Can We Talk About People Please?

Today started with a business leader on breakfast TV talking of how they had ‘tidied up’ a subsidiary that had made losses. There was something almost Hitlerian about this – part of this tidying up would have been restructuring and redundancies. That’s people – their expectations and ambitions, their commitments and responsibilities – being cleared away in the tidying up.

Then there were a couple of recruitment commentators in my timeline promoting the fact that more businesses were talking about increasing their use of flexible resources in the next 3 months. That’s people they’re talking about, now a flexible resource. People with dependants and responsibilities, plans and hopes, expectations and ambitions, people with full time commitments but now getting part time, flexible income.

A ray of sunshine appeared when Tim Oldman of Leesman Index talked of workplace design being a people business not a buildings business.

The language of business seems seriously skewed at the moment. It’s depersonalising and dehumanising jobs, driving a race to the bottom for the value and self-worth of those who do the work. And it’s self-defeating as those with precarious incomes live precarious lives, which benefits no-one in the long run.

Tomorrow I’ll be joining a bunch of fine HR folk in London for the 5th ConnectingHR unconference. The topic is Brave HR.

Maybe re-humanising and re-personalising the language of business would be a brave start.



(Image courtesy of Lessons From Fantasy)

Searching For The New Social Vision…

Tomorrow sees the 4th ConnectingHR Unconference and we’re talking about socially connected organisations. I wrote in my last blog about how the conversation has developed over the last two years and this topic seems the natural continuation.

Over the last couple of days my friend and fellow ConnectingHR organiser Flora Marriott has been putting together a music playlist for the after event drinks. Hopefully we’ll get a few live numbers courtesy of Doug Shaw and for the rest of the time we’ve been crowdsourcing songs, relevant to the socially connected organisation theme, through the twitter hashtag #chruchoons

Coincidentally my iPod has recently been on a Dexys Midnight Runners nostalgiafest – it must be the band reforming and about to release their first new album for yonks – and the song that springs to mind is There There My Dear. The band’s second hit single, with brass soul riffs and lyrics written as a letter to ‘Robin’, it was in defence of the band’s new soul vision and ripped into po-faced ‘anti-fashion’ bands who didn’t buy into it.

And then there was the classic lyric…

Don’t you know the only way to change things is to shoot the men who arrange things

OK, there’ll only be metaphorical shooting tomorrow…but substitute ‘social’ for ‘soul’ and there you have it! Searching for the New Social Vision!

So here’s the new lyric…hopefully you know the tune 🙂

Dear Robin,
Hope you don’t mind me writing, it’s just that there’s more than one question I need to ask you. If you’re so anti-social media so use pen and paper instead of all e-mailing just the same. It’s just that communicating like that I can express my dissatisfaction. Continue reading “Searching For The New Social Vision…”

HR and the Socially Connected Organisation


“I don’t know what I was expecting
But I’m sure I am detecting
The sounds of human beings connecting
And some pretty deep reflecting”

(Anon, previous ConnectingHR attendee)



It’s only 19 months since the very first ConnectingHR Unconference, and on 16th May we will be running our fourth. It has certainly been a revelation seeing the community come together, grow and develop in that time and how what could easily have been a one-off has become a regular event that inspires, challenges and entertains.

Looking back at my blog HR and the Social World, which previewed the very first event in 2010, it struck me how far the conversation has come…and how far we can still go.

The early discussions were around social media, the how and the why it should be used, the potential to change the way we work and shape the future of how we will be working. Subsequent events moved the debate on to people strategies and eventually to what the future of work may look like.

For #CHRU4 our theme is ‘The Power of a Socially Engaged Organisation’ and there are five key questions that we’ll be looking at:

  • How can organisations embrace social media/strategies internally to increase engagement?
  • What are the positive benefits and opportunities of embracing social and community strategies in organisations?
  • What tools are there to help increase collaboration and conversation in organisations?
  • Can a more social business create commercial value and increase engagement?
  • What alternatives are there to the traditional employee survey?

As always the actual agenda on the day will be attendee driven, yet there will be something new at the very start. To get the creative thinking juices flowing we’ll be seeing a series of 5 minute presentations which will combine a mixture of short case studies and think pieces aimed at challenging the way we see everything from workplace design to HR metrics! Continue reading “HR and the Socially Connected Organisation”

Hands Across The Water

During my visit to HREvolution in Atlanta earlier this year I was able to spend some time with Bonni Titgemeyer – you may know her as @BonniToronto on Twitter. She is great company – intelligent and passionate about HR – and has enjoyed a varied career as practitioner, consultant, blogger, instructor and communicator. She has also created The Employment Opportunities List, a site that helps publicise jobs and blogs within the Toronto HR community or as she puts it making the hidden job market in HR less hidden.

Now Bonni is on a mission to bring social networking to the broader HR community in her area and has initiated The Engagement Project.

By reaching out and engaging with the HR community on twitter, and using the hashtag #TEPHR for all her interactions, she is looking to showcase the power of social media to connect, engage share and learn – and hopes that for the naysayers and deniers seeing is believing!

Great sentiments…and ones that many in the UK HR community can identify with.

Her experiment follows hot on the heels of last week’s 3rd ConnectingHR Unconference and provides the perfect opportunity for the growing UK HR community to reach out to our Canadian cousins and help them to see the benefits of what we have been experiencing for the last 18 months.

So read up on Bonni’s aims and methods…

Connect with her…

Follow the conversation…

And let’s spread the word for HR in a Social World!

HR and the New World of Work – ConnectingHR 3

A few weeks ago I followed a link on Twitter to an article entitled ‘Are Jobs Obsolete?’ which appeared on the CNN news site. You can read it here. It was an opinion piece, so open to interpretation and analysis, but it certainly resonated with me, articulating many of the things that had concerned me about the future of work.

I shared the article with my network and discussed it with those whom I was helping in the planning and organising of the forthcoming ConnectingHR Unconference. After a few beers at the Square Pig (where else?!) the core theme for #CHRU3 was born…

HR and the New World of Work

Particularly looking at:

  • Are existing organisation models sustainable in a new economic future?
  • What is the future model of ’employment’?

The original article poses some strong questions of its own, as in:

The question we have to begin to ask ourselves is not how do we employ all the people who are rendered obsolete by technology, but how can we organize a society around something other than employment?’

And Continue reading “HR and the New World of Work – ConnectingHR 3”

Some People Who Rocked My Week

Over the last week I’ve attended two amazing events – HRevolution and ConnectingHR Unconference – and have met some super people. In fact I’ve not met anyone who I wouldn’t want to spend a lot more time with.

I don’t really do #FollowFriday on Twitter anymore and have been fairly ambivalent towards the various debates that have sprung up about it in recent months, seeing it more a matter of personal choice.

This weekend is different though. I want to let my blog readers/followers know about some of the people I’ve met. 

I could have tweeted out lists of names with an #FF hashtag but decided that would add little value.

So how about I focus on the people who really did it for me, who really rocked my world this week?

Now I’m putting in the disclaimer early. Everyone I met rocked my week in one way or another. I could easily have put down 200+ names, so I’m going for those who either I didn’t know very well before, or those with whom I really made a connection and who readers of this blog should connect with too…. Continue reading “Some People Who Rocked My Week”

Social media isn’t going away any time soon!

Are we living in a social media bubble? So asked this blog on Econsultancy yesterday, with some strong references to asset bubbles and tipping points.

It’s a question that often crosses my mind. I wrote about it in my post Boy in the Bubble and debated it over a couple of beers with Kevin Ball, leading to his blog Social Media and Mars Bars

I came at it more from the angle of social media users being in a minority, yet by connecting and engaging with  other  social media users all the time we are in a cocoon where everyone we know seems to be social. The Econsultancy article looked at a slightly wider view – is this a bandwagon, doomed to overheat like asset bubbles, housing bubbles and the dotcom bubble.

For me, we aren’t in that kind of a bubble, but the overload of consultants, experts and strategists fighting a turf war over business insecurities on whether they should embrace social are themselves creating a bubble that can’t help but go pop. And as with the other bubbles mentioned earlier, some of the talking heads will do quite well and others will not, ending up kicking around looking for the next bandwagon.

But social media as a communication tool isn’t about to burst anytime soon…any more than there were ever bursting telephone bubbles or e-mail bubbles. Sure they way we use it, and the expectations we have of it, will change and refine over time, but most individuals and businesses will come to use it in a way that suits them.

Over the next 7 days I’ll be attending 2 unconferences – HRevolution in the USA and ConnectingHR in the UK – at which HR and recruiting professionals will talk about their work, and how social media is impacting. How we can harness the opportunities that it offers to create better businesses and relationships. These events are almost exclusively organised and promoted through social media channels, and I will already know (both offline and online) the 250 or so attendees. The reach of each one of us means that what we say and think, how we take back certain learnings and implement them, will have a reach running well over a million.

Then in a few weeks’ time, the company I work for – Jobsite UK – will be bringing two thought leaders to the UK to talk about Engagement and The Social Revolution to a number of our clients, contacts and partners. The social ripples spreading further.

There can be little doubt that the connectivity of these communities provides tremendous opportunities for collaboration and progress. One of the ConnectingHR community (Alison Chisnell) commented the other night – after disclosing that she had sourced, through the community, two excellent candidates for roles in her company – ‘another reason why HR needs to go social’. Seeing as how her usual recruitment agency partners had failed to deliver the calibre of candidate that she was looking for, it was a case of Traditional Methods 0 Social Business 1

Maybe these anecdotes are a little too isolated for some. Maybe the tipping point seems a long way off. Maybe the bursting point seems nearer. So I’ll give you another example.

This morning I watched my 16 year old son arranging a trip to the cinema this evening with friends.

Through Facebook.

They shared a YouTube link to the trailer.

They will be entering the workforce in 5/6 years’ time.

They aren’t living in a bubble…it’s their world…for communication, it’s pretty much all they will know.

Social Media isn’t going away any time soon.

HRevolution 2011 – The British Invasion

February 9th 1964 – The Beatles appear on the Ed Sullivan Show and start the ‘British Invasion’

April 29th 2011 – The HRBritPack appear at HRevolution for another ‘British Invasion’

Yes, it’s HRevolution week!

Last year’s event in Chicago was certainly one of my highlights of 2010 with so many intriguing conversations and thought provoking sessions. Whilst there seems little difference between the issues facing HR and Recruitment professionals from the US and UK it was certainly refreshing to hear a different perspective.

So I can’t wait to touch down in Atlanta and see old friends and new faces! And this time there will be some more Brits coming along for the experience!

A veritable HRBritPack no doubt ready to amuse and debate in equal measures! And with the second ConnectingHR unconference happening 5 days later, it will provide a great opportunity to get an insight into new thinking around people strategies in a social world.

So who is in the HRBritPack?

Neil Morrison – Group HRD of a major publishing company, an experienced HR practitioner and writer of the blog Change-Effect.

Gareth Jones – Career spanning HR, Recruitment, Marketing and Technology and writer of the blog ‘Inside My Head’. Co-founder of ConnectingHR.

Jon Ingham – The other co-founder of ConnectingHR, Jon is a writer, speaker and consultant in human capital management. Read Strategic HCM

And me!

We’ll be checking in on Friday afternoon…come and say hello!

Goddamn Right Its a Beautiful Day!

‘You’re a law unto yourself and we don’t suffer dreamers / But neither should you walk the earth alone

We’ve got open arms for broken hearts / Like yours my boy, come home again’ (Open Arms, Elbow 2011)

Anyone with a passing knowledge of the band Elbow will know that towards the end of each album you get an anthem full of hope, pride, dignity, optimism, redemption and love – Grace Under Pressure, One Day Like This – and the new CD is no different, giving us Open Arms from which the above lyrics are taken.

Without getting too mawkish, I sometime run out of superlatives to describe the online community of which I am part. I’ve often referred to it as being like family, but then I think it’s deeper than that. The depth of connections, the sharing, openness, inclusion, collaboration makes it seem so much more. And it is the strength of these bonds that continue to amaze me.

Almost every day is an Elbow-like anthem in which we support, confide, encourage and inspire each other through the highs, lows, achievements and frustrations…sharing the joy and feeling the pain. Open our arms and offer comfort to all.

It really is the community that keeps on giving.

And if you want to smile, then there are always random acts of kindness.

Take Friday morning. Continue reading “Goddamn Right Its a Beautiful Day!”

One Big Happy HR Family

Today sees the fourth ConnectingHR get together…a tweetup which had been widely and energetically anticipated. Having been involved in this community from the idea stage through previous tweetups and an unconference to its current stage of weekly chat and daily twitter interaction I have been excited and energised by the way it has developed from a social network into a real community. 

We are supportive, collaborative and encouraging, sharing information, thoughts, feelings and wisdom. Every week sees new bloggers and a new contributors. We talk HR, we talk food!

I was drawn to a blogpost from Kevin Wheeler which first appeared last summer – From Social Networks to Communities – in which he talks of the development of networks of people into communities, in which everyone has access to and can communicate with everyone else.

The post is a really good read. Kevin talks of 5 characteristics that a strong community exhibits:

Collaboration and Sharing

Feeling Included

Similar Values



There’s little doubt in my mind that the ConnectingHR community exhibits all these…it has  moved from tentative to social to fully collaborative. I know from personal experience how they have pulled together to help during my recent change of circumstances and they are welcoming and embracing.

Last week I joined some of the community at a local CIPD branch meeting where we helped HR professionals new to social media to navigate obstacles and hesitancies and to start connecting and engaging. It seemed natural and was borne out of a strong interest to get as many people involved as possible.

The ConnectingHR tweetup is more than a networking event.

It’s a night out with friends.

We’re one big happy HR family!