Archive for Business

HR & IT: Friends, Foes or Partners?

HatfieldClan-EI recently read The Evolving Workplace: Expert Insights, part of a global project commissioned by Dell and Intel. For the study, TNS Global is exploring key future trends and themes pertaining to the workplace and workforce, with a specific focus on understanding the role that technology has played in its evolution

There is some fascinating information in Report #1 as the researchers outline seven trends and their accompanying hypotheses. Among these trends are Productivity (measured in outputs, not hours), Employee-led Innovation, and a revised view of Employee-Employer trust – labeled ‘Values versus Rules’ by TNS Global. We’ve been discussing these trends in the HR sphere for some time now but it’s interesting to read about them from the side of the IT professionals.

One of the interesting trends identified is one called “Many hats of the IT Manager.” The researchers state that as employee aspirations shift and people seek greater fulfillment and happiness at work, the role of the IT Manager will increasingly align with that of the HR Manager. Their hypothesis further states: “Workplace IT of the future will not merely be a tool to accomplish tasks, but constitute a means of recruiting and retaining staff, of managing well- being, and of facilitating personal and professional development.”

There are some global comparisons noted; the perception of the IT role will vary depending upon whether it is based in the East, West or someplace else, but in any event, the authors believe, IT managers will become increasingly responsible for satisfying the needs of employees.

The authors point out that the IT department has often been viewed as a barrier; implementing and enforcing policies and putting in place regulations that block employee development – rather than assisting or encouraging access to technologies that increase employee efficiency or provide satisfaction.

Our friends in IT are warned that if, for example, they don’t offer choice of device or access to software, tools and technologies desired by employees or applicants the organization will lose in the long run; engagement, talent attraction, retention…you name it.

I wonder how this makes the folks working in IT feel?

Let’s face it; if you work in HR, depending upon your organizational experience, you’ve either been best buddies with your IT manager or viewed him/her as the very embodiment of Satan. Over the last several years, more and more IT Managers have come face to face with empowered HR gals and guys who have pushed for the previously unthinkable.

“She wants a cloud-based HR solution? Let employees bring their iPhone when all we’ve ever supported are corporate issued Blackberrys? Unblock Facebook and YouTube and all those social sites? Has my HR lady lost her mind?” thought Joe the IT Manager.

The skirmishes continue. Within the last several weeks an HR leader told me “I would really like to implement xyz, but our IT Department won’t let me.

Time and budget constraints? Lack of clarity or understanding regarding the business strategies on both sides? Territorial pissing matches?

Undoubtedly all of the above.

But you know what? If you work in HR and are in need of getting some alignment and cooperation from your IT group start with a discussion around these seven trends. Approach the conversation from their perspective. That SHRM Research report you’ve quoted before isn’t going to sway their thinking…but something like this TNS Global report might.

Just gloss over the fact that your IT manager is going to have to start thinking like an HR strategist; that might start a feud akin to the Hatfields & McCoys.

Job Connection: Song and Dance

dance stepsEarlier this year, Louisiana Economic Development (LED) announced they would be launching the Louisiana Job Connection; a free job board to link Louisiana employers with job seekers. I sat through the first song-and-dance about this in January when a few of the folks (i.e. the marketing team) came to speak to the Louisiana SHRM State Council.  As 2014 rolled on I kept an eye on the launch which was, wisely, done in phases: employers were allowed to sign up and create profiles in June while job seekers were able to begin registration last week.

I have run into the LED Marketing folks (and their hired guns) all over town; they popped up again last week at a local SHRM chapter meeting for a 5 minute update. Their talking points have not evolved much; they continue to bring in the sexy factor by talking about their “innovative” and “advanced matching algorithm.” Many of the HR gals and guys, not fully realizing this technology has been around for years, think we in the Bayou State are pushing the envelope or something.

But how does it work?  How does any of this work?

I have seen ZERO details shared with either recruiters or job seekers on the magic behind the system. If I’m with one of the companies that LED is attempting to woo and/or placate (and thus presumably I have a lot more power in this game than Joe the Job Seeker) I would expect to get a lot more details about the how, why and what of the inner workings of this “innovative algorithm.” If I’m a recruiter with Big-Deal Company A I best have a pretty clear explanation on how, exactly, these search algorithms are working. If I’m going to let LED ‘match me’ with the employees they anticipate I will want to review, interview and hire…I sure would like to know HOW these folks were matched.

Is the matching of keywords, skills, jobs, whatever done as a broad match, a phrase, or an exact match? How, exactly, does the ranking system work? LED tells me I can choose to be matched with candidates who meet 10%…20%…on-up-100% of my posted job requirements.  But there needs to be a bit more transparency coming from LED on how the scoring works. Is, for example, the system creating some sort of Boolean search string of keywords from both the job posting and the job seeker profile?

As a recruiter, if I’m going to use the system, I demand a bit more transparency. Otherwise, just like other sites that have come before it (I’m looking at YOU Louisiana Workforce Commission) it will become nothing more than a place where Debbie the HR Assistant has to go do some busy work every few days. (note: the mechanism to post jobs is fairly straightforward, even allowing the employer to scrape job postings from other sites, but it’s nowhere near the greatest).

Granted, it’s only been a week but there are certainly a number of improvements needed to the site. On the recruiter side there is absolutely no integration with social channels and the search capabilities are crap; the criteria one can search are industry (broad and basic categories), job fields (i.e. Accounting, Banking, Insurance), experience level, and or keywords. It also appears that the keyword search is not even working; to test this I searched by job field “human resources” and came up with 175 candidate results statewide. I looked at 20 of these candidates, noted they all had the phrase “human resources” multiple times in their respective resumes yet, interestingly enough, when entering “human resources” in the keyword search box (and only keyword search) I got – wait for it – ZERO results. I repeated this with a search for software developers and got 127 candidates when searching “Information Technology” in job field and ‘software developer’ as keyword yet when I JUST did a keyword search I got – wait for it – ZERO. So, it would appear, that even though the directions to recruiters state you can enter “one or more” criteria that’s not really accurate.

The goal for these LED folks is a numbers game; get as many employers to post jobs as possible (to show opportunities!) and get as many job seekers to create profiles as possible (to show availability of talent!) and as this initiative gains steam the requisite heavy hitters have come out to share gushing quotes via LED press releases. I recently read a rah-rah quote from the VP of Global Talent Acquisition for a company with a huge gleaming office building in Baton Rouge which, it should be noted, is winnowing the staff in the Red Stick and informing hundreds of employees they can either opt to relocate to Houston or pick up their pink slip.

Look…I get it; this all sounds enticing when LED heads out to pitch to Company ABC why they should relocate their business to Louisiana – “You’ll find the talent here! We’ve got matching algorithms y’all!!” Mr. CEO, the recipient of the pitch, will think this sounds great.

But I wonder what Company ABC’s recruiting team will think.

It surely doesn’t appear any recruiters have been asked to participate in the development of a system they’re been clamoring (or so LED tells us) to use.

(note: I have also created a job seeker profile and, while I give LED credit for using the LinkedIn API, errors abound. Eight days after the launch and I continue to get the message “Alert: Could not update, please try again later.”  (this occurs whether I connect via LinkedIn Or enter my data manually). To their credit, the marketing folks I spoke to told me to call the Help Desk and they would sign in to my profile and see if it’s a programming issue. I think it is; I had to send them a tweet on day 1 to inform them that the abbreviation for Wisconsin (WI) was listed, incorrectly, as WA on their drop down list. Now, perhaps every time I select WI I get tossed into some sort of netherworld.

I’m also not sure the search engine on the Job Seeker side is functional; I’ve tried keyword searches for companies I know have posted jobs and I get ZERO returns.

Then again, it appears from the marketing efforts that this site is created for employers… the hell with the disposable commodities… I mean candidates. But that’s a post for another day…)

 

********* 

Yours, Mine and Ours

don-and-blankenshipI think we can all agree that language matters in the workplace. Often this is a culture indicator; the leadership team at the silk-stocking law firm may (in public at least) be formal and circumspect – “Miss Blankenship, will you please come in here and bring your steno pad?” The dudes running the tech start up down the street however embrace my favorite four-letter word and freely interject this vivid descriptor into any and all conversations – “What the f’ing hell is going on with this f’ing beta test?”

Language also reflects how we view and treat our employees – sometimes in subtle ways.  This struck me the other day after separate conversations with two different leaders from two wildly divergent industries. Fellow A spoke of his team in the context of “we” while Fellow B referred to his staff members as if they were his possessions.

Ours vs. Mine

It struck me that Fellow A came across as inclusive; exhibiting a spirit of “we’re all in this together.”  Fellow B, on the other hand, came across as a total dick. Everyone in his glorified solar system orbited around him; he could scarcely speak of others without relying on his own title and elevated function to describe their jobs.

Do your leaders or managers say:

  • my administrative assistant” or “the department’s administrative assistant”
  • my A/P clerk” or “our A/P clerk”
  • my HR Rep” or “the company’s HR Rep”

Does it sometimes make sense for a bona-fide denizen of the C-suite to say “contact my assistant to schedule that?” Sure. Although saying “contact my assistant Ida to schedule that” (use her name!) recognizes Ida as a self-sustaining and productive member of the team and not merely an entity that exists solely for the continuation of Mr. C-Suite’s exaltation.

Know what I mean?

This isn’t Mad Men anymore – “My girl will take your coat.” “My girl can get some coffee for you.”

Oh well, it’s 2 pm. Freshen up my drink won’t you Miss Blankenship?

Choosing Darkness over Light

darkness lightYesterday I spent some time lamenting the reluctance of HR practitioners to adapt to change and embrace the future. I get on that wagon every now and again.

The information is right there!  How can you not see it?  It’s shiny!  It’s bright!  My god – everyone is talking about < insert it here >!

  • “You absolutely must be able to fully articulate your employer brand.”
  • “I can’t believe your career site isn’t optimized for mobile.”
  • “What do you mean you’re not doing social recognition with an embedded dashboard?”
  • “Seriously?  Posting ads on job boards is not recruiting.”
  • “You still don’t have an ATS?  Are you a luddite?”

Imagine two men seeking out the same object.

The first man, knowing what he is looking for, enters a well-lit room, sees the object of his desire, picks it up immediately, and puts it to use.

The second man enters a darkened room so his vision is not as clear.  As he seeks out this one unique object that bears some similarity to other items he must take his time.  He touches multiple things, turns them over and examines them from different angles.  He mentally categorizes each one, tests them to see how they fit with other existing pieces he owns, and works to understand if this IS, in fact, what he has been seeking.

Perhaps…just perhaps…that second man who struggled to locate the object developed a deeper understanding than the man who picked it up straight away.

Something to think about.