My Chicago learning, #HRevolution

I’ve just got back from #HRevolution in Chicago,  following more #ashcloud chaos.

Seems it is never going to end. I met quite a few really interesting people and renewed some friendships of old, which is really what I went for. On leaving, I didn’t think I had learnt a massive ammount, having attended a few events this year. That’s not taking anything away from the attendees or the great facilitators, but I have been in most of these conversations already and picked up plenty of learning points in the past.

The event was very well run with great planning and execution. kudos to the committee and Trish McFarlane in particular. Everything from the venue to the tweetup’s ran like clockwork. I have taken note.

With the benefit of sitting at the airport in Charlotte for an extra 10 hours and reflecting, I realised my first impression was actually wrong. Here are 7 lessons to get started with, that need a bit more thinking time and comment before blogging some real conclusions.

1: There is a lot of talk about “personal brand.” While i accept there are plenty of people in social-media that have only personal  motives, there is also plenty of personality and view, personal postings and pictures too that are really corporate.

In this respect, it is personal content with a commercial motive behind the blog, tweet, friending, connecting and much of the social activity. If theres a commercial motive then it becomes a corporate brand one way or another, delivered person to person. Next time I get in a conversation about a corporate blog, I should refer anyone back to mine or in most cases their own. Being corporate does not necessarily mean bad, unauthentic or a brochure. it’s personal content with a commercial motive, that makes the time investment worthwhile.

2: I’ve been a bit of a social media evangelist in the past, although I’d like to think I have tempered this with a little more reality recently. It’s easy when you work for yourself to talk authenticity and honesty. Working mostly with recruiters and vendors, the content we can post is very open and can touch on any topic we choose, and generally as confrontational as I want it to be.

For the first time I have been forced to look at this through H.R. eyes, having had quite a few conversations on the subject. I understand now that it is different for recruiters. It’s also different if you have a boss who may not be totally on-board with all you do.

To mix H.R. with social-media you will need to consider:

1: Confidentiality

2: Legislation

3: Company line (someone explained to me that working in HR, however many big disclaimers they post, their line will always be viewed as the company line. Posting some viewpoints, even just speculating on what the future of work could look like, could cause an outbreak of panic or a wave of requests that don’t quite fit the company plan.)

I can see more of these barriers now, and whilst I would still advocate that the best way to understand social is active participation, I can also see more of the concerns of employed H.R. profesionals. I can also understand why a more controlled approach to content and comment may be necessary. Sometimes, in this unique role, you can’t always keep it real and be true to yourself. Sometimes you have to be true to the company first and play a longer game.

3: People by nature fear and focus on bad practice, whether thats recruiting, social media, leadership or a host of other topics. We find it much easier to recall and point out sharp or bad practice, perhaps this is because they are so readily shared and remembered. It seems everyone (me included,) can remember 5 horror story’s to every good 1.  I’d like to hear a lot more of the good practice that goes on and get more positive case studies and practices. I’m going to make a personal effort to talk as much about the good stuff I hear as the bad, and try to balance my posts and conversations with both.

4: While i have heard the Gen Y conversation before, I’ve not really thought too much about mentoring. I understand, and advocate mentoring in a traditional way, but that is usually more experienced staff to new employees, or peer to peer success story’s.

This could be extended to reverse mentoring where the more experienced staff (I strongly dislike age based labels like Gen Y and Boomer)  mentor in working and integration in to the workforce while the new entrants could help integration, understanding and application of technology. If one understands rather than opposes the other, great things could be achieved, not least a sense of worth to all regardless of age or length of service.

5: If you are thinking of blogging, don’t think too hard, just do it. if you only want to post every few months, while you may not get the following, you will get the satisfaction. it is not a perfect science. Stop thinking and worrying, start posting!

6: The only difference in the conversation is geography and accent. The talk is pretty much the same and the only difference is a little legislation at times.

7: To get social media adoption, talk communication plan, learning and development and recruiting. Don’t talk channels, brands or tools. When you talk about normal business practice and strategy, the case is much easier to make. talk social media and the walls come up.

In the track I was involved in I spoke about learning resources drawn from home shot video, blogs and other sources. the community tool you can use for this is tribepad, developed in the U.K.  Worth a look.

To everyone who attended, I had a great time and met too many good people to list them individualy. now i’ve blogged it, I really have changed my thinking on some key areas.

Keep being ambassadors for #HRevolution.


7 comments on “My Chicago learning, #HRevolution

  1. Thanks Bill some really nice thoughts. I particularly like the reverse mentoring idea.

    I also believe there is much to be worked when it comes to branding! Much is talked about it but do people really know what their brand is or is it just what they want it to be.

    Finally the communication angle of what social media can do in contemporary terms. I like it

    Cheers and thanks for sharing

  2. To me it sounds like you’ve arrived at somewhat the same place I’d got to with HRevolution… You’re ROI is completely based on your investment – I got 10x from what I personally invested.(wow, that like old software days multiples…)

    I could of sat back and thought about all the things I’d heard before but NO I’d listened and talked and low-and-behold I generated a bunch of new perspective. It was frick’n awesome as I had some of the most original thoughts around old subjects that I’d ever had, completely electrified my new horizon! PS. Great to see you again Bill.

  3. Bill, it was fantastic to finally meet you in person, and I’m glad you enjoyed yourself. These are some great insights, and I’ll take half a second to remind you to send it to me for the HRevolution Carnival of HR. 🙂

    Keep up the great work, my friend!

  4. Glad you got back safely, while it may not have been as quickly as you have liked! I enjoyed your perspective and I think the best thing that anyone can gain from an experience like this is that everyone, based on their own perceptions and expectations, will gain something different. The ROI, ROE and take-aways can only be measured by the individual.
    Great meeting you Bill and look forward to seeing you more in the future!

  5. Bill,
    Nice write up!
    It was great meeting you at the event this past weekend. As person who had not met this group before I appreciated your welcoming attitude and your experience.

  6. Reverse mentoring is a great takeaway. I may be adding some thoughts of my own on that one soon.

    I do want to add to your point 6 though – Not just geography and accent, but language too. Coming from the UK and attending an event in Texas recently, I described part of what we do as tweeting vacancies. My American counterpart asked why a recruitment service would tweet about hotel rooms. Lesson learnt!

  7. Enjoyed your post, Bill. The reverse mentoring idea is great. Your comments on “company line” are well-taken. It makes me wonder to what extent corporate representatives in social media may be allowed to maintain their separate, personal personas. Not an easy question to answer, as, even with a disclaimer, followers are likely to continue to perceive that person as a face of the company.

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