#NZLEAD PREVIEW: BraveHR

Perry Tims Bio

So this is my second UK-takeover of the best twitter chat for HR professionals on the planet.  #nzlead quite literally puts the ding in my Thursday twitter feed and a weekly dose of professional chat and contemplation over 140 character bursts.

It also chimes with a theme we’re working on here in the UK, #BraveHR as part of the ConnectingHR social HR practitioners community.  So this theme then: #BraveHR.  What is it?  Why are we talking about it and what will it get us if we are that?

Some people have blogged about it ALREADY.  Doug Shaw’s is a good read about Fear here and then there was Neil Morrison’s 10 Point Agenda for HR here and there’s been some twitter chat on #BraveHR – and there will be more.

I reflected on the title, on the likely discussion this would lead to and on my own experiences of being in organisational development/change and HR.  Was I ever brave?  If so when and what did it get me?  Is there any point in being brave inside a corporate organisation or is it best to go “head down and just get through”?  Is there a need to be braver when you run your own business?

Anyway, I may muse further on these but I also got to thinking about many of my past HR colleagues and connections and thought about the same questions.  Have they been brave?  If they were brave, why? What did it get them?

And I came up short.  They weren’t brave at all.  On the outside it looked that way anyway.  They were predictable, safe, reliable, steadfast, bureaucratic, process-driven, a bit 2-dimensional, moderately successful but nonetheless successful, by the book, tidy.  Brave?  Nope.  Not apparently.

There were times when they were involved in tribunal cases, mediation cases, restructure difficulties and Union negotiations.  Were they brave then?  Not by my definition.  They were firm, safety conscious, tactical, followed a process, kept tight documentary trails and often, they “won”.  I say won, because they got what the organisation was after – a resolution that didn’t cost them a lot in £’s and reputational damage.  Still not brave though.

So in my definition #BraveHR is this – Standing out and being different – being you whilst still part of a collective. 

A couple of examples to explain my point somewhat.

  1. Not accepting mediocrity in your colleagues, business and profession.  Mediocrity is the scourge of human success.  I would rather someone try to punch above their weight than be resplendent coasting along on cruise control “just” getting by.  What a waste of human potential and skill.  This needs calling out but not necessarily in a street-brawl kind of way.   More in a stimulating, energising inspiring way. # BraveHR in this example here means sticking to the principle that people are inherently capable of great things.  Instead of forcing that from people, HR creates conditions where that comes out naturally or with some stimulation – that takes bravery in my book.  Brave because for some HR folks, that’s too ideological and takes too much effort.

And then there’s another frame.

  1. Holding your nerve and believing in yourself in creating a better way.  Having confidence in yourself, your beliefs and your ways is not always easy.  Have you ever:
    1. Been persuaded down a path you’re not convinced by via experienced heads around you?
    2. Deferred to organisational hierarchical power or strong views put across by lead figures?
    3. Accepted a norm or a situation because you don’t have all the answers?
    4. Had a controversial line that others are scared by, confused by, laugh at you for so you backed off or watered down your ideas?

ALL these things have happened to me.  I can guarantee you one thing; when I compromised because of politics, hierarchy, self-doubt or just plain conciliatory thinking things didn’t work out.  I am to blame for that because I adjusted my way and I wasn’t brave enough to stand firm and hold my nerve.  Believe in myself.

When I changed my approach to this, I got some success, some things still didn’t work out but I felt better about it.  Better because I was brave.  I began to enjoy being controversial and different.  I revelled in it somewhat.  I broke more rules and I became a bit of a rebel.

So for me, #BraveHR isn’t about taking on the big jobs in global corporate or big ticket assignments necessarily.  It isn’t about being a fighter, an angry provoker/verbal jouster, it isn’t about kicking ass and putting the Dictator in HRD.  It is about YOU.  Being true to you; standing firm about you and what you believe in as a human being and a professional who is there to make organisations and human beings “work”.

#BraveHR is in all of us.  If we believe in ourselves.

My four questions are:-

Q1 – Why does HR need to be brave – are IT, Finance and Marketing brave?

Q2 – Taken we need more BraveHR – how and where do we focus that effort?

Q3 – If people in HR aren’t brave enough what do we do about that?

Q4 – What will be the signs that BraveHR has made a difference?

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#NZLEAD RECAP: HR in Social Media

Well, if social media in HR isn’t popular in NZ at the moment, I have no idea how so many #nzlead participants supported and loved talking about HR and social media. It was fantastic! This week I noticed more participants than usual and all were very passionate about the use of social media and how it influenced and added to the daily HR careers.

A couple of weeks ago I received feedback that in NZ only about 5% of HR professionals were active on social media. This really struck me by surprise. Only 5% of the profession is actively using social media to enhance their careers and learn? When I talk about social media I still come across a lot of people who think I’m a bit crazy or just a nerd/geek. In reality, I am probably learning more on a day-to-day basis about my profession than they are (IMO – don’t quote me). But every day on Twitter I am linked to hundreds of articles, blogs and people who I can instantly get real-time information from. Literally within seconds. How is that not great? How is it that HR professionals don’t want to tap into that kind of quick, fast-paced work environment?

Social media isn’t just about making friends or interacting with random people who have the same interests as you. It is about connecting and engaging with professionals who do what you do on a daily basis and streaming information back and forth.

Some examples from the chat that confirm my statement:

After talking about all the benefits that people have received from using social media, the hard question was asked – how do we get more HR people involved in social media? It is all good and happy to talk about how easy and great it is for us who are addicted to it, but what about those HR people who are still sceptical and don’t want to try something new? We need to remember that for those who have never used social media before, it is a new and scary thing. You are putting yourself and your thoughts out there to be seen by the world and to be easily scrutinised as well. Some great tips were sahred from the chat as well:

and my favourite…

What I have been doing lately to help get people on board are:

  • Organising a professional networking evening: Along side a colleague of the HRINZ committee we put together a professional networking event which focused on LinkedIn and Twitter. Ella went through the basics of LinkedIn and how to use it effectively to build your professional network. I followed with the basics of Twitter and how to use it to connect and learn. This was extremely well received. Mostly because someone took the time to walk through the basics, to help them understand how to get started, the simple things they need to do and then how to properly use it to see benefits in the long-term. A lot of attendees had questions about Twitter, but my enthusiasm and benefits from my end helped encourage people to take the step! We had 4 new Twitter joiners the next day!
  • Spoke at a student event: I was asked to talk at a student event about my journey through HR and to provide some useful advice and tips. My key advice and tips were surrounding social media and the benefits I have gained from it helping in my HR career so far. I only had 5 minutes to speak, but after the event I had about 5 students approach me to ask; what I liked about LinkedIn, how to use Twitter, asked about #nzlead and how to follow it, asked if I could run a workshop on using LinkedIn and Twitter at the university. It is just showing the enthusiasm that can get the party started.

Get the enthusiasm first, then walk through the basics second. It has worked for me. People want someone to help them use the tool and then help them see the benefits. Be a leader and get them active!

#NZLEAD PREVIEW: HR in Social Media

Over a year ago I read a blog about why recruiters don’t blog. There were a couple of interesting points that this blog raised for me. The main point is that recruiters don’t blog because it is not necessarily a social activity, and I quote from this blog: “to write a blog post you need to sit and think and write”. Since then though there has definitely been an uptake of recruiters in the social media space, particularly involvement in social media channels such as LinkedIn and Twitter where there is a high element of ‘social’ and even an increase in blogging. You’ve just got to look around, Social Media Club Auckland is a good example, recruiters are right in there with social media.
 
What I don’t understand is, if blogging is about thinking and writing, and social media is about interacting with people why aren’t more HR people (incuding Generalist, OD and L&D) involved? Well, Brad Power in the Harvard Business Review suggests that HR people are not necessarily innovators in business (which you might argue otherwise – and I hope you do!), which I infer means they might not be up with the play with something like social media. However, there are a number of HR blogs out there, most of which are written by actual HR people. So HR people do blog.
 
However, there are still not that many HR people, particularly in New Zealand that are out there writing a blog and engaging in social media channels like Twitter and LinkedIn. Social media means engaging with people and getting involved in further discussions, it also means opening up to comments you might find challenging. All expressed in a very public forum. This is invaluable for learning and networking, but is potentially quite disconcerting for those people more comfortable with traditional learning and networking channels.
 
Lets explore this topic further:
 
Q1) What are the benefits of HR engagement with social media? What have you experienced?
 
Q2) How do we get more HR people involved in social media?
 
Q3) How do we measure and prove the benefits of HR being involved with social media?
 
 Q4) What are the best HR related blogs you have read lately? Why?