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.

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