“Getting Best Work” at Enterprise 2.0 #e2conf

Getting best work from current staff is one of four key people-related business challenges business leaders face. To meet the goal of “get best work” – sometimes translated to “create a high performance culture” – organizations turn to performance management practices and systems.  However, these tools are largely counterproductive – both in detracting from real work getting done and demotivating staff from doing their best.

Meanwhile, the theme at Enterprise 2.0 last week was largely about “getting things done.” Whether it was (Deutsche Bank Managing Director) John Stepper’s keynote that emphasized the need to apply social collaboration tools to specific business problems  – with particular focus on understanding and improving the way people work every day.  Or, the increased focus on practical use cases over prior conference years.  Or, the exhibition floor teeming with tools specifically designed to match today’s pace and complexity of work – tools that actually help people get work done rather than detract from it.

Getting Best Work is harder than it used to be

In many ways, this world seems so far away from HR’s performance management.  A world that, to date, has been more focused on documenting the past – meeting compliance requirements, checking boxes, and manufacturing pay communications.

Indeed, the folks attending the Enterprise 2.0 conference are tasked with improving the productivity and performance of workers at their company (when I asked the question, more than 90% of the session’s 150 attendees raised their hands).  However, few are involved in designing the performance management system (1 person raised her hand).  This is all changing, though, as both groups seek to meet the business leader challenge of getting best work.

In my talk on Thursday, I set forth a vision of how these two worlds are coming together: a new model of performance management – one that centers on work, involves the tools featured at the conference, and has the following characteristics:

  • Goals connected to work – Setting direction and regular communication of higher level goals is essential to performance success.  But there is a significant disconnect between goals and actual work execution.  People simply don’t update goals – it is not part of the natural flow of work.  What’s missing are tools that connect what needs to be done with what is getting done.  I called upon Cohuman as an example of “work prioritization.” Cohuman is a next-generation project management system, without the heaviness and rigidity of traditional projects.  Instead, it is a social, transparent to do list – one that helps people and teams prioritize, collaborate on, and complete work.

I also called upon DoubleDutch as an example of linking “goals” to work via location-based services principles.  Rather than tracking time or updating goals, people can check into a project/customer/etc., share documents, comment, all in the natural course of an activity stream (through their new Hyve capability).    

  • Ongoing feedback – Rather than documenting past performance, ongoing feedback facilitates continuous improvement and motivation. Though people generally dislike the all-at-once, anxiety-filled performance review, they do like feedback – particularly that which comes with good intentions.  Two primary models contribute to successful ongoing feedback – social feedback and 1:1 feedback.  Social feedback, such as thanks, kudos, impressions, and badges are transparent to all and, in addition to providing the recipient with motivation to continue exercising their strengths, gives the community an indication of who is good at what.  1:1 feedback is a private conversation loop with a trusted source.  I called upon Rypple as an example of social and 1:1 feedback.  Other providers, such as CornerStone OnDemand, Oracle Fusion, Saba, and SuccessFactors have introduced social feedback capabilities.
  • Feedback on actual work – The stickiness and usefulness of feedback depends on how relevant it is to the work being performed. However, feedback systems and work systems are largely separate.  To truly get best work, the feedback system must be directly connected to the work system (whatever that work may be).  I called upon the integration between Rypple and Pivotal Tracker as an example of pushing actual work into the natural feedback loop.  Next up: tying feedback prompts and loops into the work system.

Bottom line: As business leaders, HR professionals, and collaborative technology specialists increasingly focus on the business challenge of getting best work, the current performance model will transform into one that is more work-centric and embedded in the natural flow of business.

Your POV: Where do you see emerging tools augmenting or displacing current performance systems?  How do you see these pieces fitting together?

Posted in Business value, Disruptive technology, HR Practices, Innovation, Research, Social collaboration, Solving business problems, Unified Communications, Vendors | 1 Comment

The Performance Measurement Conundrum

In my research, I’ve identified four key people-related challenges that business leaders face. One of these is “getting best work” from the staff in place at any given time.  I will be speaking about this topic specifically this Thursday at the Enterprise 2.0 conference.

One of the key findings from this work is that current processes and systems that promise to “manage performance” are actually counterproductive to getting best work.  On the other hand, new approaches and technologies are emerging that focus on getting work done and improving performance.

Even those organizations, that have successful annual performance cycles, sum it up as a once a year blip in productivity and motivation; but, with hard work and focus on communications, they’re able to minimize the downside and move on quickly.

Sam Culbert’s proposal to “Get Rid of Performance Reviews” is extremely appealing to organizations that have battled with the issues above – particularly those that have had less success with minimizing the negative impact.  Many are planning or, at least considering, moving in the direction of forward-looking, development-focused performance management. And, getting rid of the backward-looking performance appraisal.

Why not get rid of performance reviews?

There’s one major thing holding these organizations back: the beloved performance score.

One HR Director summed things up perfectly:

“Everyone is discontent with ratings. Most people get a 3 and feel like a failure. After RIF’s in recent years, managers feel like they only have top performers left.  The executives talk about getting rid of ratings, but want a measurement for reporting.”

Indeed, the performance score represents a holy grail of people measurement. That one piece of data suddenly thrusts HR and people “quality” into a world of meaningful business analytics.  It is simple, easily aggregated and can overlay any set of data to provide a people perspective.  That single score holds so much promise, but so many flaws.

Is there an alternative to flawed performance scores?

Flaws of the performance score include:

  • Based on manager’s viewpoint – including personal biases and rating biases. Research shows large variation between two different managers’ ratings of the same person.
  • Many diverse attributes fitted into a single score – including results, behaviors, unique skills, market value, risk of demotivation.
  • Does not take variation or regularity of performance into account – for example, extremely good at x, but lousy at y.
  • In many cases, lacks the full picture of what a person has accomplished/is capable of because manager is new or “hands-off” from the employee to fully appraise
  • In many cases, the manager is fitting to some sort of distribution and doesn’t take ownership of the score

What are the alternatives to the single performance score?

Clearly, we need people data to inform business decisions, but the single performance score is flawed.  What’s more, it is coming from a practice that is demotivating and preventing organizations from “best work.”  What are the alternatives?

Pepsi popularized a dual rating system – one that separately distinguishes and tracks “business” results and “people” results – in the mid-2000’s.  Now, this method known as “what vs. how” is regarded as superior and more reflective of holistic performance by Edward Lawler and leading HR departments.

The what vs. how system provides a good bridge between the backward-looking performance process and one that is focused on future development.  But it still suffers from many of the same flaws as the single score.  Though the two scores provide a slightly more rounded picture of the individual, many attributes, such as variation of strengths, unique skills, key accomplishments, and impact of loss are not accounted for.

Here is where the holistic profile – one that captures unique strengths and accomplishments, potentially bestowed by peers and constituents, on a more frequent and relevant basis – could replace the single (or dual) point-in-time all encompassing score.  The combination of social feedback software (like Rypple), 9-box multi-dimensional grids (like the Sonar6 kite view and other interactive talent review tools), and the business imperative to make sound people investment decisions will propel this method forward.

To do this, people and business analytics will need to expand to include multiple dimensions about people.  A single score will not cut it.  This will require significant and sophisticated changes.

Where to go from here?

Are we ready to move away from a single (or dual) performance score to a series of performance-related accomplishments, strengths, and attributes?  Most organizations are not ready for this, nor are the software platforms that support them (not fully).  In the meantime, what can organizations do to bridge to the future?  What will help?

  • What vs. How rating models
  • More transparent calibration discussions of multiple dimensions
  • Peer-based expert identification and open feedback systems

These methods place more of an emphasis on who is good at what and why.  Knowing what people can do well and how that fits into organizational needs is ultimately what will benefit business leaders the most.  The performance score is a stepping stone to get there.

Your POV: What steps have you taken to move to more future-oriented, development-focused performance management?  What measurements do you see as key to future success?

photo source: sportydesktops.com
Posted in Analytics, HR Practices, Research, Solving business problems, Talent Management | 5 Comments

Does Facebook have a professional angle?

Is Facebook adding a professional identity?

Since their inception in the mid-2000’s, Facebook and LinkedIn have had two separate and complementary identities.  Facebook is personal and LinkedIn is professional. Facebook is friend networking and LinkedIn is business networking.

Will it stay this way?

LinkedIn has over 100 million users – certainly nothing to scoff at.  But it does pale in comparison to the more than 600 million people using Facebook on a daily basis. LinkedIn has taken steps to be more like Facebook – adding an update stream and enhancing groups – giving people a reason to come back and connect on a regular basis rather than just specific recruiting events. In other words, LinkedIn has taken steps to increase its personal-ness.

Meanwhile, enterprise social networks have picked up speed – including Jive, Yammer, Socialcast (just purchased by VMware), Qontext, Socialtext, etc.  These are business-oriented social networks that can live inside the firewall of an organization, providing many of the benefits of a social network but geared toward a business’s ecosystem.

So far, it appears Facebook is still sticking with the non-business view of social networking.  Mark Zuckerberg has stated his intent to make the world a more open and transparent place and has touched on the need to increase education and learning through social networking.  But as for using it to help businesses find good talent or run better?  Mark appears to be leaving that for others to figure out.

Facebook stays personal, but complementary platforms take it professional

Identified and BranchOut are two technology examples taking advantage of the high engagement and professional potential of Facebook.

Though Facebook is letting others run with the professional angle, the social network site has enabled the hooks to make it worthwhile.  For example, users can add education and work information – including the ability to identify projects and colleagues. In adding these hooks, LinkedIn has taken steps to increase its professional-ness.

Identified has found through various studies that 40% of Facebook users already enter professional information.  What’s more, the technology start-up is giving these users an incentive to enter more information by providing a professional ranking (in other words, how attractive are you as a candidate?).  The ranking leverages not just the data entered, but also the quality of one’s network.  In addition to the tools provided to career-minded individuals, Identified provides a LinkedIn-like tool set to recruiters.

Both Identified and BranchOut are opt-in (users choose whether to join and what data from their Facebook profile to leverage) and physically separated from Facebook. This separation largely rids the negative perceptions of approaching candidates within their “personal” sphere.

What about internal social networks?

While enterprise social network players (including HRIS providers) use Facebook as a model in many respects, Facebook itself has shown no movement in tackling this arena.  Perhaps the concept of a firewall goes against Facebook’s grain of openness and transparency.  On the other hand, perhaps Facebook is grappling with the same problems as most businesses I speak with – getting the right level of usage and value from an internal social network to make it worthwhile.

Your POV: Do you see benefit from leveraging Facebook as a professional network?  When and how do you use Facebook as a recruiting source? Do new tools like Identified and BranchOut change your perspective?

Posted in Disruptive technology, Recruiting, Social collaboration, Uncategorized, Vendors | 5 Comments

Payroll Gets the Spotlight

During an Oracle Fusion preview event I attended a couple of years ago, one of the participants cried over the payroll manager checklist tool.  It’s not the first time I’ve witnessed passion over payroll.  The annual APA congress is filled with “timely & accurate” payroll fanatics.

Yet, once outside of the inner circle, payroll applications are typically dismissed as essential, but non-strategic.  Despite the occasional call-out by Bill Kutik, payroll lacks the sex appeal of the latest talent management trend.

Until now, the visibility to business leaders and strategic HR professionals has been minimal.  Once they ensure the basics are humming, these folks move onto more pressing matters.

Payroll in the Spotlight

This is all changing.  With the sudden growth of analytics adoption and interest (including predictive analytics) and the maturation of integration capability, payroll data is set to be in the spotlight of business decision-making.

Take Chiquita as an example.  Chiquita used actual labor cost data from across the globe, all brought together into their Workday HCM solution to determine the best production site. Rather than estimating costs for different geographical regions, Chiquita had the actual costs incurred.  They could balance this with transportation and other business data to come up with the right business decision.

Payroll data is hands-down the best people data you have.  It is real, it is objective, and it is potentially eye-opening.  It tells things as they are and it can form the basis of major business decisions.

Missing Ingredients

What’s usually preventing organizations from leveraging payroll data in strategic decision-making?

  • Seamless integration that brings all pay data back together for analysis.  With its announcement on May 24, Workday introduced the first bi-directional payroll connector which not only pushes payroll data out to 3rd party payroll partners SafeGuard World International and Patersons, but also brings the actuals back into a single interface.  A two-way payroll interface is not new.  Oracle Peoplesoft and SAP/ADP customers have had access to import/export capabilities through their respective payroll interface products for some time.  What’s different is that Workday’s solution is managed through its integration cloud platform rather than a one-off file transfer.  The bi-directional flow is intended to be core to the system, rather than an afterthought.
  • Analytics that mix pay data with more qualitative talent data and business data.  The burgeoning analytics domain is doing just this.  eThority and OrcaEyes, for example, are making it much easier to pull data together from a variety of sources, create simple-to-consume analytics, and bring forward predictive models.  What leads the charge for the first step in building these eye-opening business decision analytics?  Official payroll data.

Bottom line: The changing capabilities of integration and analytics is driving payroll data into the spotlight for key business decision-making.  In addition to ensuring a timely and accurate payroll process, HR leaders will seek to leverage the output in driving business results.

Your POV: Do you have a full view of your payroll data?  In what business-oriented analytics do you use your payroll data?  What are your plans for the future?

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The Living Database: Predictions of the Future Recruiting Ecosystem

The paper resume has evolved into an online social profile.  At the same time, the resume “filing” system is undergoing substantial change.

A new kind of system needed to manage today's "resume"

Applicant tracking systems (ATSs), which were initially invented to house digital resumes and track requisition pipelines, have not kept pace with the increasing information and new business models available to recruiters today.  The ATS is deemed stale, narrow, and requisition-focused.  Meanwhile, the ideal candidate management system has the following qualities:

  • Fresh data
  • Broad reach (passive and active candidates)
  • People-focused management
  • Proprietary pools and tracking information
  • Tied to internal talent systems

The recruiting community is calling for a “living database” to fulfill the requirements above.  The end game is a tool or set of tools that can pull all of these things together. For now, the ecosystem is fragmented, but evolving rapidly.  Examples include:

Innovations in a Fragmented Recruiting Ecosystem

Find.ly enables candidates to opt-in to a talent community via LinkedIn, Facebook, or MySpace data.  Once the candidates opt-in to the “hive,” recruiters have a live connection to their data and can perform searches, manage communications and route job opportunities.  Find.ly is a stand-alone offering with plans to connect to back-end ATS based on customer demand.

AvatureCRM approaches recruiting from a candidate relationship perspective.  Candidates are brought into the community and tracked separate from a particular requisition.  In addition to more traditional candidate acquisition methods, Avature provides candidates with an opportunity to opt-in with a social profile.  In addition to saving the candidate time on application entry, the recruiter has a direct link to the live social profile.  Avature works in conjunction with ATS providers (such as Taleo).

TheSocialCV.com provides a comprehensive view of an individual’s online activities.  This includes not just LinkedIn and Facebook, but Twitter, Foursquare, Google, Youtube and more.  The information found in TheSocialCV is “public” in that it can be found through internet search (if you know what to look for), but, by accessing it in a unified and searchable way, recruiters can save substantial time.  TheSocialCV is entirely stand-alone and based on the tentative reaction to this kind of information access (see the Recruiting Innovations conference session discussion – video is now up!), it will be a few years before it will hook into a back-end “official” system.

LinkedIn Recruiter provides not only searchable access to passive candidate (live) data and communication mechanisms, but also alerts to profile changes, such as titles, expertise, and location.  These updates provide recruiters with the latest information on the talent community as well as indication of trends and intentions.

Bullhorn has a new offering in beta – Bullhorn Reach – that includes “radar.” Radar is a specially formulated algorithm that identifies patterns in online profile updates indicative of changing sentiments – namely, intention to move from passive to active candidate.  For now, the algorithm detects just profile updates, but such a valuable predictive mechanism is likely to include activity patterns in the future.

Screenshots of the above examples can be found here:

Today, there is no clear candidate management “hub.” The recruiting ecosystem is fragmented across social network tools, talent communities, aggregrators, candidate relationship systems and ATSs.  To achieve the ideal state (fresh, broad, people-focused, proprietary, internally connected), recruiters must piece together multiple sources, maintain dual or triple entry, and/or find ways to integrate data.

However, each of the technology types is evolving rapidly to address the opportunity of a living database that is both fresh and broad in reach, as well as proprietary and connected to the recruiter’s business.

What technology will be the hub 2 years from now?  Please share your POV.

Posted in Disruptive technology, Innovation, Recruiting, Shiny technology, Talent Management, Vendors | 4 Comments

SuccessFactors Ascends To Next Plateau

Lars, Doug, Paul and crew are passionate about the Plateau acquisition

At its San Francisco user conference (Amsterdam currently underway; Sydney set for August), SuccessFactors rolled out a new logo combining passion and aggression.  Keynotes and announcements further propelled this titilating, and somewhat odd, combination.  The Plateau purchase, for example, was both an enormous envelope-pusher as well as a sweet love note as Lars Dalgaard (CEO of SuccessFactors) and Paul Sparta (CEO of Plateau) hugged and smiled brightly.

Following the acquisition of Plateau, along with last year’s purchase of Inform’s workforce planning and analytics suite as well as the company’s announcement of 20+ customers live on employee central (core HR), not to mention a more robust employee central 2.0 now in production – SuccessFactors now has the most extensive set of talent applications in the market.

So, what’s next?

Integration of these products is no small matter.  Creating the unified suite that has been aggressively promised will involve more than an API call from SuccessFactors’ performance product to Plateau’s learning product and back.  This level of integration, it should be noted, was accomplished in one week as a result of compatible web architectures – no code was altered.  This first accomplishment will be music to the ears of the dozens of customers that have inquired about the combination from both customer orientations according to Lars and Paul – as well as those curiously standing by.

The next phase of integration will be more of a unification project and will involve:

  • Building CubeTree’s social native capabilities into Employee Central’s core as well as embedding social processes into the talent applications.  Note: the recruiting application is the first beneficiary, with some capabilities enabled in the current offering.
  • Making tough calls on where Plateau begins and SuccessFactors ends.  Both have strong performance and succession products – the ultimate unified product will likely have some aspects of each.

And even more exciting …

While executing on integration (or unification) will serve SuccessFactors well in the next few years, another plateau beckons with opportunity.  This opportunity has less to do with functionality and more to do with platform maturity as Bill Kutik suggests in his article and related LinkedIn discussion “Did SFSF Get a Game-Changing Gem with Plateau?”  In fact, the customer install base resulting from the Plateau acquisition – one filled with large, on premise deployments – may actually provide SuccessFactors with a unique advantage in the industry.

Wouldn’t an install base of on-premise deployments prove a hindrance to a SaaS-driven application provider?  Here’s why the opposite may prove true:

HR vendors today fall into 2 camps: 1) those with an on-premise legacy that are working toward a SaaS future, and 2) those who started with SaaS.

Those in camp 1 are learning the discipline of SaaS as well as trying to teach their customers about that discipline.  The range of discipline choices available to customers means that a good deal of them are highly customized and will have a hard time relinquishing control by moving to SaaS.  Vendors in camp 1 will have to work very hard to find a way to move those customers to a SaaS platform.

Meanwhile, those vendors in camp 2 attract and select those customers that are prepared to give up some control in favor of SaaS benefits.  A good deal of time is spent educating prospects about the benefits, but ultimately, the customer install base only includes those willing to play by the rules.  Those with heavy customization requirements do not play.

SuccessFactors was firmly in camp 2 up until a few weeks ago.  Plateau brings with it a number of large, highly customized customers – in particular, those that customize to bring innovative, highly competitive learning experiences to their people.  Like vendors in camp 1, SuccessFactors will need to work hard to find a way to move these organizations to SaaS.  However, SuccessFactors has a decided advantage – it already knows SaaS.  And now, it has an ideal customer advisory board to build a Development-as-a-Service platform that delivers just the right amount of control to these highly innovative companies.

Bottom line:  SuccessFactors continues to strengthen its position as an HR vendor of choice.  Opportunities to unify a next-generation end-to-end HR suite as well as provide a Development-as-a-Service platform that enables optimal combination of agility and innovation will become game-changers in the coming years.  SuccessFactors is in a great position to take advantage of these opportunities.  Plateau and SuccessFactors customers should take heart.

Your POV: Are you a current customer of Plateau and/or SuccessFactors? What should SuccessFactors be mindful of as it unifies the suite?  What Development-as-a-Service tools would you like to see developed?

Photo source: YouTube SuccessFactorsInc Channel
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8 Recommendations: Leveraging Analytics to Bridge HR/Business Divide

For the full scoop, please go to the webcast replay of my recent talk Remove the Barrier Between HR and Your Business (sponsored by Peopleclick Authoria)

In my recent research report Helping HR Bridge the Business Divide, I laid out four ways for HR leaders to bring new value to business leaders.  Analytics, dashboards, and interactive visualizations figure heavily in the first two techniques 1) bringing insight to investment decisions and 2) building future value through today’s forums.  The other two techniques will be discussed in future posts.


Despite strong efforts in the areas of HR efficiency and effectiveness, there is a substantial wall between HR and the business decisions it wants to impact.  There are two problems associated with this wall:

  1. Business decisions are being made in a vacuum – without the best data and insight.
  2. HR is not seen as part of the solution.

Remove the Barrier and Enable Strategic Conversations

HR leaders should strive to solve both of these problems.  Workforce analytics can serve as a catalyst for equipping business leaders with better decision tools and for transforming HR into a value-add function – if done correctly.

Based on interviews with HR leaders making headway in this area – including what’s worked for them so far and what’s planned – these eight recommendations represent a best practice approach for rolling out workforce analytics:

#1 Make Business Leaders your priority

HR leaders have a myriad of stakeholders to consider, but to create strategic impact and deliver business value, HR needs to make business leaders their number one priority.  Business leaders are the ones running the business and making strategic decisions.

Narrow in on the metrics and analytics that will best address their people-related business challenges, such as: determining and managing investments, identifying and retaining who’s going to solve problems, and balancing current and future priorities.

To navigate the array of business leaders (from those that will fully embrace newfound insights and HR’s role in delivering those insights to those that are skeptical of role changes and/or new technology), keep in mind:

  1. Business leaders with urgent, significant problems are more likely to be receptive.
  2. If you get a few champions – some with those urgent problems and some that are just star leaders – on board initially, it will be easier to gather momentum.

#2 Fix the Business Partner Role

There is nothing more important than setting up your business partners for success.  These folks are the face of HR.  They are now going to be asked to do an entirely different job than in the past.  There are three major changes required to support them:

  1. Developing skills. 2 key skills stood out as essential for strategic business partners:
    • a consultative approach
    • analytical story-telling
  2. Removing administrative duties. Separate strategic and generalist roles or outsource lower level requests to a service center.  Expect some growing pains here.  Business leaders will need to learn how this works.  Also, it will be easy for business partners to revert to what comes naturally.
  3. Tuning HR organization support. The HR department may require some changes to support the business partners in their strategic interactions with business leaders.

#3 Create Strategic Conversation Platforms

If business decisions are made far away from HR, both sides lose out:

  1. The business misses out on insight HR can bring into the conversation to make better decisions,
  2. HR has little visibility into what’s important to the business leader (i.e. what’s driving their decision).

It is for these reasons that it’s so important for HR to be in the room at the right time.  Strategic conversation forums include 1:1’s with business leaders and executive roundtables with leadership teams (talent reviews, business planning sessions).  Successful characteristics of such forums:

  1. The conversation is business-centered.
  2. The HR partner brings something to the table (skills + tools).

#4 Don’t be a Bottleneck

It is powerful to have insight and tools to bring to strategic conversations, but there’s a fine line between adding value and becoming a barrier to the business.  It’s about being an advisor, not a gatekeeper.  Rather than holding onto the information, HR should get it directly into the hands of the decision-makers and focus on staying a step ahead via depth and color analysis.

#5 Use a Quick Win Approach

Even if you just have basic data available, you have enough to get started.  A quick win or two will meet your preliminary goals of getting business leaders visibility and creating conversation opportunities for HR business partners.

#6 Deliver Engaging Tools

There are four analytic tool characteristics to consider in “luring” business leaders into better decision-making and strategic conversations:

  1. Guided – burning questions are laid out with an easy path to answers.
  2. Actionable – there’s a direct connection to the data, including a visual ability to drill into more detail, access source data, and initiate a change.
  3. Relevant – information is centered on business leader’s purview (including benchmarks against leader’s situation) and data metrics are combined according to the leader’s burning issues.
  4. Business-centric – analytics are focused on business questions and can be accessed from business (not HR) dashboards.

#7 Optimize Strategic Platforms

Interactive visualization tools can accelerate the value of strategic conversation platforms (in #3).  Talent review and organizational planning tools can bring forward multiple, complex dimensions in an easy-to-consume way.  Plus, the interactivity – including drag & drop and real-time updates – engages leaders in higher level of strategic dialogue and decision-making.

In addition to the benefits of rich dialogue, HR saves days/weeks of administrative hassle pulling information together in preparation for the meeting by leveraging the data repository and online presentation.

#8 Improve that Data!

Building out the people data infrastructure often seems like an uphill battle.  (competencies, anyone?) However, creating visibility and conversation platforms into what is already available/tracked leads to insight into what’s missing.  The business partner comes away with not only insight, but also buy-in from the business leader to collect, restructure, invest – whatever is necessary to get better results.  It stops being an HR-driven proposal and becomes a business-driven proposal.

All of the preceding steps work together to get to the overall goal of optimizing the business’s people assets – by way of equipping business leaders with better decision-making tools and equipping HR to add value.

You POV: What steps have worked for you so far?  What are you planning to do next?

Posted in Analytics, Disruptive technology, HR Practices, Solving business problems, Strategic HCM, Useful technology, Visualization | Comments Off on 8 Recommendations: Leveraging Analytics to Bridge HR/Business Divide

HRevolution: It starts with HR

In her opening HRevolution keynote, Liz Gottung shared her vision of HR as a “destination function.”  A former operations plant manager, Liz now leads a multi-year people strategy as CHRO of Kimberly Clark, the 60,000 employee strong consumer product company.  Her global plan includes a radical up-skilling of the department, a focus on business relationships and buy-in, and a global technology platform to facilitate it all.  To support the skill shift, Liz is developing internal talent, injecting top talent from other companies, and bringing in raw talent with transferable skills from other departments.  Indeed, Liz has a talent strategy for her own department – one that can actually be a role model for other parts of the business.

The HR department as a people management role model came up again in Paul Hebert‘s “Designing for Influence” session.  Actually, we were a bit off topic – which tends to happen during HRevolution “unconference” sessions, and is truly one of the delights of the conference.  We had been talking about using incentives and punishments to rid organizations of bad behavior such as bullying, knowledge hoarding, and innovation blocking.  Did companies have crappy manager policies?  What were the effects of firing a bad-behaving boss?  What could be accomplished if the right behaviors were in place?  But then Eric Winegardner turned the lens back around to HR itself.  What are we doing in our own departments to promote good, successful behaviors and make the hard calls on those that are harmful or toxic to our own success?

If HR was the best run department where employees worked well as a team, had opportunities for growth, made innovative impact, and jerks were easily dismissed, wouldn’t it be a destination function?  Nevermind organizational policies – it starts with HR.

In the closing session, Liz Gottung said she was much more optimistic about the future of the HR function after attending HRevolution.  If it starts with HR, it really starts with HRevolution.  These folks are ready.


HRevolution was full of inspiring stories, ideas, and people.  I had a wonderful time.  If you were unable to attend this year, there are lots of ways to get insight from the conversations that took place.  In addition to the ongoing twitter conversations (#hrevolution), many have attendees have shared blog posts about their experience.  Here are some of my favorites (so far):

Passion. Energy. Intention. HRevolution. by Lisa Rosendahl

Life, #HRevolution, Next Steps and 3 things by Benjamin McCall

HRevolution 2011 – Thoughts and Thank-You’s by Steve Boese

Managing Virtual Teams by Michael Haberman

So, What Did We Learn Today? by Dwane Lay

Love in HR (and at #HRevolution) by Jon Ingham

Brits Abroad by Gareth Jones

HRevolution 3: I need a TARDIS by Shauna Moerke

Many thanks to the organizers Trish, Ben, Steve, and Crystal!

Posted in HR Practices, Strategic HCM | 9 Comments

Upcoming Webcast: Remove the Barrier Between HR and Your Business

I’ll be revealing a good portion of my research findings in this upcoming webcast, sponsored by Peopleclick Authoria.  The webcast is geared toward HR leaders and provides 8 best practice recommendations for leveraging workforce analytics to deliver business value.


Webcast: Remove the Barrier Between HR and Your Business

When:  May 4, 2011 – 2 p.m. ET

Organizations collect large amounts of “people data” as they interact with their workforce. This data may be difficult to access, analyze, and put into action to impact key business decisions.

Amy Wilson has uncovered the frustration HR leaders experience trying to become true business advisors within their organization. Ms. Wilson will share her vision about the importance of workforce analytics and getting that data into the hands of those leaders who need it most.

Please register to learn about:

  • Using the “people data” that exists to create meaningful workforce analytics
  • Applying these analytics to drive key business decisions
  • Implementing the Business Value Approach to focus on what matters to your organization
To register and learn more:
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Research Summary: Best Practices – Helping HR Bridge the Business Divide


As business pressures mount, leaders seek competitive advantage through people resources.  Human resource leaders have the building blocks in place to bring significant business value to their strategic constituents. However, there are several obstacles that need to be overcome.  Based on interviews with HR leaders, business leaders, and solution providers, this best practices report lays out the opportunities for HR to bring value to the business as well as a practical path forward.  HR leaders will gain insight into successful approaches – including roles, processes, and tools – toward becoming a vital business advisor.

Executive Summary

Human Resource (HR)  organizations over the past decade have had considerable success in delivering improved efficiency – and sometimes effectiveness – within the HR function and HR business systems.  However, HR has had less success delivering clear, definable value directly to business leaders.

In the next few years, HR organizations have an unprecedented opportunity to put themselves on the map as vital business advisors, addressing critical people-oriented issues that affect company performance.  By taking 4 key steps, HR leaders can position themselves to deliver direct business value by:

1.     Bringing insight to investment decisions
2.     Building future value through today’s forums
3.     Bridging the people visibility gap
4.     Removing barriers and optimize performance


Evaluate current opportunity with the business.  Consider current relationships and emphasis on planning versus operational problems (see figure 1).  Start with quick wins and grow from there. Once the value delivery platform is established, keep adding more value incrementally.

Figure 1. Evaluate Opportunities Based on Current Business Situation

Develop platforms for strategic conversation, but don’t be a bottleneck. Information garnered from strategic conversations can be used to build stronger systems and processes and, in turn, build more value.  However, there is a fine line between adding value and being a bottleneck to useful information. Enable the business to access people data and processes directly, yet stay a step ahead with perspective and commentary.

Transform HR business partners into strategic advisors.  Business partners are key to this transition and must adopt the perspective of the business leader – as well as the analytical and consulting skills of a true partner – to be successful.   Bolster this role with the right skills, tools, and supporting processes to successfully bridge the current divide.

Report Links

Find out what business leaders are looking for and what HR can bring to the table.  See the steps other organizations have taken to bring value to business leaders and the tools on the forefront of helping to achieve those goals.  Buy the full research report on the Constellation Research website.

Contact the Sales team to purchase this report on a a la carte basis or join the Constellation Customer Experience!

Your POV

Have you established strategic conversation platforms with your business leaders?  What steps have you taken to make them successful?  What are your “must have” processes?

Are you just starting to think beyond efficiency and effectiveness?  How do you plan to bridge the current business divide?

Please let us know if you’d like to participate in future research or would like our help in building your strategy.

Posted in Analytics, Business value, HR Practices, Research, Solving business problems, Strategic HCM, Talent Management, Uncategorized | 3 Comments