Saturday, November 3, 2012

Negotiating SaaS Contracts - A Fresh Perspective

I recently had an opportunity to hear Thomas Otter's excellent keynote at HR Tech EMEA. He made a number of interesting observations about cloud computing, big data and talent analytics but the highlight might well have the following video.

I hope you all enjoy this short sketch on negotiating SaaS contracts as much as I did... and remember, it's a spoof, people!



You can read Thomas' blog post about the event here.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Martin and Vanessa Play a Trick: A Story About Teamwork

I occassionally write and illustrate - using that term loosely - stories for my daughters, who are 7 and 9.  This is one of them, which I am posting here because it offers a lesson about teamwork.  It's also a reminder to any smartypants amongst us not to act like Mooka...

Vanessa is a horse and Martin is a pig but everyone calls them twins.  The reason is that they were born on the exact same day on the exact same farm and always have the same idea at the same time.

Sometimes their ideas are naughty, sometimes they are wise, and sometimes they're just plain silly!

Once rainy day Vanessa and Martin were in the barn.  They were bored.  They’d already played a few games like Kick the Apple (which Vanessa usually won, although Martin usually could eat them faster) and now they didn’t know what to do.

Also in the barn was a young cow named Mooka.  Mooka a clever cow with lots of energy and thought she could do everything better than everyone else.

Martin and Vanessa didn’t really like her very much because she was such a know-it-all but they felt so bored they thought they’d ask her what she was up to.

‘Hi, Mooka, want to play Kick the Apple’? asked Martin.

‘No, thanks,’ answered Mooka a bit snootily.  ‘I’m so good, it wouldn’t be any fun for me.’

‘We could play Count the Slats,’ suggested Vanessa, before Martin said something rude in return.

‘I already counted the slats,’ answered Mooka primly.  ‘There are 217.’

Martin and Vanessa looked at each other and had the same idea for a prank in that moment.

‘When the rain dries up, how about racing us?’ offered Martin.

Mooka laughed scornfully.  ‘I’m young and faster than any other animal on this farm.  Why would I waste my time racing either of you?’

Vanessa was offended.  Mooka was younger than her, to be sure, but she wasn’t that old.

‘Any animal?’ she asked.

‘Any animal,’ confirmed Mooka confidently.

‘And if you lose?’

Mooka sighed, obviously bored with the conversation.  ‘I’ll clean Martin’s stall and groom Vanessa every day for a week.  But I won’t lose and you’ll have to give me all your apples for a week.’

‘Deal!’ answered Martin and Vanessa together.  ‘See you tomorrow at noon under the big tree with your opponent!’

Martin and Vanessa went off to discuss matters privately.  Although they wanted to teach Mooka a lesson, they didn’t really think they could beat her in a race.  Vanessa wasn’t very fast for a horse, being rather fat and lazy, and Mooka was very fast for a cow.  And Martin wasn’t fast at all.

‘How about one of the chickens?  Sally is pretty fast,’ suggested Martin.

‘I don’t think so,’ responded Vanessa.

‘I suppose the mice are out of the question.’

‘Definitely!’ confirmed Vanessa.  ‘They mean well but they’d just embarrass us.’

Several other animals were suggested and rejected.  Finally they decided to sleep on it and hope for an inspiration in the morning.

But no inspiration occurred.  The next morning they were no further along with a solution than before so they sadly made their way to the big tree.

‘I suppose,’ said Vanessa, ‘I could race her.’

‘Yes…’ said Martin.  He was too polite to point out how humiliating it would be if Vanessa lost.  Or that she probably would lose to Mooka.

A tiny voice interrupted them.  ‘Ahem! Ahem!’

‘Who’s there?’ asked Martin suspiciously.

‘Here!’

‘Where?’

‘Right here!’  Martin and Vanessa looked down and saw a tiny grasshopper waving at them.

‘It’s me, Jacob!’

‘Hi, Jacob, we’re a bit busy right now,’ began Vanessa apologetically, when Jacob interrupted.

‘I will race Mooka,’ announced Jacob importantly, ‘and I will win!’

‘A little fellow like you?’ laughed Martin.

‘I’m small but I’m fast,’ Jacob assured him.  ‘Leave it to me.’

Martin and Vanessa didn’t have a better plan so they decided to let Jacob have a chance.

Just then the animals began arriving for the race.  Mooka was last and she walked very importantly with her nose held high.

‘Who will race me?’ she called loudly.

Vanessa gestured with her nose at Jacob.

Mooka frowned.  ‘I don’t see anyone.’

‘Ahem!’ Jacob jumped up waving his feelers to get her attention.

Mooka snorted.  ‘That little grasshopper?’

Jacob puffed out his chest although no one noticed this because he was so small.

‘I am little but I will win,’ he said confidently.

Shaking her head in disbelief, Mooka strutted proudly to the starting line, where Jacob joined her.

Martin called the animals to order because he had a loud voice and was usually the spokesperson for the others.

‘On your mark, get set, go!’

Mooka dashed off with Jacob immediately falling behind.  He was a quick jumper but so small!   It didn’t seem he could keep up with a large running cow for all his confidence. 

And yet… as Mooka ran behind some bushes everyone gasped as they saw Jacob briefly appear above the same bushes in a great leap.

This happened several times – it would seem as if Jacob had fallen behind then suddenly BOING!! he would appear above the very bush where Mooka was running.

As Mooka, panting and sweating from running so hard, was about to cross the finish line BOING! Jacob jumped right in front of her and won the race.

Mooka couldn’t believe her eyes.  How had that tiny grasshopper beaten her?  While all the animals cheered excitedly at the exciting novelty of a little grasshopper winning such a big race, Mooka slipped quietly back to the barn, furious. 

‘Oh!’ She stopped and stomped her hoof as she remembered she would have to clean Martin’s stall for a whole week AND groom Vanessa.

That night Martin and Vanessa were whispering about the amazing day.

‘How did Jacob do it?’ Vanessa wondered.

‘Ahem!’

‘Jacob!  You were wonderful!  Thank you so much, you really taught that stuck up cow a lesson,’ whispered Martin.

‘Holy cow!' gushed Vanessa.  'How did you do it?’ asked Vanessa.

‘Well, I may be small, but I’m smart,’ boasted Jacob.  ‘My 17 cousins, 20 brothers and 13 nephews helped me win.’

‘How?’ asked Vanessa and Martin together, almost forgetting to whisper.

‘At each bush one of them was waiting and would jump up right as Mooka ran by.’

Martin and Vanessa laughed and laughed.  They realized that teamwork can make the difference between winning and losing.

And Mooka learned not to be quite so vain, although she still thought very well of herself.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Dave Ryan's Leadership Post

The following post was written by Dave Ryan, author of the HR Official blog.

Usually when we speak of the terms 'Leaders' or 'Leadership', it is used in a positive context to describe an endearing quality that an individual posses.  More often than not that is the proper context, but we also need to be wary because leaders are not always good, in fact history has taught us that very charismatic leaders appear to be wonderful, only for the masses to find out later of their sheer evil.

I have come to know this as a nearly life-long resident of the State of Illinois.  We have had some really bad leadership in this state.  Now I have become cynical almost to the point of being jaded.



For the record Illinois has had more than our fair share of bad apples.  But my point is this, look past the leader and what they say. If more people would question leaders about what they say and what they do some of these poor folks would not stray so far off course.  I don‘t know what happens to  folks when they attain power and influence.   It seems to overwhelm their moral compass and they lose sight of right and wrong, and they can rationalize anything in the name of greed.

Fortunately many if not most (at least outside Illinois) leader are honest, moral,  God-fearing people who do the right thing and are guided by that do-the-right-thing attitude.

When I ponder leaders I often think about the past and President Regan talking to Mikhail Gobachev,  they were leaders learning to try to trust each other.



R squared  was just saying check it out. That’s what I am talking about. We can run down the list.  If more folks had questioned Hitler, well,,,.    If some folks, in South Africa would have said “Hey Jim, what’s really in the Kool Aid” perhaps that might have turned out differently.    And not nearly enough folks questioned Ken Lay at Enron, had they, we would not have had the situation that we did there. Those folks were good leaders but they led – the wrong way.

So what you need to know about leadership is this – question it, make sure you are headed in the right direction with your Company, your group, your family.  You don’ t have to be disrespectful or rude in doing so, but always be wary.  You never know what a leader’s true motives are… especially if you live in Illinois.

Monday, June 11, 2012

June Leadership Development Carnival!!


I'm pleased and proud to present June's Leadership Development Carnival here at Working Girl.  Below you'll find a fabulous line up with all your favorite leadership gurus!

As a reminder, here's the topic:  "Although all brilliant submissions about leadership are welcome, I’m really interested in sharing stories from the trenches.  In other words what is the best (or worst!) leadership moment you can remember, either yours or someone else’s. Get personal!"

But before we get to the good stuff, please note I was on vacation all last week and had some odd experiences with disappearing submissions so if you don't see your post here please let me know and I'll add it!

We'll start with the people who followed the instructions. :-)

Best leadership moments:

Wally Bock leads this category with his post Dealing With the Dust Catcher"They called her the "Dust Catcher." It wasn't because she liked to clean. It was because she stood so still." 

 Robin McLeod offers some terrific advise about managing people without micromanaging them in her post You Don't Have to be Bossy to be the Boss "I can admit today that my move from a strong individual contributor to a young manager of others was not a smooth journey."

Jane Perdue strikes a satisfying blow for early women leaders in her post Stereotype Speed Bumps in My Career Path"Little did I realize that one of my first decisions as a newly promoted manager would be to decide if I was going to be the nice girl who poured the coffee or the b—- who refused to do so."

Chris Edmonds offers some personal insight on how leaders can avoid getting out of touch in his post Leaders, Observe and Align Culture Practices "Great bosses are keen observers of the human condition. They keep their fingers on the pulse of how safe and inspiring their work environment is, day to day."

Robert Tanner explores how to identify and use your organizational power in his post What's Your Power in Your Organization?  Don't Give it Up!  "I’m tired of giving 150% to this organization and only getting grief back from my boss! I’m going to pull back and just do the minimum until I can get out of here!"

Joel Garfinkle turns a worst leadership moment into a best leadership moment in his post Grow Your Influence by Building Positive Relationships at Work. "With the help of his coach, Alan put together a plan to increase his influence by focusing on building positive relationships at work." 

 Jesse Lyn Stoner offers excellent advice for leading without formal power in her post How to Influence without Authority"Back in the good old days, if you were in a position of authority, you could just announce what needed to be done and assume it would be carried out. But times have changed."
Worst leadership moments:

Dan McCarthy kicks off this category with his post 10 (+1) Dumb Leadership Mistakes from Recent Headlines"Don't slap your employees.  Two words: anger management." 

 Mary Ila Ward boldly exposes her own work style flaws and invites colleagues to participate in her post Self-Awareness Test! "Today, I sent the list of top 20 flaws or bad habits discussed in last week's blog post  to approximately 25 of my colleagues, clients, friends and family.   I asked them to send what they believe to be my two biggest flaws to a friend and colleague of mine to compile." 

 Mixi Saxon takes off with the poor leadership baton - although not a personal story - to remind us where disengagement comes from in her post Ducks in  Row: Who Cares? "None of them sees “not giving a damn” as a result of the way they manage, but 98% of the time it is."

Joseph Varcasia shares a great example of what happens when you don't move on in his post New Job? Stop Meddling with Your Old One. "The trouble is that I was interrupting my real work responsibilities and wading into an area for which I had no formal responsibilities"

Other leadership topics: 

Mike Haberman explores how you coach an arrogant employee in his post Arrogant versus ConfidentTrue arrogance is the belief that you have nothing left to learn, while true confidence is the belief that you can help others to learn as you continue learning yourself.”

Linda Fisher Thornton explores the the role of creativity in leadership in her post What is Creativity"In the leadership development world, creativity is getting a great deal of attention.  But what is it?  Can you learn it?  Is it a skill?  How do we lead in ways that encourage it?"

Jesse Lyn Stoner stresses the importance of clear values in business in her post Without Clear Values, You Are Probably Losing Business"The nice gentleman spraying my son with chemicals was guided by his personal values of courtesy. He had quite nicely asked my son whether he minded, and he was as nice as could be when he explained to me that there was no problem."

Stephen from NerdWallet explains how travel can improve both your financial and personal leadership skills in his post How Traveling Round the World Enhances Your Financial Prowess / Independence"A healthy concern for your finances can help break down social barriers. On the road, it’s helpful to be outgoing and affable. You never know who will be able offer advice or assistance."

 Eric Pennington explains how to recognize quality leadership and why it can be so powerful to the follower in his post Who Would Follow You, the Leader"This all should make us remember that how we influence people (every day) is what builds true followers."

 Sean Glaze explains how personality analysis can improve team performance in his post Improve Team Communication with a Style of Influence Personality Profile. "Completing a personality profile and identifying the reasons why you and your teammates act the way you do, or process things in a certain preferred fashion, can be a significant first step in beginning to improve team communication, rapport, and relationships."

 Jim Taggart offers some excellent advice about embracing change in his post Are You a Quick Change Artist? "Break off that rearview mirror; it’s not helping you position yourself for the future."

 Anna Farmery talks about getting the most out of social business in her post Stepping Stones to Social Business Model"Think crowdsourcing, think kickstarter, think ideas and creativity like MyStarbucks, think cubify which is creating a community of ideas available to manufacture to one and all......"

Bernd Gerrop shares excellent advice on improving leadership in his post How to Improve Leadership with Only 1 Min per Day"Lots of business leaders spend 90 % of their work time on these day-to-day operational tasks – 90 % of their time or sometimes even more!"

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Project Social: Work Hard, Play Hard

I recently came across an interesting German documentary called Work Hard, Play Hard, which I wrote about at Compensation Cafe.  The basic premise is that you create an ultra cool and inviting work environment that entices people to stick around longer and work harder.

Oh, and the underlying theme is that they're being exploited.

I thought the idea of deliberately making employees feel at home in the workplace in order to exploit them was interesting so I floated it to Dave Ryan last time we chatted and we decided to write about it as our next project social topic.

Ironically I didn't have time to write about it for several weeks as I was too busy with work.  Let me just say here that I don't have a particularly cool office, I just work a lot.  Dave was very understanding and proposed the following title: 'Making employees slaves & millionaires.'

You can read Dave's post over at HR Official and my post Work Hard, Play Hard... Source Soft can be found at Compensation Cafe.

We'd love to hear where you stand on the whole sneaky employee exploitation question.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Heads Up: June Leadership Development Carnival


The next Leadership Development Carnival will be on Monday, June 11th, hosted here at Working Girl. For this edition:

"Although all brilliant submissions about leadership are welcome, I’m really interested in sharing stories from the trenches.  In other words what is the best (or worst!) leadership moment you can remember, either yours or someone else’s. Get personal!"

Please include:

Your name
- Name of post author (if different than yours)
- Name of blog, with link
- Name of post, with link
- any introductory comments

Dan McCarthy will be sending out an email with my contact details or you can attach your information as a comment to this post.



Looking forward to it!

Monday, April 16, 2012

Compensation Dreaming

In case you missed them, here are my most recent posts over at Compensation Cafe with teasers:

The Grass Isn't Greener:  Paying more for external talent doesn't pay off.  Find out why. "You found a great person, got them to sign and they’re starting tomorrow.  You sent them information about benefits enrollment and a nice welcome video from the CEO.  But how will you convey to them all the tribal knowledge of the company they will need to navigate the new role and succeed?"

Moneyball: Whenever Brad Pitt makes a new movie I try to write a compensation post about it.  Still working on Glorious Bastards. "The reason following the pack doesn't work is that ‘talent scouts’ in every industry tend to write off talented people based on personal preferences rather than actual skills or potential."

Part of the Team: Ever wondered how many companies actually consider the families of their employees when it comes to talent strategy and rewards? "If you pay decently and treat people fairly, families tend to have a stabilizing and retentive effect on employees.  But if your corporate culture is more of the crazy-hours-combined-with-eccentric-incentives variety, you might want to up your family values game a notch."

The Young and the Restless: Written in honor of the hot date I once went on with Michael Damien, this post explores the difficulty of retaining Generation Y. "A recent Mercer What’s Working survey found that although younger workers have a higher satisfaction rating than older workers, they are also more likely to leave their current jobs.  This may seem like a paradox but it isn’t."

Is Viral Pay Contagious:  This post takes a hard hitting look at the modern practice of letting employees vote on each others' rewards. "Who typically gets voted off the island, the least qualified person or the least likeable person?  I don’t want to generalize here but the last person standing tends to be a charismatic buffoon rather than a highly competent person with an offputting personality."

Friday, April 13, 2012

Women 2.0 - Infographic

Check out this infographic on Women @ Work, courtesy of the MBA program at UNC.  Read more about it here.

Women at Work Infographic Via MBA@UNC
Via MBA@UNC MBA Online & Women 2.0

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

So What? I'm Still a Rock Star

I recently read a post about a person who’d been fired 3 times despite excellent performance reviews. You can read about it here.

Dave Ryan and I were discussing this a few weeks ago during our regular catch up and decided to write about it as our next project social topic.  You can read Dave's take on rock stars in general over at HR Official.

A few years back I managed the functional side of a large global software implementation project.  There were nine process teams scatter throughout Europe and the US and each process team had one solution expert from my team.  In all the extended team included 109 people and I depended on my solution experts to keep everything moving in the right direction.

One of the people on my team had a challenging personality but they were working on something really hard and getting it done.  There were others in the team who were easier to get along with but they couldn’t have done this particular job. 

It never occurred to me to ask this person to resign. 

Yes, I had to invest some time smoothing ruffled feathers in the team as well as providing guidance about behavior but I considered this part of my job.  And they ended up being a real team player, mentoring others and patiently helping them understand highly complex topics.

So when I read this post I asked myself:

•    Instead of telling someone not to hog credit, why not give them credit?
•    Instead of reining people in, why not give them more responsibility?
•    How the heck is it easier to fire someone than help them work more smoothly with others?

It is definitely true that skills are not everything.  Attitude matters, interpersonal skills matter, and cultural fit matters.  A good manager must put the greater good of the team ahead of their own comfort to deal with people who threaten team performance, even to the point of removing them from the team if necessary.  But that shouldn’t be the starting position.

Now, this story has several strange points, such as the fact that the person wasn’t fired but asked to resign.  That just smacks of missing information, without which we can’t really judge the case fairly.  It could be that this person was impossible to get along with, received every chance in the world, and was finally asked to resign rather than being fired out of respect for their otherwise good performance.

But let’s say they were fired as the author suggests because it was easier for the manager than dealing with the personality issues.  What is HR’s responsibility in this situation?

What would you have done?

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Think Moneyball

It's the post with the picture of Brad Pitt.

I recently wrote a post at Compensation CafĂ© called The Young and the Restless, about how Generation Y is more likely to leave an organization they are satisfied with than other generations. 

Why?  Because they aren’t tied down by things like kids, mortgages and 15 years of experience in a particular field.  They are unfettered - at least the ones who didn’t borrow $80K to major in History at an Ivy League school -  and can afford to take chances, try something new and even fail.

As topics tend to percolate, when my friend and HR influencer Dave Ryan and I were talking recently about ‘big HR trends’ he also brought up the fact that a mass exodus is predicted as the job market loosens up.  Since this topic seems to get a lot of air time we decided to write about it as a Project Social topic.  Dave’s post on this can be found over at HR Official, which has a modern new look.

It seems to me that the mass exodus everyone fears is not the only or even the biggest problem in all this.  I mean, let’s assume everyone’s as miserable as the latest data suggests and ask ourselves who’s really going to leave? 
  1. People with highly sought after skills
  2. Highly connected people
  3. People in their 20s with no skin in the game
For the most part, everyone else is probably going to stick around:
  • People who can’t find a better job elsewhere
  • People who don’t have the flexibility to make a change
  • People without an influential network

Now, call me crazy but I find the second list scarier than the first list.  The real problem is less who you lose, it’s who you don’t lose and what you do about it.

You don’t lose the people who can’t leave.  The bad news is that many of them don’t want to be there, which will impact their every decision, deliverable and customer interaction.

The good news is that the people who stay may be extremely talented, even though no one else apparently wants them.  They may not be obviously marketable but decision makers have been known to undervalue talented people who don’t quite fit the mold.

Think Moneyball.

To weather the storm of those leaving while everyone else sticks around hating life, companies should invest in developing the people they have left.  That's right, invest in the people no one else wants and who don't want to be there.

This approach will address two problems: 1) It will immediately have a positive impact on engagement by giving people a taste of opportunity; and 2) it will help mitigate any critical skills gaps resulting from the exodus of the more mainstream talented people.

It doesn’t have to cost a lot.  Be creative.  Think mentoring, think tapping into underutilized talent pools, think lateral career paths…

The war for talent is won from within. 

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

HR, Meet Marketing

If you are a typical company, your marketing department is bigger than your HR department, although HR is ostensibly responsible for recruiting, compensation, benefits, talent management, workforce analytics, workplace safety and legal compliance and marketing just has to write a few white papers.

So why does the marketing team typically have its own wing while HR fits in a cubicle?  I have a theory about that from the marketing side of the house and you can get the inside scoop from HR over at Dave Ryan's HR Official.

So, why? 

Is it because so many HR functions are outsourced?  Nope, marketing gets outsourced, too - everything from SEO to white papers to creative services, just to name a few.

Is it because marketing adds more value to the business?  I don't think so.  HR done well adds as much long-term value to the business as marketing, although marketing has an advantage when it comes to demonstrating short-term value.

Is it because there are more marketing people so they are able to do more and therefore get more recognition?  Well, yes, but keep in mind most marketing departments start small and grow with the business.

Is it because marketing people are better at selling themselves?  Getting warmer, but it's actually not down to a popularity contest.  There's more to it than that.

The secret sauce is this: Marketing constantly measures how their results impact bottom line performance and generously share that information with the people who make business decisions. 

The good news is, HR can do this too.  It all comes down to portfolio management, customer success, proactive communication and driving business success.
  • Portfolio management: Marketing religiously tracks data points like how many people view online content, how many viewers become buyers and what buyers have in common.  This information is used to develop an effective portfolio of marketing programs and assets.  Similarly, HR can track capacity available across the organization, skills needed to drive strategic initiatives and how effective HR processes are at attracting, developing and retaining those skills.  Armed with this information, HR can develop an effective portfolio of talent strategies.
  • Customer success: Marketing is also highly in tune with the needs and objectives of marketing stakeholders, including customers, sales and business leaders.  Marketing engages in two-way communication with its stakeholders to ensure the right messaging, tools and support are delivered to meet business objectives.  Similarly, HR should be talking to business leaders, managers and employees about their needs and tailoring their programs to meet those needs.
  • Communication: Marketing isn't for the faint-hearted... or the modest. But marketing pros don't just talk about their successes in vague terms, they make sure to back up the information with actual facts and figures.  I grant you it's harder to measure the monetary value of a  person than it is to measure how people click a link but you can align HR processes and programs with company goals and measure their impact on overall business performance.
  • Enablement: Marketing supports sales by building brand awareness and arming the sales force with tools and information to help generate revenue.  Likewise, HR must empower leaders, managers and employees with information and tools that help them work effectively and collaboratively.
Hey, now that you mention it, marketing and HR are kind of the same job... ;-)





Monday, February 20, 2012

CEO in the Cantina

What if your CEO walked into the company canteen and ordered the penne arrabiata?  Would you try to suck up or not even notice because you have absolutely no clue what your CEO looks like?

Of course, if your CEO is Darth Vader,there's really no excuse for not recognizing him.  Conversely, being able to kill someone with a thought is no excuse for acting like you can kill someone with a thought.

Warning: This video contains adult language.  Actually, I'm not sure why they call it 'adult' language.  But anyway, please don't watch if people - or Lego action figures - using adult language bothers you.  You have been warned.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Who Moved My Manager?

Josh Bersin recently wrote a compelling post about how the nature of jobs are changing.  Instead of functions, people assume roles, perform tasks and participate in projects.  They may ‘report to’ a number of people besides their own manager, from project managers to stake holders.  They may lead teams and manage projects without a manager title.

This is all fascinating from an organizational development perspective and Josh did his usual great job describing how high performing companies develop expertise and reward business results. 

But for those of us in the software industry, the technology implications are equally fascinating.

If we were going to design a new kind of business application to help companies manage a global, virtual, fluid, contingent, self-managing, project-oriented workforce in a constantly changing business climate, where would we start?

First of all, let's assume people work from anywhere, or at least anywhere with an Internet connection, so we’ll start with a Cloud-based application.  Collaboration and decision support tools also assume a looming importance in this environment, because the people who work together probably aren’t sitting right next to each other.

We also need our new application to be highly flexible in order to keep up with changing business needs.  It’s hard to be agile if your business systems slow you down.

In this borderless work environment the traditional 'management' role of the manager becomes less important.  People still need direction and leadership but classic top-down management gets in the way of collaboration.  Instead, people need visibility into the business information that shapes their decisions and autonomy to get the job done.

The traditional career development role of the manager also looks different in this environment as people plug into social networks, reach out to mentors, and broadcast their skills and experience in public forums such as LinkedIn.  Companies that want to retain top talent will provide tools that help people define their own career paths so they don’t feel they must go elsewhere for the next development opportunity. 

The formal annual manager performance evaluation is likely to evolve into less formal, more frequent peer reviews and feedback, supplemented by improved insight into work and business results.

Our new application should also help companies identify potential and develop talent in order to avoid critical skills gaps as the organization evolves and better align skills with critical work - across the entire organization, not just within the purview of individual managers.

It seems pretty clear that in this new world, the need for ‘managers’ will decline, even if organizations still cling to them out of habit for several decades.  At the same time, people will uncover new opportunities to become leaders in their respective areas of expertise, as Wally Bock noted in his recent post What if leadership wasn’t a promotion?

Which means that modern business applications must be designed to support leaders, not just managers.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Project Social: Popularity

One of the early goals of project social was to see how different themes drove more visits and comments. My project social partner Dave Ryan and I are occasionally (OK, frequently) baffled by which posts get lots of traffic, which receive the most comments and which are comparatively ignored.

Which makes it interesting to take stock at the beginning of a new year to see which posts were the most popular overall and compare these to the ones we thought were the best.  It turns out that personal preference is rarely a reliable indicator of popularity.

To demonstrate this point, Dave, Lyn and I are taking this opportunity to review our blog stats and find out which posts were the most viewed, the most commented and also list our personal favorite posts.

Lessons learned:
  • People like trends, lists and carnivals. 
  • Sometimes you strike a chord. 
  • Sometimes you don't.
  • That's all I've got.

Without further adieu, here are the top Working Girl posts of all time and be sure to check out what Dave and Lyn have to say over at HR Official and HR Bacon Hut.  It's like a little carnival! 

Top 5 Most Viewed: 
#1: Project Social: The Dark Side of HR - A hard-hitting look at the dark underbelly of HR, mahahahaha!!!
#2: The Top Talent Management Trends of 2011 - Find out if any of my predictions actually came true...
#3: Business Is About Community - A heart warming story of community in action at the workplace
#4: The 7 Habits of Highly Effective 5-Year-Olds - Now a best selling business book (just kidding)
#5: Top 10 Tips for Managers - This post is pretty much what it sounds like

Top 5 Highest Commented:
#1 January 5 Carnival of HR: Reflections, Resolutions, Predictions and Rants - A great new year line up of HR goodness from your favorite HR bloggers!
#2 Project Social: Let's Clique - Inaugural project social post
#3 The Top Talent Management Trends of 2011 
#4 The 7 Habits of Highly Effective 5-Year-Olds
#5 On Leadership and Stinky Fish - Sorry, you just have to read it if you want to know what leaders and stinky fish have in common 

My Personal Favorites:
#1 Let's Not Overdo This Qualifications Things - Companies should focus more on problem solving skills than formal qualifications because after 6 months it's a wash what you did before.  (This advice obviously doesn't apply to brain surgeons.)
#2 Teamwork or Talent? - Why it's a crock to say that teams are more important than high performing individuals
#3 Well, You Can Always Pull a Tinkerbell - Before becoming a catty Peter Pan groupie Tinkerbell nearly destroyed Fairyland and then saved it with her amazing leadership skills and resourcefulness
#4 The 7 Habits of Highly Effective 5-Year-Olds
#5 I Want to Work for Diddy - An early post that explains everything you need to know about effective talent management


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