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June 2024

InFullBloom Archives


Speaking Engagements

Predict and Prepare sponsored by Workday 12/16

The Bill Kutik Radio Show® #171, 2/15
The Bill Kutik Radio Show® #160, 8/14
The Bill Kutik Radio Show® #145, 1/14
Workday Predict and Prepare Webinar, 12/10/2013
The Bill Kutik Radio Show® #134, 8/13
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
Keynote, Connections Ultimate Partner Forum, 3/9-12/11
"Convergence in Bloom" Webcast and accompanying white paper, sponsored by ADP, 9/21/10
The Bill Kutik Radio Show® #63, 9/10
Keynote for Workforce Management's first ever virtual HR technology conference, 6/8/10
Knowledge Infusion Webinar, 6/3/10
Webinar Sponsored by Workday: "Predict and Prepare," 12/8/09
Webinar Sponsored by Workday: "Preparing to Lead the Recovery," 11/19/09 Audio/Powerpoint
"Enterprise unplugged: Riffing on failure and performance," a Michael Krigsman podcast 11/9/09
The Bill Kutik Radio Show® #39, 10/09
Workday SOR Webinar, 8/25/09
The Bill Kutik Radio Show® #15, 10/08

Keynote, HR Tech Europe, Amsterdam, 10/25-26/12
Master Panel, HR Technology, Chicago, 10/9/012
Keynote, Workforce Magazine HR Tech Week, 6/6/12
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
Workday Rising, Las Vegas, 10/24-27/11
HR Technology, Las Vegas 10/3-5/11
HR Florida, Orlando 8/29-31/11
Boussias Communications HR Effectiveness Forum, Athens, Greece 6/16-17/11
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

When Bank Branch Managers Are Called President

Dilbert CPO 74152_strip Frame IToday’s wonderful Dilbert strip got me thinking about how easy it is to use words that mislead, manipulate, and generally obscure the truth.  In Lake Woebegon, where all the men are handsome and the children are above average, we dance around performance issues, letting the person in question think that things are going pretty well when, in fact, we’re already planning how to get rid of them via those convenient transfers, promotions and “special project.”   With work plans and estimates based on unachievable assumptions, we cross our fingers and make a wish over how long and at what real cost that ERP upgrade will be done, perhaps protected by the thought that such projects are invariably rescoped/repositioned/restaffed before they’re completed — or at least after we’ve left them for the next project.  Confronted with the unpleasant task of balancing unbalanceable budgets, building sales plans to support unsupportable growth targets, creating pie-in-the-sky marketing plans, swallowing hard to swallow organizational changes, and the list goes on, we avoid the hard work of telling it like it is and cloak our discomfort in the weazle words of paradigm shifting, innovative differentiation, the “cloud” will handle those details, and Chief Whatever Officer.  As in so many things, Dilbert has our number.

Renaming the job of branch manager to President of the Fort Myers area (where there’s only one such branch in the Fort Myers area) does not increase by one jot the decision-making authority or autonomy of the new, so-called President.  Calling time and attendance software, which does the heavy lifting for hourly workforce scheduling, wage calculations, and timesheet-based labor distribution, talent management software does not make it so.  Claiming that the 22% maintenance fees paid by licensed/on-premise software customers are being used entirely for the benefit of those customers, is only believable by those folks still buying swamp land in Fort Myers (where we have no swamps for sale, not even in this depressed market).  Having a corporate values statement that says that our workforce is our greatest asset defies credulity when the organization just did a 10% across-the-board layoff because they didn’t know enough about their work or workers to know what part of the workforce asset was most important to retain.  And calling single tenant software that the vendor hosts and for which the customer subscribes your SaaS offering is intentionally misleading.  So why are these practices, and many more like them, so commonplace? 

The easy answer may be that human nature abhores plain truths, shies away from unpleasantness, avoids being the messenger who may get shot after delivering the bad news, and is riddled with similar character flaws.  Or it may be that we love the plain truth but only when it’s spoken “off the record,” “without attribution,” or “for deep background only.”  I’ve built something of a reputation for being blunt-spoken, for not shying away from conveying the hard truths (at least to the best of my knowledge and, hopefully, with enough humility to know the limits of same), for pushing myself, colleagues and clients to do more and do better, and for calling out those who don’t, at least in my little corner of the world.  That reputation and behavior have certainly closed doors, and I’m mindful that I’ve had the luxury, as a solo, of not needing the clients and projects on the other side of those doors to feed a large team (or a family) as I did before I went solo. 

The bottom line.  I’m convinced that the next big leap at the crossroads of HRM and HR/IT will come not from any breakthroughs in either but rather from the positive impact that social networks and networking are having on our continued ability to mislead, manipulate, and generally obscure the truth in both areas.  Just as customer service fails, product quality issues, and new movies are discussed openly and in real time on Twitter, so too are the full range of HRM and HR/IT issues, products, services, vendors, providers, individual leaders, etc.  No place to hide anymore.  Doing a layoff?  Everyone knows very quickly?  Crap software?  The word is out.  Fluffed-up LinkedIn profile?  Someone will notice.  Not in Lake Woebegone, Fort Myers or wherever you dwell are all the men handsome or the children above average, and today everyone knows it.

7 comments to When Bank Branch Managers Are Called President

  • Robin M. Byers

    Naomi, I’ve been following you for years. We have a mutual friend in one Marc S. Miller. I just wanted to say how ironic your blog is. Although I see a Dilbert at least once a week that applies, the one you cite in your blog is one I cut out, blew up and hang in my cubicle. It’s right next to the announcement of my employer’s new Chief People Officer. I’ve always said, I don’t care what you call me, it’s how you respect me and reward me that matters.

    Keep up the great work.

    • Naomi Bloom

      Robin, How kind of you to take time to let me know that my work is of value to you. Dilbert is a favorite around here. My husband is an engineer, former NASA, and he and I can react quite different to the same cartoon, especially ones about Dilbert’s complete lack of emotional intelligence. What’s normal to engineers is beyond comprehension to HR people. Happy holidays, Naomi

  • Bill Kutik

    Happily, most of the T&A vendors I know have not misappropriated the “Talent Management” label, as several ATS vendors did before we really started having suites. Now they are accurately calling themselves “Talent Acquisition” vendors.

    No, the T&A guys (who also offer scheduling optimization, absence management and other modules) are using the label “Workforce Management” (WFM), and in their case, it really does seem accurate, at least to me.

  • What you write about inflated titles reminds me of a quote I came across a while ago: ‘We also know how cruel the truth often is, and we wonder whether delusion is not more consoling’ — Henri Poincaré.

    Social networking is an interesting thing… A former colleague asked me about a LinkedIn connection I had that they were interviewing for a job; she double-checked the guy’s LinkedIn info with me personally. The LinkedIn information got them interested, but they made sure to verify it with a trusted source.

    This verification step is important, and I think its importance will grow as the amount of information increases. Another example – an industry article I wrote a few years ago was plagiarized and put up on a foreign firm’s site. They ignore my requests to remove it, and I’m not sure I want to spend the money to take it to court. Unless someone verifies it, they wouldn’t know it was plagiarized.

    In my opinion, trust in social networking is a critical issue. What we see on Twitter, LinkedIn, blogs, and etc may or may not be real – we depend on the trustworthiness of our connections. Social networks accelerate information, and the value is multiplied – both negative and positive – by the trustworthiness of your sources.

    • Naomi Bloom

      Steve, agree entirely with your thoughts. The one thing that hasn’t changed during my career is that your reputation is hard to protect and easy to lose; social technology speeds up and expands the reach of both phenomena. All the more reason for care.

  • Naomi Bloom

    Mark, thanks so much for your thoughtful comments. I’m delighted that you found my blog and look forward to our further discussions. I’ve been speaking/writing/consulting about the ideas presented here for many years, but there’s no question that this blog, really social networking, is giving me a powerful new outlet for them.

  • Or how everyone is called Vice President as certain unnamed investment banks…

    You are right. Being truthful is too strong of a medicine for people to take, and it certainly does not win you any friends. Social networking has the power to change that, to put people in the position of leading with the plain truth, rather than the veils, labels and conceits that pass as “truth”.

    However, with any communications medium, we may soon see corruptive forces overtake the social media. Already we look with skepticism at online product reviews or too enthusiast pitching by certain bloggers. The good is that the democratic nature of the Internet can prevail.

    As for the big HRM breakthroughs, I believe we are at an important juncture as an industry of seeing new thinking seeding itself in HR departments across corporate America. Your focus on business outcome metrics as it applies to HRM is one such powerful, industry changing idea.

    Great blog and I look forward to your continuing posts.

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