Bleeding Edge HR

By Joe Shepley posted 07-15-2011 19:18


In my travels, I work with a lot of organizations on social media (SM) and enterprise collaboration, whether as part of dedicated Enterprise 2.0 (E2.0) projects or under the umbrella of broader content and process management initiatives.

And if you had asked me a year ago what the likely E2.0 “hot spots” would have been a year later, I would have called out things like customer service, product development, marketing, orcorporate communications. And to a greater or lesser extent, these have all been areas of brisk E2.0 activity.

But one area I can assure you I would definitely not have flagged as a likely E2.0 hot spot would have been Human Resources. Yet, as we stride boldly into the second half of the eleventh year of the second millennium, sure enough, HR is one of the most promising areas of E2.0 activity I regularly come across.

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But when you step back and think about it, the marriage of HR and E2.0 shouldn’t be that surprising. After all, organizations only manage three things: physical assets, information assets, and human assets.

So HR is the domain chiefly responsible for one-third of what all organizations do. And despite the distinctly back-office, often unglamorous reputation HR gets in the wider world compared to such sexy, front-office domains like outside sales, account management, or product development, when looked at from the proper perspective, HR is a domain that is of critical strategic importance to organizations at the enterprise level.

The Human Factor

And let’s not forget that the one-third of organizational work that HR is responsible for is the human third, and we humans are by nature social, communal, and thrive on communication—all things that SM and enterprise collaboration foster brilliantly and that E2.0 depends on to be successful.

So, always willing to own up to my mistakes, it’s pretty clear I had no business overlooking HR in favor of other, seemingly more E2.0-worthy domains.

Ok, so much for my extended mea culpa—let’s take a look at some of the most interesting ways that organizations are using E2.0 to enable more effective HR.

A Lifecycle Approach

By and large, I’m seeing HR organizations tackle SM and enterprise collaboration from the employee lifecycle perspective, i.e., from application, selection, and onboarding, through performance management and professional development, to separation.

Which is not to say that most organizations are taking a holistic approach to enabling better employee lifecycle management through SM and enterprise collaboration. You’d be lucky to find one HR department in ten that even use the termemployee lifecycle management or approach their management of employees from a cradle-to-grave perspective.

Instead, the majority of organizations I come across are tackling discreet steps of the employee lifecycle in an attempt both to get their feet wet with SM and enterprise collaboration as well as to realize a quick win before trying to address the problem more broadly.

And while this isn’t a sustainable approach over the long haul, it’s a fine strategy for the near-term, although at some point, these organizations will need to stitch together their point solutions to address the employee lifecycle in a coordinated, holistic way.

The Big Picture

Let’s imagine that wondrous day in the hopefully not-too-distant future when organizations of all kinds have moved beyond their narrow, siloed, point solution approach to the use of SM and enterprise collaboration for the employee lifecycle and reached the promised land of cradle-to-grave, E2.0-enabled employee lifecycle management. What would that look like?

  • Positions would be developed using collaboration tools, from expertise management to find the right SMEs to contribute to team sites that enable collaborative document management for the writing of the job description and posting.
  • Recruiting would fully leverage consumer SM networking tools like Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter as well as other consumer SM tools like blogs, discussion forum, and specialist communities.
  • Applications would not only be fully paperless and workflow driven, but leverage collaboration tools to facilitate interaction between applicants, HR, and the hiring manager.
  • Interviews would be “bookended” by the use of SM and enterprise collaboration—by the interview team, the candidate and interviewers, and the evaluation team.
  • Notification, negotiation, andacceptance would leverage collaboration tools to facilitate the back and forth between applicant and HR.
  • Onboarding would incorporate communities both to connect members of the “incoming class” as well as connect new hires with mentors and peers throughout the organization.
  • Performance management would take place in a collaborative environment that allowed managers and their direct reports to work together on goal setting, progress monitoring, and continuous improvement activities.
  • Professional development would leverage communities of practice, E2.0-enabled expertise management, and structured consumer SM participation to help employees grow the skills they need to further their careers.
  • Separation would be leverage collaboration spaces to solicit and collect information to supplement the exit interview in capturing the rationale for separation as well as SM monitoring to better anticipate any impending wrongful termination lawsuits.

The Final Word

So there you have it, my open apology letter to all you forward thinking HR practitioners out there. You’re doing exciting stuff at your organizations, and all of us employees will be the beneficiaries of your work, so thanks!

As always, I’d love to hear from you all: anyone share my misconceptions about HR being squarely E1.0? Any of you out there been on the HR 2.0 bandwagon for a while now? Or maybe you want to share your experiences with an E2.0-enabled HR process? Or perhaps you just want to heckle me over a point in my argument?

Whatever the case, jump in and let’s get the conversation started…

#SM #HR #E20