Tag Archive for change

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.

Rock (Hammer), Paper, Scissors

the-shawshank-redemption-escapeI recently had the chance to participate at the inaugural #DisruptHR event in Cleveland.  Described as “an information exchange designed to energize, inform and empower people in the HR field,” the series is taking off thanks to the efforts and support of chief disrupter Chris Ostoich and his group at BlackbookHR.  DisruptHR kicked off last December in Cincinnati and moved on to Denver in April before landing in Cleveland; NEW events are already scheduled for Denver (August 21) and Cincinnati (September 10).

And I absolutely loved it.

There were 14 of us who spoke to the 150 attendees; we each had 5 minutes with 20 slides that auto-advanced every 15 seconds. Ignite style.  It was a fascinating preparation process – defining a grabby topic (provocative and on-the-edge) and finding ways to make the message and content memorable and ‘sticky.’  No time for fluff or filler; every word spoken had to lead the audience to the point and slides/pictures had to reinforce yet not distract.

The gist of my talk was that HR needs to stop collecting things merely for the sake of preservation;  placing them in a dusty and forgotten cabinet of curiosities.  Rather, I opined, we must begin to collect – and use – NEW things: Knowledge (which gives us power), Information (to provide us with options), People (for support), and Ideas (so we can take action and create something new). I also shared some fun facts about Napoleon’s penis.


Friend and fellow disruptor Melissa Fairman wrote a great recap of the event over at HRremix: This Ain’t Yo Momma’s HR Conference and my buddy Steve Boese captured some thoughts on the overall Cleveland and DisruptHR experience in his post Selling your non-glamorous city: 5 observations from 2 days in Cleveland. And yes; the Cleveland Indian’s Social Suite was pretty damn fun!

So what did I learn?

  • This style of event is sorely needed in HR to take our conversations about talent, people and HR in new directions. I wish every HR practitioner could attend and participate in a DisruptHR event but I also know this wouldn’t have a strong reception in every locale. This was definitely 21+ (language! alcohol! shorts and flip flops!) and there was no holding back.  Some of our more traditional/conservative/old-skool HR brothers & sisters would get offended which is a shame; the perpetuation of HR holding itself aloof and aside from real, honest conversations all for the sake of “propriety” (yes, an HR lady used that word with me) continues in certain areas.
  • The members of Cleveland’s HR Community are smart, fun, friendly, curious, and enjoy each other’s company. The event kicked off at 5:30 PM (on a school night!) with drinks & apps. Presentations and other fun rocked from 6:30 to 8 PM, and then a HUGE group headed down the street for a social at the funkalicisous Lava Lounge until about 11 PM.  This was amazing and also served to remind me that in my community we can’t get HR people to attend anything after 5 PM….let alone want to hang and discuss talent and technology and people and culture into the evening.


You know what though?  Those of us in HR who push and provoke and try to drive change are a bit like Andy Dufresne in The Shawshank Redemption, slowly digging a tunnel with our rock hammers.  It took Andy 20 years to finish that tunnel and escape into the light on the other side.

I hope it doesn’t take HR quite that long.

Thanks to Cleveland SHRM for being a primary sponsor and organizer for the event and to Frank Zupan, Tammy Colson Zupan, Lauren Rudman and Michelle Salis for working tirelessly to bring this event to Cleveland and inviting me to join in the fun! 

The Art of Leadership (Live) – #ILSHRM14

ART-word-friends-leaves-smallThe Illinois SHRM 2014 Annual Conference and Exposition (#ILSHRM14) kicked off this afternoon with a great pre-conference workshop – “The Art of Leadership” with Joe Gerstandt and Doug Shaw.

It was a wonderful afternoon exploring creativity and the possibilities that arise when we open our minds. Joe and Doug challenged us to consider what happens at the intersection of communication, style and intent. We sketched, we drew, and we laughed. We practiced storytelling techniques and we co-created. It was a safe, positive, encouraging environment and a super way to get our brains operating in a different manner than the way in which we often walk into a conference.

Joe pointed out that in HR we sometimes design things because they need to be done and not necessarily because we think through how they will work.  And as we moved through some ensuing exercises we saw how this plays out; when we change the dynamics of a group, or perhaps the messenger this can have an impact on not just the interaction but also on the end result.

The over riding takeaway that i got from the workshop was the need for those of us who work in HR to think about how we can ‘humanize” ( to shamelessly steal a word used by others) not just how we practice HR, but also how we operate as leaders…and co-workers to all the employees in our organizations.

After an exercise on using improv techniques (practicing “yes…and…”) at our tables, an attendee in the workshop pointed out that “building on the ideas of other people is much more difficult than disagreeing.”

Think about that. Whether you work in human resources or any other business function. Whether you are interacting with people on the job, in a volunteer organization or even, let’s face it, with friends and family.

Quite often, in a rush to get things done or with a personal desire to “sell our idea’ to all any who will listen, we perhaps move past both seeking support and being supportive … and right into battle mode. Winning mode.

Is it wrong to want to be victorious? Of course not. But it’s not just about “winner takes all.”

Winners can share; stories, emotions, ideas, and support.

And so can leaders.


image credit via Art is A Way

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.