First off…Congratulations! It’s not easy getting hired in this market but well done for showing the skills, capabilities and attitude that an employer was looking for. You can now look forward to start paying off some of that student debt and getting so good at your chosen career that you’ll be able to go freelance in no time.
Now for the first few days in a proper job – very different from the ones that you did to earn some beer and rent money whilst you were studying – and your first proper, corporate boss.
There’s no need to worry though. There are 3 things you need to know about them…
- They’ve read a whitepaper/study/report on what you’re like and how they should manage you. They may even have had a day rate consultant come in and educate them on it.
- The report has told them that you’re a digital native, have a sense of entitlement, get bored easily, want to spend all day on Facebook and whatsapp, don’t intend to stay with them very long and would much prefer to work the hours that suit you than a regular 9 to 5.
- They have kids, or have friends who have kids, who are similar in age to you so they really do know even more about you than the report could tell them.
Your relationship with your boss is important so you need to get off on the right footing. You don’t want to disappoint them or fail to meet their expectations so I suggest the following…
- Turn up about 10 minutes late on your first morning and make sure that you’re holding a takeaway coffee cup – not from a high street brand. When you meet your boss for the first time just say ‘Hey, didn’t realise it was going to be so difficult to get a decent cup of coffee round here‘
- At some stage you’ll be given a tour of the office. Towards the end of the tour be sure to ask where the ping pong table is. If they’ve got one then ask where the pool table is. If they’ve also got one of those then you’ve actually done quite well so quickly move on to point 3. Unless they haven’t got any bean bags, in which case ask where yours is.
- Once the tour is finished you’ll probably be shown to a desk, work station or open space and given a laptop. Remember to look at the laptop you’re given and tell them that you can only work on an Apple machine. If they’ve given you one then make it known that you can only produce your best work on a top of the range iMac.
- Once you’re logged in and ready to go make sure you spend the first hour updating your social profiles and sending Facebook friend invites to everyone in your team. Also follow them all on Twitter and be sure to connect with your boss on LinkedIn and ask them for a recommendation.
- When you get ready to leave at the end of the first day tell your boss that you’re going out with a few college mates to celebrate your new job and ask if it would it be OK if you work from home tomorrow.
Your boss may pull a strange face but remember that they’ve almost certainly spent a lot of money on the whitepaper/study/report/consultant and it’s your duty to make sure that their money isn’t wasted.
Don’t worry that you might be giving the impression that you’re not serious about a career there – the report would have almost certainly told them that 80% of your age group want to work for themselves anyway…
(image via Midland University)
There’s been some banter on the HR twitter timeline recently about coffee shops. It started when myself, Michael, Emma and Anne were sharing the worst misspelling of our names (mine was Murvy) on cups from a certain chain that tries to personalise the experience. We’ve joked about trying to set up an HR Coffee Shop.
Fairly typical early morning Twitter banter but today Emma shared the above picture from coffee art and the chat turned to froth. I said that there should be no froth in the conversations at the HR Coffee Shop.
Around the same time Neil’s latest blog popped up in the timeline about big data vs big thinking and whether the rush for HR to understand and use analytics was an act of cowardice, an avoidance of dealing with some of the more pressing, creative issues by hiding behind numbers.
When a serious post meets a bit of fun banter on social media a there’s usually an interesting point to be made and it’s this…
…..to many a lot of HR’s work and concerns are seen as froth. I don’t for one minute believe they are, but many people out there do. As someone who is not a practitioner but is closely tied to the profession I hear it a lot, especially from people who aren’t (and unlikely any time soon to be) part of the Social HR echo chamber.
Recently I was lucky enough to be invited to an espresso tasting at Nespresso’s London boutique. There’s a thin layer of froth on the top of a new espresso which you push to one side to taste the real coffee.
So whatever’s on your agenda today, this week or this month – push away the froth.
Smell the real coffee and make sure everyone else does too…
It was a fun day with exhibitors offering lots of swag and jellybeans, stormtroopers and a robot – you can see a somewhat blurred picture of yours truly with OracleOscar above - and I was rather excited to win cinema vouchers in a prize draw from Oracle too. Thanks guys! The conference content ranged from why HR is doing it wrong to how tech can save the day, with a final call of ‘HR is dead, long live HR’.
My friend and co-blogger for the event Doug Shaw has offered his thoughts on some of the morning sessions so in this post I’ll look at the afternoon, and in particular two well received and thought provoking presentations from visiting US commentators – William Tincup and Jason Averbook.
In my pre-event posts I was mainly concerned with capability – does HR have what it takes to really grapple with technology and use it to create the kind of experience that employees want, and produce the data that helps decisions rather than fills out barely read monthly reports.
Getting it Right
William Tincup was looking at the process of buying HR software from the angle of getting both satisfaction and success. His presentation was thoughtful and well structured, taking HR professionals through the sales and implementation process. I often get the feeling that there is a reticence within the community to truly challenge the salesmen and account managers from the big vendors, as if the complexities of technology are off-putting. It’s their budget, but not their own money I guess, so maybe due diligence is glossed over.
William gave a simple plan through the 7 stages of the process – product, sales, negotiation, implementation, training, adoption and support – with 5 or 6 questions at each stage that need to be asked and answered.
Some of the key ones for me:
- What reports and features are really important to us?
- Do I feel like I’m being over-sold? Did the demo meet or exceed expectations and have they done significant work in my sector?
- Who owns the data? Am I giving up things in the negotiation that are important to me?
- Can I meet the implementation team before I sign? How will we manage change and communicate it to all employee users?
- Will all users be trained the way they want to be? How will new users be on-boarded?
- How will we get users to ‘love’ the new software and how will we know if they don’t?
- How will vendor support handle help desk items versus things that are broken?
There were two things he said that really nailed some of the issues that I think HR has with technology…
Good software doesn’t fix a bad process, it just highlights how bad the process is.
A feature is not a feature unless users use said feature.
He also urged people to ask vendors how they make their money as the answers can be very illuminating. This is excellent advice but I wonder if it might be too confrontational for many within the HR profession? The whole process of acquiring technology is a major investment for the business which has to be done well – and needs to be approached with the professionalism and determination that such a major investment requires.
Facing the Future
The closing keynote was from Jason Averbook. Closing presentations can often feel slightly lack lustre – the space many be partially empty, exhibitors are dismantling stands, some people have already left and others may be suffering from information overload – but Jason played it just right with a fast paced, high impact session.
I’ve seen him speak before and do like his style and thinking. A couple of presentations earlier in the day had lacked pace and verve, giving the Impression that the speaker had delivered them before, but Jason’s was different to the one I had seen last Autumn and, importantly, showed a progression in his thinking.
The message I took away was simple – things around the workplace are changing and HR can’t deal with new challenges by doing what it’s always done, it’s going to require a shift in attitude and thinking.
There are many examples of this. Our expectations of technology, and in particular the user experience, have shifted immeasurably. When employees use our internal software, or complain about it, they aren’t comparing it to what went before but to the experience they get from Amazon or Apple. When something changes – be it interface or new application – they expect it to be seamless, just like downloading a new app. He showed the video I’ve embedded at the end of a 4 years old’s reaction to having to use IOS7.
Innovation, and the impact of technology, is more than a redesign of payslips and needs to culturally shift the way we do things. HR has to lead this, to know what differentiates the business – new systems don’t drive differentiation.
There was talk of the changing work practices, how some jobs are beginning to disintegrate into a series of tasks, and workers to perform these tasks are being crowdsourced. ‘Do you know how you manage contingent labour in your business?‘ he asked. Some of that contingent labour may also be working for 4 or 5 other companies at the same time – potential for disruption that HR needs to understand.
One important point is that away from the workplace we don’t phone call centres or help desks to buy something online, download a new app or integrate a new Facebook function. We work it out for ourselves or search for the solution online – either video or on a blog. A lot of employees will expect to do this with their HR systems and processes, to self-solve. Do you have that in place?
There were many more examples of how shifts in technology, expectations, workplace strategies and staffing arrangements are shaping how our people feel about the business. The need for real time data (not historical surveys) in areas such as performance illustrates the importance of information in helping solve real business issues, not being inward facing or merely a tick box exercise.
The final summing up was that HR as we know it was probably dead and that a new HR approach, driven by technology and evidence (data), will be developed. People no longer want hand holding; they need to know that the information is there when they need it and that they can access it when it suits them. They don’t want self service; they want direct access.
This summary caused much debate and consternation amongst both the attendees and people following the Twitter threads from afar. The conversations and debates that it prompted were still going on a day later.
Which sounds to me like exactly what a good conference presentation should do – explore ideas, prompt and provoke thinking and conversation that helps us to make sense of an evolving landscape that will require new attitudes and solutions. It was also good to see Jason get involved in the online chat personally.
Something that I had observed in the morning was that none of the the early speakers had a social media presence, yet the HRTech event has a very good social outreach. Those morning presentations, as Doug’s blog had pointed out, seemed to be a tad lacking in depth and rationale whereas both Jason and William Tincup demonstrated a good understanding of the issues that HR professionals face and reflected this in what they said. Maybe it’s no coincidence that they are very active on social channels and this almost certainly helped towards their engaging and insightful presentations.
Reports of the death of HR may be an exaggeration, but there are certainly some interesting conversations to be had about adapting to meet future challenges.
The recent 2014 Global HR Trends Report from Deloittes told us four things about the HR community’s views on Technology and Analytics:
- They are rated as urgent issues
- Of the 12 most urgent trends they are the 2 with the highest capacity shortfalls
- They are 2 of the top 6 trends with the highest capability shortfalls
- Amongst HR and business leaders Talent and HR Analytics was the area in which they rated their businesses least ready
And there’s more. One of the most significant emerging trends was that of the ‘Overwhelmed Employee’ creating it’s own need to simplify processes and create a streamlined, consumerist user experience.
Technology, and the resulting data, are major issues for the HR profession…issues that they feel unprepared for, with low capability and knowledge.
How can this be addressed?
With this question in mind I’ll be heading along to the HRTechEurope spring conference this Thursday (27th March) to see what the great and the good of the industry have up their sleeves. Many sessions will be about change and how to manage it within the organisation, the role technology plays in talent management and the need for developing HR skills.
I’ll be interested to see if the shortfall in capacity and capability gets a mention.
If you’re an HR professional and want to come along too then there’s still time to book. As a reader of this blog you can get a 20% too by using the code BL20 when you book.
Look forward to seeing a few of you there, and also bringing you my summary of what’s being said…
Regular readers (and people who follow my Twitter threads from conferences) will know exactly where I stand on generational stereotyping. For avoidance of doubt, I’ve covered it here, here and here. The categorisation of a group of people by perceived similar traits – whether you call it Ageism or Generationism in this case – is something that should not be anywhere near the thinking of HR professionals.
You wouldn’t seek out advice on how to manage women, ethnic minorities, gay people or over 60s within the workplace so why do it with under 30s.
Of course one of the major problems with any ‘ism’ is that the categorisations eventually become lazily accepted as the norm and then influence the ability to think rationally and contextually about people…leading to casual ageism and the inevitable inter-generational conflict, in turn creating further unnecessary problems
Which brings me to Kelly Blazek and the infamous rejection email that went viral and elicited strong apologies. You would have read about this a week or two ago so I won’t go into the specifics. Here’s the excerpt that nails it for me…
“Wow, I cannot wait to let every 25 year old jobseeker mine my top tier marketing connections to help them land a job. Love the sense of entitlement in your generation. And therefore I enjoy denying your invite.“
To me it seems that some of the apparent vitriol aimed at graduate jobseeker Diana Mekota was borne from the old cliche, and hence perceived belief, that her generation feels a sense of entitlement and needs to be taught a lesson. As I said earlier, casual ageism. Did it blind a respected business woman from showing a degree of perspective when she wrote her response? We’ll never know.
We tell job seeking graduates – and therefore our kids too – to reach out and try to connect with as many people as possible in the job hunt. Show initiative. It will help you stand out. But it’s nothing really to do with age. It’s something I did when I first entered the job market and it’s something that job seekers of all ages are encouraged to do now.
But when the young do it they seem to risk coming up against a wall of prejudice.
So once again I say to HR professionals on the subject of Ageism and Generationism – forget it.
If you tolerate it…then your children, quite literally it would seem, will be next.
(Image via mutual pensions & annuity)