Monday, 31 May 2010

Social recruiting training


    I was asked by Katie at the Kenexa Summit about training opportunities in social recruiting.  Rather than reply individually, I thought I’d link to some people and resources here.

Firstly, courses and workshops:


There’s also Bill Boorman’s TRU unconferences (see my posts).


None of these are provided that regularly so secondly, people – in addition to those above (you can learn an awful lot just be following peoples’ blogs and tweets in this area):


(sorry to those others I’ve very temporarily forgotten.)


Also see all my blog posts on social recruitment.


It might also be worth including that Amparo Díaz LLairó is currently writing a book on Recruiting 2.0.


And of course, although I focus on broader social HR / HR 2.0 requirements, I’m always ready to help any client with social recruiting (as well as social learning etc) too…



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Sunday, 30 May 2010

Confidence, engagement and human capital


   Indy replied to my recent post on engagement, and my question about why Kenexa’s, and other, engagement surveys don’t seem to pay as much attention as I’d expect to the social aspects of engagement.

His view:

“Who's right and who's wrong? That's a big discussion - but my instinct is to take the middle road and say rather that you and Jack are talking about two different things.

Assuming the picture shows some of his results, he's talking about the commitment of an employee to an organisation - or possibly a "job." The social stuff is about how connected someone feels about the work that they do. The decisions people make are a mixture of two axes...

Actually, now I've typed that, I don't know if there's a clear divide, the axes are not orthogonal. My experience is that even if someone really enjoys their work in a social sense, they may move if some of Jack's factors are a problem. And vice versa...

One thing I'd throw in is that there are different situations, but a lot of the time, individuals in a job are choosing between staying, or moving to one that is essentially similar. Social engagement is often a tipping point issue..”


I think Indy’s right.  These are different, albeit interconnected, things.

And actually, something similar was thrown up at the conference.

So Kenexa define their engagement index as the average level of agreement for:

  • I am proud to tell people I work for my company
  • Overall, I am extremely satisfied with my company as a place to work
  • I rarely think about looking for a new job with another company
  • I would recommend this place to others as a good place to work.


But in one session, we looked at another survey on employee confidence.  I’m not sure if this survey focuses on activities or outcomes, but Thomas Rasmussen from A.P. Moller Maersk certainly defined it as the end people outcome of:

  • Employee Engagement
  • Good leadership (leading at the right level)
  • The right organizational setup (large enough roles.


There’s certainly no reason that confidence couldn’t be an outcome based index.

It goes back to the point I made last year as part of a longer series of posts on engagement surveys that we should really be focusing on surveying much more than just engagement:

“In my last post, I provided some advice on surveying the engagement of your workforce.  But why stop there?  What's so magical about engagement which means this is the only thing you think about surveying, when human capital consists of so much more?  As I've described, engagement is just one bucket inside the bigger bucket of human capital.  And this itself is contained within the even bigger bucket of organisational capability (human + organisation + social capital).  So why not survey these?”


The need for social connection may not show up as part on an engagement index, depending on how you define it (pride, satisfaction, retention, advocacy in the case of Kenexa), but this doesn’t mean that this, or things like confidence, can’t have a sizeable impact on discretionary behaviours and business results.

It’s important to focus on outcomes rather than just activities, but we need to ensure that we’re paying attention to the right ones.

Any more thoughts?



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Friday, 28 May 2010

Top 50 blog


Strategic HCM is included in Evan Carmichael (the Internet's #1 resource for small business motivation and strategies) as a Top 50 Human Resources blog to watch (or read!) in 2010.

I didn’t get my picture included unfortunately, unlike Sharlyn Lauby – the HR Bartender, or Laurie Ruettimann – Punk Rock HR (below) but am still delighted to be on the list.

sharlyn-lauby-hr-bartender laura-ruettmann


It’s great to be in such good company, and I’m particularly pleased to see a few other UK based HR blogs included alongside Strategic HCM this time:


Well done to everyone on the list.  Everyone else: these are great resources for you!


Picture credits: Jeff Foster from WebBizIdeas


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Thursday, 27 May 2010

Promotion (and salary) envy


   My last but one post argued that despite Jack Wiley’s findings, the workplace is a very social environment, and we need to influence its sociology, if we want to maximise engagement and collaboration.

And as I stated at the summit, social media has a role to play in this, but so does lots of other things we’ve traditionally done within HR.  Like the way we promote people, and pay them…

Interesting then to see these two articles today:

1.   The workplace is a seething hotbed of promotion envy – HR Magazine (UK)

“A survey of more than 1,300 employees finds the office is dog-eat-dog after 34%, of employees in small businesses said that they would purposely sabotage a colleague's chances of a promotion, rising to 62% in larger businesses.”

And why?  “because they believe their co-workers would do the same to them if the situation were reversed”.


2.   BT union demands inflation-busting pay rise or they'll strike – Management Today

“It’s a bit hard to imagine anyone looking at the strategy currently being employed by the unions at BA and using it as model for their own industrial relations. But that appears to be the case at BT, another once-nationalised giant that’s been feeling the pain lately: its biggest union is threatening to walk out on strike unless management agrees to an inflation-busting 5% rise. Now it’s true that things are looking up at BT, and the £1m bonus CEO Ian Livingston stands to pocket as a result is being used by the unions as justification for their demands. But at a time when we’re barely out of recession, when unemployment is rising and BT itself has just shed 35,000 staff, isn’t it about time the union faced up to harsh economic reality?”


Yes, but if we see organisations as societies in their own right, and acknowledge that people will behave dysfunctionally if they believe they’ve been treated unfairly in just a relatively minor way (eg being passed over for promotion), then how do we think people are going to react when their CEO gets paid 40 times their average salary (£850k salary plus £1.2m bonus never mind his share options compared to an average salary of £50k)?

Is it really that hard to predict?


As Andy Kerr, deputy general secretary of the Communication Workers Union has said:

"It's all about fairness. We don't mind senior executives getting bonuses, but we want all staff to share in the success of the company."


Well, yes.  It is.  I’ve used the terms envy and dysfunctional in this post.  But I don’t mean to indicate that they’re that negative, that they’re things we should expect people to be able to avoid, or that they’re limited to a small group of people (let’s just call them ‘C’ players, shall we?).

I don’t and they’re not.  They’re  very natural emotions, behaviours and reactions that affect us all.

We’re human.  We’re social animals operating in social environments.  We’re not cogs in a wheel.


Interestingly, I included BT as a case study organisation in my presentation on social media and HR.  And think that in many other ways, it’s a very people-focused business – for example, its long-standing policy of avoiding compulsory redundancies  (it’s also a former client).  But with this sort of pay differential, can any organisation really be that socially functional, or that effective?


Picture credit: nicked from HR Magazine’s article, sorry.  I did want to include a picture of someone ‘slapping their forehead’ but they don’t seem to have any of these in wikimedia commons where I try to take my pictures from – and I didn’t think its alternative suggestion of ‘shopping in moorehead’ was that relevant!



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“People join organisations but leave managers” and more HR twadle


   One thing I did agree with Jack Wiley on, and was pleased to hear him say (because sometimes I’ve felt I’m the only one who does) was that the adage, ‘people join organisations but leave managers’, is a myth.  That the data just doesn’t back it up.

Of course, there’s a lot more of these fallacies as well.  One of my other favourites is ‘you can’t manage what you can’t measure’.  It’s.  Not.  True.

There are more of these in Jeffrey Pfeffer’s books, ‘Hard facts, dangerous half-truths and total nonsense’ (with Bob Sutton) and ‘What were they thinking?’.  And in Bob Sutton’s blog.  (Yes, OK, I know these two are fans of evidence based management and would therefore probably want you to measure so that you can manage.  So?).


Anyway, regarding ‘people join organisations but leave managers’, Jack Wiley suggests the issue is just a lot more complicated than that.

Kenexa’s WorkTrends survey shows that the key factors influencing stay / leave decisions in Europe at least are:

  1. Promising future for one’s self
  2. Excited about one’s work
  3. Confidence in organisation’s future
  4. Can balance career goals and family/personal life
  5. Contribution is valued
  6. Opportunity for growth/development
  7. Manager treats me with respect and dignity
  8. Safety is a priority
  9. CR efforts increase satisfaction
  10. Feel part of a team.


The manager is there, at #7, and they’re also going to influence the rest of the factors.  But it’s certainly not all about them.


Like Jack, I’ve seen data which discredits Marcus Buckingham’s suggestion (OK, I don’t think he was the first person to suggest it, but I think it’s down to him the phrase draws 1,480,000 results in Google).

For example, when I was at Penna, we produced evidence, which I found compelling, that while this might be true for production workers, knowledge workers were much more influenced by organisational values and senior leadership.

And didn’t Theresa Welbourne produce some similar findings suggesting that low performers might be engaged most by their managers but high performers again were influenced by broader issues (I might be making this up but I don’t think so).

It doesn’t even stand up to a decent bit of introspection – which to me at least is much more powerful than all of Jack’s stats.  Think back over the last 10 years of your career and reflect on when and how you’ve been engaged, and why you’ve left or joined organisations.  I bet it’s not ‘I joined because of the organisation and left cos of my manager’.

It’s complete rubbish.  So why do so many HR people trot it out?  Is it simply because they’re so busy, they just don’t stop to think?

I hope so.  Because the alternatives are far more worrying!


Photo: Gordon Bown (the exception that proves the rule?)


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Social engagement – fact or fiction?


   In my end-of-day keynote at Kenexa’s Euro Summit, I talked about how the social aspects of an organisation play an important role in influencing the engagement levels of employees.

I referred in particular to some of:


I used these arguments to suggest that much of what engages us at work comes from our relationships with the people we work alongside.

So I was paying particular interest to Jack Wiley’s keynote at the start of the day in which Jack described the findings of Kenexa’s 2010 WorkTrends survey, wondering to what extent this social type of engagement would appear in their research.

The answer is it didn’t.  Hardly at all – just in terms of the #10 reason that people leave (feeling part of a team)*.


I carried on anyway – and I don’t think anyone noticed the divergence in our views.

But what’s behind the discrepancy?  Who’s right, who’s wrong.  I’d love to learn your views.



* PS the social aspect of the organisation did come through in some of the other presentations.  For example, Stefanie Confurius from Philips talked about their focus on:

  • Me and my company
  • Me and my manager
  • Me and my department.


Within this last area, Philips have been running some deep dive sessions and team building events to increase (social) engagement.


In addition, Nicky Ivory-Chapman from McDonald’s explained that one aspect of this company’s EVP is Friends and Family, which includes:

  • Everyone treated the same
  • Inclusiveness
  • Diversity
  • Same access to training and development
  • Progress if they wish.


So it’s there, but still not that strongly…


Wednesday, 26 May 2010

Kenexa Euro conference presentation


   I told attendees at Kenexa’s European summit that I’d provide them with the links I used in my presentation on social media, HR, engagement and collaboration.  So here you go:


Social HR / HR 2.0 (we focused on recruitment since this was a recruitment and retention conference, and the greatest number of people – about 20 – already used social media in their recruitment):


Social engagement:


We also talked about the benefits of extending this socialisation outside of the organisation:


Social collaboration:


We then spoke about the opportunity to combine social media with other activities to enhance eg collaboration.  See these posts on Cisco’s collaborative structures:


More posts following the conference coming up shortly.


If you were at the summit, do comment below.  And join up on Twitter / follow me at @joningham.  Then continue the conversation at the Connecting HR tweet-up (after-work meet-up for HR people interested in using Twitter and social media) in London on 24 June.





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Tuesday, 25 May 2010

Presenting in an online world (Talking HR 028)


   Tomorrow I’m going to be keynoting at Kenexa’s European Summit.

It’s a face-to-face rather than an online / social media presentation, but it’s a presentation about social media, so I was thinking back to our last Talking HR podcast on presenting in an online / social world:

Listen to internet radio with Talking HR on Blog Talk Radio

This show was a triggered by my question in the previous one, about how presenting changes, either when presenting online, or when presenting f2f but there’s lot’s of social media stuff going on as well (eg incorporating the twitter backchannel).

However, as I’ll be talking about tomorrow, I think the social world is  much bigger thing than just a world which uses social media.  It’s one in which ‘social’ is important – ie one in which we need to put value on connecting, relationships, conversations and so on.

The most important thing in this new world isn’t anything to do with social media, it’s about being social.  And the one thing we forgot to talk about on the show, in terms of presenting f2f, is allowing time to be social.  For Q&A; for conversations over coffee before and after a talk; and for just being around.

It’s why I think it’s increasingly dissonant for presenters to stroll in and stroll out again as soon as they’ve finished speaking (often protected by minders).  And of course, it’s particularly incongruent if they’re talking about social media / management 2.0 (Gary Hamel at al take note). 

It’s why I’ll be at the Kenexa conference all day tomorrow.  I hope to meet some of you, dear readers, there.



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Sunday, 23 May 2010

Top 25 blog


   Strategic HCM is back in the Fistful of Talent blog power rankings (v7.0).

Congrats to all the other blogs on the list.

And thanks once again to the Jessica, Kris and the FoT team.



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Saturday, 15 May 2010

5% cuts all round


David Cameron Hosts Weekly Shadow Cabinet gU_TbUP7lDJl   One of the British government’s first actions in power was to agree to 5% salary reductions.

This could very easily be a sign of things to come, particularly in the UK’s public sector, where I suspect the cuts won’t come quite so easily.

My only experience of this comes from my spell in Russia after the 1999 crisis there.  But for those in the UK, with a relevant subscription, there’s some useful advice on the XpertHR site, starting with this introduction:

“Over the past 12 to 18 months, the majority of businesses have had to consider making redundancies. But to avoid the expense of redundancy and in an attempt to retain talented staff, many employers have looked at implementing alternative cost-saving measures.

Historically, tribunals have seen implementing a reduction in salary as a draconian measure. But, from my experience over the past couple of years, they have become receptive to this measure if it is carried out as a genuine means to avoiding redundancy.”


Something I think we’ll be talking about quite extensively at Osney Media’s Reward conference next week (I’ll be chairing part of day 1 and delivering the follow-up workshop).



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Friday, 14 May 2010

HR – evolving and connecting…


   Earlier in the week I asked HRevolution: What’s next?

My second answer to this question deals with the session at the end of HRevolution (#HRevolution): how do we extend the conversation out of the echo chamber?

I think it’s an important point.  Now I love meeting other blog / twitterarti, especially from the HR field, and you’ll find photos of most of those I’ve met on this site.  But then, for me, this enjoyment is mostly about wanting to meet people that I feel I’ve got a virtual relationship with (one based on the joint use of social media), rather than any deep desire to talk about social media with them.

So, where I can, I like to mix my social media linked with more generic networking.  It’s one reason the Connecting HR tweet-ups (#ConnectingHR) don’t require people to be currently using social media (other than the few suppliers bringing practitioners along as well).

And it’s also important if we want to use these sorts of events to impact on the way that HR is done – particularly if we are after revolution rather than evolution (I do) – see this post on connected, innovative crowds.

This is one reason that the forthcoming Connecting HR Un-conference (#CHRU) in the UK will focus a bit more broadly – including non-social media users, and including social media on the agenda (as one of the biggest factors impacting on HR right now), but focusing on a much broader agenda than this too.

Of course, to enable social learning, it’s still important that there’s some form of community there – something to enable the formation of ‘learning teams’.  So participants should have something in common and would ideally some form of proto-relationships (real or virtual) with each other too.

Also reflecting more about this need for something in common – I think this needs to be a common desire to share and learn.  And I do think this is one additional reason why networking with other social medi-arti is so much fun – these are all people who are willing to share (or they wouldn’t be using social media).

This raises two questions to me:

  1. How do attract people to attend if they’re not using social media (part of the reason I think other events focus on social media so much is that the attendees have all heard about the event on social media)?
    • My hope here is that the people who have or are attending Connecting HR tweet ups will act as ambassadors for us for this – putting the word out in the real-world as well as in the virtual one.
  2. How do ensure we ensure attendees are all willing to share and learn?
    • Actually, I don’t think this should be too difficult – it’s one of the benefits of working in HR.  HR practitioners may not always be great networkers, but they do generally know how to socialise, and the benefits of this.


It should work – we just need to get the powerpoints out of the way and allow connecting and relating to fill the space they leave.


It would be great to get some feedback on these rather random thoughts (particularly from those who have attended ConnectingHR tweets-ups, TRU or HRevolution etc…).


Also see my other HRevolution related posts:


And Gareth’s recent post on Connecting HR:


Photo credit: akustik


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Thursday, 13 May 2010

Is social learning team learning?


Untitled-1 copy   I commented on an excellent post by Mervyn Dinnen, reflecting on social learning at HRevolution, yesterday.

Mervyn asks:

“Maybe if we are to get maximum benefit from Social Learning, especially from our unconferences, networking and crowd sourcing then…the answer may well lie in getting Social before you can get to the Learning…”

And I respond:

“Absolutely. Social learning isn’t just about sitting round with a group of people, it’s connecting with people you have a relationship with. It’s these relationships that give knowledge an added element and which makes the learning deeper than that gained from formal training. If you don’t have relationships with the other people, these need to be developed first, or together. So it’s probably easier in smaller rather than larger groups. But it can be done in larger groups too, depending on the context, ie as long as everyone understands what the objective and approach is, participates in helping to achieve this, and that’s there time to do the social relationship as well as the content learning stuff.”


Then last night, I was flicking through a presentation send to me by a friend and partner in India, which included the attached slide.  And I thought, is social learning team learning?

I don’t mean by this that social learning can only be done in a workplace team.  After all, unconferences like HRevolution and ConnectingHR aren’t based on teams, rather just collections of people with common interests.

But perhaps these people do need to think about being in a team – a learning team – in order to maximise the benefits they get out of their social learning?

One in which they need to progress from forming to norming (with a focus on connecting / relating itself as the ‘task’ objective) before they can proceed onto performing ie learning?  What do you think?


Also see:



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Wednesday, 12 May 2010

Employer rating sites: why are they important to HR?


   I’m quoted in an an article in Personnel Today on employer rating sites such as

"They are becoming increasingly important," says Jon Ingham, social media expert and executive consultant at consultancy Strategic HCM. "In particular the younger generation, who are more internet savvy, are used to using sites like TripAdvisor for personal things and they are increasingly using employer rating sites before they apply for a new opportunity or before they accept an offer."

[Please note, I didn’t call myself a social media expert!]


The discussion in the article is part a wider issue about who has control of an organisation’s employer brand.

This issue was nicely addressed by John Sullivan in an article last year (I particularly like Sullivan’s point on the power of bloggers!), and has been taken forward by Bill Boorman and the TRU unconferences as well as HRevolution in the debates about whether employer brands have been employee branded.


I’m still on the side of control.  And I don’t mean that organisations can control the (social media) conversation – I don’t think they can, or should.  I completely support Mervyn Dinnen’s reflections on ‘control’ as the subject of conversation at HRevolution:

“During one track I asked if we could just forget CONTROLLING social media and start EMBRACING social media! It’s my belief that if you try to control what people say, whether through a policy or strict guidelines, then you stifle the creativity and spontaneity that, I believe, are at the heart of social media.”


But I do think that by participating in these conversations, organisations can still control the general image of their brand.  I think this post at Social implications sums it up quite well:

“Think of it this way — all of your customers, readers, or whoever your target audience consists of are like this big conversational sea. It might be calm one day and you might hit rough waters the next. But either way, you’re always at the helm. You have the ability to steer or influence the image your company portrays.”


Also see: Employer brands debate at HRevolution 2010: Are your staff your best ambassadors?

And more of this at the HCI webcast in a couple of weeks time.


Photo credit: Bvld11



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Tuesday, 11 May 2010

HRevolution: What’s next?


   Most of this blog’s readers live in the US, but for the benefit of those readers in the UK (who perhaps don’t read all the US HR blogs, or the recruitment focused ones of Mervyn Dinnen and Bill Boorman in the UK), there was been a big event taking place in the US this weekend.

HRevolution (revolution or evolution?) was an unconference involving 130 HR bloggers and tweeters meeting up in Chicago this Saturday to discuss HR, social media, communications and leadership/development.

I didn’t go, partly because it was my daughter’s 8th birthday, and partly… well, I just can’t go to everything I’d like.  But reading the blogs and tweets from the event, it seems to have gone exceedingly well,  However, the main question participants are taking away with them is the same as last year’s: where now, what happens next?

I’d like to suggest two answers to this:

The first suggestion relates to a comment I made on one of Trish’s posts last year: one action will be to take this approach international.  And I like Lance Haun’s build on the ‘what next’ question:

“Will your behavior change at all or are the things that inspired you getting shelved until you have more time (which ends up being never)?”


Well, the change that I’m going to make is to get cracking on a UK / Europe focused HR unconference, linked to our existing tweet-ups, Connecting HR.

This is provisionally going to be a one-day un-event, including pre- and post- evening events, to be held in London sometime in September.  I’m already working on this with Gareth Jones (and Mervyn Dinen / others from the Courtenay HR team), but we’re keen to get more people involved.  So do get in touch if you want to join the organising committee, or you’ve got suggestions for location, session themes etc.


So, there you go: in a very real sense, Connecting HR will be the ‘what next’.  But I also hope this event will respond to ‘the question’ in a rather deeper way as well.  I’ll post on this, my second answer, in a couple of days time.


Photo credit: The Telegraph


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Monday, 10 May 2010

HCI webcast: Telling the European brand story


    I’m already involved with the Human Capital Institute in the US, delivering its Human Capital Strategist certification programme in the UK and Europe.


I’m now going to be presenting HCI’s first webcast focused specifically on the European market:

Telling the European Brand Story

Track: Talent Strategy in UK/Europe
WEBCAST: Webcast Airs: June 25, 2010 * New, updated date *

We often hear about the need to continually attract, motivate and retain our employees. Many of us tie these issues to our employee brand and continually strive to become an employer of choice. But are we missing out on opportunities to utilize technology to improve our brand and solidify our place in the global market? Technologies that are already being utilized by your company can assist you in maintaining brand integrity and driving employee engagement.

This webcast will look at multiple technology platform that can work with your existing brand-- and provide big results at a small investment level. We'll look at corporate social networking as a tool to create "employee ambassadors" and see how creating relationship brands and leveraging the social web can promote grass roots brand engagement. We'll also examine best practices from companies who have leveraged their technology systems-- and find out what pitfalls to avoid.


You can register for the webcast here.




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Wednesday, 5 May 2010

100,000 visits


   I’m working at home today, catching up on work after having a bit of time off with a bad cold.  And I just noticed (really!) that this blog’s hit the 100 thousand reader mark (in terms of unique visits).

Not great, as I’m sure some blogs get this traffic per day.  But not too bad either.

So, Virginia Beach: thanks for stopping by this morning.

And thanks to all my other readers over the last (nearly) three years.



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Tuesday, 4 May 2010

More more social learning at informatology


   I was just being a participant, albeit a fairly active one, on the second day of informatology.  The choice was between some fairly traditional presentations by Great Places to Work, Nick Shackleton-Jones on video production and Jane Hart on social learning.  In the end, I spent most of the day with Jane and Karyn Romeis on social learning.

I think this was the right choice.  I’d love to know how to make video better, but the key challenge for most organisations remains getting people to post videos and other content, not how to raise their quality (a point supported by someone from BT who noted the challenge they had had in shifting thinking from the quality of lip synching etc to just getting stuff on their social learning site, Dare2Share: “they’re missing the point – we just need to get them sharing and collaborating”).

And definitely better than more butts in chairs (those sitting the third room know what I mean)!


See Jane Hart’s summary of the day:


Also see Craig Taylor’s thoughts on the day:


And these two recent articles on social learning and Dare2Share on XpertHR’s blog:



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Monday, 3 May 2010

Pecha Kucha at informatology


   As well as speaking at informatology, I also chaired an ‘unconference’* session consisting of pecha kucha presentations (a series of 20 slides, each auto-forwarded after 20 seconds).

I thought it went well – and certainly found it more engaging than a traditional series of presentations.

Some of the other speakers’ thoughts are here:


And see Scott McArthur’s thoughts on pecha kucha too:


*  And look out for more details on the Connecting HR unconference shortly.



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Sunday, 2 May 2010

Talent management, collaboration and competition: GE and IBM


    I presented a short talk at today’s informatology conference.  This was a plenary and I was asked to do something linking together the three strands focusing on talent management, learning and new media.

To an extent, and at a high level, there are some clear commonalities between these three themes, but digging a bit deeper there are some interesting tensions between them too – particularly if you see talent as something that is differentiated and exclusive.

So I talked about these tensions – about how a focus on competition vs collaboration can influence the implementation of talent management, change the focus of learning, and make it much less likely that people will spend discretionary effort on things like new / social media.

To support my points, I referred to a recent, excellent article in Business Week, “Can GE Still Manage?”.  The article asks whether GE’s highly regarded leadership and people management practices are now outdated.

So for example, it notes the role of Crotonville, GE’s 53 acre leadership development campus – somewhere GE’s 191 most senior executives will have spent a whole year at during their first 15 years with GE.

Business Week notes that GE thinks this is a virtue, but asks what if it’s not.

It compares GE with IBM:

“Like GE, it is old—dating back a century—and big. But it's nimble and transparent as well. While GE posts vignettes of selected employees on its Web site, IBM offers a full 400,000-employee directory. It has been an innovator in connecting its people via an internal social network where workers post photos, CVs, and a list of professional skills… While it offers classroom training, the company increasingly favors social networks… and "any other tools that enable peer-to-peer learning."


And it asks:

“Who is the pioneer of peer-to-peer learning, or what executive coach and author Daisy Wademan Dowling calls the "leaders teaching leaders" model? A company called GE. The main difference at GE is that much of the peer-to-peer learning takes place in front of an audience at Crotonville.”


The interesting thing here is that, to me, the article seems to suggest that the difference between the two companies is the use of social media as opposed to physical facilities and that this is the key factor which leads to the two companies difference approaches to leadership

I don’t think it is.  I think the difference is about the companies’ difference approaches to differentiated talent management.

We all know about GE’s focus on differentiation – its Session C process and rank and yank approach.

And actually IBM differentiates it’s workforce too.  In fact IBM is the main case study in Dick Beatty’s book on this subject.  And I suppose also the basis for Tim Ringo’s remark at the CIPD HRD’s conference last week that the company might reduce its workforce from the current 400,000 to 100,000 people by 2017 (also see Ringo’s comments on focal jobs).

But this is a different sort of differentiation too.  BW’s article refers to its full employee directory and I’ve posted previously on its W3 intranet as well.  And then you’ve got its Value Jam and other activities it has conducted to increase the inclusiveness of its whole workforce. 

OK, GE has got its own ‘SupportCentral’ users have created over 50,000 communities with over 100,000 experts signed up to answer questions and manage information.  But I doubt this system gets the same level and type of social usage as IBM’s.

I just don’t believe that IBM’s activities would work at GE, where the culture strikes me as simply too competitive for managers and employees to want to devote much of their time and discretionary behaviours to collaborative activities like contributing to new media.


Where is your organisation on a spectrum from competitive to collaborative culture, and what does this say about your approach to talent management, learning and new media?



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Saturday, 1 May 2010

More social learning at informatology


Other social learning case studies (see my previous post on Google) from informatology included:


   Tiina Paju-Pomfret on using social media in a learning context at BUPA.

BUPA’s learning system, BUPA Live, allow Bupa staff to access training from wherever they are and whenever they need it and also help grow ‘One BUPA’: connecting people and creating a cohesive company:

  • The system links to, rather than replaces, BUPA’s LMS.
  • Implementation of the system was led by the business, not Tiina’s Information Systems group.  This included training (face-to-face followed-up with further learning using BUPA Live itself) to create super users who shared what they had learnt more broadly.
  • One interesting aspect of the way it is being used is that people can use an approval route to have their contribution checked before it is published (use of this is optional).
  • People are using the system daily and those who do are 6% more engaged than their other colleagues.


   Michelle Russell from Royal Caribbean International talked about their use of e and social learning to engage the network of travel agents to actively promote their cruise packages:

  • After having tried different systems, the company now mainly uses Facebook to provide information and enable interaction (the travel agents also use RCI’s page to chat with each other)
  • They use webex to provide virtual classroom based training
  • They evaluate the learning that has been provided by chatting with the travel agents on their Facebook page, emailing them after learning has been completed, and inviting them to future events.  they also get feedback when they are out on the road meeting with the travel agents.



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