social media???!

Full credit for the idea/thinking behind this blog must go to Julie Drybrough founder of Fuschia Blue and her blog post Getting Over the Social Media Wall , though credit definitely also lies with Helen Bunden (@Activatelearn) for her response.

I was once one of those blissfully unaware of social media, and therefore on the other side of the wall. I remember once a previous manager of mine commenting that she followed a bunch of HR type folk on twitter that I might be interested in – clearly assuming I knew what she was talking about! At the time I was curious enough to login to twitter to see what it was all about, but finding it daunting and confusing and downright odd I didn’t last long.

My second step into twitter was for wholly different reasons. I’m a yachty, the America’s Cup was on. Simple as that. I discovered I could get better quality, more up to date information via twitter than any other source. However, this still saw me only as a watcher, not an activate participator…more on this later.

At some point in the following six months or so I guess I got more curious. At one point I do remember thinking I was all over “Bebo” when it was the in thing, I have a facebook page I post on with reasonable regularity, so why not twitter, google+, pinterest and the like. I think a lot of it also had to do with being brought onto a project team at work from a people and change perspective to partner with Google to sell AdWords. I was seriously the odd one out. This team was run via google hangouts, they spoke a completely different language to me and at this point it didn’t take long til I wanted to know all about it and realised they were on to something I was completely missing out on.

Embarrassingly I even remember saying during this time that as I was in HR I didn’t need to learn about social media as the two had nothing to do with each and I never saw their paths crossing. How wrong I was! And less than a year ago!

I wrote my first tweet on April 27, 2014. Very late in the piece. But from this point I was hooked. The possibilities, the learning’s, the connections are incomparable to anything else I’ve ever experienced. I would go so far now as to say I learnt as much, if not more in five months than I did in three years completing a double degree at university in HR and Management. I reasonably quickly expanded from twitter to google+, have dabbled in pinterest, massively expanded my LinkedIn and, as you’ll know through reading this, started blogging. I’m a constant learner, a constant chaser of knowledge to both challenge and further develop myself, my knowledge, my thinking and my experiences. No longer do I restrict myself to books and scholarly articles/journals – there’s a whole world of learning and collaboration out there just waiting for people like me. I can’t speak highly enough. I’ve encouraged friends and colleagues, campaigned and won to start social media pages for my company in terms of showcasing us for recruitment and generally sung it’s praises to anyone who will listen. One thing I know when I do – they won’t regret giving it a try. I may have had a few false starts, and I’m upfront about this, but I think when I was ready it clicked. And this is where I’m encountering passive, not active players in SoMe.  As mentioned above for the America’s Cup I read tweets and that’s all. I’ve spoken to a lot of people of late who do the same; “ghosting” on social media – reading, taking in and learning from, without actively participating. I hope this is their first step. That at some point they’ll feel confident enough to interact. But I’m happy for now that they’re there, gaining what they feel comfortable gaining from all that is out there on offer.

At this point I get a little thrill when my blog posts are retweeted and +1’d, I’m amazed, proud and humbled by how many people now read my blog (thank you!). Better still for me is being recognised by people who are far more experienced than I, both in HR and SoMe, who I look up to as ‘heros’ when they recognise the work I’m doing, and also the interaction with these people is invaluable. I now connect on a daily basis with others who equally love HR and its intricacies as much as I, from all corners of the globe. I regularly participate in hangouts and twitter chats and I’m happy to report I’ve even met a few of the fabulous social media folk I know in real life. I look forward to meeting a whole host more at the HR Game Changer conference in Auckland next month – something else I have to credit SoMe for. First for introducing me to the people behind the conference, secondly for the fact I guarantee I wouldn’t know about it if not for SoMe and thirdly for the help I got through SoMe in gaining sign off for the conference in the form of a business case to put to my manager.

 I’m indebted to these people who teach me, challenge me and support me in my career and development everyday – thank you. To those of you out there who may be reading this, but not engaging with the rest of us in the social media sphere, give it a shot, you won’t regret it and you’ll gain so much more. To the folk like my Dad – or those who know them because they don’t even have email and have yet to learn to text, help them. Get them started. Show them how simple and easy it can be. I’m into HR and yachting (and a bit more than that), but I’ve found whole new worlds of people who like the things I do – so I have no doubt we all will. Get into it. Get involved with social media. Get over the wall.

work; without regret

For a while now I’ve contemplated the cause and effect, or reasons behind employee disengagement to the point of being performance managed out. At what stage and why does an employee go from being engaged and productive, enthusiastically contributing to the workplace to actively working against it?

In my experience very few employees arrive at an organisation with a negative outlook or intention. Admittedly it happens and I have a whole blog post on that to publish at some point. But in the most part employees begin much like we all did when starting school – you remember; full of awe and wonder and anticipation of the things you will achieve there. Usually you’ve beaten out the competition for the role, it’s something you’ve worked and strived towards. Then you start full of promise and all wide eyed as you take it in and work to understand and grasp the new role and organisation.

From there we go through the usual motions, interacting with workmates, growing and learning until comfortable in the role and the organisation, for most the settling in period to feeling really comfortable is anywhere from three months to a year depending on all the elements involved.

From there assuming all staff are treated equal in terms of opportunities from induction, through training and development, reward and recognition, where do things go wrong? From a company perspective as I say, I assume all staff are treated equal; which leads me to two possible reasons for the change in the employee.

First up, the manager. So often I’ve heard “people leave managers, not companies”. And in many cases I think this is undoubtedly what happens. Many people find themselves in management positions because they were the high achievers in their particular jobs, not because they are good people mangers or have experience in these areas. Many companies promote staff into these positions without the proper training and coaching to really be effective in the position. Like I say they may know the role inside out but do they know people? Can they relate to, work with, develop, coach, inspire, discipline and lead others? Some have natural abilities in these areas, others need to be taught, and they’ll need help along the way. Managers have the power, position and influence to make or break their staff, and this should be used wisely. Personalities should not come in to play and staff should be treated fairly and without bias at all times. Managers should actively engage with their staff and ensure they support, develop and progress them where appropriate.  Employees should feel their manager “has their back”; that they can have an open dialogue with their manager, on a regular basis, are encouraged into new opportunities and given chances to grow and work autonomously with support available as required.  All of this is to avoid the situation of a staff member either leaving of their own accord or resulting in a performance management situation. Which could result from any number of reasons or situations from disconnect through, difference of opinion or view, lack of communication and more.

The other major reason I see for this sort of situation is the employee themselves. And this opens up a whole host of possibilities also. In the early stages did they take up the help, advice and learning of the induction? From there have they made the most of the training and development opportunities offered? Have they actively sought to grow in the role? Connect with their manager, other staff and departments? Or are they all talk and little action? So often I see and hear of staff complaining about the lack of training or development opportunities, but it’s these same staff that either don’t put their hand up at all for training offered, or when they do, they don’t turn up – or worse turn up and are disruptive and dismissive resulting in a loss of learning for others. So what is the reason for this? And why are they asking for specific training, then when the opportunity arises not taking it? And from there how do they end up in performance management situations? At what point did they switch from the enthusiastic new starter to a wary, actively disengaged employee? Was the culture fit wrong? The employee / manager relationship not the right fit or properly regarded by either party? Whatever the reason, I’m adamant that employees as much, if not more than managers need to take responsibility for their own development and progression. If you can’t motivate yourself, and be responsible for taking your own opportunities and directing the course of your career, where, how or why would you be entitled to think anyone else should do it for you?

I wonder if in either of these two instances they experience regret? I hope not. Regrets are not something I have a lot of time for, being of the mind-set that you should embrace every opportunity, situation, person or otherwise with open arms. Sure there may be times when this doesn’t work out in your favour – but at least you tried, and don’t live with regret. And in either case – the manager or the employee, I’m adamant you drive the results of your efforts. If you are a manager and aren’t being entirely fair, objective, encouraging or otherwise – change it, don’t regret it. Turn the employee, the relationship or situation around now, before it even has the chance to become a regret. If you’re the employee – same advice. Seize the day, take control of your own future; take every training opportunity offered, network, stay focused, be positive – after all you drive you at the end of the day. And I don’t know who said it first – but don’t live, or work with regret.