The power of five

Five years ago, I posted my first blog post on this site. One of the worst kept secrets in HR blogging is that I used to run a different site with a little more “artistic freedom”..…but enough about that for now. Five years is a pretty long time in this modern world, things change and move on. So what’s changed in that time and what has (maybe unsurprisingly) stayed the same?

The mystery of performance management – ironically, the first post I wrote here was about the need to take a more human approach in performance management. So is the fact that corporate after corporate is rushing to deliver the headline grabbing news that they’re ditching their annual appraisals evidence that this is happening? Absolutely not. It’s all a load of bull and they’ll be silently reintroducing some sort of system in the next two years. The point isn’t that you don’t need any system, it’s that you need a human system. Two very different points with two very different outcomes. VERDICT: NO CHANGE

The death of Human Capital Management – Not long after my first post, I wrote an attack on Human Capital Management. It was probably the first post that I wrote that caught the attention. It’s a phrase and a term that is only beaten into second place in the hall of shame by Employee Engagement (more of that later). HCM and human capital metrics are as 1980s as my fashion sense….and neither needs to be subjected to the masses. Fortunately, big data has replaced HCM as the numptiness of choice. VERDICT: DEAD AND BURIED

Ethical business, trust and authenticity – A theme over the last five years has been around ethics, trust and authentic business management. Don’t get me wrong, I”m an unashamed capitalist…BUT that doesn’t mean I think we need to rip a second a**e in each of our employees. For too long big, corporate FTSE100 businesses have lied and lied and lied some more. The string of corporate failures over this time have shown us that this is’t rhetoric, but simple truth. And in return we’ve seen and increasingly humble and apologetic approach. A new dawn? Don’t you believe it. Just a pause, the vultures are circling higher than before, but don’t believe they won’t be back. VERDICT: CEASEFIRE

The engaged employee – I said I’d be back to it, so why the surprise? Engagement is simply the most poisonous and frankly dangerous management concept of the last ten years. It makes the Ulrich Model look like a warm, soapy cuddle in the bath. Put simply, in the time that we have been talking about employee engagement, the happiness of employees has decreased. That’s not me talking, that’s a fact. And yet we persist. That’s either stupidity, or insanity. VERDICT: STILL BREATHING, BUT FIRST UP AGAINST THE WALL

Our profession and our professional body – Ok, so I know this one is going to be thrown back in my face *assumes the position*, but I have more confidence in both the HR professional and the CIPD than I’ve had since I graduated back in 1864. We’re generally talking about the right things, we’re willing to have an open debate and discussion and we are hearing voices from outside of the small select group of organisations that previously dictated the agenda. It’s promising, really promising. But not time to pop the champagne just yet. VERDICT: ON THE UP

I’m not going to dwell on HR, social technology and the like. You can read that in countless free “books”, but five more years? I doubt it. By then I’ll be transmitting direct in to your brains. So enjoy the freedom whilst you have it my friends…

I’m saving the good stuff for then.

Let’s groove on, ‘cause it’s time to move on

I’m bored.

I’m bored of people telling us we don’t need policies.
I’m bored of people telling us we need to be on SoMe.
I’m bored of the “humanisation” of HR
And I’m bored of the endless frigging debates about performance reviews.

I’m bored of HR people being boring.

Sure, we’ve nudged on slightly over the last five years. The debates became more thoughtful, more challenging, more creative.

Then they became more boring.


Because we’re still talking about the same things we were back then.

Do you need policies? Probably. Do you need a debate about it? Probably not.
Do you need to be on SoMe? No. Do you need to write another “book” about it? God no.
Does HR need to be more human? Yes. Do you need to shut up talking about it and do it? Yes.
Is this the end of the performance review? No

There we go. We’re all done.

So how about we move on and talk about some of the things that really matter?

Increasing alienation in a fragmented society.
Technology permanently disfiguring the labour market.
Our socio-economic, demographic time bomb.
The collapse of the global education system.

And of course, the impact of Christmas jumpers on the global sheep farming market…..

Actually, how about each one of us talks about something different? How about me have a million, a billion different ideas – a cacophony of thoughts, ideas and feelings?

Agree, disagree, argue, challenge and dissent. But think. Think free, think true and don’t listen to the nonsense that I and other “voices” in the space proffer. We need more thought, less consensus and much, much less blogging.

What we do is important, what we can achieve is transformational, yet at the moment, all we talk about is the past.

A rewarding conversation

I read a lot of blogs from the HR community, both here in the UK and in other less developed countries….like the US. I read good, bad and indifferent posts about a range of subjects. I read about engagement, resourcing, learning, strategy (pause for theatrical laughter) but I seldom read about reward.

The very essence of employment is reward. We might try to shy away from it, we might try to avoid it, but put simply, work is undertaken only for reward. Whether it is the exchange of goods, the promise of salary or of course the contentious bonus.

We work for return.

So why is it that we talk so much about so many other areas of our remit, but so little about reward?

Is it too hard? Is it too sensitive? Or have we forgotten the essential element that underpins our existence as HR people, because we would rather focus on the froth?

Reward has been the driver behind so much of our corporate success and corporate failure over the last gazillion decades. It has taken more mainstream column inches than any engagement initiative or recruitment technology. Yet for all the creative thinking that the blogosphere offers, so little of it is dedicated to the biggest prize of all.

When I’ve written about reward in the past it has had a mixed reaction.

My mind boggles, I need to address these topics, I need to think about these things more clearly. I don’t have the answers, I’m not even sure I have the questions, but I know that as a profession we need to be thinking about this topic in so much more detail.

So…..why aren’t we?

The Carnival of HR

Welcome friends, pull up a chair, make yourselves comfortable, maybe get a cup of tea, something to nibble on (just no crumbs on the keyboard ok?) and enjoy the latest round of lovingly scribed delicacies submitted for the enjoyment and pleasure of the Carnival of HR. So, if you’re sitting comfortably, then I’ll begin……

Very few bloggers can get me to go and have a conversation with a fish, but Paul Smith in his post “One great thing you need to know about being a manager” nearly made me do so. I say nearly, because I don’t want you to thank that I’m either mad or easily influenced.  I knew the post was a lesson on leadership really, assume makes an ass out of u and me, as they say.

Meanwhile, back in reality Cathy Missildine-Martin is mulling over the key aspects of corporate culture and no…not the pot of yoghurt that was left in the fridge sometime before the summer holidays.  What leads to a good culture? What makes those organisations different that develop great cultures? And what is the role of values in developing culture.

Which brings me to my first Brit alert….I’m going to add a “u” into a word….don’t panic, roll with it, you’ll be fine….. corporate humour from Andrew Tarvin next as he talks about the 5 stages of working relationships.  Come to think of it, if I’d known this a while back I wouldn’t have sent all those unrequited emails…..oh well I guess you live and learn…..never did like them anyway….

You know that moment when you read a blog post and it resonates wholeheartedly with you?  This one from Dan McCarthy did just that with his advice on spotting “That Guy” in corporate environments. I should be clear…..when I say resonates…..I mean about someone else…..not me……honest……I’m one of the cool kids…..

Benjamin McCall is short and to the point….but he has got by in life pretty well nonetheless, whether that is through platforms or an abundance of talent I’ll leave to you to decide. And this post on innovation and ideas, is likewise short and to the point… snooze you lose….or words to that effect….but sounding cleverer than if I’d written them.

As an HR pro of some 15 years plus, I’m pretty used to seeing the early signs of workplace stress I know when someone needs a holiday. And that neatly brings me on to this little submission from Dwane Lay. Dwayne…..I’m on your side….I’m here for you… me? A little portion of video genius.

When it comes to blogging, us Brits are outnumbered by our American cousins.  We’re ok with that, after all we gave the world history, culture, language and essentially civilization. Blogging? We’ll give it to you. Jon Ingham has been blogging since he first laid his hands on a ZX Spectrum (or so he tells me) so to keep the Union Jack flying here is his post….from a conference……in America…..

I once worked in a company that had a revolving door policy….but I’ll leave that one to my memoirs.  Susan Heathfield has been talking about open door policies.  The good the bad and the ugly. Strikes me that open and honest communication might be key? But I’ve always been a revolutionary….

Do you remember when we used to have a banking system? Cast your minds back….remember? Then all of a sudden we started to talking about toxic assets, the pound became equivalent to three groats and America ate itself to death.  How about toxic team members though? These ones aren’t a by-product of over indulgent bankers, they’ve been around a lot longer and Wally Bock has some advice for dealing with them right here.

“If music be the food of love, play on”. Shakespeare…another Great British invention gifted to the world….you can thank me later. However, Ian Welsh is turning his thoughts to music and the workplace in both a literal and metaphorical sense. I’ve worked in few places that had more than a nod and wink to the Dead Kennedys. Harmonious it was not.

Those of you know me a little will know that existentialism is close to my heart. That along with beer, cheese and ridiculous shirts….hell I even had my own little existential crisis going on for a couple of years.  That is what happens when you work with people…..but “back in the room” Prasad Kurian is talking a lot of sense about HR and the creation of defining myths. I also see a semi slap for Ulrich in there, so it must be worth reading.

Where Paul Smith sees guppies, Carol Morrison sees green beans, (what is it with these metaphors people? HR is like a watermelon because……) however, Carol has the same name as my mother so I won’t have a word said against her.  If you’re worried about your shelf life or the shelf life or your co-workers, take a read and work out what might be going on.

Any post that takes its name from a Snow Patrol song and name-checks my friend Laurie Ruettimann is good with me. I’m fickle like that.  But if it also makes a great point about the boss being just that, THE BOSS, then I’m rolling on my back waiting to have my tummy tickled (metaphorically speaking of course).

Trevor Beattie has this theory that we need to stop heading for the one big idea and focus on having lots of little ideas and I hear more than a little of this message coming from this post from my American friend Steve Browne who challenges us to have 5 new ideas every day. That’s a lot to ask of a profession where many haven’t had 5 ideas in a career….never mind new ones!

When I was out in Atlanta for HR Evolution earlier this year I learnt that Americans are big on hugging.  As a Brit, if someone comes within 5 yards of me I go into attack mode.  It has got me this far in life and the psychiatrist is on a retainer with a high discount clause so we’re all good.  But it doesn’t mean that I don’t care for people.  Leaders need to show that they care for the people in their organizations, proposes Linda Fisher Thornton here. Care, yes. Hug, no.

Very few people can blog about recruitment for any period of time without turning into clichéd zombies that make you want to poke yourself in the eye with a rusty nail whilst dancing naked, with painted buttocks, and howling at the moon.  Take Mervyn Dinnen for example Mervyn Dinnen is a stand out exception a man who outputs more than he inputs, find out why.

HR technology… trying to eat a dozen dry biscuits after being out in the desert for three and half days surviving on pork scratchings. Or am I wrong? Seems like there is a lot going on that I’ve missed since crawling out from under my stone and who better to put me right than Mark Stelzner with his review of HR Technology 2011. And it was held in Vegas, so that desert reference shouldn’t go to waste (the pork scratchings though might be another thing….)

Dan McCarthy (above) talked about “That Guy” you know the one that always takes credit for everything? How infuriating is that? And when it comes to interview we all know the candidate that bangs on and on about what they have achieved with little mention of the poor minions that actually did a lot of the work. A theme touched upon by John Hunter in his post.  John I’m with you, but just for the record, who wrote that post…was it you or the small army of blog dwarfs you have under your desk?

Last but by no means least is the sensational Suzanne Lucas (Evil HR Lady) on why quitting isn’t always a bad thing to do.  And you know what? She’s right, which is why I’m going to stop now and bid you farewell.

You’ve been a great audience, don’t forget to pick up a t-shirt on your way out. If you like what you’ve seen, I’m available for weddings, funerals and bar mitzvahs, my rates are reasonable and I’m pretty much house trained.  But right now, I’m going for a long lie down in a dark room….I think that’s best for all of us, don’t you?