Who are you trying to convince?

Nobody wants to work for an organisation that sucks. Well, unless you’re a vacuum engineer, in which case you don’t want to work for a company that blows.

We all want to work for a “Top Best Company Employer” (names confused to protect the innocent). And that’s lucky, because there are a number of different awards that exist to help us work out where to go, to assist us in our search, point us along the path……

Once a year the good and the great gather together to celebrate their competitive awesomeness and show just how incredibly good and best and top they absolutely are.

Which is nice.

They share it on Twitter, photos of the people that they value enough to take to the ceremony. And they celebrate – back in the workplace – disproportionately with cupcakes (much cheaper than a gala dinner ticket).

But when the metallic balloons have deflated, the cakes have gone stale and the “Celebration” chocolates (did you see what we did there?) have melted. When the PRs have issued their press statements about the CEO’s being “proud” and valuing the importance of “their people” and “their contribution”. When the attention has gone back to the sales figures, the balance sheet and personally benefiting from that contribution.

What then? What does it tell us?

Are we really proud of celebrating that as a company we don’t dump all over our employees? Is that where we’ve sunk to? That we need to have a trophy cabinet of awards in reception that show we aren’t complete and utter ba***rds?

If we are really concerned with being a good employer, why then do we need to share it with the rest of the world? Why can’t we just be one and be happy with it?

Because we want to convince people we’re not awful. Because people think we are. And truth be told, we probably know that we are too….just a little.

That’s why we make it an objective of our HR departments, we incentivise (and punish) line managers to achieve higher and better ratings, we provide incentives to employees just at the time we’re completing the surveys (purely coincidental you understand).

That’s why we systemise “being good”. Not because we believe it’s right, but because we don’t know how to do it any other way. And we shout about it, because WE need to tell you, about US.

Employees, job seekers, candidates are savvy. They don’t get fooled but marketing, by PR, by stunts or by branding. They research, they speak to people, they look at a thousand different points of data, not necessarily the ones that you want them to see.

Like the middle aged guy diving the oversized, oversized, flashy car. Hanging out awards that show how great you think you are begs the question,


Is it because you’re genuinely the real deal and if so, why do you need to tell me? Or, as I suspect, is it because you’re compensating for a lack of “substance”…..you know……somewhere else….

The Bog (standard) Squad

Having a blog is easy. Using Twitter is simple. That’s why any idiot can do it.

It is also why the mere fact that you can use a bit of simple tech does not in any way make you a rock star. It does not make you powerful, influential, interesting, cool or informed.

It does, however, mean that you sometimes get noticed.

Being invited to conferences is a privilege, it is not a recognition of your supreme existence. Being asked to cover an event is not a declaration of the second coming, it is bestowing a simple responsibility.

DO NOT: Think this is an opportunity to convey your superior intelligence.
DO: Think about what will engage your audience.

DO NOT: Think you have to constantly tweet platitudes.
DO: Be mindful of balance, moaning all day long isn’t going to help.

DO NOT: Treat the hospitality as your God given right.
DO: Be thankful of the organisers and sponsors that brought you there.

DO NOT: Think you can duck out of half the sessions and spend your time in the pub.
DO: Give yourself and the audience a break.

DO NOT: Think your presence there in anyway makes you clever or special.
DO: Help inform those that aren’t able to attend like yourself.

DO NOT: Tweet mindless soundbites that have no context.
DO: Ask questions and seek opinions of a wider audience.

Ultimately it comes down to this. Don’t be an arse about it, but do be human. Nobody wants to follow a stream of ridiculously vacuous tweets and blogs that mean nothing and create noise. They want humour and context and insight. They want to get the feeling of what is going on. If you’re not enjoying a session, that’s fine, but if you’re there on the back of the organisation, slagging off their entire conference makes you look like a vacuous, ungrateful leech.

There’s a skill to being a blogger, that is more than knowing how to sign in. There is a skill to tweeting about an event that is more than being there with a phone. Next time you’re asked to cover an event, think what you can do to make it a success for other people, not what’s in it for you.

It’s #mjday

Many bloggers will tell you they write to express themselves. Whilst that might be true, we also like to be read. As a blogger of some years, I’ll admit to the pleasure of a reweet, the joy of a good day on the stats, the pleasure of a string of comments. Of course we write for self expression, but we write in public for reaction and opinion.

As there are too many voices in the social sphere, scrapping for space and time and attention. There are also far too few curators, sharers, linkers. The glue that binds the fractious world of egos and opinions together. The people that give space to new and old voices aside one another.

For me, since I started writing years ago, one person, one Twitter handle has always been there as a supportive voice on my shoulder. Sharing, encouraging, never short of a positive word or a comment. That person is @MJCarty or Michael Carty as he is known to his mum. Michael stands amongst us I n the world of social HR as a pillar of everything that is good and positive, low ego, low attention seeking, but high in giving of time, energy and commitment. His timeline is a “go to” for HR blogs, you’ll find him at HR events connecting with people in person and his addition to the general discussion and frivolity of Twitter is perhaps second to none.

In a strange turn of fate, on the day I saw a number of people unfairly criticising Michael for being selective in his coverage (never a more untrue word has been said) it also turns out it’s his 5th anniversary on Twitter today. So to my friends, my enemies, my supporters and detractors. Those I know, never knew, will know and don’t want to know. I ask you this, join with me in passing our thanks on to a true giant (in personality not stature) amongst us to @MJCarty.

Let’s celebrate. It’s #mjday.

Beware the digital hippies

Is it me, or is there a new pervasive force on Twitter? In a space previously held by the gutter rats of business, the recruitment consultants, a darker army has been quietly amassing their powers.

I’m of course talking about the digital hippies.

You may know them, you may not yet recognise them, but here are ten reasons you need to be aware.

1)    They don’t create wealth – These guys mock the corporate employees. They talk about their experiences of quitting corporate life. But in the end, the vast majority don’t employ people, they don’t create wealth for other people, they are merely self-serving, lone wolves who seek purpose and identity by trying to form an online collective.

2)    They don’t understand empirical evidence – I’m not against a bit of instinct, I’m not against a bit of intuition. We have more information available to us than at any time in the history of mankind. But why trouble yourself with that, when you can spout complete unproven nonsense on a regular basis without any grounding. Peace and love man. Yeah…..whatever.

3)    They spend a disproportionate time on Twitter – I like to tweet, I like Twitter but if I look at it at any point in the day, these guys are on there. Get a life. Get a job. Get a hobby. Get off my Timeline and take a walk.

4)    They make a mockery of HR – So most of these guys are sole traders – or as you and I would know them, consultants. But they don’t call themselves consultants, because that sounds too…..well corporate. Instead they call themselves coaches, or business owners, connectors or perhaps my favourite, CEOs. They don’t talk about 80% of the work that we do in HR, they don’t talk about industrial relations or employment relations. They have no idea. They think they’re talking about HR, but their only audience are the navels they’re gazing into.

5)    They disrespect the honest working person – Most of us work because we need money. Most people HAVE to work because they need money. Most of us are absolutely ok with that. Talk of fulfilment, engagement, passion, vocation….these are things that the vast majority have no time for. Not because, they’re not brave enough, but because they have no economic choice. You’re not the vanguard, you’re the indulgent.

6)    They quote – For the love of Buddha. No more quotes. No more quotes. Yes Martin Luther King Jr was amazing, yes the Dalai Lama is a dude. But I don’t need you to tell me something that you’ve just looked up on findmeaninspirationalquote.com. I really don’t.

7)    They create pointless “communities” – Remember when you were a kid and you had gangs? Not the sort that wear their trousers low and stab you. I’m talking about the kind with passwords and “bases”. These guys have hashtags and tweet ups that are about as sophisticated and as meaningless. The thing is, they’re adults. Not kids. Which makes it kinda creepy.

8)    They place “connection” over “content” – Discernment doesn’t come easy to these guys. You look like me, you sound like me we’re all good. You write the biggest piece of twaddle ever on your blog and I will comment and retweet. Why? Because I want you to do the same. Effluent is effluent regardless of how many times it multiplies.

9)    They place nothing in context – FX crisis? Economic downturn? Political turmoil? How does that impact on us? I mean, we’re above of all of that….we’ve risen to a new emotional and intellectual plane where these things don’t matter. We’re creating a new agenda, a new way of thinking, we’re…….living in a bubble…..and talking out of your behinds…..that’s what.

10) They have a dreadful dress sense and bad breath – OK….so I made that one up. But I bet they do, I mean…..it would stand to reason, right?

Just beware……and don’t say I didn’t warn you……