually asked of all guests, as they segue into the DTHR daily discussion – “What’s Keeping You Up at Night?”

Human nature, being what it is, most guests, myself included, tend to think first of the gnawing, nagging problems that cause us consternation.  The sorts of things that make us rise to the surface of our slumber at 2:49 AM3 AM“oh no, is that clock now reading 3:37 AM?”…4:12 AM4:33 AM…. “oh hell, I might as well just get up.”  Being as we’re on a radio show, however, we don’t bring up the Christmas to-do list that’s keeping us awake, or even the niggling gut-wrenching reminders about the financial report weekly report expense report that’s due in to Corporate.  But because, on the #DTHR show, we’re talking about big important HR things, we often focus on the viewmongous ginormous issues that worry us –

  • what’s happening with employee engagement at my company?
  • do I need to worry about an exodus of talent?
  • can I recruit and retain the right team members?
  • how is competition or the global economy going to affect my industry in 2012?
  • and what about that skills gap?

But an interesting issue surfaced when I called in to the show last week.  When the estimable Bryan Wempen asked me “what’s keeping you up at night?” I found myself sharing the cool and awesome things that cause me to toss and turn.  The items that energize me rather than drain me.  The projects which I‘m excited to tackle because I find them fun, exciting and can’t wait to see the end results. 


The old-fashioned remedy for a sleepless night was to follow the directive ‘have a warm glass of milk’ – or as my family was fond of saying ‘enjoy a nice hot toddy.’  In other words, if you need to settle yourself, turn off your brain, and get some sleep – take a drink.

But being kept up at night isn’t always for bad things.  Sometimes, when you glance at the clock and think “… it’s 4:33 AM…. and I might as well just get up….” it could be because you’re pumped and ready to tackle the new day.

So get up and don’t have a glass of warm milk.  But a cookie might still be ok.

O HR, Where Art Thou?

Yesterday I attended the monthly meeting of the Baton Rouge Social Media Association.  Although I joined the group upon its inception in 2010, I haven’t been able to attend meetings for a few months due to other commitments.  Sadly, therefore, I’ve recently missed some pretty nifty meetings featuring, among others, a speaker who discussed “Moderating Social Media Networks During a Crisis” and even a session led by the guy who’s in charge of social media for the New Orleans Saints. Who dat!

Yesterday’s meeting agenda included association business, announcements and end-of-the-year planning.  With no speaker on the schedule, attendance was a tad lower than that at a regular meeting.  And as per usual, the majority of those in attendance came from the worlds of Marketing, PR/Communications with a few IT/Techies Entrepreneurs thrown in for good measure. As I glanced around the room I wondered to myself, yet again, “HR – where art thou?”


Coincidently, yesterday I also received two brochures (courtesy of the US Mail) letting me know that competing ‘Social Media Marketing’ conferences are coming to my town this spring!  (I’m sure you are correctly assuming that the return addresses on these brochures included some combination of the words Career-Path-Skill-Track).

Both offer similar content and try to appeal to a WIDE audience ranging from those who haven’t gotten on board with SM yet to those who are actively engaged and struggling with ROI.  And while one conference brochure doesn’t suggest who should attend, the other is pretty clear that the audience for this shindig conference is “professionals in marketing, sales, advertising, public relations, corporate communications, business strategists and small business owners…”

Poor HR.  That’s where thou art – not invited to the party yet again.


Now to be fair, we HR folks can often (and should) consider ourselves part of that Corporate Communications group (although I doubt that many do) and the in-house recruiters should realize that they are, indeed, Marketing professionals.  I also acknowledge that any HR professionals who wish to avail themselves of social media learning opportunities can certainly do so if they use their friend named google to seek out a treasure trove of riches.

BUT….what irks me is the fact that these Career-Path-Skill-Track conference organizers (who are probably very lovely people) have not yet determined that knowledge, awareness and use of social media is a necessary competency for HR professionals.  They’re limiting their potential attendee pool by excluding (by targeted omission) an entire profession; people who could benefit from attending a full day event on social media that doesn’t offer even one session called  “the horrors of social media and what your employees are doing!”

Imagine what awesomeness could arise if a bunch of HR generalists, directors and leaders converged on these two conferences?


note: gratuitous picture of George Clooney added because of the whole, you know, “O Brother, Where Art Thou” thing…