Platt Perspective on Business and Technology

Don’t invest in ideas, invest in people with ideas 30 – bringing innovators into a business and keeping them there 13

Posted in HR and personnel, strategy and planning by Timothy Platt on May 22, 2017

This is my 30th installment in a series on cultivating and supporting innovation and its potential in a business, by cultivating and supporting the creative and innovative potential and the innovative drive of your employees and managers, and throughout your organization (see HR and Personnel – 2, postings 215 and loosely following for Parts 1-29.)

I have been writing in recent installments to this series about finding and hiring the best, and particularly for critical needs positions in your business and when you need to find new employees who do not fit into any given, standard cookie cutter-type moulds. And with that in mind as a general overarching area of discussion, I successively addressed four specific issues and their possible resolution in Part 27, Part 28 and Part 29 that I repeat here for continuity of discussion as I proceed on from that starting point:

1. First, you need to reach out through communications channels that the people you seek to reach actively use,
2. Then you need to craft conversation starting messages that will prompt them to reach back to you, and to at the very least look further into what you have to say, and into what you do and are as a business.
3. Then you have to actually engage, and with a goal of starting a conversation – which would lead to these people thinking of your business as a possible next employer, and with their coming to see one or more positions that you have available as possible good next career steps for themselves.
4. And this crucially means you’re learning more about them, just as they reach out to learn more about you.

I have, as just noted, offered at least a foundational answer to the issues and questions raised in those four numbered points in the three immediately preceding installments to this series. And I continue on from there, with a goal of putting that flow of discussion into an organizational context, where I took a more individualized approach to special needs hiring there. And that brings me to two more areas of consideration that I made note of in Part 29 and that I repeat here, as new additions to the above list:

5. How can you more effectively bring current employees and managers on-board with change in hiring and in personnel policy and practice, as your and their business pivots towards being more innovative – and even in its basic business processes where that would create greater business flexibility and competitive strength?
6. And how can you best enable a smoother integration of the type of change that I address here, into a perhaps very settled existing system and in ways that can increase buy-in from stakeholders and gate keepers already in place – and at a structural organizational level in your business as well as at a more strictly interpersonal one?

Simply promulgating policy and passing it down the table of organization here, is not going to in any way guarantee either buy-in or compliance, or even a shared understanding as to what is supposed to be done now or why – which can explain a lack of actual day-to-day realized buy-in and compliance in and of itself.

I have made note in recent installments to this series, and certainly in Part 29, of how both compliance with and even shared understanding of new policy and practice of the type discussed here, can require active support from the corporate culture in place. And I have explicitly stated that making a change to the type of hiring and staff retention approach that I write of here, can require change and even relatively fundamental change in the overall corporate culture in place too. I stated there, that I would delve into this complex of issues in the course of this overall discussion, and will begin to explicitly do so here in this posting, as I at least start considering Point 5 as just listed above. And I begin that by posing a challenge, or rather by acknowledging one that the ongoing momentum of a business can and often does offer.

• Supervisory managers who are looking for new hires, and I add members of Human Resources who are supposed to assist them with this, and help keep processes followed aligned with business norms, all tend to follow processes and practices that they themselves have had to follow in their own careers, and from both sides of the hiring table.
• When these processes have come across as onerous or difficult, even the managers who found them the most objectionable when they were going through them, can come to see them as “paying one’s dues” and as a necessary part of the new employee candidate-filtering and selecting process – and not as problems that they might have prevailed over themselves but that nevertheless create avoidable problems for all concerned, and on both sides of that hiring table.

So as a starting point, Point 5, above is in many respects a matter of bringing decision makers in the hiring process to see this workplace and task performance requirement through fresh eyes. And for finding and bringing in the best possible new hires, and particularly the creative and special skills and experience best, that means looking through and thinking through the hiring process both from their own perspective and from that of the candidates who are under consideration – and particularly for those candidates who could bring the most to the business if hired, and who all of your competitors would want to hire too.

• This is important; re-envision the hiring process as a manager or as a Human Resources professional who works on hiring-process tasks, from the best candidate perspective, and from the perspective of you’re looking to hire those best candidates in a seller’s, candidate favoring market.
• When you are looking at these candidates, the market is always going to be at least somewhat of a seller’s market, and even if it is an essentially entirely buyer’s, hiring business-favoring jobs market for finding and bringing in more routine hires.

Now, how do you actually bring these business-side hiring process gatekeepers on board with all of this, as the business they work at seeks to pivot towards being more effective in finding, hiring and onboarding their next business step forward, new hire enablers?

I at least begin addressing that question by turning back to the above repeated Points 1-4 of the numbered list at the top of this posting. The interactive online experience as an all but ubiquitously expected presence, and online social media have changed the playing field here and for both job seekers and hiring businesses. And at the same time that this has affected how candidates and employers find each other, come to know about each other and interact, this also offers a key element to the answer to that question too.

Effectively bringing a change like this into a business means offering the people involved in it as stakeholders and gatekeepers, the tools that they would need to actually follow the new approaches and processes put in place. And that begins with information gathering and communications.

Marketing and Communications is always involved in the hiring process when a new hire would work in that department or service and in that functional area. But in an interactive online and social media shaped context, it is vitally important to bring relevant skills and experience from these professionals into the hiring process in general, and exactly as more generically skilled Human Resources professionals are brought in, to help organize and manage specialty skills hiring for other functional area services. An involved member of the HR team does not have to be an expert in the skills sets that they would help another department or service to hire for; they do not necessarily have to actually know anything about the details of what a new hire there would do. That is an area that the people involved in this from the hiring department or service would be expert in. Similarly, a social media and related communications expert from Marketing and Communications, need not be an expert in what a new hire in another department or service would do either. But they could offer real expertise in finding and vetting the right online channels to connect with the right potential new hires through. And they could offer assistance in crafting a conversation with these people, that could be built from as best candidates are identified and pursued.

• Even when a new hire would work in the most abstruse technical areas, an initial conversation starter that might lead to their applying for a job with your business, is not going to be technically detailed and abstruse. It is going to be more general and two-way introductory, and more generic in many respects for that. It is going to be more about “this is who we are; what are you looking for as a next best opportunity and how can we work together to reach our respective goals?”

I have started addressing Point 5 of the above, here-expanded to address list by expanding the range of expertise brought into the candidate selection process at the very least, and in building a more effective communications bridge that can be used in the next hiring process steps. I am going to continue addressing Point 5 in the next series installment and will at least begin addressing Point 6 there as well. Meanwhile, you can find this and related postings and series at Business Strategy and Operations – 4, and also at Page 1, Page 2 and Page 3 of that directory. Also see HR and Personnel and HR and Personnel – 2.

Intentional management 40: elaborating on the basic model for adding people and their management into the equation 1

Posted in HR and personnel, strategy and planning by Timothy Platt on May 10, 2017

This is my 40th installment in a series in which I discuss how management activity and responsibilities can be parsed and distributed through a business organization, so as to better meet operational and strategic goals and as a planned intentional process (see Business Strategy and Operations – 3 and its Page 4 continuation, postings 472 and loosely following for Parts 1-39.)

I began focusing on the Who side of intentional management in Part 38 and Part 39 of this series, building from a more What and How approach to it that I have more actively pursued in earlier installments. More specifically, I briefly outlined this more Human Resources and Personnel-related side to intentional management in those installments, in order to further develop this side of intentional management as an organizing system, and to mesh it with the process and organizational structure perspective to this management approach. And I offered a briefly sketched out to-address list there, of at least some of the key points that I will address here and in installments to come as a part of that.

In the course of offering what might be viewed as this second-perspective restart on this series, I briefly re-sketched out a basic default management approach that I initially offered from a business process and systems side, this time from the personnel side (see Part 1 for my original presentation of this default, baseline model.)

I stated at the end of Part 39 that I would begin adding real-world complexities and requirements, and management approaches for best resolving them into this narrative here, and I will start doing so by posing a set of questions of a type that would come up in any significant review of the management systems in place in a business, and certainly if the leadership of that business were bringing in an outside business consultant to help more fully identify and clarify, and correct problems and challenges in place.

I begin this with the absolute fundamentals and at step one to any process of even just understanding where a business is now, independently of whether or not any change might be contemplated too.

1. How is a business under analytical examination being managed now? (Note: this is a complex question because it raises issues of what it is doing in principle and as a matter of intended process and practice, and of what is actually being done and on a day-to-day basis and by whom and where in the organization and under what circumstances, and how consistently. The following questions in effect dissect out what would go into this question and what would go into answering it and from both the intended side and the actual in-practice side to that.)
2. Does this business actually follow a seemingly entirely ad hoc approach as if it had no past and as if the experience of here and now, could hold no informative value in its future either?
3. Or does it more systematically pursue at least a close approximation of the default model approach as laid out in Parts 38 and 39 (and in Part 1)?
4. Or does it in some systematic manner differ from that, with non-default features brought in and included, and for at least specific areas of the business?
5. If this business does at least situationally resort to consistent non-default management approaches, where and how and when does it do so?
6. Is this resorted to in order to address specific perhaps recurring problematical situations or events, or in order to capture available value from specific perhaps recurring opportunities that the “standard” approach cannot handle in and of itself? Does this, in other words, reflect an alternative approach that might be resorted to on a needs and opportunities, functional process-defined basis?
7. Or do one or more specific areas of the business (e.g. specific departments or specific organizationally distinct sections of them, or specific satellite offices in a larger geographically dispersed enterprise) simply pursue their own course in how things are routinely done and across all functional areas and processes carried out?
8. This is only a starter list and one of the goals of any business review and analysis here would be to progressively, iteratively refine and elaborate on what is asked here, drilling down into the specifics of the particular business and away from the more generic as has been offered up to here.)

It is important to note that many businesses at least contextually and circumstantially find themselves in positions where for example, their executive leadership could legitimately answer “yes” to any combination of questions 2, 3 and 4 from the above list – and certainly for how their business is actually day-to-day run and across its entire table of organization. Though I add that a business that actually simultaneously pursues all of those management approaches is in most cases going to be one with an executive leadership that does not fully know that, until that is, that fact is brought to their explicit attention through an ad hoc process and performance review that would be added into their ongoing strategic planning schedule and even as a deviation from it for how it is carried out.

The ad hoc of question 2 in particular, is rarely discussed or even openly acknowledged and certainly if more systematic processes are at least formally in place – and even if ad hoc has become the de facto, actually followed norm for large and significant areas of the business as a whole. And this is where I shift focus in this installment from the What and Where and How of management to the Who of it. And I make this transition by noting that however the above questions are answered, and both for what is formally on paper as to how a business is supposed to be run, and for how it is actually run and day-to-day, its management is all planned out and carried out, and performance reviewed when it is, by specific, real individual people.

So I reframe the approach to management that I just outlined in my above first seven more-generic starter questions, in terms of who decides to do what and how of all of this, and particularly in actual practice and in the face of tight schedules and performance demands and in the face of real-world resource limitations, that might be very different from what is nominally and “officially” expected.

• When on-paper and official processes and official practices give way to alternatives that are actually followed, look for gaps and differences between what “nominally expected and officially followed” expects in the way of resource availability, and what is actually consistently and reliably there. And look for the perhaps even consistently recurring emergence of key resource shortfalls as “exceptions” too, that might in fact be predicable and even very reliably so for their recurrence.
• These gaps and shortfalls in most cases, in effect define the parameters that shape the “what is done” for how it deviates from the “what is formally on paper as being done.”
• When standardized effective processes break down, and for whatever reason in the immediate and often compelling pressure of the immediate here-and-now, ad hoc arises to fill the gap that this creates. This is a first response and the greater the ongoing and recurring uncertainty faced by managers under pressure to perform, the more likely it is to be resorted to and the more likely it is going to become the standard response taken.
• When specific recurring breakdowns become consistent and known for how they will arise and play out, alternative “standard” processes and procedures start to emerge – where they are still deviations from the officially expected.

This progression of points outlines one of the more common paths that would spell out why individual managers, and even particularly the best of them who actively seek to meet all of their performance goals and compete all of their assigned tasks and on time, can find themselves resorting to ad hoc and other non-standard management and business process approaches – and particularly when business systems friction: added in limitations to information availability and to communicated support, force them to decide and act on their own, and with them moving into what for them might be uncharted waters in doing so.

Ad hoc, to focus on that extreme deviation from standard-official here, can arise from sloppiness and ineffectualness, but that is self-limiting and if for no other reason than because poor managers who do it and consistently, tend to stand out poorly in their ongoing performance reviews in general. They make themselves and their job tenures self-limiting so their doing this and their making things up as they go along: their ad hoc tends to go away. But when good and even very good managers do this in order to stay effective in outcomes achieved, and they succeed in that and in meeting their assigned goals, their ad hoc and band aide solutions tend to be overlooked and they tend to go unreported too. That is where hidden but emerging patterns can and do begin to emerge – that come to light only when they are specifically looked for.

I am going to continue this discussion in a next installment where I will more fully consider questions 3 and 4 of the above list, and from a largely Who perspective. Meanwhile, you can find this and related postings and series at Business Strategy and Operations – 4, and also at Page 1, Page 2 and Page 3 of that directory. Also see HR and Personnel and HR and Personnel – 2.

When expertise becomes an enemy of quality service 18 – taking an overarching strategic approach to this

Posted in career development, HR and personnel, job search, job search and career development by Timothy Platt on April 10, 2017

This is my eighteenth installment to a series on expertise, and on what an employee or manager needs to bring along with it, if it is to offer real value and either to themselves or to the business they work for (see my supplemental postings section at the end of Guide to Effective Job Search and Career Development – 3, postings 69 and following, for Parts 1-17.)

I have been at least relatively systematically addressing a range of issues, contexts, circumstances and scenarios in the first seventeen installments to this series, that all hold at least a few underlying points of commonality. One of the most important of them, and certainly from the perspective of this 18th installment to that, is that I have been variously approaching the issues and challenges of:

• Finding, bringing in and retaining people with real skills and who could offer real value to a business, and in ways that let them live up to their full potential,
• While simultaneously maintaining a workplace where all employees and at all levels of the table of organization know that they are being treated fairly, that they have an equal opportunity to succeed and to grow professionally, and where they have an equal chance at advancement and with that only dependent upon their work performance and ability.

There is of necessity a dynamic balance, inherent in this dichotomy. And that becomes particularly relevant and I add apparent when a Human Resources and Personnel department sets and follows its policy and practices:

• For the way that they work with and support more routine-skills and experience employees,
• And in how it works with and accommodates special skills and experience ones:
• Employees who are essential as far as their skills and experience are categorically needed but who are not as individually indispensible or irreplaceable, and employees who are essential and who might in fact be essentially irreplaceable, at least within critically essential timeframes where they are critically necessary.

I admittedly somewhat cryptically stated at the end of Part 17, that I would continue on from its line of discussion (there considering personnel training and related issues, vis-à-vis personnel-related information security and business alignment at that level), to consider:

• “The issues that I have been raising here in this series,” from an overall business strategy and business development perspective, as businesses face both evolutionary and more predictable change, and disruptive and unpredictable change.

I have at least attempted to address the issues and circumstances raised throughout this series in a manner that is compatible with a more explicit inclusion of ongoing change. But I have largely delved into the more specific issues and circumstances addressed in this series and certainly up to here, from a more fixed in time and here-and-now snapshot perspective. My goal for this posting is to very explicitly consider change contexts and particularly where a once effective and even best practice approach can become outdated and even dysfunctionally problematical.

I in effect began addressing that in Part 17 when I cited as an all too familiar type of working example: how senior managers and leaders of Human Resources and Personnel departments fell into a trap in their understanding of what types of compensation and related personnel information actually have to be safely held in-house and as strictly confidential and proprietary, and what types and levels of this can be shared, and even by individual employees through online social media, and through websites such as glassdoor. And I compared the more draconian, hold all such information as if top secret approach as taken by older-style businesses, and even just regarding the willing sharing of an employee’s own compensation, or of entirely general demographic level information on this, to Roman Emperor Caligula’s attempt to frighten Poseidon into backing off the tide when he wanted to hold a picnic on the beach! Draconian there as a label of impact, proved itself as a matter of basic policy to be more appropriate a term for the effect of older policy and practice on those businesses themselves and on their own underlying interests, than it did to wayward employees – and certainly where the goal was to bring in and keep the best.

New dividing lines had to be arrived at in distinguishing between what types and levels of personnel information have to be kept confidential and what in practice actually does not. And this new understanding and new policy and practice that would develop from it, had to be both supported from and enforced from the top of these departments, and from more senior executive management as well, in operationally distinguishing between what has to be kept entirely in-house and in only certain allowed areas there, and what can become more open and publically known – where complete confidentiality has become impossible in a world so interconnected through the interactive online and social media context that we all now live in.

That represents one working example of how change in a business’ context – here the emergence of an interactively online social media community that crosses traditional boundaries, can compel a need for change and even fundamental change in a business itself, and certainly for anything related to personnel policy or expectations. Considering this from a larger perspective that includes both a business itself and its competitive context. This boundary crossing has called for a fundamental rethinking of traditional business-to-business contexts too, and the potential for sharing sensitive information with business rivals as they seek out the same best employees that your business does. And it also and at least as actively means boundary crossing between hiring and potentially hiring businesses, and the community of workforce participants who seek or who might seek to find new employment opportunity, and who both need and actively seek out as much information as possible as to what any particular, individual company can offer and both normatively and as best terms from a new hire’s perspective.

Think of this in terms of a hiring business and a potential new hire job candidate playing cards: high stakes poker perhaps, and the players on the company side finding themselves with some of their cards showing that they used to be able to keep hidden – but where all such businesses have now come to face that same challenge so this has not necessarily created special advantage for any of them. It has just shifted the overall balance of potential advantage that they all face. This type of shift in what a business faces and in what it has to expect can create compelling need for it to change its policy and practices and from the top down and from the bottom up (from the experience of individual job hiring campaigns in that.) And this type of scenario and ones that are functionally like it can arise through:

• The emergence of sudden and disruptive change,
• Or slow and evolutionary change – and particularly in this case when an increasingly disconnected status quo, “tried and true” understanding and policy is simply maintained as is, until something bad arises from its continued use.

The second of those possibilities is not all that likely to arise when simply hiring for routine positions and certainly when there are more prospective job candidates out there actively looking for those types of positions than there are such positions to fill. This is going to arise and even painfully so when the need is pressingly intense to bring in and hire – or to retain a special skills, high priority employee and where hiring and retention are anything but a buyer’s market for the business.

I identify this posting in its title tagline as one that addresses “taking an overarching strategic approach to this.” Strategy by its very nature takes a longer timeframe and a wider context perspective than do day-to-day tactical implementation, or the “this is how we do things” linear momentum of routine business practice as it of necessity templatizes tactical solutions and resolutions into routine, standardized accepted business process and practice. Ultimately, when I write of change here, and in a more meaningful context that just that of exception handling: when I write of more fundamental and long-term change in what would and would not go into tactical level practice and implementation and on a routine basis, I write of underlying, or if you will overarching strategy. And once again, this brings me back to the more senior managers and leaders of a business, and of that business as a whole and of its key functional areas. And this brings me back to the lower implementation levels where any strategic decisions: any change or any carefully considered continuation of policy or practice would be reality checked. The issues that I address here cannot ever be considered fully established; change happens and have to be responded to and proactively where possible, and certainly if a business seeks to develop and create a competitive advantage for itself through how it maintains its personnel and its key staffing.

I am going to conclude both this posting and this series with that point, though I am certain to return to issues and questions raised in these eighteen installments in future postings and series too. Meanwhile, you can find this and related postings at my Guide to Effective Job Search and Career Development – 3 (with this included as a supplemental posting there) and at the first directory page and second, continuation page to this Guide. Also see HR and Personnel and HR and Personnel – 2.

Don’t invest in ideas, invest in people with ideas 29 – bringing innovators into a business and keeping them there 12

Posted in HR and personnel, strategy and planning by Timothy Platt on April 4, 2017

This is my 29th installment in a series on cultivating and supporting innovation and its potential in a business, by cultivating and supporting the creative and innovative potential and the innovative drive of your employees and managers, and throughout your organization (see HR and Personnel – 2, postings 215 and loosely following for Parts 1-28.)

I began systematically working my way through a to-address list of issues that are relevant to finding and bringing in innovative, creative new hires, in Part 27 and Part 28 of this, which I repeat here for smoother continuity of discussion as:

1. First, you need to reach out through communications channels that the people you seek to reach actively use,
2. Then you need to craft conversation starting messages that will prompt them to reach back to you, and to at the very least look further into what you have to say, and into what you do and are as a business.
3. Then you have to actually engage, and with a goal of starting a conversation – which would lead to these people thinking of your business as a possible next employer, and with their coming to see one or more positions that you have available as possible good next career steps for themselves.
4. And this crucially means you’re learning more about them, just as they reach out to learn more about you.

I offered at least orienting, framework responses to the first two of these points in the immediately preceding installments to this series. My primary goal for this posting is to continue from that start, to address the remaining two points of that list. And I begin doing so, at Point 3 by making what should be a tritely obvious point – but one that in practice is all too often overlooked.

• Conversations have to be two-way in order to be conversations.

The standard business culture expectation and practice, is that the vast majority of a job candidate search and hiring process conversation has to be essentially one way, with the business doing most of the talking and potential new hires doing most of the listening. They provide feedback and information that a hiring manager and their Human Resources colleagues would use in making their candidate filtering and selection decisions, and from early on when first winnowing an initially large resume submission list, through making their final decisions from among the smaller number actually brought in for interviews. But the overall emphasis is from within the business outward in all of this, and with any job candidates or potential job candidates primarily just offering information that the business would need and use as it carries out its selection processes.

What I am writing about here amounts to turning that entire process around and onto its head, and making conversations more genuinely two-way and in fact more genuinely collaborative. What can I as a hiring manager or owner, and this business as a whole offer you, and what can you offer us, and how can we best meet each other’s needs and priorities, working together? Candidate filtering and selection and all of the best-fit oriented considerations that enter into a more traditional hiring process, still take place and in many respects in the same way. You still look for the best people to meet your current and anticipated needs, and people who can work effectively in your business and with others there and in the context of your corporate culture in place. It is just that allowing your hiring system and its selection processes to take place in a more open and even collaborative context can help you and your business to find the people who you really need, and particularly when you need new hires who do not simply fit into cookie cutter, standard employee moulds.

• Think of this as hiring with a goal of improving your odds that the best out there will see working with you as their best choice too, and that you will find them in the first place so you can help make that happen.

I stress here that while I am writing about business processes in this, I am also writing about the underlying business culture in place too, and about the sometimes need to change and even profoundly change that too – if this type of approach is to work. Openness and a willingness to actively listen and engage with new people cannot work, if those words simply become slogans and unpursued ideals that are more routinely honored in their breach than in their practice. If a change to this type of business process system is announced as the new one to be followed and the new way to do things, but without any real buy-in from those who would have to actually implement it and make it work, it cannot succeed. I am going to very explicitly return to the issues of corporate culture in all of this when I delve into the issues of working with the people and systems already in place as a business enters into this type of systematic change, later in this series. I bring up this aspect of this challenge now too, because the issues that I at least briefly allude to here and that I will delve into more deeply in that later posting, are important for every aspect of what I am writing about in this series and certainly in this part of it.

That stated, let’s consider the specifics of Point 3 itself, as offered above. I have been addressing its issues up to here from an overall process perspective. I wrote Point 3 in terms of the temporal order that this would take place in. And I pick up on that face of Point 3 here by adding in a need for feedback and course correction, and certainly if evidence gathered already as to hiring process success would indicate that good and best candidates are falling away at some step and at an unacceptable rate.

Review how these systems work and both in general and in the hands of specific stakeholders who actually do this work. If effective hiring performance fall-offs and unwanted hiring candidate losses are happening, or if there is significant evidence that would suggest that this probably is happening, that raises two fundamentally important questions:

• Is it the hiring process itself that needs to be corrected as a system? Consider for example, a scenario in which the decision making process and its step by step flow is saddled with avoidable delays in carrying out next steps – while the great candidates who you most want are still actively looking elsewhere too and going elsewhere as a result.
• Or is this a training issue where some of the key people involved in this activity from the business side need to learn how to communicate more effectively in a hiring context? Consider here, a scenario in which key hiring managers create avoidable friction or disconnects in the basic message that they convey to potential new hires, that would conflict with any more open and two-way engaging approach, and that would tell these people that this is a business that does not really listen. Are some of your stakeholder participants saying or doing things that would discourage or turn away your potential best new hires and in ways that they could learn do differently and better, or simply stop doing entirely?

I only assume here that your business is in a position to be able to effectively compete for new staff and even for the best of them, in the face of what your also-hiring competitors can offer. I only assume in that, that your business has sufficient strength of position and sufficient resources to be able to compete for good candidates, and that it and you are going to be able to effectively argue the case that you have a lot of good to offer them too.

Picking up on the second of the above-stated bullet point possibilities, but this time in terms of business culture and the possibility of disconnects that it could create here:

• If a hiring manager persists on taking a more “I talk, you listen, We have the upper hand in all of this” approach and even when meeting with essential hire candidates – who have options elsewhere,
• Things are not going to work out well and certainly not consistently and certainly not long-term.

I express that example scenario in perhaps extreme terms but I have seen it play out essentially exactly as stated, and even when a business has a real hole in their essential in-house skills sets and then finds that they have just avoidably let a great candidate walk away who could have filled it.

• Start conversations and actively continue them from there – and take the initiative when that would increase you and your business’ chances of achieving its best possible hiring results, and certainly for any high needs candidate search and hire campaigns.

Point 4, in many respects simply reiterates and reinforces a basic message that should already be very clear by now, at least when considered in terms of this flow of discussion. Every candidate and potential hire that you might face and consider, and for any job opening is going to do their research on you and your business – and on you personally if you are the hiring manager and if they have your name and title, and you have a social media presence of any sort – and if they actually have any interest in this job. You have to expect that. And as part of the critical, essential business-side due diligence of these potential conversations and collaborations, you need to research your job candidates too, and both to help identify who you would best consider and pursue, and so you can do so more effectively – so you can develop and engage in the right conversations with them and for both you and for them.

I offered a brief what’s-next list of discussion topics to come in Part 28 of this series, for after completing at least a first take on addressing the issues raised in my above-repeated four point list. And the core item that I would look into after completing that, was a complex of issues that I have already mentioned in passing above, which I repeat here as initially stated in Part 26:

• “And beyond that, how can you more effectively bring current employees and managers on-board with change, as their business pivots towards being more innovative – and even in its basic business processes where that would create greater business flexibility and competitive strength?”

I am going to address that more individual employee and individual manager-oriented set of issues in this series. But to set the stage for it, I am going to turn back to reconsider a closely related and at least equally complex set of issues that involve bringing innovation into a business from a structural perspective (as delved into in some detail in an earlier series that I would cite as being particularly relevant here too: Innovators, Innovation Teams and the Innovation Process, which can be found at Business Strategy and Operations – 2 and its Page 3 continuation as postings 366 and loosely following.)

My intent here and for purposes of this series, is not to recapitulate or reframe my earlier discussion of innovative teams per se, or of other relevant organizational structures and systems as a whole, but rather to focus in on one aspect of that larger conceptual and operation challenge: enabling a smoother integration of the type of change that I address here, into a perhaps very settled existing system and in ways that can increase buy-in from stakeholders and gate keepers already in place – and at a structural organizational level. Then I will turn to consider the more interpersonal dynamics of this.

Meanwhile, you can find this and related postings and series at Business Strategy and Operations – 4, and also at Page 1, Page 2 and Page 3 of that directory. Also see HR and Personnel and HR and Personnel – 2.

Intentional management 39: adding people and their management into the equation according to the basic default model

Posted in HR and personnel, strategy and planning by Timothy Platt on March 19, 2017

This is my 39th installment in a series in which I discuss how management activity and responsibilities can be parsed and distributed through a business organization, so as to better meet operational and strategic goals and as a planned intentional process (see Business Strategy and Operations – 3 and its Page 4 continuation, postings 472 and loosely following for Parts 1-38.)

I began this series with a primary focus on the What and How of management processes and practice and have at least relatively systematically pursued that approach from its Part 1 beginning. Then I switched directions in Part 38 of this ongoing narrative to more fully and directly begin considering the Who side of this too.

To be more precise here, the intentional management approach that I offer in this series seeks to arrive at and develop a management systems methodology that could be optimized for any specific business under consideration, with its particular business model and overall mission and vision goals, and its marketplace and general context, and with its corporate culture in place. And this approach would at least ideally offer a relatively clear path forward for planning out and executing upon business growth, as well as for managing through change and uncertainty. Together, that means my goal in all of this is to offer tools and approaches for arriving at and following a more agile and responsive management system and approach that would be a better, if not always best fit for meeting the needs and opportunities of the specific business organization, and with all of its defining points of uniqueness as well as for where it is following a more standard and a more commonly held approach.

That presents intentional management from the What and How perspective that I have been developing up to here. Turning to the Who, this approach as considered from a Human Resources and Personnel perspective, seeks to develop and implement a combination of personnel policy and practice, and employee and team management practice, that enable realizing those goals, and for all of the various individuals who have to actually carry out this work and as non-managerial hands-on employees and as managers of all levels and throughout the table of organization, and for the functional teams that they work within in doing this, and for the organization as a whole.

I began this series with an initial orienting discussion of an historical default management model in Part 1 that I then began to elaborate and build from in subsequent installments. I begin with that same historical default management approach from this point in this overall discussion too. So for clarity and continuity of discussion I begin this installment by briefly restating that starting point paradigmatic model as a foundation point for developing this and subsequent installments to come (as drawn from Part 1 and as expanded upon in light of this series’ subsequent more What and How installments.) Note: I specifically recommend you’re reviewing Part 1 for its orienting details, noting that I at least briefly began acknowledging the need of a Who side of this overall topic there too, when first setting up this series and when I began to more fully discuss and develop its What and How details.

The historical default management model: The default model is one of at least seeming organizational simplicity in which individual managers directly and comprehensively oversee a specific group of direct reports, holding overall responsibility for their activities and their work performance on the job, and for carrying out management-level personnel related activities on their behalf and certainly on matters related to the performance of their specific teams in their own areas of responsibility.
• This is an approach that in its simplest form can lead to tables of organization and patterns of management oversight that are fairly simple and lean, and certainly for whatever specific overall business scale that has been achieved. But as a default approach – and one with complications and variations in how it is implemented that are not well considered, that can and often does mean increased inefficiencies and reduced business effectiveness and reduced overall realizable business potential too.
• It is a management approach where individual employees report to one supervising manager for essentially all of their work activities and on essentially all work-related matters for which they would have to report at all, as just noted above. And as the business grows, this modular one team and one designated manager system expands out, and generally in a completely linear growth, more of the same pattern. And concurrently with that, simply following this default management model means that the table of organization and its structural complexity grow out too, and in a one size fits all manner, and as the overall employee head count and supervisory management head count rise too.
• This means not identifying or allowing for or accommodating particular organizational needs that might arise in different areas of the business where differing approaches might at least more locally make more sense for them, given their areas of functional responsibilities and the make-up of their teams. And this momentum and with time tradition-driven inflexibility means there is at most going to be limited capacity for these systems to adapt and change – as there is little is any room for testing out or even just fully considering alternatives.
• Another reason why this is called a default model, and one that is crucially important here, is that it tends to be all but automatically followed, and with its only real variations included in it coming from how individual managers carry out their duties – automatically and often by the default of following the management practices and approaches, and the communications and information sharing approaches and styles that they themselves have experienced in their own work lives leading up to now, starting from their own earliest work experiences. Managers are in effect on their own in this and following a set playbook, and they tend to fall back on what they know in carrying this out and without anything in the way of systematic review of what management approaches they actually follow – as long as at least their basic task goals are being achieved.
• That point in fact points to the one key area in these business systems where variety can and actually does enter into their management practices, and in how an organization is actually run day to day when it is run in accordance with them. And I add that that type of ad hoc, local rule diversity in style and approach can create both business systems friction and business inefficiencies, and particularly in larger more geographically spread out organizations where leadership and management fiefdoms can arise through business growth and expansion.
• As a next crucially important initial consideration here, as I turn to more fully consider the Human Resources and Personnel side of this, this model also tends to focus essentially entirely within the business – and even when that organization has become critically dependent on the effective functioning of supply chain and other business-to-business collaborations that it has had to enter into in order to remain as competitively effective as it can be. This is important here, as a failure to connect the dots in communicating and managing across the organizational boundaries of more complex, larger systems (as represented by supply chains), leads to disconnects and inefficiencies.
• Businesses have to be able to work together smoothly and seamlessly in their business-to-business collaborations, if they are to achieve the full realizable positive value out of them that should be possible out of them. This holds true as they each perform their half to this work on a day-to-day and a transaction-by-transaction basis and through employee and manager decisions and actions taken – as determined at least in guiding outline by whatever system of management and leadership practice are actually, actively in place in the businesses involved. To be clear there, I am not writing about in-principle, or on-paper business philosophies or practices; I am writing entirely in terms of what is actually done and whether that means following more established in practice processes, or deviating from them into exception handling attempts.

I have intentionally outlined this selective summary of the What and How, at least in part from a Who perspective and I will expand on that in this Human Resources and Personnel, and this hands-on functional area management and leadership perspective in installments to come, starting with the next one. Meanwhile, you can find this and related postings and series at Business Strategy and Operations – 4, and also at Page 1, Page 2 and Page 3 of that directory. Also see HR and Personnel and HR and Personnel – 2.

When expertise becomes an enemy of quality service 17 – personnel policies as dynamic and at least ideally, coherently and consistently organized operational systems 5

Posted in career development, HR and personnel, job search, job search and career development by Timothy Platt on January 22, 2017

This is my seventeenth installment to a series on expertise, and on what an employee or manager needs to bring along with it, if it is to offer real value and either to themselves or to the business they work for (see my supplemental postings section at the end of Guide to Effective Job Search and Career Development – 3, postings 69 and following, for Parts 1-16.)

I have been systematically discussing Human Resources and personnel policies over the course of the last four installments of this series, for a set of issues that are relevant to this series and its overall topic. And I continue that here in this posting, with a goal of addressing a point that I raised without further discussion at the end of Part 16:

• Personnel policy: all personnel policy has to be framed and if need be reframed in terms of realistic information management policy and its operational follow through.

I have already raised the issues of what can and what should be held confidential as personnel-related business intelligence, and particularly in Part 16. And to rephrase a core consideration of that decision as already touched upon in this series, I note that while for most businesses it is crucially important to safeguard compensation and other personnel data related to specific individuals, it is neither necessary nor even possible to safeguard more demographic data of this type. And it is impossible to prevent those who would share their own personal compensation details publically, from doing so – and certainly in an age of online social media where any such disclosures automatically become openly public.

• It is vitally important to at least think through the changing boundaries between “must maintain confidential”, and “would like to” or “should at least ideally” for that.
• And this is a type of review that has to be repeated on an ongoing basis, and as a standardized routine process, and even out of schedule too if compelling emerging events call for that.
• What would constitute compelling events there? One obvious case in point reason would be the passage of new regulatory law related to protection of personal information. But just as importantly, this also has to include case law decisions and how the official interpretation of laws already in place can be changed as that law is enforced in the courts – with the real potential of this moving the lines between what has to be safeguarded and how, and for what can be disclosed. (Note: new laws are essentially always drafted for this type of issue with an awareness of need to comply on the part of information-holding businesses, and an awareness that effective compliance would call for their making changes that take at least a measure of time to complete. But case law reinterpretations do not automatically come with anything like that type of changeover timing accommodation – unless the relevant court rulings just reached are contested in a higher court and lower court rulings are stayed pending that, which cannot automatically, generically be counted upon.)
• And to cite another driving reason for this type of due diligence exercise, when the information management reviews that I write of here are grounded in maintaining best practices in a business for meeting its risk management requirements, one of the more compelling reasons for conducting a thorough systems review there would be the occurrence of an information security breach. There, the issue is one of identifying where intended access goals were missed because the processes and systems set up to meet them failed. (Note: this obviously applies when this breach takes place in the business under consideration here. But it is also important for businesses to keep track of events of this type as they occur elsewhere, insofar as information about beaches in other businesses is made available. That type of occurrence should raise a simple, basic question, and every time. If another business has just lost control over some portion of its sensitive or confidential information stores through a security breach to its systems, does my business have the same information systems vulnerabilities that hackers exploited there too, that they or others could exploit here too?)

And with that stated, I turn this line of discussion back to the main topic of this series, and by raising a basic question that is grounded in the title of this series as a whole. That title reads “when expertise becomes an enemy of quality service ….” The question raised and certainly from a Human Resources perspective is: Human Resources requires skilled professionalism as much as any other functional area of a business does, so what precisely is relevant expertise in this context? And beyond that, what of it has to be held in the HR department itself, so their personnel can at the very least work more effectively with professionals from departments such as Information Technology?

Stepping back from that detail to consider the topic of this posting as a whole:

• It is not just the policies and practices in place that have to be dynamically maintained in as up to date and relevant a manner as possible, as a core business risk management issue. It is the ongoing training and experience requirements of the people who set and who carry out those processes that have to be dynamically maintained too – and as proactively as possible so change can be planned for and carried out before crises happen.
• And this applies to the Human Resources department as much as it does to every other functional area in a business.

Let me take that out of the abstract, with an uncomfortably real example. Most Human Resources Departments, and certainly in large organizations, are led at a senior management and executive level by professionals who have accumulated long-term experience and expertise in that type of department or service – and who have focused more on management than on hands-on execution for a number of years now as they have risen through the ranks and up their tables of organization. That is a good thing, and certainly when it means understanding and managing stable processes that seek to meet stable and ongoing business needs. But for a great many large corporations, their HR leadership and their overall policies governing employee behavior and relevant personnel policy, were caught off-guard by the seemingly sudden emergence of sites that openly gather in and publish shared information about salary and compensation ranges, work conditions and other once secret types of personnel-related business intelligence.

Some businesses, when confronted by this new openness, actively threatened action against any employees who were found to have divulged even just demographic level data about them, when those web sites and social media-based information sharing channels first came out. The Roman emperor Gaius Julius Caesar Augustus Germanicus, derisively nicknamed Caligula (meaning little boot), once famously ordered his Praetorian Guards to attack the surf to make Poseidon back off on an approaching high tide. Attempts to stop social media based release of compensation and workplace information online, proved to be just as difficult to enforce and just as prone to failure as Caligula’s folly, even as businesses did try siccing their counterparts of the Praetorian Guards on their “wayward” employees over this.

Expertise has to be kept current if it is to retain value. And this applies to any changing, evolving field of endeavor and its underlying knowledge base. I have primarily focused in this series on how this and related issues apply to employees and managers who work outside of Human Resources, but this applies there too

I am going to turn in my next series installment to consider the issues that I have been raising here in this series, from an overall business strategy and business development perspective, as businesses face both evolutionary and more predictable, and disruptive and unpredictable change. Meanwhile, you can find this and related postings at my Guide to Effective Job Search and Career Development – 3 (with this included as a supplemental posting there) and at the first directory page and second, continuation page to this Guide. Also see HR and Personnel and HR and Personnel – 2.

Don’t invest in ideas, invest in people with ideas 28 – bringing innovators into a business and keeping them there 11

Posted in HR and personnel, strategy and planning by Timothy Platt on January 16, 2017

This is my 28th installment in a series on cultivating and supporting innovation and its potential in a business, by cultivating and supporting the creative and innovative potential and the innovative drive of your employees and managers, and throughout your organization (see HR and Personnel – 2, postings 215 and loosely following for Parts 1-27.)

My focus in Part 27 of this was on more effectively communicating your business as a best place to work, for the creative, innovative new hires who you need to bring in-house. And in the course of that discussion, I offered a four point list of communications-related issues that I will at least start to address here, in more explicitly operational terms than I did there:

1. First, you need to reach out through communications channels that the people you seek to reach actively use,
2. Then you need to craft conversation starting messages that will prompt them to reach back to you, and to at the very least look further into what you have to say, and into what you do and are as a business.
3. Then you have to actually engage, and with a goal of starting a conversation – which would lead to these people thinking of your business as a possible next employer, and with their coming to see one or more positions that you have available as possible good next career steps for themselves.
4. And this crucially means you’re learning more about them, just as they reach out to learn more about you.

I discussed the issues raised in that list in general orienting terms in Part 27; my goal here is to at least begin to flesh out how to actually implement them in your ongoing hiring processes. And I begin with the first of them and knowing where to reach out and communicate.

This means really knowing your target audience: the most likely demographics of the type of people who you would seek out. And this means taking a very proactive approach to hiring innovators: not simply waiting for the right people to try applying to you, but rather you’re reaching out to them and where they go to connect and communicate.

I stress this point because “proactive” has never been a particularly common default approach for finding and selecting new possible hires. The received wisdom such as it is, that has more traditionally been essentially automatically assumed is that there are always going to be more candidates, and good ones than jobs. And there are always going to be more good candidates than good, let alone “best” job opportunities, and the best job seekers out there will simply come to you. This is not true, and certainly for those with high demand specialty skills and abilities and even when there is a seeming glut on the market for more routine hires, and where hiring per se is more of a buyer’s market for hiring businesses.

• There are always going to be more job opportunities for the best, most innovatively creative people than there are such people – and that conservative approach to hiring these special would-be employees is the only prudent one to follow. (And yes, I said conservative there – as opposed to automatic and unconsidered.)

So be proactive and do your homework – and even when that means buying relevant marketing data from third party business intelligence providers, in order to know how to reach out here. Where do the people you need, who creatively work at the cutting edge for the technologies that you require, connect online – and certainly when doing so professionally? What professional social networking sites do they use? What online groups do they join and at least follow? What terms and terminology do they use where you could use their language to help you find them and connect with them? And what types of message would catch their eye?

This brings me to the second point on that list and to an approach that I mentioned at least in passing in Part 27: share word about your business and about how good a fit it is for innovators who seek real opportunity. I offered a brief list in that installment, of what might be considered fluff content details to include in your basic message, as you seek to develop genuine two-way conversations. But as trite and obvious as those points might seem when simply stated as is, they are important. And the hiring business that can convey them in the clearest and most sincere and believable manner is the one that will win; they are the business that will engage in more real conversations, that can be converted into those right, best people applying for jobs. And to repeat the fluff, clearly and concisely present the case that:

• Yours is a business that values and supports the innovative: people with vision and understanding who are willing to reach out to create New, and bring it into ongoing marketable product and service reality.
• And yours is a business that values and supports the innovative in how your business operates too, so it can more effectively, rapidly identify and meet consumer and marketplace needs and for all that it offers.
• And that yours is a business where good people can become better in what they do, and one where they can and do advance in both their skills and in their positions there. Yours is a workplace where people can thrive as well as succeed, and to the fullest of their capability and drive to do so.

Ultimately, that is what the people you most want and need to reach are looking for. And that message is not going to be captured in online job descriptions that mostly just offer laundry lists of specific skills and levels of experience with them that you want to find. That is not going to be contained in dry Public Relations oriented boilerplate text, that more generically than anything else “describes” your business and in essentially entirely impersonal terms, either.

This is about conveying a more compelling interpersonal message about where the people who you need in-house, would use their skills and experience if they come to work for you. It about conveying a message that yours is the business that they would find the most fun to work at, as they use their skills and experience. I use a word like fun there, very intentionally. Look back at your own career path; it is likely that the best jobs that you have ever had were ones that you really enjoyed – that you found fun to do, as well as intellectually and monetarily rewarding. Craft your messages, and enter into conversations that convey how the people who work at your business like doing so – and that they are supported and appreciated and given opportunity to succeed while doing so.

I am going to continue discussing the four points in my above numbered list in a next series installment, and will proceed from there to address job descriptions and how they can be more effectively framed, written, and publically posted. And then after completing that portion of this series, I will turn to consider the final to-address point that I listed as needing coverage here, in Part 26:

• “And beyond that, how can you more effectively bring current employees and managers on-board with change, as their business pivots towards being more innovative – and even in its basic business processes where that would create greater business flexibility and competitive strength?”

There is an old saying which I have cited a number of times in this blog, to the effect that the devil is in the details. This last point is where any potentially irksome details that could arise, are most likely to do so and in ways that can challenge and even block any effort to make a business genuinely more innovative – and even as you actively seek out new types of more innovative employees.

You can find this and related postings and series at Business Strategy and Operations – 4, and also at Page 1, Page 2 and Page 3 of that directory. Also see HR and Personnel and HR and Personnel – 2.

Intentional management 38: adding people and their management into the equation 1

Posted in HR and personnel, strategy and planning by Timothy Platt on January 10, 2017

This is my 38th installment in a series in which I discuss how management activity and responsibilities can be parsed and distributed through a business organization, so as to better meet operational and strategic goals and as a planned intentional process (see Business Strategy and Operations – 3 and its Page 4 continuation, postings 472 and loosely following for Parts 1-37.)

There are two fundamentally distinct points of orientation that can be pursued, when organizing and presenting a more general theory of management:

• You can orient your discussion and frame it primarily from the perspective of what would be operationally and strategically managed and carried out, and with that framed in terms of business processes and systems of them that would be followed, and in terms of supporting resources that enable them. And this would mean focusing on primary, more routinely followed plans and procedures, and on exception handling and contingency planning, and the range of related issues that enter into this general narrative.
• And alternatively, you can orient your discussion and frame it primarily from the perspective of who would participate in all of this activity, and focus on the human behavior side of it. That means focusing on the hands-on employees and managers in a business as they contribute their efforts to the carrying out of this work, where the work itself is considered more in terms of their job descriptions and their goals and stretch goals in fulfilling them, and in how they do or do not take the initiative when faced with the unexpected.

I began this series by primarily pursuing the first of these two bullet pointed approaches and have continued along that line from Part 1 until here. I begin switching orientation in this installment to more fully consider the second of those bullet points too. From this perspective, you can view the first 37 installments of this series and their more What and How discussion of management and management systems, as background context for when considering the Who of this. And my goal in pursuing this line of discussion here is to round out and complete, at least a first step presentation of an intentional and contextual management framework as a whole. A true general theory of management has to in fact, address the issues and perspectives of both of the above bullet points.

With that noted, I begin to more fully explore the Who side of this approach to management. And as a starting point for that, let’s begin by considering the fundamentals:

• I have repeatedly argued a case for viewing Human Resources as a more centrally important functional area in a business, and in the same way that other more commonly recognized core functional areas are (e.g. Finances, as a second more cost-center example.) And I have attempted to justify that conclusion through a flow of ongoing case study example-based reasoning that I have been presenting throughout this blog, and certainly up to here.
• If Human Resources should best be considered such a core functional area in a business or organization,
• And if the most senior managing director of that department or service should be a member of the executive level strategy team there, for their key role in shaping and managing (centrally important) personnel policies and practices,
• Then managers and senior managers in Human Resources in general should know and understand management systems if they are to effectively contribute to this higher level strategically oriented management activity.
• And the assessment of role and involvement that I make note of here certainly should be considered valid when a business’ personnel are in fact deemed to represent one of its most important assets – and when that frequently expressed sentiment stands for more than just marketing hype.
• So the first 37 installments to this series actively belong in the Human Resources and Personnel related postings directory that I offer in this blog, as offering a set of basic background resources on management theory and practice to people who would look there for resources. And this posting and the subsequent follow-up installments to it that will follow, belong in the Human Resources and Personnel directory here too for their more direct personnel policy and practice relevance.
• And to flip that bullet point’s line of reasoning around, the whole of this series also correspondingly belongs in a Business Strategy and Operations directory too. The goal there is that everyone on the executive strategy team in a business should start on the same page and with a similar approach and a similar basic vocabulary for discussing operational and strategic issues. That obviously does not have to mean the approach that I have been offering here, but whatever more comprehensive approach is followed, everyone in the room, involved in shared strategic decision making responsibilities should do so in shared terms and with shared underlying assumptions in place.
• My goal for this posting is to set the stage for offering a more complete such shared framework that can be turned to as needed.

I begin addressing intentional management from a Personnel and people management perspective, by returning to the fundamentals as to what an intentional management approach seeks to accomplish as a systematic methodology:

• Bottom line, this approach seeks to arrive at and pursue a management system that would be optimized for any specific business under consideration, with its particular business model and overall mission and vision goals, and its marketplace and general context, and with its corporate culture in place. And this approach would at least ideally offer a relatively clear path forward for planning out and executing upon business growth.
• And this approach as considered from a Human Resources and Personnel perspective, seeks to develop and implement a combination of personnel policy and practice, and employee and team management, that enable realizing those goals,
• And for all of the various individuals who have to actually carry out that work, and as non-managerial hands-on employees and as managers of all levels and throughout the table of organization,
• And for the functional teams that they work within in doing this,
• And for the organization as a whole.

I began addressing the first of of this set of bullet points in Part 1, with a brief orienting discussion of an historical default management model. And I am going to continue this posting’s line of discussion in a next series installment, and from that same baseline management model; I will in fact use that as a default model starting point here too. Then I will begin adding in complications that would stress simple adherence to this default model (exactly as I did in Parts 2-37.) And in anticipation of discussion to come, this is where scalability per se, and change and uncertainty enter this narrative, among other complications. And they do so on the Who side of this overall narrative, just as they do on the What and How side as already looked into. I will begin to more formally present and discuss on these issues in my next series installment here.

Meanwhile, you can find this and related postings and series at Business Strategy and Operations – 4, and also at Page 1, Page 2 and Page 3 of that directory. Also see HR and Personnel and HR and Personnel – 2.

When expertise becomes an enemy of quality service 16 – personnel policies as dynamic and at least ideally, coherently and consistently organized operational systems 4

Posted in career development, HR and personnel, job search, job search and career development by Timothy Platt on December 17, 2016

This is my sixteenth installment to a series on expertise, and on what an employee or manager needs to bring along with it, if it is to offer real value and either to themselves or to the business they work for (see my supplemental postings section at the end of Guide to Effective Job Search and Career Development – 3, postings 69 and following, for Parts 1-15.)

I began a systematic analysis of openness and secrecy in individual and demographic level data about employee compensation, in Part 15, organizing that discussion around a specific real world example as drawn from my own professional experience. Then at the end of that installment and after briefly noting and listing online resources for finding up to date information on salary and overall compensation ranges in businesses and across industries, I stated that I would continue that narrative here, with a discussion of how this compels change in basic Human Resources personnel policy and expectations.

I begin addressing this with the matter of expectations – and with the Human Resources face of the overall corporate culture in place:

• Pre-internet certainly, and pre-social media and pre-interactive internet in particular, Human Resources personnel expected that they could effectively control access to essentially all personnel-related data and information, sharing what they and their managers saw as necessary for business employees and managers to know, and holding secret and confidential anything that they acquired and held that they saw as meriting that type of discretion.
• The interactive internet, and online social media in particular threw open the doors to whole new types of information disclosure and particularly for types and categories of information that Human Resources and their carefully enforced personnel policies had always kept walled off behind closed doors.
• Old expectations that had always seemed to work here, at least in general and in spite of information release exceptions of the type outlined in Part 15, suddenly became obsolete. And attempting to adhere to them became dysfunctional, and just as quickly.

I used the word transparency in Part 15, and my overall goal for this posting is to clarify what I mean by that:

• And how Personnel policy has to be able to accommodate both the open availability of once-confidential information,
• While still robustly meeting all personal privacy and related confidentiality requirements.

And with that stated, let’s consider policy and its operationalized implementations. And I begin that with a basic observation, and by pointing out a readily assumed misconception:

• Developing policy, and planning out how it is to be implemented and followed, begins with knowing precisely what critical information you and your organization have to hold secret and confidential, and what you can safely make public. And in this, you have to assume that there is and can be no half-way there. No one can be half pregnant; in a corresponding manner, no information that is selectively, partly released is going to stay that way. You have to understand that if you attempt to widen availability of some body of information beyond the scope of the circle of individuals who specifically need it for their work, and who have been vetted for their reliability in keeping it confidential for that – that in time everyone will know it.
• That is the basic observation, and this is the readily assumed misconception: there is a reason why I wrote what you “have to hold secret and confidential” rather than what you would want to hold secret and confidential. First of all, the later of those desired possibilities is going to include types of business intelligence that are already fully lost from control – your or anyone else’s. And I cite those salary and compensation ranges: planned for and adhered to, for specific work positions and levels as discussed in my Part 15 case study of this series. “Want to” is in all likelihood going to be too large, and too amorphously defined and mutable a goal for maintaining confidentiality, than is ever going to be possible to sustain. “Must” and with a clearly defined understanding of what does and does not have to belong in that category, and for how long and under what circumstances, is going to be challenging enough.

And this brings me to the concluding point for this installment that I will begin to build from in the next:

• Personnel policy: all personnel policy has to be framed and if need be reframed in terms of realistic information management policy and its operational follow through.

I am going to at least begin addressing this point and its implication in my next series installment, starting with hiring processes and policies, and the processes and policies in place for managing pay raises and promotions. Meanwhile, you can find this and related postings at my Guide to Effective Job Search and Career Development – 3 (with this included as a supplemental posting there) and at the first directory page and second, continuation page to this Guide. Also see HR and Personnel and HR and Personnel – 2.

Don’t invest in ideas, invest in people with ideas 27 – bringing innovators into a business and keeping them there 10

Posted in HR and personnel, strategy and planning by Timothy Platt on December 5, 2016

This is my 27th installment in a series on cultivating and supporting innovation and its potential in a business, by cultivating and supporting the creative and innovative potential and the innovative drive of your employees and managers, and throughout your organization (see HR and Personnel – 2, postings 215 and loosely following for Parts 1-26.)

As the subtitle half of this posting’s name indicates, this is also my tenth consecutive installment here, to specifically address the issues of leavening a business with innovative potential, by bringing in and keeping hands-on employees and managers who are innovators themselves, who support and encourage innovation in others, or who are both. Focusing on the new hire side to this, and particularly when seeking to bring innovation per se into a more staid, business-as-usual organization, I have primarily been addressing the questions and issues of what type of potential hires to look for. With that discussion in place as a starting point, I turn here to more explicitly consider the questions of finding the right candidates to consider, and of marketing a business as a place where the types of people you would seek out, would want to work. And beyond that, is the question of how you would screen potential candidates so you can focus your attention on the right best possibilities, and how you would interview and pitch to them, to bring them to want to say yes to an offer. This means thinking through what they would most want where salary and compensation in general are important, and titles can be important too – but opportunity can be much more so. And this means understanding what a best candidate would look for and expect to be included in that key word: opportunity.

This all begins with the business, as it frames its innovation-oriented new work positions and job descriptions, and as it communicates, both reaching out to share its own story and as it would find out about and do its due diligence on any prospective candidates who apply. And in what follows, I simply take for granted that more traditional approaches to marketing a business and for screening possible employees as hiring candidates, are followed.

• On the business marketing side this means their having an online presence through traditional channels such as web sites and that they have at least begun to use established social media channels to widen their audience reach and to coordinately tell their own story. And for this purpose that means highlighting their business as offering creative and meaningful, fulfilling opportunity to innovators who want to make a positive difference.
• See my series: Using Social Media as Crucial Business Analysis Resources, as can be found at Social Networking and Business 2, as postings 217 and loosely following for its Parts 1-7. I offer that here as a resource for both making more effective use of traditional online (and off-line) channels, and for more effectively adding in new communications channels, and more interactive ones, and for more effectively using all of these resources together, synergistically.

I know that a significant amount of what I would add here, regarding social media use is or at least should be widely familiar, but as of this writing at least, I still see a lot of gaps and inefficiencies (mixed and confusing messages, for example) in what businesses actually do. So I start with the fundamentals, risking simply repeating what some readers might see as more obvious, to identify and close potential gaps and to highlight how a consistent message can be developed and shared, and one that is specific-audience targeting.

I assume a well organized, professional appearing web site that has basic informational resources on it about the business and what it does. And I assume basic print and other off-line communications where that would offer value and be cost-effective to carry through upon. And with that in place:

• Start with social media and the interactive online in conveying the message that your business is creative and innovative – even if has not been as well known for that as it could be and now should be.
• I do not generally write in absolutes in this blog, or talk or write in absolute terms in my professional practice – but NEVER send out messages simply to send out messages. The messages that you do send out and share should specifically inform on their own, they should specifically lead anyone interested to further informational resources that you also offer – including other communications channels they can interact with your business through, or both. Messages devoid of actionable content that might offer specific value or meaning to a reader, are clutter and they collectively create a barrier to your more meaningful messages getting through and connecting.
• I intentionally used the word “synergistically,” above and repeat it here, noting that messages that do not connect into your overall story that you would share, and that are simply there with your name on it, amount to static in your communications, and the antithesis of synergy.
• I do not generally write or think in terms of simply binary one or zero, positive or negative options but to take a conservative, risk limiting due diligence approach here, assume that the specific messages that you craft and consider sending out through available communications channels will either offer synergy as a positive, or clutter as an equally impactful but oppositely charged negative.

What is the basic message that you would create and synergistically spread through the interactive and central publishing model communications channels that you use? You want your answer to this to clearly state that:

• Yours is a business that values and supports the innovative: people with vision and understanding who are willing to reach out to create New, and bring it into ongoing marketable product and service reality.
• That yours is a business that values and supports the innovative in how your business operates too, so it can more effectively, rapidly identify and meet consumer and marketplace needs and for all that it offers.
• And that yours is a business where good people can become better in what they do, and one where they can and do advance in both their skills and in their positions there. Yours is a workplace where people can thrive as well as succeed, and to the fullest of their capability and drive to do so.

I offer this in very general terms, noting that any such generic message would need considerable tuning and adjustment to make it work in the specific business and industry context. But the basic message offered here is important and in most cases should be followed as an individual business and its Marketing and Communications makes it their own.

I turn from this, to consider communications with the job market and with potential new hires, and with a progressive set of essential goals in mind:

• First, you need to reach out through communications channels that the people you seek to reach actively use,
• Then you need to craft conversation starting messages that will prompt them to reach back to you, and to at the very least look further into what you have to say, and into what you do and are as a business.
• Then you have to actually engage, and with a goal of starting a conversation – which would lead to these people thinking of your business as a possible next employer, and with their coming to see one or more positions that you have available as possible good next career steps for themselves.
• And this crucially means you’re learning more about them just as they reach out to learn more about you, as discussed above.

I am writing here about creating an online presence that the people you need to bring in-house, will see as proof that you would be good for them too. Note that I mentioned job descriptions earlier on in this posting. But I have not addressed them and certainly for anything like the more technical details of what a possible job would entail, day-to-day. The key to what I have been addressing here is you’re more effectively presenting your business as the best available employer, for those who can claim mastery of any given set of those technical hands-on and management skills that you and your competitors would call for in open job descriptions, as you all compete for the same best new hires.

I will at least begin addressing some of the details of communicating with the job market, and as two-way communications processes, and with practically implementing the above set of four communications-oriented bullet points in my next series installment. And after that I will look more specifically into the hiring process itself, starting with the fundamentals: the job description and how it is framed. And with that in place I will have taken an at least first step in responding to a to-address point that I made at the end of Part 26:

• “Then you have to have and follow effective best practices for actually securing your best new hire candidates as members of your team and employees of your business.”

And after completing that portion of this series, I will turn to consider the final to-address point from that series installment:

• “And beyond that, how can you more effectively bring current employees and managers on-board with change, as their business pivots towards being more innovative – and even in its basic business processes where that would create greater business flexibility and competitive strength?”

Meanwhile, you can find this and related postings and series at Business Strategy and Operations – 4, and also at Page 1, Page 2 and Page 3 of that directory. Also see HR and Personnel and HR and Personnel – 2.

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