Zombie HR

Soccer Mom Zombie
Soccer Mom Zombie

Photo c/o juco

It’s weird. As the HR blogosphere expands with a rush of intelligence, creativity and sensitivity provided by Alison Chisnell and Onatrainagain, among many others, so the more established online HR press seems to be…zombifying. A few days ago @TheHRD drew my attention to this unimaginitive offering on the People Management site about anagrams in HR. This kind of salami wore junk (you figure it out) does nothing to enhance the journo reputation of HR in the online world. I let it pass. Just a blip.

Earlier this week on the HR Magazine website I read about Vance Kearney saying we should ban words like cuts and recession, because they are boring and negative. I’m all for optimism but suggesting we ban words because we don’t like what they mean? I’m not in favour of banning things, of trying to control things by stamping them out. There are better ways to encourage people towards a more purposeful motivating way of working, and banning stuff isn’t one of them. Sticking your fingers in your ears and going la la laaa probably works better.

The next day delivers more pearls of wisdom. This time, under the headline “There’s only one thing worse than an idiot and that’s an engaged and motivated idiot” Kearney knocks engagement, saying it needs more rigour. I don’t agree. For me encouraging a state of engagement is about less rigour not more. Next up we’re recommended to hire people with the biggest brains we can find (I wish he had said so we can feast on them – but he didn’t). There’s more. Apparently, “The world of work has changed. But people still want the same things, they want fascinating work, intelligent colleagues and to play on a team. But the context has changed.” How? No explanation is offered. And then I read evidence of the existence of zombie HR. Kearney goes on to state, “I like employees to be engaged and motivated. I like them to be dead and not dead. I don’t think anyone’s ever tested it.” What!!?? Dead and not dead? True zombie HR! I tweeted about this earlier and @FlipChartFT suggested that the benefit of dead, or zombie employees, may be that they don’t qualify for minimum wage. That may well be the case but honestly, I have no idea what Vance Kearney is on about. Poor reporting at best. See me after school.

I hope this recent slip into zombie HR is short lived. Have you seen any other zombies shuffling about lately?

Neeeeed fresh braaaaiiinnnss!

The #ConnectingHR Christmas Special

Wowser! As many of you will know, earlier this week there was an informal Christmas beer up for the #connectinghr crew. An open invite to all. Huge thanks to the many good people who turned out and helped make the evening fun and memorable.

Now I know this is the time of year when folks write those Christmas parties gone baaaaad type notes so don’t worry, we’re not going there. Well not quite. It transpired that one or two of our merry band did suffer a little, both on the day and in the immediate aftermath. What with it being Christmas and all I thought it might be nice to record the Christmas beer misadventures in the form of a song for you all. Sadly my proper video camera is still not playing ball so this was recorded on a point and shoot with a frankly shocking microphone. That’s my excuse. Enjoy.

On Wednesday we went drinking with #connectinghr, My boiler broke, got a hangover the worst by far

TheHRD he broke his specs and now can’t see a thing, He really shouldn’t go out anonymous drinking

Oh no, there ain’t no Sanity Claus

FlipchartFT lost all of his credit cards, the worst excuse for a no-show he should be barred

MrAirmiles took his Christmas tree on a bus, Struggled up the stairs while old ladies made a fuss

Here comes Uncle Nick, Let’s give him some stick

Callum Saunders took it easy not a man of vice, But then next day he trod in sick you know that can’t be nice

So even though a few can tell a tale that’s not too bright, I hope that everybody had a wonderful night

Oh no, there ain’t no Sanity Claus

photo c/o kevindooley

What is Engagement all About?

I was recently interviewed by HR matters magazine over in Malaysia, so too was renowned engagement expert David Zinger. The interviews were published as a double act, I’m very humbled, and proud of this. David and I have a lot in common and enough difference to make for some interesting…differences! The good people @ HR matters set the scene:

“Engagement in the workplace is something business owners and managers strive for. Engaged employees are more likely to feel motivated and be bound by close friendships at the workplace and exhibit a higher level of passion for what they do. Employers the world over embrace the virtues of a fully engaged workforce and employ various techniques to put this into action. But really, what is engagement all about?”

HRM : What do you believe engagement is all about?

David Zinger : Engagement is an encompassing term referring to our connection with something. We can have employee engagement, social media engagement, customer engagement, student engagement, etc. Today we are talking about employee engagement which refers to how connected the employee is to their work, their organization, and results. Employee engagement started to be used as a term in the early 1990’s and has grown in use ever since.

At the heart of engagement is a new way of working, managing, and leading. I think engagement will fill the void left by the ineffectiveness and anaemia of trying to use command and control to get work done in this new decade. We need to keep people connected to their work and each other in meaningful ways that produce benefits for all.

Doug Shaw : For me engagement is about co-creating and then delivering great service. It is about employees, customers and community. First and foremost in order to engage we need to listen, sincerely and actively. And be able to show a genuine interest in what we are being told. Listening to different groups of people, in particular the front line of an organisation, and its customers, is a great way to find out what’s working well and what isn’t. The act of listening and being able to clearly communicate what you have heard is a great way to start the engagement process. People like to be listened to and like to know they’ve been heard.

Second, it’s about co-creation. Bringing different groups of people together to discuss what is working and what is not, and how we can work together to make things better, using as much of their language as possible. It’s vital to include the people who deliver service for your organisation, and bold organisations ask the customer to get involved in the process too.

Third, never forget that honesty sells. It’s so important to create an environment where people can be straight with one another. To achieve this is simple, but not always easy. Honesty begins with you. I’ve seen too many great engagement opportunities fail because leaders thought people would do what they say, not what they see. However if you gain a reputation for doing what you say you will and for being straight (and that doesn’t mean insensitive) with people then you can help deliver fantastic results.

Update. September 2015: Sadly, since I wrote this blog post in 2010, the full article which I linked to from here seems to have disappeared into the ether so I’ll just leave you with a question. What is engagement all about for you?