Technology


This morning, Brian Mageirski  pointed me to an article in TechCrunch about  a Reduction in Force at Jive Software in Portland, Oregon.  The post highlighted a former employee’s take on the layoffs, and his thoughts on why he felt the company mismanaged the process.  This employee was not laid off – he had already found another job and given his notice, but he was surrounded by the folks who were caught off-guard by the layoff.  Chris’s post and the associated comments didn’t say anything different than what we heard during the dot com bust.  There’s nothing surprising or outrageous here.  Nothing I didn’t hear from (or, for that matter, say to) my friends and family when my husband was laid off.  What’s different this time is the audience.  Chris is no longer sharing this with his closest friends and family – he’s sharing it with the world.  And the world is listening and responding.

And so are the world’s former and future bosses.  Uh-oh.  Are those bridges I smell burning?

This, of course, started some conversations internally.  I was talking to our Social Media Studette, Susan Scrupski, about it, and she mentioned that this was something she was already addressing.  We got into a discussion about how we have a choice as we move forward…  We either change the way we react to other people’s honest postings, or we encourage self-censorship to head off potential future problems. 

Social media advocates (like Susan) will say we need to change the way we react. They believe that this type of transparent, vibrant, open discussion is how we’re changing the world.   We need to “get over ourselves and our big egos” and encourage people to say what they feel, and use that to develop better processes and solutions in the future.   They’re drippy, lovey Liberals that way… 

I, on the other hand, am terribly old-fashioned.  I encourage self-censorship.  Thinking before you post.  I’ve said it before and I will say it again – the internet is pretty much permanent.   If you might be embarrassed by something five years from now, I suggest you refrain from posting it.  I’m a boring, old, humorless Conservative that way…

Back to Chris’s post, though…  There are some important points in this post.  Companies might be able to take away some valuable lessons about how you treat exiting employees.  Keeping their personal items isn’t just harsh – it’s sort of stealing.  And it looks REALLY bad.  Even if we don’t have all the information, it doesn’t matter.  Perception is 9/10ths of reality, and Jive’s going to have a hard time recovering their employment brand after this.  And, what’s worse is that it was a pretty cool brand before they kept people’s wedding pictures.

Employees might be able to take away some valuable lessons, too.  Remember that HR doesn’t generally make the decisions about who stays and who goes during a layoff.  That’s a decision that’s handed down from the business leaders.  And most of the time, HR doesn’t have a lot of input into severance packages and exit details.  So, projecting your anger on the messenger (HR) isn’t fair, and it’s not healthy.  HR people get laid off and find new jobs, too, you know. 

I can understand the anger (my husband was working and laid off during the dot com era, too), but I could appreciate who made the decisions and who had the unenviable task of delivering the news.  Be careful how loudly you cry and gnash your teeth – your potential future employers might not be able to fully empathize with your circumstances, and your on-line behavior may be used against you in your job search.  Google is a hiring manager’s best friend, after all, and in a market where there are more potential employees than there are open jobs, hiring managers will be picky.

I guess Chris got a lot of feedback, because while I was writing this post, I was alerted to another post by Chris, which comes across as much more positive.

The very best reply of the entire year came from someone claiming to be Chris’ mother:

Chris, you are blessed beyond words in so many ways. God protected you and gave you another job before this all happened. Don’t forget that Jive was a blessing for you. You made a lot of new friends and learned a lot. Changes in your life have always been for the better and this won’t be any different. Your new company will be better to have you just like Jive was!! I know you aren’t upset about this, just surprised that stuff in the world happens in the manner in which it did!!

If we’d all just listen to our mothers, our lives would be so much easier.

And, since it’s my birthday, I need to give a hat tip to my mother and father, Bernadette and Bob Carty.  Thanks folks.  I appreciate the gift of a very happy life.  Here’s to another 36+ years!

UPDATE:  I forgot to mention that the only things I removed from this email were the guy’s full phone number and last name.  Everything else is EXACTLY as I received it.  Including the field codes.

Do not send me something that looks like this (true story – really happened today):

Hello (%Naren%)

As you know, I represent a staffing company whereby we work at a national level, servicing our clients in the IT / Engineering area, helping them fill their contract openings or direct hire positions. If I can assist you fill job openings at (%BeyondTekIT.com%), please send me a job description and then contact me ASAP.

Since 90% of our business comes from repeat business, I would like to make you one of our repeat clients.

I look to hearing from you shortly, with a favorable reply.

Thanks,
 
Naren <Last Name Removed>

Tel: 714-xxx-xxxx

If you send me something like that, it tells me two very important things:

  1. You think so highly of yourself that you assume I know who you are, who you work for, and what you do. 
  2. You have a terrible grasp of Mail Merge, because you couldn’t even get the fields to populate.

I’m not going to respond to a blanket, mass email sent to the Careers address for my company.  I don’t send bulk emails to my candidates, so I expect that people who are looking to provide me with a paid service would be smart enough to take a few minutes of research time to figure out who I am and what I do.  I expect a personalized note, and I expect that you will attempt to build a relationship with me before I do any kind of business with you.  

Recruiting should be a personalized service.  I expect that my third-party partners are taking the time to understand our needs, as well as those of the candidates they refer.  The partners we’ve used in the past have been successful at this, because they are interested in what each party needs and wants, and are able to effectively bridge any gap.  Some of our recent, successful partners include Modis, Hirestarter, and the Laurel Group. Each of these organizations has done a great job of developing relationships with nGenera, and when they provide us with candidates, they are as interested in the right fit as they are in the placement fee.

So, to reiterate…  If you’re a third-party recruiter hoping to do business with us, please take a minute to do a couple of quick Google searches to see who you’re dealing with, and try to actually build a relationship with us – don’t just throw us your candidates and hope one sticks. I can guarantee you that there is no quicker way to my “blocked senders list” than by wasting my time.

Workforce Management recently highlighted the HR function at Owens Corning.

Here are my thoughts:
The best quote (and one that I think transcends HR – it really is a struggle for most departments) is from Owens Corning’s Sr. VP of Human Resources, Joseph High:  

“I have seen HR people get so enamored with the function of HR and they act like that’s the end,” he says. “But it’s just a means to the end. The end is achieving the business results.”  

Without solid business results, HR ceases to exist.  There is no money to pay people if there are no business results.

High mentions that he wants to bring HR back-office costs to zero.  I believe that doing so proves that HR is more than a cost center – it is a business driver.  If HR can prove that the benefits of what they do, outweigh the concrete dollar costs, HR can establish itself as a profit center, rather than a cost center.  Obviously, implementing an Innovation nGen (or, if you’re not into nGenera-speak, an Innovation Engine) helps that – as the capacity for innovation increases, Owens Corning’s HR department can help drive costs down and better quantify the bottom-line dollar results of HR activities. 

High also discusses the role managers play in workforce planning (which we recently addressed on RecruitingBlogs.com with industry superstar Susan Burns).  He travels 10 days out of the month, and meets with the business and HR leaders to get a solid understanding of where the business areas are headed.  According to High, he is “getting managers to be clear on where they see their markets going and what that means for talent.”  High is putting some of the responsibility for workforce planning on the people who define the need – the business leaders.

Owens Corning expects all employees to be leaders.  To that end, they have established clear, measurable attributes for leadership at all levels of the organization, from executives to front line team members.  As they continue to grow as an organization, Owens Corning refines the attributes to reflect changes in their internal culture, and the external marketplace. 

Further in the article, High is asked about a massive acquisition and a divestiture Owens Corning undertook last year.  High explained the difficulties associated with managing the processes.  He pointed out that the HR team “had to help decide which talent would stay with Owens Corning and which would go. It also included a lot of decisions about how benefits would be handled for people who stayed and for those who left.”  Owens Corning’s HR team rose to the challenge and helped manage a process that significantly increased the worldwide workforce for Owens Corning (from 30% to 50%).  

The article also briefly touches on “environmental” stability, as it related to Owens Corning’s overall business goals.  High says that the overall business purpose of Owens Corning is to “enhance lives and transform solutions,” and environmental stewardship will always be a part of that.  Frankly, I was surprised that there wasn’t more emphasis on this piece, since it’s sort of the “flavor of the week” for today’s companies.

At the end of the article, High is asked to explain how they measure success.  His thoughts?  

” I measure my success by [whether] we are hitting our business objectives and if we are creating stronger talent year over year. Do we have the right people for the right roles when we need them? Having said that, I can have the greatest succession planning ever, but if we don’t make our business results, then I have not met my objectives.”

It’s these types of things that have made Owens Corning one of Fortune Magazine’s “Most Admired Companies” for several years running.

What do you think?  How are you measuring the success of your HR team?  Do you have a strong enough grasp on how your group directly impacts the business?

A few weeks ago, my family and I took our first long vacation in several years.  We visited family in Ellijay, Georgia, and we spent some time on beautiful Topsail Island, NC.  It’s obviously been a long time since we’ve had a vacation, so my ability to step away from work was a little rusty.  In fact, when I found out that our beach house had wireless, I was so excited I did the Linus Dance. I was able to get to all my applications (of course, being that we’re a SaaS software company, all of my apps are SaaS-based), and I was able to fight some fires while I was out.

But then… disaster struck!  As I was showing my father-in-law something on the internet, I was startled by something, turned too quickly, and knocked a glass of wine onto my keyboard.  You can guess what happened next…  a sizzle, a quick whiff of ozone, and then the screen went black.  Uh-oh.  

So, I was without a laptop.  Luckily, I still had my iPhone, and I still had access to all of my applications, since they were all on the web, and not installed on my hard drive.  Even though I had a catastrophic equipment failure, I did not have a catastrophic loss of productivity.  

 

As soon as I returned home and brought my sad, fried laptop to Best Buy for repair, I was able to get up and running on our iMac.  And when we realized that it would be THREE WEEKS before my laptop would be repaired, I was able to buy a MacBook, get it set up to use my SaaS software, and be up and running in less than 30 minutes!   I was already hooked on SaaS, but after this experience, my support was cemented.  If I had to re-install all my applications on my hard drive, we’d be talking about hours (at least!) of lost productivity and hair-pulling.

All of my data were still there.  The documents I have created over the past few months were still available on nGenera’s own SaaS-based collaboration tool, nGen Collaboration.  All of my resumes, schedules, and interview comments were still waiting for me on Jobvite. In short, I was able to access all my information, on demand, when I needed it.

And SaaS applications made that possible.

Hat tip to MN Headhunter for this one…

Wordle is a cute little tool for creating “word clouds” from your writing. I hopped on the site, told it to map my blog, and got this funky little picture:

Apparently, I talk a lot about Enterprise and 2.0. I like the tool, though, because it can really show you where a person’s interests are. My friend Paul, the MN Headhunter, for example, is a little too into sports, according to his Wordle. My Twitter Wordle looks like I like myself:

My Twitter Wordle

With apologies to Capital One
“What’s in your Wordle?” Post your links as comments!

I try. I really do. I want to help the nGenera software engineering team so much that I’ve been trying to write Ruby on Rails code. The only problem is, I don’t have what it takes. I’m just not a good programmer. Oh, sure, I USED to be an awesome programmer, but that was before I moved into the frou-frou world of “Talent Acquisition.” Today, my programming skills are creaky, and I’m not even capable of putting together the simplest of “Hello World” programs in Ruby on Rails. I’m so disappointed in myself – I am ready to run upon my sword.

But, then I took a step back and thought… People read this blog (well, a couple, at least). Maybe some good programmers will read it. In fact, maybe YOU’RE a good programmer. And if you ARE, I am betting that you can take this code and fix it with one click of the keyboard.

puts ‘nGenera is the absolute coolest company in the world. It’s the greatest, even!’

If you can spot the bug, we would really like to hear from you, because we have some cutting-edge Ruby on Rails code we want you to write for us.

If you can fix it and you want a job, just comment below or send me an email at ktierney@ngenera.com. I am looking forward to hearing from you.

Please save the software engineering team from their well-meaning recruiter. Please??

…for the Enterprise 2.0 Conference! And you can use this handy promo code to save $100 on your registration or get a free pass to the Demo Pavilion!

Today’s successful recruiters (or, as I like to say… Talent Acquisition Innovators) are already aware of how Enterprise 2.0 technologies are changing the face of the talent landscape. In order to effectively manage the recruiting process, talent professionals have to understand the new world order. And the Enterprise 2.0 Conference, being held in Boston, MA on June 9-12 is just the kind of place savvy talent professionals will find the tools and information they need to build the Next Generation Workforce. Speaking of which, check out one of the E2.0 Conference offerings that deals specifically with the nGen Workforce:

Developing a Next Generation Workforce

The velocity and variability of today’s business environment has become more dynamic and unpredictable than ever before. The pace of change is so fast, that executives find it increasingly difficult, if not impossible, to keep their organizations performing and innovating at levels necessary to deliver optimal business results and competitive differentiation. What capabilities does an enterprise require to develop an agile workforce? How do organizations address the leadership gap? How do strategists address strategic talent initiatives? What analytics are necessary to link organizational capabilities with business strategy execution? What is the role of technology in developing a next generation workforce?
This is an incredible opportunity to get your feet wet with Enterprise 2.0. Focus areas include leadership, community, education, and solutions. The Enterprise 2.0 Conference is the largest gathering of its kind, and it will provide exposure to the newest tools and technologies you can use for talent acquisition and development. It will also provide excellent networking opportunities with the best and brightest minds in the Enterprise 2.0 world, which can translate to lots of great talent for your future openings.
Enterprise 2.0 is the future. The future is now. And you can get it all at the Enterprise 2.0 conference.

You knew it was bound to happen. You just knew it. As cool as Google Street View is, it had to cross the line somewhere. Somewhere appears to be Pittsburgh.

Short story shorter: Couple’s house appears on Street View. Couple lives on a private road. Couple is angry. Couple claims invasion of privacy. Couple sues Google for a sum greater than $25,000.

Guess what? This ain’t your mama’s privacy anymore.

Since the late 90s, the information available on the internet has exploded beyond what Al Gore and the ARPANET creators could have even imagined. You can look up pretty much anyone or anything, and get your answer. The availability of data is expanding as we move to mobile and wireless connectivity to digital information. Pew Research reported last month that 62% of all American adults have taken advantage of mobile internet connectivity. Information is everywhere, and it’s accessible from anywhere.

When I do a search for my name on Google, I come up with 768,000 results. Some of those are about me, and some aren’t. If I wanted to dig a little deeper, I would be able to find where I live, what I do for fun, and how often I’ve irritated people in my town with calls for Homeowners’ Association Fiscal Responsibility. Luckily, there’s no Street view of my house, yet, but I know it’s coming. And, being the “digital native” that my boss calls me, I’ll just have to accept it. The worms are out of the can, my friends. We can’t put them back, but we can learn to live with them.

That brings me to my main point. In a connected culture, we have to redefine our own expectations of privacy. Let’s call it Privacy 2.0, just for fun.

It’s no longer reasonable to assume that people won’t be able to easily find out where you live or what your house is worth. It’s not reasonable to assume that if you get loaded at an underage drinking party, pictures of you won’t show up on Facebook. It’s not reasonable to assume that anything you do outside the 4 walls of your own home won’t be captured, recorded, and added to the ever-growing base of human knowledge. Don’t expect that your private life is anything near what you used to think of as private. It simply isn’t.

So, where does that leave you? You’ve got to understand that now, more than ever, you have to accept responsibility for your actions, and make sure that you’re acting in a manner that portrays the image you want to portray. You’ve also got to be more diligent about your own security and safety. If that means installing a security system or more locks, do it. You must realize that people are going to know more about you than you might want. People will form impressions of you based on what they find on-line, and first impressions always matter.

Back to our friends from Pittsburgh… My (personal, non-BSG-Alliance) opinion is that they’re just looking for a quick buck. Their home is pictured, along with drawings of the rooms, on the Allegheny County website. Until they sue the county, I can’t really believe it’s about anything more than money.

Man! It’s been a long time since I’ve posted. A lot has happened in the last 2 months. First, we bought a little company called Iconixx, and added them to the BSG Alliance platform. Second, I became an aunt again. Third, we launched an internal communications vehicle (known as The Buzz), which is published Monday/Wednesday/Friday. Fourth, I got elected to the Board of Directors of my homeowner’s association. I also continue to manage the four kids and cute husband. So, without coming right out and using those as excuses… Aw, heck. I’m using them as excuses.

Onward and upward, then!

A few weeks ago, I wrote an article in The Buzz based upon an email sent by one of my colleagues. He was explaining that a potential customer used Google to research him before a meeting, and how what the customer found provided instant credibility.

I followed up to his comments with this:

In today’s connected world, people use Google. When there are candidates to interview – we Google them. When there are prospects to approach – we Google them. When there are potential business partners to meet – we Google them. And the results of those searches often help us develop initial impressions about the people with whom we’ll be interacting. Good or bad, those impressions are lasting.

Smart companies – NGE companies – encourage their team members to build on-line identities. On-line identities are helpful for team members in a personal sense, since they can increase visibility in the ever-tightening labor market, and make someone more desirable to potential employers. They’re also helpful to companies, though. The more “Buzz” a company can build through the on-line identities of their team members, the stronger the company brand. On-line identities are a 1-2 punch – the personal credibility of the team member is coupled with the brand credibility of the company, thereby making the customer experience that much better.

At BSG Alliance, we encourage our team members to build on-line identities. Collaboration, especially on-line collaboration, is absolutely essential to our NGEness. In fact, in our Policies and Procedures document, we’ve dedicated a whole section to our external electronic communication. Here’s a key point:

We expect BSG Alliance employees to be active, vigorous and opinionated in their engagement with the public. This may mean asserting and defending strong points of view, taking provocative positions that are not the norm, and overall participating in the challenge we have of educating the industry about the changes to business that we are leading.

If you’re interested in how you can build your on-line identity and help build the BSG Alliance brand, start by determining where you’re starting. Career Distinction has a tool for determining your Google Quotient (GQ), which is a great place to start. If you’re curious, my GQ is 6.5 out of 10. I have some identity building to do…

Thanks to Twitter, I ran across a post by Jevon MacDonald about an Enterprise 2.0 market. More specifically, the post was Jevon arguing that there is no Enterprise 2.0 market. His valid points include:

  1. There are very few companies with Enterprise 2.0 budget line items.
  2. Enterprise 2.0 is too loosely defined at this point to make it valuable as a solution (or set of solutions) for organization problems.
  3. There aren’t enough companies providing Enterprise 2.0 solutions (and providing them successfully) to roll up into a larger market.

What I gathered from Jevon’s article was something that we strongly believe at BSG Alliance: if what you’re selling doesn’t provide some bottom-line benefit (read: increase in profitability, productivity, and market share), then you’re not selling something that’s got a valid market value.

Here’s my take: A good Enterprise 2.0 startup doesn’t need an Enterprise 2.0 market. A good Enterprise 2.0 startup needs to address a real business problem, and do it well enough to make some money. It’s all about the Benjamins, baby.

Enterprise 2.0 startups need a market for what they’re selling – and they’d better be selling something that creates efficiencies, cost savings, and competitive advantages.

Take a look at Jeff Nolan’s “Dude, Where’s My Market?” post from last month to see a great example of a startup, Echosign, with a product that solves a real business problem, and does it well enough (using Enterprise 2.0 tools, technologies, and philosophies) to make money for themselves and their customers. Here is how Jeff explains Echosign’s success:

This company is growing not because they have a trendy set of buzzwords they use consistently, but because they solve a real problem that spans a significant number of prospect buyers, understand how to target and sell it at the price points they do, and manage their costs by taking advantage of efficiencies that technology enables and eliminating potential expenses by having discipline about the product management and development cycles.

At BSG Alliance, we’re focusing on our customers’ needs to increase efficiency and profits. Next Generation Enterprises are all about the bottom line: cost savings that come from increased collaboration, better systems that come from using agile methodologies, increased sales that come from a focus on the customer (rather than the competitor), and increased productivity that comes from engaging talent in unique, efficient ways. BSG Alliance is one of those Enterprise 2.0 startups that didn’t look for an Enterprise 2.0 market – instead, we saw that companies were struggling because of their inability to effectively manage talent, technology, and customer expectations in an wired world. Their lack of flexibility is their pain point, and becoming a Next Generation Enterprise is what solves it. Just like Echosign, we’re building our solutions to solve real business issues, and we’re continuing to be successful because of it.

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