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Social HR @ Work

August 4, 2014

 

SOCIAL HR@WORK

“The future is already here – it's just not evenly distributed”

by Dr. Anna Tavis

Executive Editor of People and Strategy Journal

 

It took humanity a few thousand years to progress from agricultural to industrial age; about a couple of hundred years to step up to the information age and only a couple of decades, one generation long, to emerge into the Era of Social.  

 

Social entrepreneurs coined new language to describe today’s economy based on the growing demand for purpose and propelled by ubiquitous virtual reputation replacing traditional Curriculum Vitae.  In the “Purpose”  Economy (Aaron Hurst ) and  the “Reputation” economy ( Dan Schwabel) the change is happening at a much more accelerated pace.  As the new Millennial generation enters the Labor Market, the power distance is beginning to collapse flattening out the familiar hierarchies of the previous era.  For those professionals grown up in the workaholic cultures of the latter part of the 20th century “Social” has carried over the connotation of  “frivolous” and has been synonymous with “out of the office” and “on your free time.”  The tables have now turned. “Social” has come into its own and it now defines the fate of the business.

 

With the hierarchy going away, what kid of the organization are we going to experience and how is it showing up now?   In summary,  the transformation to Social we are living through is a marathon and not a sprint.

 

There are multiple company functions that have progressively gone fully social;  faster than others  such as Marketing, Public Relations, advertisement, sales, customer relations are leading the transformation.  HR is just about getting on board with some of the HR functions being ahead of the curve.   Others, still paced unevenly in their adoption of new technologies and new ways of working.     

 

From the business model perspective, there are companies and cultures for whom Social has become the core business (Clustered in the Silicon Valley, New York and Boston and other hot spots of technological innovation).  Others, such as traditional financial services institutions, and blue chip firms,  are still requiring their employees to check their social  tools (and their “consumer” identities) at the door.  

 

Based on all vital signs, we have not yet fully reached the evolutionary tipping point on Social @ Work.   We are getting close though to the edge transforming to “Social Workplace” on a global scale. 

 

To guide our quick overview of Social@Work trends, we will use Gardner’s  HYPE CYCLE model.  We will apply those maturity criteria to  Social HR.

 

The question that the Hype Cycle helps answer is the following:

  • When new technologies are introduced to the market, how do we, in HR discern the hype from the true innovation that serve core business needs?

 

HYPE CYCLEs in general measure the maturity of an innovative technological phenomena in the consumer and in the work place. 

 

The questions that it helps us address are generally the following:

  • Are we ready to jump in and make a financial and resource commitment?

  • What kind of culture do we want to have?

  • What tools do we need to have to support that culture?

  • Who do we learn/benchmark from?

 

The Hype Cycle as a diagnostic model, is easily applicable and culturally appropriate.

 

Gardner’s (Technology) HYPE CYCLE

 

 

Source:  Gartner, Inc.  

 

 

Interpreting SocialHR@Work  Trends

 

Similar to other trends, the HR Hype Cycle drills down into the five key phases of a technology’s life cycle.

  • Technology Trigger:   Identifies the business need and proposes a potential solution

  • Peak of Inflated Expectations:  Responds to early publicity and results in the “hype” that may back fire as the technology does not deliver and new redesign is required.

  • Trough of Disillusionment:  Diminishes early interest as experiments and implementations fail to deliver. Investments continue only if the products are improved to the satisfaction of early adopters.

  • Slope of Enlightenment: More instances of how the technology can benefit the enterprise start to crystallize and become more widely understood. Investment and development continues.

  • Plateau of Productivity: The technology’s broad applicability and relevance are clearly paying off.  Mainstream adoption starts to take off.

 

The maturity chart for SocialHR@ Work * 

(* The legend shows the maturity levels of different Talent Management Practices with Talent Acquisition being most mature and Executive development entering early stages of transformation to Social)

 

Talent Acquisition is the most mature function within Social HR@Work.  Social technologies and platforms have fully delivered their transformative value in the Talent search function and are best known and most widely practiced in all types of organizations globally. SOCIAL is now the way recruitment is delivered. 

 

Linkedin , FaceBook, Twitter, You Tube as well as career site-scrapping services such as Indeed and Simply Hired and specialized sites such as Idealist.com  make all Talent globally discoverable.    

 

These broad Social Networking Platforms brought Radical transparency to the Search business and added significant advantages to both the job seeker and the employer. Now, everyone’s on-line reputation and individual brand value has to be carefully crafted and protected in the all access on line search environment.

 

New social technologies are drilling deeper into the reputational value of individuals measured across all social sites.  Klout for example is one such service surfacing one’s social footprint on the web, translating it into a score which carries its own social value. Klout Score is the measurement of someone's overall online influence, the higher the score, the better your reputation. Klout measures such dimensions as True Reach, Amplification Probability, and Network Score to represent one’s sphere of influence.

 

Reputational transparency applies to companies as much as  it applies to the individuals.  Organizations’ rating system started out with the Universities with -- Rate your Professor, and medical profession with -- Rate your MD.   Now we have arrived at company ratings by the employees with Glassdoor, a social site  publishing company’s reputational scores based on employees’ ratings.

 

Following up on Talent Acquisition success, other talent functions are catching up to the social opportunity:  On Boarding, New Job Orientation, Mentoring, Career Planning and Development. All providing a social extension to recruitment inside the organization.

 

Supported by Social platforms, Mentoring has become an even more powerful learning medium enabling  knowledge transfer in the most efficient and cost effective way. Everwise, one of the leading on line mentoring providers, published in their research finding that: “Traditional concepts of career development or internal mobility are being tossed aside altogether along with hierarchies, job titles, and in some cases, the HR function itself.”  

 

Enterprise Learning is second only to Talent Acquisition in being fundamentally transformed by Social media. Learning via Social is a different way altogether of acquiring knowledge and collaborating with others.   In fact, new skills are needed just to learn how to learn.  As a part of the new socially enabled Talent Management continuum, learning has become learner centered and collaborative.  Organizations are better able to guide and cultivate employee learning for the purposes of knowledge transfer and retention through enterprise dedicated social platforms such as Yammer and Jive, and enabling features such as advanced search for deep subject matter expertise and cultivation of global communities of practice. These “Social” approaches to learning are radically displacing traditional education with evidence-based, 'modern, data-driven' educational methodologies that are responsible for a 'fundamental transformation of education' itself. 

 

Two major breakthrough innovations have occurred in learning in the last few years: The unprecedented expansion of Moocs  (Massive Online Open Courses) and Gamification  (Application of gaming techniques to non-gaming environments) dispelling every possible conceived notion of how learning actually happens.

 

Because of massive enrollments, MOOCs require instructional design that facilitates large-scale feedback and interaction. The two basic approaches are:

  • Peer-review and group collaboration

  • Automated feedback through objective, online assessments, e.g. quizzes and exams

 

In terms of challenges, George Simmons, MOOC investor described it best : “we have the technology to teach 100,000 students online, the next challenge will be scaling creativity, and finding a way that even in a class of 100,000, adaptive learning can give each student a personal experience.” 

 

Gamification, on the other hand, addresses the challenges of engagement beyond learning and education and in the workplace itself.  Defined as “the use of game thinking and game mechanics in non-game contexts to engage users in solving problems,” it makes it easier for the participant to compete and stay focused until winning.  Companies have now have been successfully experimenting with introducing games into their learning suites.

 

For example, Microsoft released the game Ribbon Hero 2 as an add-on to their Office productivity suite to help train people to use it effectively, which was described by Microsoft as one of the most popular projects its Office Labs division ever released.

 

The New York City Department of Education has set up a school called Quest to Learn centered around game-based learning, with the intent to make education more engaging and relevant to modern kids.

 

Performance Management is also being transformed with social and digital technologies coming into broad use with a variety of organizations.  Performance Management is at the lower maturity level marked with a few false starts and only a few overall successes in the following areas:

  • The main area of transformation and radical change is in the performance evaluation stage of the process. With the help of Social platforms, managers now are able to get evaluations from a broader circle of clients, colleagues and junior associates. It is a virtual 360 environment in which feedback is enabled continuously and universally. 

  • The new Socially enabled performance management process also allows for reward and recognition process to be central to the entire process

 

Executive (Leadership) Development has remained the area where changes come much slower indeed.Traditionally primed for the highest touch, individual treatment, Executive development is embracing its own set of social interactive tools.

  • First, it is definitely the area of psychological assessments and 360* assessments that are extensively deployed in executive development.  All of such assessments are administered on line and the assessment data can feed into other Talent processes deployed by the organization such as executive performance management, succession planning and overseas assignments.

  • Executive communication is one aspect of leadership that has been radically transformed with the arrival of Social media. Leadership blogs, chat rooms and leadership ratings have effectively shortened the executive power distance in organization.  Most company leaders now have a running blog prioritizing building their presence with the employees.

  • And not the least, the Expression. “It is lonely at the top” does not any longer hold.  Leaders at all levels can now effectively reach out across organizational boundaries and form peer support networks exchanging solutions, experiences, providing each other support.

 

This was a brief overview of the Maturity Curve and the Hype Cycle on SocialHR@Work. We touched only on a few key areas of transformation that have significantly changed the way work is being done.  The revolution is underway, however affecting all areas of the workplace.

 

If before we used to look up to the top Fortune 500 companies for solutions and “best practices” we are now looking around the corner for the new comers who are bringing with them innovative tools and practices. Traditional organizations have to worry more about skill obsolescence and deal with entitlements and legacies whereas the new companies are free to set up a new social platform and recruit directly for new skills. Mobility and speed took place of stability and security.

 

In conclusion, we came the full circle around the Hype Cycle. Clearly not every area of HR is transforming at the same pace.  Each function goes through its own set of Triggers, Expectations, Disillusionment, Enlightenment, Productivity.   However, it is evident that the pace of change is accelerating and even incremental changes build up to the groundswell of transformation. Let us welcome SocialHR@Work. 

 

About the Author

 

Dr. Anna Tavis is a Senior Organizational Consultant and Executive Coach with extensive global practice with the Future Workplace Group. Dr, Tavis’ corporate practice spanned the Americas, Europe,  Middle East and Asia practicing in a broad variety of industries including financial services (banking and insurance), technology, manufacturing and pharmaceutical sectors. 

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