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HR Tech, Las Vegas, 10/8-10/2014
HR Tech Europe, Amsterdam, 10/23-24/2014

PAST BUT AVAILABLE FOR REPLAY
Workday Predict and Prepare Webinar, 12/10/2013
CXOTalk: Naomi Bloom, Nenshad Bardoliwalla, and Michael Krigsman, 3/15/2013
Drive Thru HR, 12/17/12
The Bill Kutik Radio Show® #110, 8/12
Webinar Sponsored by Workday: "Follow the Yellow Brick Road to Business Value," 5/3/12 Audio/Whitepaper
Webinar Sponsored by Workday: "Predict and Prepare," 12/7/11
HR Happy Hour - Episode 118 - 'Work and the Future of Work', 9/23/11
The Bill Kutik Radio Show® #87, 9/11
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"Convergence in Bloom" Webcast and accompanying white paper, sponsored by ADP, 9/21/10
The Bill Kutik Radio Show® #63, 9/10
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Knowledge Infusion Webinar, 6/3/10
Webinar Sponsored by Workday: "Predict and Prepare," 12/8/09
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The Bill Kutik Radio Show® #39, 10/09
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Keynote, HR Tech Europe, Amsterdam, 10/25-26/12
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Webcast Sponsored by Workday: "Building a Solid Business Case for HR Technology Change," 5/31/12
Keynote, Saba Global Summit, Miami, 3/19-22/12
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HR Technology, Las Vegas 10/3-5/11
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HR Demo Show, Las Vegas 5/24-26/11
Workday Rising, 10/11/10
HRO Summit, 10/22/09
HR Technology, Keynote and Panel, 10/2/09

Adventures of Bloom & Wallace

a work in progress

Clowns To The Left Of Us, Jokers To The Right: It’s Easy To Spot Ineffective HRM

Clowns To The Left Of Us, Jokers To The Right Of Us…

I’ve been collecting stories for years.  Family stories, stories about friends, about trips Ron and I have made, about colleagues and others with whom I’ve crossed paths professionally, about the highlights and lowlights (and lowlives) in my personal and professional lives.  Now, with encouragement from the Enterprise Irregulars, who’ve been discussing the power of stories to illuminate, educate, and galvanize an audience to action, I thought I’d take those stories out of my files (don’t you have zillion notes on same that are just waiting to be used?) and turn them into posts.  And since I’ve written so much here about dysfunctional HR technology, I thought I’d tell a few tales of dysfunctional HRM. 

This is best read while playing this music in the background: 

  1. The “how to lose great candidates” story — as a hiring manager, we’re frustrated by our inability to hire a great candidate.  Hiring them would require a perfectly reasonable customization of the relevant incentive compensation plan, but someone in the HR department has determined that the needed change would be too difficult to implement because of our antiquated payroll system.  Compounding our frustration, we know instinctively how important it is to fill this position as quickly as possible with a well-qualified candidate, but we don’t have the predictive analytics to quantify the negative future business impact of our not being able to do so.  Our organization also doesn’t have the data that would have helped us make the business case for getting rid of our antiquated payroll system on the basis of constrained business outcomes rather than often mythical headcount savings.  Our organization then adds insult to injury by making it impossible for managers, who are often on the move, to provide the HR executive with quick feedback on the incentive compensation plan issue and their request for an override via a smart phone or tablet.
  2. The “how to hamper new businesses/new markets” story — as an executive, we’re prevented from launching an important new line of business or entering a new market quickly enough to seize the opportunities presented because the available talent management tools aren’t adequate to find already onboard workers with the requisite capabilities.  Furthermore, HR’s recruiting team hasn’t maintained an adequate pipeline or effective sourcing networks in advance of our need for these types of scarce KSAOC workers.  And if we shake our personal network within the firm to find candidates via phone calls and email in the absence of more social/collaborative tools, we may well violate our organization’s commitment to diversity and equal opportunity because our personal network looks very much like us.  But even with those social/ collaboration tools in place, executives on the move must be able to shake their networks whenever, wherever and on whatever device is most convenient for them — and we don’t do mobile except for time recording.
  3.  Another “how to lose great candidates” story — as an applicant research scientist or salesperson, who relies heavily on her personal network to source information and connections needed to deliver maximum results, we’re astonished to discover that your organization blocks social technology access to our professional networks for “security reasons.” When we further discover that you don’t support our preferred mobile technology platforms, the ones on which we’ve relied long enough to have built up very productive work habits, we decline to proceed with your interview process because we’re convinced that your HRM policies represent a significant barrier to our effective performance should we be hired.  And that’s over and above your having the worst imaginable applicant experience at your Web site, e.g. although you claim to be a globa organization which values diversity, your career site couldn’t imagine someone holding two passports, tried to force mi nombre de Espana into your damn anglo format, and made no provision for my having achieved degrees that have no direct US equivalent.
  4.  The “how to ruin a performance review” story — as a supervisor, we’ve found our carefully prepared performance feedback to an employee falling on deaf ears because that employee knew we had not taken into account, for lack of good tracking and sufficiently granular organizational roles data in our system of record, their involvement in and accomplishments on an emergency “fix the roof” project that took time away from their achieving the objectives of their primary position.  The review goes from bad to worse when, again because we don’t have the data, business rules and embedded content that would support a better decision, our recommended compensation increase is so out of step with the contributions of this employee that we turn an otherwise engaged worker into a flight risk.
  5. The “how to screw up diversity” story — as an international employee, we’ve wondered why our US-headquartered employer, while espousing the importance of global thinking and the value of diversity, forced us to cram our non-Anglo name into the Anglo format of first name, middle name, last name in all of their systems (yes, we’ve had to enter it seven or eight times for reasons unknown) and used only US-centric cultural examples in their first line supervisor training.  With more growth outside the US than within, the impact on business outcomes of losing, either outright or through disengagement, highly qualified international employees is substantial.  But that flight risk is compounded, for many countries, when we insist HRM service, delivered now entirely self service, cannot take advantage of that country’s having better wireless than wired broadband connectivity.
  6.  The “how to hobble any project” story — as a project team member, we’ve spent precious time tracking down relevant information/expertise across our personal network, the old-fashioned way, with email trails and phone calls, because our employer made it difficult to use social technology to build, sustain and deploy our personal networks in support of our work.  When the project is intended to deliver breakthroughs in design, manufacturing, or any other area where it’s clear that the organization doesn’t have a wealth of knowledge and experience, the barriers to this project’s success are compounded when team member access to their external networks is similarly thwarted.  But even the best team, which may well include contingent as well as employee workers, many of whom tele-commute, will stumble when their access to essential training on the new tools they’ll be using cannot be delivered except when they are at the office. 
  7.  The “how to make HR look bad” story — as an HR professional, we’re frustrated at our inability to make the business case for needed investments in everything from improved compensation plan designs to upgrading our HR technology because we don’t know the bottom line impact on business outcomes of past investments in HRM and we can’t predict reliably which HRM investments will produce the biggest future impact on the organization’s business outcomes.  There’s nothing more uncomfortable than being grilled by that number savvy CFO whose statistically literate team can link everything done in finance and elsewhere to the organization’s business results, and we can’t provide diddly squat.
  8. The “how to frustrate CEOs” story — as the CEO, we’re overwhelmed with the cost of health care coverage for our workforce, frustrated with our inability to build a sufficiently international management bench to support needed growth in new geographies, alarmed at the lack of statistically relevant analyses linking HRM costs to business outcomes, and fed up with the constant requests from the HR department for new technology investments which don’t appear to do more than address the administrative costs and inconvenience of running the HR department.  And our frustration is increased every time we meet with peer CEOs in our industry only to see them tap a few keys on their smart phone or tablet to get today’s status on the filling of key positions, the hours lost to accidents, or the likelihood of the Canadian sales team achieving their sales targets.  Enough is enough!

Bloom & Wallace is going through a super painful (not to mention expensive in $$ and near-term lost productivity) rip & replace of long-standing business technology, and my sympathy for others facing such disruption in huge.  But there really does come a time when the pressure of what you can’t do easily, of innovation that you can’t seize quickly and cheaply, of applications understood only by folks near retirement (or long since gone), of vendors who have been gobbled up and whose products have languished, znd of so much hobbling technical debt creates a true burning platform business case.  Such a business case pushes you forward, and the promise of improved business capabilities pulls you to the future.  These and other stories like them, with their impacts quantified, are needed to help you make the business case for your own “crossing of the chasm” when it comes to HR technology.  For Bloom & Wallace, the burning platform was our inability to support (really the risks of our not being able to support) the increasingly mobile, global, collaborative and always on expectations of colleagues and friends — and the increased threat of abandonment by our tech support team (aka The Wallace).

 

3 comments to Clowns To The Left Of Us, Jokers To The Right: It’s Easy To Spot Ineffective HRM

  • Paul Sparta

    I fondly remember this song from when it was first released. Sadly, Gerry Rafferty is no longer with us having died a few months back. Apparently, he was somewhat of a tortured soul.

    • Naomi Bloom

      I always loved this song, and that “caught in the middle” reminded me of the many times as a manager that I was caught between what made sense for the organization, for my P&L, and what was “allowed” or “convenient” or “compliant” per the HR department. AMS, my last real employer, did a really good job at HRM, and that was long before we had great technology to enable it.

  • I am wondering if ceding common sense to technology can be a factor. Mainly with the electronic application process. I know some one who got one of those ” keep on file” notices, and then got an email six months later for a “job you might be interested in”.

    The position was for an intern – yet this person had ten years of experience in the role!

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