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Magnetic Leadership Attracts Top Talent: #TChat Preview

Originally posted by Matt Charneyone of #TChat’s moderators, on MonsterThinking Blog

The CEO of today looks a lot different than  the company man of previous generations, increasingly likely to have traded  in the gray wool suit for shorts and flip-flops, their secretaries for smart phones, and corporate branding with personal branding.

One only has to look as far as Steve Jobs’ black turtleneck, or Bill Gate’s bifocals, or even Undercover Boss to see the impact that leaders have on the way clients, and candidates, perceive and interact with an organization.  Tony Hsieh has made Zappos as recognizable for its corporate culture as its corporate product; likewise, Donald Trump is his corporate product.

The close correlation between leadership and talent extends far beyond these high profile examples, two concepts that have long been inexorably intertwined.  Influential lists like Fortune’s annual 100 Best Companies to Work For or a company’s Glassdoor.com ratings, rely heavily on workers’ perceptions of leadership and management within their organizations.

Studies have repeatedly demonstrated that executive and managerial communications and engagement are among the primary drivers for employee satisfaction and, subsequently, retention.  Satisfaction with leadership plays a similarly prevalent role in worker productivity, with magnetic leaders adding more to the bottom line than can be reflected on a balance sheet.

When it comes to attracting and retaining talent, active, engaged and innovative leaders provide a key competitive advantage.  After all, it’s that magnetism they possess which creates a powerful draw for potential workers (and customers), not to mention providing a potent, and public, voice for communicating with both internal and external stakeholders.

Tonight’s combined #TChat and #LeadershipChat recognizes the critical correlation between talent and leadership, and that’s why we’re partnering up to discuss some of the most critical challenges – and opportunities – confronting leaders and the workers who rely on them every day.

We hope you can join us tonight at 8 PM ET/5 PM PT for what’s been jokingly called “Twitter Chat M&A” as our communities come together for a conversation on magnetic leadership and how it fits in with the bigger talent picture.

To follow along or to join the conversation, remember to use both the #LeadershipChat and #TChat hash tags; for more background on #LeadershipChat, click here.

It’s sure to be a lively discussion, so we’re only including four questions tonight instead of our regular seven to keep the conversation flowing while keeping it focused on the issues, and ideas, that matter most.

#TChat + #LeadershipChat Questions and Recommended Reading: 06.14.2011

Here are tonight’s questions, along with some related posts on leadership and talent  we think are worth checking out.  This background reading isn’t mandatory to get in on tonight’s joint #TChat #LeaderChat action, but we suggest checking out these articles by top leadership and talent-management thought leaders before the chat (or if you missed it):

Q1: What is the role of a leader when it comes to making talent decisions?

Read: How Successful Companies Attract and Retain Employees by Connie Blaszczyk

Q2: What should a leader consider when addressing “talent alignment?”

Read: 5 Things Every CEO Should Know About Talent Alignment by Lisa Petrilli

Q3: How can a leader show genuine authenticity to new recruits and current employees?

Read: Starbucks Wakes Up and Smells the Coffee (And Buzzes Back Up the Leader Board) by Allen Adamson

Q4: How does being a genuine leader impact a workplace culture brand?

Read: 5 Authentic Keys to Attracting Top Talent by Meghan M. Biro

Visit www.talentculture.com for more great information on #TChat, as well as other great resources on careers and hiring.

Monster’s social media team supports #TChat’s mission of sharing “ideas to help your business and your career accelerate — the right people, the right ideas, at the right time.”

We’ll be joining the conversation this Tuesday night as co-hosts with Meghan M. Biro and Kevin W. Grossman from 8-9 p.m. (Eastern) via @MonsterCareers and @Monster_Works.

5 Activities to Strengthen Your Career Muscle

Planting words on my MacBook Pro stimulates me emotionally and intellectually as I sow client career stories from bud to blossom. This focused, brain-powered activity, though invigorating, is physically sedentary and potentially unsustainable if not combined with the appropriate amount of physical activity.

In Joe Lavelle’s recent post, “Exercise Like a CEO,” he underscores the importance of exercising your body. He asks, “What do you do routinely to exercise your body … to maintain mental acuity?” For many, the addition of a new or enhancement of an existing exercise routine will work wonders to add muscle to a soft career or even jump-start a stalled career.

A selection of other energy- and focus-boosting activities that will both propel your productivity and strengthen your career muscle follows:

1) Simplify Your Space

Simplifying your space may mean unwrapping yourself from a visual security blanket of ‘clutter.’ Doing so can free your mind and emotional energy to concentrate on individual projects and goals – the task at hand, if you will, versus the distractions all around you.

You may consider de-cluttering your primary work area into a clean, open, airy space that includes soothing paintings, memorabilia and perhaps even a desk-top water fountain to cultivate calm and inspiration. If you must express your clutter, identify a behind-closed-doors nook and, within these boundaries, go wild!

2) Big-Picture Your Schedule

Though your talent in creating calendars, check lists and project action steps shines, you also may find that you feel yourself drowning in a sea of details and deadlines, particularly as your career and business initiatives grow. If this describes you, consider big-picturing your schedule.

White-boarding your projects-in-progress as well as crafting a two- to three-month running whiteboard calendar of meetings and deadlines may quickly quell calendar chaos by creating a bird’s-eye view snapshot of your overarching initiatives.

Remember, project ‘detail-collecting’ within the associated project lists and files will provide the information you need to deep-dive into the specifics of your big-picture initiatives when needed. By maintaining this glimpse-able overview, you can better manage existing tasks and respond to new requests to which you commit your time and energy. With a quick glance at your calendar/project whiteboards, you can quickly accept or decline new projects.

3) Recognize That Little Choices Matter

Choosing a glass of water instead of sweet tea may be the linchpin to stay within you daily caloric intake parameters. As well, with business communications, that latest email, Tweet, Facebook message or LinkedIn invitation typically does not require your immediate absorption.  If you must, take a five-minute break every couple of hours to simply confirm receipt of new communications without fully partaking of a communications swap until a later, scheduled time.

And when faced with that emotionally-wrought virtual request for you to “drop everything and help me now,” remind yourself of the adage, “Lack of planning on your part does not constitute an emergency on my part.”

4) Make Peace With Perfectionism

Though your next project for your boss or your customer may mean the difference between a promotion or a career-defining sales deal, most of the time this is not the case. When you single out and assess your initiatives, you likely will find that the results of your next deliverable, though important to the recipient, will not require you overextend and go that extra 10 miles to prove you are the #1 Sales Producer, Human Resources Leader, Marketing Manager or <fill-in-the-blank>.  Stop placing so much pressure and importance on yourself at every given moment of the work day.

Instead, allot yourself a reasonable number of minutes, hours or days to achieve the project goal, and then deliver!  You likely will be reminded of how sometimes the extra-mile projects fall flat while the, “I did my best and infused this project with my years of value and experience without over-analyzing” projects often net the most kudos and bottom-line results.

5) Align Yourself With Complementary Others

Finding colleagues, mentors, friends and cohorts who think a bit differently than you do may be a key to unlocking doors to new ways of thinking. Seeking to explore outside your comfort zone is an admirable trait and one we all must be reminded to tap into from time to time.

By connecting with individuals or groups of folks whose intellectual capital, like the arteries of a road map, shepherd you through unexplored and sometimes uncomfortable highways and byways, you may find new direction toward achieving the destination goal that you have been struggling to reach.

Image Credit: RightIndex

The Future of Web Technology: Nice to Meet You, Web 3.0

As a digital native, I grew up with the web. And by that I don’t mean I just grew up with Internet access, though that’s true. I mean the Web and I grew up together. See, I was just old enough to start using a computer when the Internet hit mainstream America. Since then, it’s amazing to see how much we’ve both changed, and how difficult it is to notice those changes when we see each other every single day.

You have probably heard the terms Web 1.0 and Web 2.0. Web 2.0 has been a hot topic of discussion with the emergence of social media. But what exactly does it mean?

You may remember the Internet in the mid-1990s. It was awful. Most companies had no understanding of how to use the Internet for their business, so they simply posted the same broadcast-style messaging found on brochure ware. That’s what we refer to as Web 1.0.

The term Web 2.0 emerged in 1999 when engineer Darcy DiNucci described an imminent shift in Internet history from static “screenfuls” to two-way communication portals. During the Web 2.0 era, web sites became much more interactive, soliciting input from the user and granting her the ability to publish her own writing, pictures, videos and more. Today, Web 2.0 is often synonymous with “social media.”

Now, we’re on the brink of Web 3.0. It’s a new chapter in the history of the Internet brought on by three distinct characteristics:

1. App-based Computing

Odds are you may hardly ever visit your favorite websites. Instead you probably access the content from those sties through an application or independent program. These applications can be mobile (for the 250 million people accessing Facebook on their phones), desktop-based (for the 20+ million people using Tweetdeck to access Twitter) or both (for the 10 million Evernote users who access their notes on multiple platforms). The web still has its time and place. However, custom computer programs often provide a better user experience. Read Chris Anderson and Michael Wolff’s famous Wired Magazine article on the death of the “web.”

2. Internet Everywhere

Smartphones will be in the hands of the majority of American mobile subscribers by the end of this year, and almost all of those phones will have 3G or 4G access. That means they will carry the Internet with them in their pockets. Having Internet everywhere means the way we use the Internet will change. A mobile device doesn’t lend itself to full web browsing very well. Many companies are designing watered down versions of their websites formatted for mobile devices. People use mobile web more to “check” their digital lives than to live them.

3. Open Source Technology

You might have noticed alternative login methods popping up all over the web asking you to log in with Facebook, Twitter, Google, foursquare or Yahoo. If you dare to click one of those buttons, you’ll find the website your on has the ability to pull in information you’ve entered into another service. This development is made possible through application programming interfaces (APIs), which allow one piece of software to communicate openly with another piece of software. Many software companies now offer APIs so that third party developers can innovate on top of their existing technology. Right now, I feel there are serious conversation fragmenting problems in consumer technology. I can’t even begin to attempt to count the number of places I send and receive messages. My hope is that APIs help to solve that problem.

Eventually the future of the web will take us toward augmented reality, but we’re far from that now. What other indicators do you look for to imply we’re moving into the next era of the web?

IMAGE VIA Wolf Gang

New Technology Changing The Future of Resumes

Written by Kevin Wang

There are core values and ideas that will remain eternal. However, the shape and form in which they manifest themselves constantly changes through time due to improved technology or cultural shifts. Think of what marriage, transportation, or news outlets looked like or meant to people in different periods, and you’ll see what I mean.

I believe the resume will never die. As long as a majority of companies hire their employees based on knowledge, resources, and experience, the resume’s purpose will remain vital in the process. I do believe, however, that the form in which a resume manifests itself is slowly growing outdated. Just as the email attachment replaced the mailed print copy, one of the following below could easily replace the email attachment as the next standard resume.

LinkedIn

LinkedIn, a social networking website for professionals, has rapidly taken off since its founding in 2003, with the company now boasting over 100 million users and over $160 million in annual revenues. Just as Facebook became the platform on which we interact with our friends, LinkedIn is becoming the platform on which we interact with contacts and companies. People of all ages are realizing the wealth of potential and opportunity awaiting them on the website, and flocking to start their own accounts.

With one’s experience, education, recommendations, contact information, and just about everything else conveniently listed on one’s page, it only takes a quick profile look-up from HR to find everything they need to know about an applicant. Perhaps in the future, LinkedIn may even go beyond allowing users to simply submit applications to posted jobs, building tools and services (like video chat, applicant evaluation software, etc) onto its platform to allow for the entire hiring process to take place on its website. With the company’s continued sustained growth and innovation, it is likely that this will usurp the traditional resume.

Video

It has become relatively easy in this day and age to create high-quality homemade videos. Video cameras (or phones) and simple-to-use editing software are everywhere, and uploading content to the web is a breeze. A video resume allows an applicant to present himself or herself in more dimensions to a recruiter by showcasing creativity, personality, and interests while still communicating qualifications and experience

Additionally, the visual presence of the applicant allows him or her to speak more directly to a recruiter than any cover letter could ever allow, making for a more compelling personal pitch. This format has already started to become more prevalent: for example, Cambridge-based tech start-up SCVNGR now accepts videos in lieu of a cover letter. There are even companies, like TalentRooster, which specialize in producing such videos for hopeful hires who would otherwise produce something laughable, like this. Or awesomely ambiguous, like this.

Personal Pages

With more people embracing personal branding and establishing their presence on the web, it becomes important to tie all their outlets together. Recruiters don’t just want to see a resume anymore; they want to learn about your opinions, values, and personality, which they can extract from your online activity.

Whether it’s a WordPress blog, YouTube account, or a Twitter handle, every digital footprint left generates exposure and adds value to an individual’s personal brand. A personal page aggregates everything into one convenient location for a recruiter to look through. Additionally, like video resumes, a personal page allows you to add creativity and a visual presence in a way a traditional resume cannot. Such sites are quite easy to set up: building a solid fan page on Facebook or a splash page on About.Me or Flavors.Me can be completed in less than half an hour. For those willing to go the extra mile and spend a little cash, purchasing themes, domain names, and outside help can help add a little flair.

The death of the email attachment resume is fast approaching. Thanks to the web, applicants no longer have to submit anything beyond their basic information, for a plethora of information about them is already readily available online and Google-able. It’s not hard to imagine a future job application reduced simply to this:

IMAGE VIA L Hollis Photography

Transforming the Workplace: Charting a Path to a Better Place

Originally posted by Chris Jones, a TalentCulture contributing writer. He is an IT Strategy & Change Management consultant, with a passion for driving new levels of engagement and learning in the modern organization. His research areas include the dynamics of organization culture, and more recently, the importance and implications of critical thinking. Check out his blog, Driving Innovation in a Complex World, for more.

In my last TC post, we did a deep dive on critical thinking in the workplace.  We discussed ways to drive innovation in our day to day exchanges by tracing the value of engagement in the modern organization and focusing on the mechanics of collaboration as a more rigorous way to solve problems.

These are all core elements of a desirable future state culture.  If achieved, they could serve to foster organization-wide learning.

But what about culture change itself?

So often executives will speak of the need to drive a full transformation of the business or its culture. It’s not too difficult to imagine an alternate future state.  But it can be difficult to know how to get there.

The research I’ve done in this space indicates that culture change can be guided by leadership, provided there is a focused, coordinated, and ongoing effort to achieve it. Too often culture is viewed as a quick fix, a “memo” to the team (remember those?), or a simple expectation of management for the troops to ‘figure it out’.

Organization change is too complex for simple solutions. Learned behaviors run deep into the fabric of the organization, and are not easily changed.

I see value in attacking the problem at two levels simultaneously, a simple, high-level framing like the one recently popularized by Chip and Dan Heath in Switch (2010), supplemented by a more detailed approach, such as the one famously outlined by John Kotter in Leading Change (1996).  A combination provides a reinforcing framework, a ‘scaffolding’ of sorts, that will be resilient due to its diverse structure.

Let’s take a look at a synthesis of these two models, and outline what the core transformational elements might be:

Viability of an Organization’s Vision

Stakeholders must be able to see themselves in the future state, and will gain value from participating in the visioning exercises.  The vision must be achievable and actionable, and defined in a language recognizable to those who must seek it.

Ability of Leaders to Motivate

A guiding coalition must form around the change effort to create a believable, unified front to shepherd the changes through.  This coalition, representing elements of the entire organization, must be able to articulate a clear “value” story for stakeholders to rally behind. A “burning platform” is ideal to create a sense of urgency.  There must be an emotional appeal for an organization to be truly motivated, and a sense of empowerment that gets people engaged.

Ability of Managers to Clear a Path

Hurdles and roadblocks will invariably get raised, because human nature is to avoid change and maintain a status quo.  Pockets of resistance and politics will resit new approaches, and the guiding coalition must be sure that the team receives full support.  Communication will be critical, as well as establishing momentum, and, eventually, being sure to embed changes into daily operations.

Neither a checklist nor a new framework will be sufficient for an organization’s transformation to be successful.  It takes commitment and focus, and an investment of energy over the long-term.  Working together, stakeholders can build a transformation road map, charting a path to a better place.

Do you think these steps could serve as a means for driving change in an organization? Which of these steps have worked for you?  What do you see as challenges?

Let’s discuss adoption.  It would be great to compare notes, and to drive this thinking forward.

IMAGE VIA bbsc30

The HR Technology Disconnect…Not What You Think

Last week on May 25th and 26th, Las Vegas hosted the 2011 HR Demo Show in conjunction with the HRO Today Forum, including the RPO Summit. The point of the demo show was to showcase the best and latest HR and talent management technologies. Organizations that presented were Kenexa, Guidant Group, Epicor, CareerBuilder, Taleo, iCIMS, RECSOLU, JSTN, OneWire and many more. Throughout the two days, I closely followed the main hashtags for the event, which were #HRDemo and #HRTech. I also paid close attention to the Blog Squad, particularly the ones I personally knew—Geoff Webb, Meghan M. Biro and Jessica Merrill.

During the event, the weekly #TChat that I am religiously a part of focused on “Innovation Gap Realities Workforce Technology.” From my perspective it was probably one of the most active #TChat’s that I have ever participated in because the focus was on innovation, or lack of innovation when it comes to HR technology. Here is the high level “Jeff Waldman Brain-Dump Summary” of what I discovered during this chat, which is also inspired by the #TChat Recap: “HR tech innovation should keep us all in business.”

  1. Most HR technology is focused on recruitment and talent management.
  2. People think that innovation must be something new or a re-imagining of how technology can drive efficiencies in HR, and contribute to the business.
  3. HR practitioners need to better educate themselves on the use of technology in the workplace.
  4. Technology “users” think that existing HR technology is NOT innovative but “providers” think otherwise.  As Meghan M. Biro of TalentCulture stated, “HR and recruiters just are not perceiving what’s out there as innovative, perhaps because most of what we’re seeing isn’t screaming cloud, mobile application.”
  5. There is huge disconnect between technology providers and technology users regarding their perception of how valuable technology is in completing work.
  6. Technology cannot replace the human element.

What’s the main point in all of this?
The one thing that I heard consistently was that a huge gap exists between HR technology providers and HR technology users (a.k.a. HR practitioners). I could not agree more with this. But… yes, there’s always a “but!”  But, I strongly believe that the reasons that were discussed for this disconnect missed the boat.

The Technology IS There!
There are so many phenomenal platforms that HR practitioners can strategically leverage to help them add more value to their clients. Off the top of my head, awesome platforms that come to mind that I have used include Rypple, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, ZuzuHire, SurgeHire, StickyHQ, Yammer, ClearFit, FreshTransition and BranchOut.

Now, I want to note that I bring a unique perspective to TalentCulture because I work in Canada, and the majority of my professional experience is with Canadian organizations. Here is the problem… the HR community in Canada does NOT possess the knowledge and understanding of HR technology, the necessary technological skills or the ability to evaluate the strategic impact of HR technologies. They inadvertently avoid the conversation about HR technology because they have not a clue where to begin.

So, it does not matter how good the technology is, the Canadian HR community as it currently exists will never get to the point where they will be on the same page with technology providers.

Change is Change… “We” Don’t Like Change!
Technology is a tool. It is not meant to replace the human element or the responsibility of performing the activities that impact “brand building”—e.g. talent attraction, employer branding, employee engagement and the overall employee experience. Integrating new technology into the workplace represents a change.  It could be a huge change, or it could be a small one. It doesn’t matter; people naturally are not very good at coping with change.  So let me ask you this question. If the majority of HR practitioners are unable to even begin the technology conversation, do you think HR technology providers are able to lead and manage change?  Hmmmm…. I don’t think so.

Case in Point…

A couple of years ago I was brought into a very entrepreneurial, yet small organization that possessed an extremely strong corporate brand. They sold really cool things, and employed some really neat product marketing and promotional tactics. This company was really just starting to build its HR infrastructure, and they were in the process of implementing a technology to help them with the full recruitment cycle, all the way to on-boarding.

They retained a PMP (Project Management Specialist) to lead and manage this project. He did an absolutely stellar job of identifying business needs, potential technology platforms, engaging most of the right internal players to select the platform, all the way to “flipping the go-live switch” on the new platform. Sounds great doesn’t it? Well… the execution failed miserably for one simple reason. He completely ignored the end-user. To add fuel to the fire, the technology providers were completely hands-off with the people change management components of the execution; they just focused on the technical aspect (of course, this is where their expertise lies). The failure basically boiled down to a couple of things:

  1. The end-users (HR practitioners) were technologically illiterate.
  2. The end-user was never engaged during the technology selection and implementing process.
  3. The end-user was never trained on the new technology.
  4. No platform testing was performed with the end-user group during the project phase.
  5. The end-user was simply directed to “just do it”.


Conclusion…
Technological innovation is NOT the problem right now. The problem is a severe lack of technological competence within the HR practitioner community and a complete disregard for change management being fully embedded in the technology integration process. If you can resolve these two fundamental problems, the perceptions of providers and users regarding technology innovation and work-related value will be pretty close, and the result will be favorable.

HRO: Engagement Perception and Social Recruiting Technology

I spent most of this past week at the HRO Today conference in Las Vegas as a member of the blog squad, and what do I have to show for it? A new appreciation for HR and Recruiting technology innovation – that’s what.

On the personal side, new friendships were made and old bonds renewed. In short, a very good conference. I even had an opportunity to sing along with dueling pianos  – talk about a Talent Show. Right up my alley. We had many laughs. What happens in Vegas is not always meant to stay in Vegas after all.

This week’s #TChat was a highlight of course. As I referenced earlierin the week,  The HRO Analyst Study was pretty fascinating from my perspective. So while there’s plenty of HR technology out there, much of it is focused on talent management and recruitment. HR and recruiters just are not perceiving what’s out there as innovative, perhaps because most of what we’re seeing isn’t screaming cloud, mobile application. What the survey found, instead, was a gap in perceptions of innovation.

For example, 62 percent of technology providers think it’s vital to innovate in talent management technology – but only 33 percent of practitioners agree. Even more telling: 70 percent of providers surveyed think talent management technology supports work, while practitioners – 37 percent – view the technology as ‘just gadgets’.

But wait, there’s more – over 70 percent of practitioners surveyed say providers ‘rarely or never’ talk to them to gauge whether their offerings align with the practitioners’ business strategies and goals. Yikes, what a disconnect! As a “recruitment practitioner” (one of my hats) I’m hoping there are many more of us who see these innovative tools as a must have – I certainly fall into this grouping.

So let’s go to Door #1 and a review of my stint as a judge on the iTalent2 Demo Competition. The talented roster of hopefuls: BranchOut a solution that helps people tap into their Facebook friends network to find career opportunities; InternMatch a brilliant yet simple application that simplifies finding interns and marketing internship opportunities for organizations of pretty much any size; JobScore a social media-enabled talent management application; SmartRecruiters a winner (did I say it is free?) application with a great SaaS recruiting solution; Wednesdays a team building and employee engagement application built on social media networking, and Work4labs, with a very cool application that enables career sites on Facebook. Quite an impressive array of new technologies included here.

As a judge who ended up being closer to Simon Cowell than Paula Abdul as we first thought – I was way careful about the numbers I gave each company featured, never going past 8 on a scale of 1-10. Apologies to the contestants if that seems harsh, but we’re talking about my passion here: innovation meets matching people talent with new career opportunity.

I have a weak spot for technologies that do it well. In classic start-up form no company or application is perfect just yet. Innovation is truly about creating a culture of working and reworking ideas where it’s ok to make mistakes in the early innings. I found flaws in each application from either a usability or branding perspective. It will be exciting to watch their progression in the coming months. There were almost too many good things on offer for the judging panel.

SmartRecruiters won – it’s a free (yes, free), social-media enabled application that helps companies recruit top talent. The pitch was strong, the website is user friendly, it’s organized and the people are enthusiastic about it’s potential in the market.

I have a soft spot for InternMatch. I mentor as many interns as I can and many people know I’m an advocate for these programs. Pay it forward and all, interns are a great resource for any company – and actual work experience with actual companies is part of a complete education.

I’m so energized by the people I met, the ideas that were presented, the technology that is available right now that will make talent recruiting and hr management so much easier and more productive. I can’t wait to talk to people (and clients) about what I’ve heard about in Vegas and beyond. Onward we go.

IMAGE VIA BestofWDW

HR Innovation Should Keep us All In Business: #TChat Recap

“Gadgets be gone.”

Ah, no truer words have ever been spoken. That was one of my lighter “tweetable” sentiments from yesterday’s HRO Today Forum analyst panel where we discussed the process of innovation between HR technology suppliers and practitioner buyers, and more specifically the lack thereof. A recent HRO Today survey of over 100 buyers and providers of HR technology revealed quite a disparity, more so than I would’ve guessed.

The analyst panel was a great group that included Madeline Laurano, Talent Systems Analyst of The Newman Group; Mark McMillan, co-founder of Talent Function Group; Katherine Jones, Principal Analyst of Bersin & Associates; Jayson Saba, Senior Research Associate of Aberdeen Group; and myself. Look for collaborative content to come from this group and HRO Today about the state of innovation in HR technology.

The survey itself revealed that while providers for the most part feel they are highly innovative, the practitioners disagree. This is contradictory of where many vendors are with their customer service and user adoption, because time and again late vendors will tell you that besides customer advisory councils, focus groups and user group gatherings, some SaaS deployed products have created the “sandbox” approach.

This is where customers can play with features and enhancements before they’re live. They’ve also created online care/idea centers where customers can suggest, vent and collaborate. However, the democratization of customer product development hasn’t quite closed the gap yet.

My fellow analysts and I agreed that innovation must be something new, or a re-imagining, of how technology can drive efficiencies in HR/recruitment processes and activities as well as contribute to overall business growth. It must take into consideration the how and why of the workplace today — the best practices in acquiring, empowering and retaining talent. It can’t be a gadget for gadget’s sake just so the vendor can say, “Hey, you can log in to our system on your smart phones now.”

“To do what exactly?”

“To do…cool stuff. You know.”

“No, I don’t. Can I download your system information to a spreadsheet?”

“Why would you want to do that when you’ve got our perfectly good system to work within?”

“To do…cool stuff. You know.”

Maybe you’ve heard some of that kind of conversation. But, HR practitioners need to also better educate themselves on the use of technology in the workplace and even take business “tours of duty” in finance, operations, IT, customer service and more to understand what it means to run and grow a business, not just keep it in compliance and be risk-averse.

We posed similar survey questions to #TChat-land last night (questions below), and there was a resounding agreement on one thing:

Tech and innovation is great to a point, as long as it helps to humanize acquiring, empowering and retaining the workforce.

And keep us all in business.

Read Meghan’s great preview here as well as the questions from last night:

  • Q1: How important is technology innovation in acquiring, empowering and retaining a workforce today?
  • Q2: Are HR and recruitment technology providers truly “innovative” today? Why or why not?
  • Q3: Are HR and recruitment practitioners truly “innovative” today? Why or why not?
  • Q4: How have technology innovations impacted end users’ experiences? Using it or not?
  • Q5:How do you use technology to support business strategies and objectives?
  • Q6: Do HR and recruitment technology innovations support the work, or are they just gadgets? Why?
  • Q7: What can practitioners and providers do to facilitate and improve technology innovation?
  • Q8: In summary, what do you think it means to be innovative in the HR and recruiting business today?

Thank you all who participated last night! We’re taking an extended Memorial Day weekend break from #TChat next week, but we’ll resume on Tuesday, June 7

Innovation Gap Realities Workforce Technology: #TChat Preview

We’ve talked before about how hot the theme of ‘innovation’ is. In the technology world, much of what’s filed under ‘innovation’ is related to cloud technology, or mobile, or ‘apps’. What isn’t so hot, in my observation, is technology that links innovations to people. And so it is here at the HRToday conference in shiny Las Vegas, where technology is everywhere, but the links to employees and workforces are not so clear.

I’m looking forward to visiting the technology demos, and especially speaking with today’s analyst panel, which is bringing a group together to discuss the ‘innovation gap’ in HR technology. As I wear my “everyday practitioner” hat it is apparent to me that we still have some major holes to contend with. Reality Check!

At today’s panel, our hosts for this event, HRO Today, have brought together a great group including Kevin W. Grossman of Ventana Research; Madeline Laurano, Talent Systems Analyst of The Newman Group; Mark McMillan, co-founder of Talent Function Group; Katherine Jones, Principal Analyst of Bersin & Associates, and Jayson Saba, Senior Research Associate of Aberdeen Group. This group of analysts – many with a focus on talent management – are discussing a survey HRO Today ran earlier this year of over 100 buyers and providers of HR technology. The survey’s goal was to get a better pulse on the pace of technology innovation.

So while there’s plenty of HR technology out there, much of it is focused on talent management and recruitment. HR just isn’t perceiving what’s out there as innovative, perhaps because most of what we’re seeing isn’t screaming cloud, mobile or app. Very interesting.

So, what should the role of the buyer and the technology provider be in pushing innovation? My take:

Collaborate to innovate, but do it differently, depending on which side of the table you sit on. If you’re an HR tech buyer, make your technology recommendations based on how, say, innovative recruiting technology can help you build an innovative company. Don’t worry about the technology being innovative per se; that’s the role of the provider.

Providers of technology, listen to your customers. Ask about their recruiting and retention challenges, and think about how to use social media technologies to enhance the technology suites you’ve already built.

With smart solutions like these available, could there be a disconnect between technology innovation and HR?  I say a big yes, and the survey seems to have found the same scenarios unfolding with their samples.

I base my observation both on what I see here in Vegas, and more on what I’ve been experiencing in the market for the past three years. Sure, there’s lots of HR technology. Solutions that target enterprises are probably doing fairly well. But the real struggle is in the SMB, where most people look for and find work.

Workforce technology, perhaps more than other technology solutions, needs to scale. It needs to be useful for the 10 person company and the 10,000 person company. And when we talk about tech innovation in HR and recruiting, please hold the spreadsheets and go long on social media. That’s the edge case.

SharedXpertise and the HR Demo Show just completed a survey on what industry stakeholders, both practitioners and providers, think about innovation in HR technology.

Based on that premise, we want our #TChat community to chime in on the subject later today. Tonight’s #TChat questions are:

Q1: How important is technology innovation in acquiring, empowering and retaining a workforce today?

Q2: Are HR and recruitment practitioners truly “innovative” today? Why or why not?

Q3: How have technology innovations impacted end users’ experiences? Using it or not?

Q4:How do you use technology to support business strategies and objectives?

Q5: Do HR and recruitment technology innovations support the work, or are they just gadgets? Why?

Q6: What can practitioners and providers do to facilitate and improve technology innovation?

Q7: In summary, what do you think it means to be innovative in the HR and recruiting business today?

Back to the conference floor. More thoughts from me soon. Cheers to Vegas!

Finding Obsessed HR Fanatics: True Promoters

In Raiders of the Lost Ark, Indiana Jones was searching for the Ark of the Covenant, the key to all human existence.

HR has been on a quest for its own Holy Grail for years – credibility.

In this post, Laurie Ruettimann says the way to get HR credibility is to take over. Move into a leadership position that allows you to influence the direction of the company and the value HR has within it. I agree. But what do you do in the meantime?

Find HR Otaku…

Otaku is a Japanese word for people who are obsessed with video games, anime and action figures. They are fanatics. They write about it, blog about it, purchase it, play it, go to conferences, read books, dress up in costumes and spend lots and lots of money on it.

One of the core principles I’ve been teaching business owners the last several years comes from Seth Godin’s book, Purple Cow. The principle of finding customers who will be otaku, who will be fanatical about the products and services you provide is a game-changer. When you figure out who those people are and target your marketing to them, your business will grow because they will talk about it, sing your praises and spend lots of money with you.

And guess what HR? There is otaku in your company; you just need to find them.

Instead of rolling out a company-wide initiative that gets a typical head-rolling, “we don’t have time for that” response, do a pilot. And when you do your pilot, do it only with a segment of the organization that will be otaku about it. Talk about a shift! Instead of convincing the whole organization about the merits of the initiative, your otaku will promote it and you.

Selection Criteria

How do you find your otaku for a pilot? It should be a group that…

1. Is ready. Find a group that is not change adverse and welcomes opportunities for new things. Trying to pilot an initiative in a group whose philosophy is, “This is how we’ve always done it” is only going to lead to frustration.

2. Has the bandwidth to make the project work. Analyze what the commitment in resources (time and money) is going to be. Be prepared to answer how much time will be lost in productivity and make the case for the long-term ROI of the project.

3. Can show demonstrable, measurable results. Get really clear about what success looks like before you start and partner with the business unit on what the metrics will be. The executive team will want to see the ROI before it goes company-wide.

4. You have a good relationships with. The key to a good pilot is lots of open, truthful communication between you and the business unit so you can make improvements to your project.

So until you are the helm of your HR department, use the otaku technique, one business unit at a time to develop the credibility you deserve.

IMAGE VIA HaPe_Gera

Small Business the Bigger Picture: #TChat Preview

Originally posted by Matt Charneyone of #TChat’s moderators, on MonsterThinking Blog

It’s hard to overstate the impact of small business, even by presidential proclamation, as Barack Obama kicked off National Small Business Week, declaring:

“From the family businesses that anchor Main Street to the high-tech startups that keep America on the cutting edge, small businesses are the backbone of our economy and the cornerstones of America’s promise.”

As Obama (or proxy) observed, it turns out Mom & Pop and VC babies share more in common than size; they share spirit, “the idea that if you have a good idea and are willing to work hard enough, you can succeed in our country.”

Every big company, Monster Worldwide included, started out with no more than the courage to turn an idea into action, passion into profit.  Proctor & Gamble, Kellogg, Ford, and a multitude of other global corporations, have rewarded those visionaries by turning their founders into, quite literally, household names.

Look at the NASCAR-esque list of sponsors for National Small Business Week, which might seem ironic until you consider that topping Fortune takes, well, fortune.  From Google (Page & Brin) to Sam’s Club (Walton) to Microsoft (that guy), these familiar corporate creation myths each began as any small business.

For many more millions of small business owners, and workers, who have dared to dream and injected so much sweat equity into their bottom line, that creation myth is still being created.   They might call themselves small businesses, or entrepreneurs, or start-ups, but our economy – and our jobs – depends on their growth.

So we just wanted to say thank you.

For those who have made it, or those who are starting out, growing an idea isn’t always easy.  That’s why tonight’s special National Small Business Week #TChat wants to turn conversation into innovation.

Join us on Twitter tonight at 8 PM ET/5 PM PT as we discuss the challenges – and opportunities – faced by entrepreneurs and their employees today.  We’ll also be highlighting some of the biggest ideas and trends in small business all week here at MonsterThinking during our National Small Business Week salute.

Here are the questions we’ll be discussing, along with some recommended reading to help inform, and inspire, your participation in tonight’s #TChat conversation: click here for more from MonsterThinking or check out the Monster for Employers Small Business Resources site.

#TChat Questions & Recommended Reading (5.17.11)

1. How do you define ‘small business?’  Is this the term we should be using?

Read: How To Scale Your Business To Billions In Revenue by Alyson Shontell

2. Would you prefer working for a small business or a big company?  Why?

Read: How To Make Your Small Company Culture Stand Out by Eric Herrenkohl

3. What role does talent play in small business success?  How can small businesses successfully compete with bigger companies in the ‘war for talent?’

Read: Six Ways To Maximize Your Small Business Hiring Advantage by Connie Blaszczyk

4. What are some of the biggest advantages of working for a small business employer?  Drawbacks?

Read: Bright Bulb Workers Get the Benjamins by Sal Iannuzzi

5. Do you think employers and recruiters value small business and big company experience differently?

Read: Why Are Hiring Managers Scared of Entrepreneurs? by David Mesicek

6. What should big business workers know about moving to a small company (and vice-versa)?

Read: How To Evaluate A Job at A Start-Up by Monster.com Career Advice Experts

7. What’s your best advice for someone thinking about starting a small business?  Any myths vs. realities?

Read: Is Starting Your Own Business the Answer? by Susan Bryant

Visit www.talentculture.com for more great information on #TChat; for more resources and advice for small businesses from Monster, click here.

Our Monster social media team supports the effort behind #TChat and its mission of sharing “ideas to help your business and your career accelerate – the right people, the right ideas, at the right time.”

We’ll be joining the conversation live every Tuesday night as co-hosts with Kevin Grossman and Meghan M. Biro from 8-9 PM E.T. via @monster_works and @MonsterWW. Hope to see you tonight at 8 PM ET for #TChat!

GenY: Challenge of "Doing It All" and Technology Overload

Today’s post is by Katrina Kibben — Social Media Manager at Care.com, an innovative and resourceful social media marketing professional who enjoys helping companies of all sizes use traditional and nontraditional tactics to increase profitability and product awareness. She is working with Care.com’s annual event, Care@Work, which develops smarter ways to work by using new tools, technologies and strategies to find the balance between life at work and at home.

This is not your father’s workplace anymore – literally. This year, the oldest Baby Boomers are turning 65 years old, including President Bill Clinton. This means that the 79 million baby boomers, about 26 percent of this country’s population will be retiring in the next few years.

Another generation will make an important milestone this year – Generation Y, the Millennials – are turning 30 years old. The 30’s are known as the decade of “middle management” and parenthood.  But Generation Y feels differently about the “ladder” of success.

As the country comes out of the recession, the Millennals are looking for a sense of mission. They want a sense of ownership over their lives, either in the place that they work or in the lives they create for themselves outside of it. A workplace is relative and all preconceptions about job security are shattered. Their lives and desires aren’t dramatically different from generations before them, but the confluence of circumstances are – and more and more, this generation believes that they too can “do it all” but their definition of how and what that means is dramatically different.

Between these two generations, there has been a revolution in the office that has increased the influence of women and transformed the paradigm of the workplace. At the same time technology has revolutionized the way we work and our understanding of how we can work differently.

While current working parents, particularly working moms, have been told that they can “do it all,” modern working parents have found that having a Blackberry doesn’t necessarily help them to be flexible so much as feeling tethered, perpetuating a generation of working parents that find a blurred line between work and life that has inspired a generation of workers who are in a constant state of distraction, leading to the social acceptance of the furtive glances down and the feverish tapping everywhere – from office meetings to family dinners.

But as we innovate are we working more efficiently or are we simply working more?

Care.com’s Focus Forward conference is about designing the future of work where companies work for people, and people work for companies in ways that are smarter, faster, higher impact—and more sustainable, too. At a time when there have never been more distractions–and more pressure to deliver results–the event will examine how great companies command attention from customers by, first, holding the attention of their employees.

IMAGE VIA eirikso

Add Productivity to Your Summer Vacation

Written by Kirsten Taggart

Ahhh, summer vacation – my favorite time of year. This summer, however, is a very significant summer as it is my last before I graduate from academia and start my life as a “real” person in May 2012.  Naturally I’ve been thinking about how I can spend my last summer of freedom in a productive, yet fun way.  After talking with my GenY friends about different summer goals, here is my list of how you can make the most out of your summer vacation.

1.  Apply for a Job or Internship

By this point in the year you’ve probably sent in your applications and have started to hear back from potential employers.  No matter what position you decide to take, don’t forget to prepare before your first day.  Map out how long it will take you to get to the office so you can arrive early.  Are you driving or taking public transportation? Check train and bus schedules just in case.  Did they ask you to bring certain items with you?  Gather everything you’ll need the night before so you won’t forget anything on your way out.  Being prepared will help to calm your nerves and stay confident on your big day.

2.  If You’ve Missed Application Deadlines…

…there’s no need to panic. Positions can open up at any time even after the summer rush.  Finding them can be tricky, so maximize your resources.  Who do you know that can help? Are your previous employers still hiring?  Have you checked Craigslist or other job boards? Shoot an email to your professors who might have connections in your field.  There are people willing to help you – you just have to ask!

3.  Learn a New Skill

It’s important to stay mentally active even if you are on vacation. Experts are finding we lose much of our mental agility during long breaks when we aren’t challenging our minds as we normally would at school (because isn’t that what a vacation is for?).  Luckily for us, it doesn’t take much to maintain your wit.  If you’re busy at your job or internship for the majority of your day, make it a point to pick up a newspaper before your morning commute or start that book you’ve been meaning to read (or if you despise reading for some reason, this will do just fine).  If you have more time to spare, why not take on a light summer class? I’m not suggesting you enroll in a hefty physics course by any means (unless you like that kind of stuff, in which case more power to you…) but look into classes that will knock some credits out of the way or are just plain fun.  Why not take that photography/dance/cooking/whatever class you’ve had your eye on? Now’s your chance!

4.  Travel

I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but it is beautiful outside! Take advantage of the summer weather.  Plan a trip somewhere to escape your weekly routine even if it’s simply exploring a new area of your city or town.  Plan a trip with some friends for a long weekend or, if you’re especially adventurous, set aside a week to travel to a foreign city.  You only live once!

5.  Plan Ahead for Fall

Start thinking about your goals for the upcoming semester.  What do you want to achieve this year?  Send your applications for internships and jobs before the deadline so you’re not rushing at the last minute (there’s nothing more annoying than finding cover letter typos after you submitted it).  Review your class schedule – are there any changes that can be made to better suit your learning habits (i.e. early vs late classes, class on every day of the week or concentrated on only two or three, etc)?  What books do you need to buy?  If you are applying for a job or internship consider how it will fit into your academic calendar and discuss with your employer how you aim to balance both obligations.

IMAGE VIA Giorgio Montersino

HR + Leaders: Don't Overlook the Outlier Employees

Just having returned from HRevolution, I was filled with tons of ideas, approaches and philosophies. My head was swimming with where to go next. I was trying to land on what aspect of HR resonated with me coming out of this UnConference. Then I remembered . . .

I had a conversation with Dwane Lay and William Tincup about the state of HR and what we all thought, and one term kept coming up . . . outliers. Now, this isn’t the same as the recent Malcolm Gladwell book – Outliers. (I’m a huge Gladwell fan!!) What we were talking about was the tendency for HR to manage to the exception.

I agreed with this wholeheartedly! I know that it’s difficult to work with people, but that’s why we chose HR. There are so many amazing people who work in and around us every day. However, companies tend to focus on people who are exceptions, who underperform, degrade and possibly detract from moving the company forward. Instead of focusing on the mass of talent that rocks it everyday, we follow the outliers. If the entire company was made up of people like the outliers, there would be a lot of trouble. So why should HR mainly focus on a group that is not the driving force of the company? Yes, they are a portion of the company that is important and should be acknowledged, but to base everything around them is taking it too far.

You can look at policies, handbooks and procedures that are written by companies in HR every day that focus on such a small percentage of people. This hurts the majority of employees who are doing their jobs each and every day. While the outliers shouldn’t go unnoticed, the average employees are the ones who account for most of the population.

So, what can we do?

HR needs to understand and own that one thing we have to our advantage is the ability to be consistent.  This is different than being “fair.” It really is. If we are consistent in how we engage, deal with and lead people, we add incredible value!! If people in HR would take this approach and practice consistency, the outliers would take care of themselves. With a consistent HR, variability is decreased between their actions and the actions of the employees, making everything much more stable.

Take a look around, HR. Where is your focus? If your systems give employees the ability to thrive, contribute and develop – you’re doing well. If your systems look to constrict, deter and confine – you’re following outliers.

Now, some may say that the group that gathered at HRevolution are “outliers” to the norm of the HR community. I’d beg to differ. You see in Gladwell’s book he talks about outliers that are successful, move things forward and also lie outside the norm.

Outliers are not always a bad thing; although they should not be the basis of HR’s views on a company, often times they can produce something great. The group I was running with is pushing the boundaries of HR to open up new frontiers in order to set new norms.  Why don’t you join us?

IMAGE VIA CarbonNYC

HR Demo Show Vegas – Humanizing Employer Brands Makes Me Happy

There are technologies that transform an economy (railroads), and technologies that lead to an industry (and an economy) treading water (railroads.) HR technology is a transformative set of technologies, one I can’t wait to dig in to. The place to see what’s coming up for us HR and Recruiting practitioners is the HR Demo Show, to be held May 24-25 at The Venetian in Las Vegas.

Did I say Las Vegas? Yup. I will be making an appearance on a blog squad that includes friends like Maren Hogan Craig Fisher and Geoff Web. I also look forward to meeting Jessica Miller-Merrell IRL for the first time. Fun times.

In this case I’m talking about new technologies for the workplace and talent management, not trains. Technologies have transformed many businesses and industries and displaced others. But its value as a creator of strategic value has been under attack for some time.

Flashback way back yonder to the year 2003 Nicholas Carr published ‘IT Doesn’t Matter’ in the Harvard Business Review, followed by a book, Does IT Matter? in 2004. His argument (to paraphrase the article, and some of Carr’s rebuttal of various criticisms): because IT is structural, built in to a company’s operations, it is no longer a strategic differentiator or source of advantage to businesses. Sure, it helps with competitiveness – you need to be on par with those in your industry in your use of IT to survive – but it’s no longer a source of tremendous advantage. IT has become a commodity.

Back to the present. Not so fast. Technology is very much transforming industries. In Recruiting and HR specifically, technology is a transformative power because today’s social tools have the power to enable emotional connections between employers, employees and job seekers (future employees). This is a hugely important tool for connecting with and hiring the right talent. And it’s no sceret I love any valuable tool that helps employer’s humanize their workplace brand when recruiting new people to teams. Job seekers “buy into” a workplace culture when they accept a job offer – it’s an emotional connection made with people first and foremost.

Things are changing fast in the world of software tools designed to support Recruitment and HR functions within a workplace. As Kevin W Grossman says, the next five to 10 years should be an interesting time for talent management technologies in our space. Cue the flash and sizzle: be at the HR Demo Show to hear what’s changing.

So much is exciting. I am going to look at things that promise much improvement for talent management in the workplace:

  • Humanizing talent acquisition—by facilitating human interaction and establishing emotional connections between employers and job candidates. Taleo looks like an interesting option here.
  • Helping to build an employment brand—by creating talent communities via social, mobile, cloud and collaboration technologies and activities.
  • Going beyond standard applicant tracking system features—by reaching into the CRM realm to keep the pipeline filled with truly qualified candidates, to grab and nurture candidates’ interest, and to empower global recruitment and multi-lingual outreach. Kenexa has an interesting set of offerings, as does Epicor.
  • Getting social networking to work effectively by driving applicants back to companies’ career portals; giving companies a clearer picture of their social media efforts/effectiveness, and helping them track and manage referrals more efficiently.

I’ll be attending talks on RPO, HRO and MSP practices and IT solutions, and reporting back to you. There’s a ‘demo’ in the show name, so I’ll be going to demos of various interesting and geeky offerings – right up my alley. I’ll be separating the very cool from the not-so-cool and on where we can use new technologies for strategic, competitive advantage.

It’s Vegas, so there will definitely be a stroll and a dance (or five) down the Strip (no cards, please) or a stop at the Red Square. There will be opportunity to connect with my fellow HR and Recruitment practitioners and purveyors of HR systems. And there will be lots of opportunity to find out about talent management, and how systems will help our industry make this a priority to stay innovative.

Join me in Vegas. Or check in here and hear what I’m hearing. HR/Recruiting technologies are on the cusp, and I don’t want to miss the opportunity, the transformation, the prospect of creating competitive advantage.

IMAGE VIA Flickr

Social Networking For Career Success

Today’s post is by Miriam Salpeter — owner of Keppie Careers. She teaches job seekers and entrepreneurs how to leverage social media, writes resumes and helps clients succeed with their goals. Miriam writes for U.S. News & World Report’s “On Careers” column, CNN named her a “top 10 job tweeter you should be following” and Monster.com included her in “The Monster 11 for 2011: Career Experts Who Can Help Your Search.” She blogs at KeppieCareers.com and GetASocialResume.com.

Why do companies hire the people they hire? Is it always because the selected candidate is the absolute best qualified to do the job? It’s hard to quantify, but my guess is probably not. Hiring is a complicated art involving selecting a person to do a job, but, often more importantly, someone who is a good “fit” for the role.

Think about interviewing someone to join your family – someone you need to see and spend a lot of time with for the conceivable future. You may be interested in particular skills, depending on your family’s culture. (Cooking? Softball? Driving?) At the end of the day, you probably want to select the one who won’t annoy or embarrass you; someone willing to pitch in (even if it is not his or her job), the candidate who can communicate – and who people like to be around.

It’s not surprising to learn these emotional intelligence skills are gaining more focus and impacting job seekers. A quick definition is in order. Here is one that I like and is easy to understand from Mike Poskey, VP of Zerorisk HR, Inc:

Emotional Intelligence…is defined as a set of competencies demonstrating the ability one has to recognize his or her behaviors, moods and impulses, and to manage them best according to the situation.

Companies are incorporating emotional intelligence into their hiring processes, with good reason. The Sodexo(one of the largest food services and facilities management companies in the world) blog reminds readers that “businesses that will succeed in the 21st century will be the ones that allow employees to bring the whole of their intelligence into the work force – their emotional and intellectual self. Not only does this impact morale, but productivity increases, too.” A recent study from Virginia Commonwealth University shows that “high emotional intelligence does have a relationship to strong job performance — in short, emotionally intelligent people make better workers.”

To be successful in a job hunt, you not only need to demonstrate an association between what the employer wants and your skills and accomplishments, you need to be able to tell your story in a way that makes it obvious you have the emotional intelligence/emotional quotient (EI/EQ – or soft skills) to fit in. Companies want to hire a candidate who will work well in the team; they all seek someone who will contribute and get the job done with finesse. Most seek employees they will trust to represent the company graciously. No one wants to be embarrassed.

This is why social media is such a great tool for job seekers. A job seeker with a pristine online portfolio and nothing questionable in her digital footprint makes a strong case for actually being someone who knows how to negotiate the digital world where we all function.

Using social networking tools to illustrate your expertise can provide entree into a network of professionals writing and talking about the topics important for you and your field. If, for example, you write a blog to showcase your knowledge of the restaurant industry, or use Twitter and Facebook to be sure people understand you know a lot about finance, you have a chance to connect with multitudes of potential contacts, any one of whom may connect you to the person you need to know to land an opportunity.

At the same time you demonstrate your expertise online and grow your network, you are also giving people a taste of the type of person you may be in person. Granted, some people have a distinct online-only persona. Many of us know people who seem mean and spiteful online and are amazing friends in person. Certainly, the opposite is possible.

However, for the most part, it’s safe to assume how people act and communicate online represents how they behave in person. When we get to know people via social media, by sharing tweets (including those all important personal tweets about what we’re eating, watching, and doing for the weekend), trading comments on blog posts, and keeping in touch via Facebook and LinkedIn, we are part of the longest job interview – with a very long “tail.”

No doubt, for some people, social media is dangerous for their job search. The people who aren’t attentive to details (and don’t untag themselves in inappropriate photos), the ones with short tempers and no filter who share every thought, and those who complain about people or things and appear excessively negative online. In an environment where employers are reviewing digital footprints, those people, who are not illustrating high levels of emotional intelligence, may have difficulty landing jobs.

The flip side? If you know your business, connect and share easily online, make new friends and contacts, and try to give at least as much as you hope to receive, social media may be just the “social proof” you need to help you stand out from the crowd.

My book, Social Networking for Career Success, shows you how to leverage the “big three” tools (LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook), and describes how blogging and many other social media tools can help job seekers distinguish themselves. Learn more at www.socialnetworkingforcareersuccess.com. Download a free chapter HERE.

Miriam Salpeter, MA
Coach, Speaker, Author

Empowering Success
http://www.keppiecareers.com

Take a look at what people are saying about Social Networking for Career Success, just released by Learning Express, LLC. Copies are available from Amazon or your favorite bookseller.

IMAGE VIA www.socialnetworkingforcareersuccess.com/

Audience Requests For Our Keynote Speaker

Dear Keynote Speaker,

For a variety of reasons, I’m sitting in the last row of your keynote speech. Sitting in the back of your presentation is no reflection on you. Seriously, the presentation title looks great, and your bio? I can’t believe the awards you’ve won! Wow! This should absolutely be the perfect keynote to open the conference. Just what we need to hear!

Only problem is, it turns out your perfectly-titled keynote speech has nothing to do with those of us in the audience. Kind of makes it hard to take notes about your presentation which will be of any benefit later.

So since you’ve elected to leave us, the audience, out of your presentation, the least I can do is share the notes your keynote presentation DID prompt me to take.

And no surprise…all the notes are about YOU, keynote leader – your favorite topic! Here YOU go:

  • Don’t have all the lights turned off and do your presentation in the dark. Your videos may look better, but you’ve become invisible before you’ve even started.
  • Don’t pass on using a microphone.
  • Don’t neglect to set up and explain what you’re going to be talking about today.
  • Don’t have so many slides about your resume. You’re the keynote speaker. I trust the conference organizers to have picked somebody who’s qualified.
  • Don’t let it appear you typically type up your presentation right before you start.
  • Don’t make us feel like we’re on the outside looking in during this self-exploration of your own career. BTW, there’s a more descriptive word for “self-exploration” I chose not to use. But I think you know what I’m talking about.
  • Don’t talk over the talking in the video you’re playing. Now there are two things going on that make no sense.
  • Don’t use such small type or put your main messages at the bottom of your PowerPoint slides. This room has a really low ceiling, so none of us in the back of the room are seeing any of your most important points.
  • Don’t tell me about things so specialized that I can’t ever do them, ever dream about doing them, or even ever learn something usable from you talking about them.
  • Don’t fail to at least articulate the lessons you’ve learned if all you’re going to do is talk about yourself.
  • Don’t forget to involve the audience. At this point, asking us questions would really help your presentation pull out of this tailspin. Yes, trust me – it’s in a tailspin. I just peeked at the horrendous things people are already writing on the sheets they gave us to rate your presentation.
  • Don’t tell me how important emotion is and then not convey ANY emotion in your presentation. Or show an excruciatingly long video you claim credit for which is totally bereft of emotion as well.
  • Don’t forget to be human. And humble. And funny is not so bad either. Be ALL of those things in your next presentation.
  • Don’t be surprised we’re sitting here, in the dark, frustrated out of our minds in silence.
  • Don’t make me do all the work to figure out what your presentation is about.
  • Don’t get through your whole speech with nothing for the audience to take away and use.

That last comment probably wasn’t fair. Because looking back, I did take a lot away: this lengthy list of things to never do as a presenter.

The amazing thing though is I’d bet a lot of money you’d never suspect you were guilty of any of these. But you were. And I’d guess it’s not the first time…and you’re definitely not the first person to do any of them.

Yet, I can’t remember anyone doing ALL of them at the same time in one presentation. So congratulations on that! Maybe you could add that accomplishment to your resume slides.

Better yet, how about taking these admonitions to heart and really embracing them (okay maybe a couple – let’s start small) the next time you do a keynote presentation? If you do that, I’ll know at least someone got something they could use from the 50-minutes of wasted time all of us had to sit through today.

The best from back here in the dark,

Mike

IMAGE VIA: batmoo

Workplace Messaging: Stepping into Mobile Collaboration

A few weeks ago, I was at SXSW (also known as Spring Break for Nerds) with three colleagues. We all had completely different schedules planned and completely different agendas, but had to come together once each day to film our daily episode of TechInterruption. If you’ve ever been to SXSW, you know that trying to attend panels and trying to meet up with people are mutually exclusive activities.

At the beginning of my stay in Austin, I was on the hunt for the hot breakout technology of 2011. But most of the hallway chatter was about transmedia (old news), the location-based services wars (which don’t actually exist) and gamification (which many folks were not high on).

The only redeeming “new tech” factor at SXSW this year was Group Messaging. Group Messaging essentially takes the online chartrooms of our AOL days and brings them to a streamlined mobile experience. Popular Group Messaging apps include GroupMe, Kik, Beluga and Fast Society, many of which integrate with SMS (which is just fancy talk for regular old texting).

The messages sent over these applications generally reach their destinations faster than texts. They also further indicate a shift to data plan-dependent mobile ecosystems. In other words, soon you’ll only need a mobile device (or table) and a data plan (with no voice or text plan from your wireless provider) to make calls over the web and to send text-based messages.

So my colleagues and I saved hours of texting and calling each other individually to coordinate meeting times by using Group Messaging technology. Collaboration 2.0 for the win. No, the technology is not sexy. It’s not ground-breaking. It’s old, proven and time-tested technology playing out in a new forum on mobile devices. What made it remarkable at SXSW and what will continue to make it remarkable moving forward is how people innovate by using the technology.

From a workplace perspective, Group Messaging will forever change remote collaboration on time-sensitive projects that require quick answers. Communities will use it to quickly connect people with local interests, thereby assisting serendipitous meet-ups. Students will use it in the classroom to provide backchannel commentary during lectures…and probably collaboratively cheat.

Group Messaging is here to stay in one form or another. As always, feel free to share thoughts and ideas.

Image VIA Andy Mihail

7 Steps: Critical Thinking in the Workplace

Written by Chris Jones

It’s About Time, Skill and Permission

Today’s workplace is often hectic, and it’s easier than ever to become overwhelmed in a death spiral of missing information and critical decisions. Things we need to know pile up in our inbox, unread. Decisions await quality cycles that never seem to materialize, often due to lack of information. Meeting after meeting demands our precious time, only to see us fall victim to smart phones signaling the arrival of still more unreadable emails.

So the vicious cycle continues.

It’s a small wonder that work is accomplished anymore. Often, it is not, as we mistake activity for real progress.

To me, the moral of the story is clear:  the ability to seek a deep, rigorous understanding of our challenges – call it critical thinking – tends to escape us when we need it most.

I’ve started to unpack the scope and scale of it (as here). But here are some ways that we can breathe purpose and intent back into our problem solving:

  • Using data to drive decisions: Replace guesswork with facts and data. Add lead time to decision cycles to accommodate data capture and trending. Challenge decisions that materialize without supporting data.
  • Do your homework, and share it: Citing sources isn’t just a technique of academics, it’s the basis for making a strong case, helping explain pro’s/con’s of the decision at hand
  • Vet your conclusions: Get help from others. Diverse perspectives almost always ensure a more viable solution.
  • Know your SMEs: There are experts out there in your organization, and more than likely, outside it. Find them, and get to know them. Social media is a powerful way to accomplish that.
  • Get past “face value”: Don’t settle for surface impressions. What are the root cause factors of problems you’re trying to solve? Can you get to the source issues, and address those? Think about mowing weeds in your lawn, vs. pulling them out, root and all. Which do you do?
  • Build your skills: Read. Or, better still, write. Have in-depth conversations on important, complex topics. Explore current events.  Education reformers are debating whether schools are pulling away from thinking skills in favor of recitation of facts. If you have kids, what better way to bolster your own thinking skills than by helping them with theirs?
  • Prioritize “think time”: Time constraints will always be the enemy of deep thought. Try to “time box” your problem solving for top problems.

What are the Biggest Barriers?

Beyond skills and time, I come back again and again to the impact that culture has on shaping behavior in our workplace. It effects everyone in subtle and powerful ways, including many of those – dare I say, even people like us, ready to challenge the status quo – who fall far too quickly into the old traps and habits.

We need cultural dynamics that encourage – even, give permission – to take the extra time needed to think things through. The ideas listed above are for the individual.

Try These at the Organizational Level

  • Encourage adoption of a learning culture: Define success as “raising the bar”, seeking a measurable increase on the emergence of deep thinking across the organization. It would champion collaboration and knowledge sharing. And it would place a high premium – if not a mandate – on critical thinking as the means to make rational, well-supported business decisions.
  • Foster a learning organization: Whether it’s Senge or Wheatley or Argyris that inspire your view of it, the culture and skills that embrace critical thinking can transform what an organization is capable of achieving. Put it on the road map. Make it happen.

And if we don’t?  We all know that world. We make snap decisions, falling pray to past formulas and taking the default path of playing it safe.

Isn’t it time to make the time for critical thinking?

NOTE: This post was originally contributed by Chris Jones. He is an IT Strategy & Change Management consultant, with a passion for driving new levels of engagement and learning in the modern organization. His research areas include the dynamics of organization culture, and more recently, the importance and implications of critical thinking. Check out his blog, Driving Innovation in a Complex World, for more insights.

Image Credit: Fotopedia

Best Practices: HR/Recruiting Tech & Software: #TChat Recap

A funny thing happened on the way to the #TChat:  I found a new career and home at Ventana Research.

The irony is that on the night that we discuss best practices in evaluating, purchasing & implementing HR/Recruiting technology & software, I had a business dinner to attend.

(wink)

But hey, you had one of the sharpest HR/Recruiting technology & software analysts with you last night in Sarah White.  And since I can’t get to the transcript at the moment, from what I can see at least,  it looks like there was some great recruiter counterpoint from our friend Glen Cathey and several other key players. Thanks as always for sharing your time with us.

Three key pointers from last night’s #TChat:

  • Develop business rules, employee workflow processes, employee skill matrices, etc., before you automate your talent management
  • Build a business case of needs for HR tech that reach across other lines of business in your organization – work with the COO, CFO and IT to get it done
  • Get tons of customer references and call every one of them
  • Make sure the IT manager assists with the implementation process and becomes the vendor liaison

Sadly, according to Ventana benchmark research on workforce automation and analytics:

  • As for talent management technology, nearly 2/3 of organizations are less than satisfied with what they have
  • While only 9 percent of organizations are very satisfied
  • Spreadsheets are the technology most commonly used for workforce analytics in 62 percent of organizations
  • Nearly half of organizations (48%) are less than confident in the quality of information that is generated by their analytics

We hope our more intimate chat (Many of you have shared with us that you cannot get a word in on #TChat – last night was your chance- smiles) isn’t indicative of the state of HR/Recruiting technology per the above statistics, but with a little help from folks like Sarah, myself and the vendor community, and many other smart industry folks, we can make this HR/Recruiting technology thing work.

Next week’s topic: Developing a Recruiting/Talent Acquisition major at the college level. What would be in the curriculum, etc.? Should be interesting.

Join us every Tuesday night from 8-9 p.m. ET (5-6 p.m. PT) on Twitter via hashtag #TChat. Remember we welcome global input! Join in from wherever you might be. Our live chat is hosted by @KevinWGrossman @MeghanMBiro@TalentCulture, and @Monster_WORKS. Please Tweet or DM us for more scoop!

  • Q1: Where do you go first when researching HR/recruitment tech & software and why?
  • Q2: What types of info help your quest for HR/recruitment tech & software and why?
  • Q3: What does your HR tech business case entail and who do you include in the planning?
  • Q4: How do you narrow the field of vendors? What are your selection criteria and why?
  • Q5: How do you decide on whether to select a SaaS solution, on-premise or a combination?
  • Q6: How do you manage the implementation process?  IT, consultant, vendor or a combination?
  • Q7: What kinds of training and support should you receive with the HR/recruitment tech & software?
  • Q8: How do you measure return and total cost of ownership on HR/recruitment tech & software?

 

 

2011 Workplace Culture Predictions and Commentary: #TChat Recap

It was almost like science fiction.

Almost.

The fact that last night’s #TChat was about 2011 workplace culture predictions and commentary, and we as pseudo-soothsayers and part-time prophets were locked in a post-economic-apocalyptic vault painting the walls with phosphorescent Twiffiti.

Some of which was right on the bottom line, and some of which was, well, not.  Smart, but not.

Here were the questions:

  • Q1: Given what you believe to be true – and factual – will 2011 bring more or less net hiring – and why?
  • Q2: In 2011 will there be a change in rate of A-player exodus? Why or why not? If yes, initiatives can be taken to improve retention?
  • Q3: Will innovation and R&D be taken off life support this year? If yes, what leadership initiatives can be taken to drive it?
  • Q4: Leadership development always on the lips of executives, analysts but will this be the year organizations invest? Why or not?
  • Q5: Managing greater mobile/contingent workforce appears significant business initiative; what are orgs doing to ensure its success?
  • Q6: Social networking will continue to be a critical marketing and recruiting tool, but will the ROI be there?

Some things that struck me were:

  • Hiring will pick up (and is), but there just won’t be enough jobs for all those unemployed, and more of the jobs are in emerging economies outside the U.S.  Read this and that.
  • The contingent workforce will be on the rise.
  • Virtual mobility will be on the rise.
  • Although no one likes to work for jerks, A-players will only jump if they have viable opportunities to jump to, or they get the entrepreneurial bug.
  • Barriers of entry into many markets are so few these days that the companies that want to stay in business never stopped innovating, and investing in R&D, and collaborative partnerships, and marketing, and business development…

I’m telling you — the vault was aglow with prime Twiffiti. You should view the transcript if you have a moment.  Over 300 contributors this week, the top 10 of which were:

  • @talentculture – 249
  • @meghanmbiro – 151
  • @KevinWGrossman – 73
  • @HRMargo – 67
  • @LevyRecruits – 60
  • @JeffWaldmanHR – 58
  • @IanMondrow – 58
  • @dawnrasmussen – 56
  • @CyndyTrivella – 55
  • @ValueIntoWords – 46

Next Tuesday, January 11, from 5-6 p.m. PT/8-9 p.m. ET, we’re tackling The New Old World of Job Hunting and Hiring.

Now, how do I get this glowing paint off my hands?


Boston: The City of Innovation

Today’s guest post is by our friend Parna Sarkar-Basu. Parna is a communications and innovation marketing professional as well as a ghostwriter. Parna designs award winning programs for small and medium businesses and global companies, from enterprise software and robots to retail and consumer products.  She is passionate about technology and is familiar with the innovation scene. Her articles have been published in various technology and business media outlets. You can find Parna on LinkedIn and follow her on Twitter at @ParnaSarkar.

Boston is ranked number one on 2thinknow Innovation Cities Global 256 Index. In America’s Top States for Business, Massachusetts ranks #5 (up from #8).

Do you think it’s an accident that Boston is at the top of that list, or is its standing the result of a well-planned ecosystem with strategic programs and promotions? Let’s dissect.

Boston is an academic city. Students from around the world come to Boston for top-notch education and research, from engineering and biomed to business and politics. Many of the teachers and faculty members are designing policies for the nation.

Boston is the medical hub of the world. Look at the breakthrough research that’s taking place in teaching hospitals, life sciences and pharmaceutical companies.  Patients come to Boston to get the best medical treatment possible.

Boston is home to hundreds of VC-funded start-ups and companies that are investing in green and emerging technologies, trying to solve various challenges the world is facing today. Organizations like MassChallenge and 12×12 are encouraging entrepreneurship in the area.

Boston is also the home of large companies and global enterprises, from software and biotech to defense and consumer.

In addition, the state is also committed to innovation and cleantech, making Boston a preferred city for such businesses. Gov. Deval Patrick officially proclaimed June as Innovation Month in Boston and more than 130 events were hosted that month.

So in summary, Boston is the world-class research and cutting-edge technology hub along with an ecosystem of passionate people from different walks of life and industries. And these reasons and more have made Boston the #1 Innovation City in the world and Massachusetts one of the top states for business.

What do you think?

5 Creativity Refreshers for the Workplace from Work of Art

I love learning about artists’ creative processes. Combine that with a competitive reality TV show? SHUT UP! I’m hooked!

The Bravo cable channel has introduced just such a show called “Work of Art – The Next Great Artist.” Fourteen artists ranging in age from early 20s to the early 60s (and with all the demographic and gender preference diversity you’d expect) are set up in a group art studio and a cool apartment while they compete in a series of single-elimination art challenges. Sure the format is pieced together from any number of other shows, but I couldn’t resist seeking out the show which airs Wednesday nights at 10 eastern / 9 central (US).

It’s all pretty contrived, thus “Work of Art” doesn’t yield major revelations about creativity as much as refreshers worth considering in your creative and innovative pursuits, especially in the workplace. Here are five that stand out:

Be completely clear about a client’s requirements and violate them at your own risk.

With each challenge, contestants are given a category for the assignment, i.e. create a portrait, make a book cover. In both these challenges, the loser was ultimately deemed to have ignored the mandatory nature of the specified category. Amanda lost the first week’s portrait challenge by painting an expressionist floral picture (which didn’t look like a person); Judith lost the book cover challenge by imposing her style – hand prints and backwards writing – making her ”cover” largely unintelligible. Lesson learned – focus your creativity somewhere other than the client’s mandatories.

Cooperation and competition both fuel creativity.

There are many examples of cooperation evident on the show, from contestants sharing advice and assistance to posing for each other’s pictures. There’s also a fair amount of trash talking and mind games going on among contestants, too. No big skirmishes broke out in the early weeks, but with strong personalities who love telling other contestants what their art lacks, creative tensions are bound to erupt in subsequent episodes. It’s probably just as well, because emotional turmoil will likely do as much for the quality of the art as cooperation.

“Edgy” is relative.

Contestant Peregrine Honig lives in the Kansas City area, as do I. Here, she’s definitely one of the cool people, making a name for herself with provocative art, hip fashion (she owns a retail underwear apothecary), and various other projects she spearheads. Staying current on her through the newspaper and local entertainment tabloids, her creativity definitely seems edgy. Put her on “Work of Art” amid people with clear mental and behavioral impairments though, and Peregrine blends into the background (as one of her pieces was criticized for doing).  It’s a great reminder that edgy is relative; there’s always somebody who’s pushed edginess further than you have. Deal with it!

Be flexible, even if you’re not.

The winner of the first two challenges, Miles, is a self-reported obsessive compulsive disorder sufferer. Because of his oft-professed OCD, Miles typically begins art challenges by going through some type of pre-planned or ritual activity. Before screen printing, he constructed an entire darkroom; as others sorted through found objects for one challenge, he sat down and slept. Invariably though, something goes wrong. With the darkroom, his bulb for exposing images blew before he completed his artwork. Despite an event which might have been cataclysmic, he regrouped and used as much of the image as had already been prepared. Ultimately, he won the challenge based on a great idea and his willingness to vary from his plan.

Think first, create second.

Each assignment is time-constrained creating built-in pressure to start right away. In the book cover challenge, Miles picked “Frankenstein,” which he’d never read. He started by timing how long it took to read a page, calculating it would require 4 hours to get through the entire book. So while the other artists launched into their work, Miles curled up and started reading. Other contestants were incredulous that he’d waste hours not creating anything. Reviewing the book though, he identified a specific passage which infused his ultimate work. Other participants would have been well advised to follow his lead. One misspelled “Dr. Jekyll” and had to redo it after it was painted. For “Pride and Prejudice,” Jaclyn, who was unfamiliar with the work, used a semi-nude image of herself on the cover along with misspelling author Jane Austen’s name as “Austin.” Jaclyn landed in the bottom three and just barely escaped elimination. Maybe the old maxim “measure twice, cut once” needs to be “think twice, create once” when it comes to “Work of Art.”

Closing Thought

These “Work of Art” takeaways all relate to how an artist interacts with boundaries, be they about expectations, interactions, audience tastes, process, or time. It’s an interesting reflection of workplace creativity where boundaries are routinely introduced. Ultimately the winners in “Work of Art” and workplace creativity are those who can walk right up to boundaries and push on them without getting canned.

Going Back to (Collaboration) Basics [Part 2]

As digital workers, we spend a lot of time collaborating online. TalentCulture has previously featured several articles by the great Jeff Wilfong and Chris Jones highlighting some of the high-level processes and theories that dictate successful collaboration. Now, it’s time to get back to the basics.

This is part two of a two-part series. View Going Back to (Collaboration) Basics Part 1

1. Use descriptive file names.

The Problem: We often share documents that are stored in our own space and with out own organizational method (or lack thereof).  The trouble is your naming convention might only make sense to you. When you send that document titled “FINAL_draft” to your boss, it might not be easy for her to know what that “FINAL_draft” document in her downloads folder is. Your third grade teachers wouldn’t accept Spelling tests without your name at the top. If you’ve ever tried to figure out where a document came from and who wrote it, I’m sure you understand that need for an effective label.

The Solution: Put your name and a brief, accurate description in the document title of everything you save (if applicable, include a date as well.) If you download a file with an ambiguous name, rename it right away. It will save you and others time and effort.

2. Use Microsoft Word’s “Track Changes” feature.

The Problem: Many times, we try to collaborate by passing around multiple copies of the same document at different stages of the editing process. That usually ends with collapsing four or more versions of the same document into a final copy.

The Solution: You can of course use a collaborative document editor like those found on online collaboration services such as Bascamp, Wiggio and Google Docs. But we’re focusing on the basics here, so let’s talk about what features Microsoft Word has to offer. If you use the Track Changes feature in the Tools section of the menu, you can see which user on your team made which suggestions or comments. You can then accept or reject those changes. It’s an easy way to pass a document around and see edits before crafting a final draft.

Social Community: Metaphor for the Workplace. Find Your Intent

Recently I wrote about models of interaction within cultures and social communities that foster progress. I’d like to push the theme a bit further and look at social communities – which are really communities of intent – and how they can serve as a useful metaphor for the workplace.

Intent is one of those words that have taken on new meaning with the advent of search and search marketing. The trick that Google mastered so well is serving up information to consumers at the moment of intent (thanks to John Battelle, Andrei Broder and others; see some older material on intent here) – intent to act, to purchase, to decide. “Intent” is not only an action the searcher takes; it is a commitment the provider of information (the vendor or service), and the search service (Google, Yahoo, Bing), make to the individual searching for information.

In social communities, intent is more than interest, more than commitment, more than an informed notion. It’s the true power behind the community, because people come to communities with a purpose, an intent. They are looking for a place to be, a place to learn, a place to grow and interact in a meaningful way.

The trick then, for companies, is to behave as social communities. It’s a powerful and new metaphor for the workplace.

In a typical workplace there are people with many different personalities, personal brands, goals, aspirations, skill sets and attributes. In a healthy workplace, meaning one that focuses on ensuring personality/culture fit between employees and the organization, people of diverse skill sets and temperaments can collaborate and succeed – because they have the intent to succeed, and the social context – the community – in which to realize their intent.

TalentCulture, for example, is a collaborative social community, a community of intent, a metaphor for the workplace. Our contributors come from many backgrounds: executive leadership,  human resources, recruiting, marketing, new media, research, public relations, law, branding, innovation, venture capital, career coaching, entrepreneurship and software technology. The shared intent is to create and share the very latest perspectives and trends on growing your business and reaching your individual career goals – using them to grow and foster innovation.

So here’s a challenge: find your intent. Share it with others. Be passionate. Be creative. Make every action resonate with the intent to do something positive, something to improve your workplace or advance the idea of what a collaborative workplace or social community should be.
And keep us in the loop.

Image Credit: Pixabay