HR Magazine has been running an HR Technology series of special articles, of which the first – David Woods’ Should HR and IT be friends? – caught my eye, not least as the title was couched as a question (thereby quite firmly implying that these operational functions are either distant acquaintances or at daggers drawn). I had a vision of the organisation remodelled along the lines of the Big Brother house, with IT sulking in the smoking area and complaining that no-one understands them while HR lurks in the kitchen, asking everyone else why IT is so off-hand with them.
You can probably quite see it as a relationship that probably wasn’t destined in the stars, although the caricature of IT as all data crunching, clouds and code offended me less than the one of HR as ‘all about soft skills’. Some of the HR functions I’ve encountered in my time could teach their IT colleagues a thing or two about obsessive fascinations with checklists, regulations and permissions. I couldn’t help but feel that the problem was being painted in terms of IT imposing an ill-fitting rigid structure over the squishiness of human resources (or at least the ones being managed rather than doing the managing). When it comes to imposing a model of reality regardless of the closeness of fit, some of my former HR colleagues needed no additional lessons. If there is any tarring with stereotypical brushes to be done, both sides have clearly already had several primer coats added in preparation.
The charisma thing has, it seems, raised its perfectly groomed head once more. The always readable Mervyn Dinnen blogged in response to a Guardian article by Jonathan Freedland, both exploring the apparent gap between the type of leaders we elect or support, and the kind of leaders we might choose if perhaps we put a bit more thought into the process. As is customary in contemporary business blogging circles, lines from a song were quoted. I think this is primarily an attribute of the demographic profile of bloggers, and can only plead guilty. And as songs go, Paul Weller’s Going Underground has retained the lyrical and emotive power it originally had around the time I heard being blasted live from the back of flat-bed trucks at various protests and marches in the early 1980s. Personally, however, I might have chosen a line a few bars further into the song that strikes me as both truer and considerably more cynical: “The public wants what the public gets”.
That’s not a suggestion of subservience, masochism or blind obedience, by the way. I think it’s rather closer to Gareth Jones’ observation, posted as a comment to Mervyn Dinnen’s blog post:
When you live in a bubble, that is all you know. If, for example you have 2 large dogs in your household then you house is likely to smell of dogs. You won’t notice the smell as you will be used to it. Even when you pop out to work or for a night out you won’t notice it when you come back. It’s only when you leave it for an extended period of time that you notice it smells of dogs. However, when someone visits they can smell it but are mostly too polite to mention it.”
Gareth’s point is about being in touch – having sufficient contact with ‘visitors’ that someone eventually has the audacity to mention the dreadful pong and suggest something is done about it. There’s a lot to be said for a breath of fresh air, after all. But Gareth’s point is also that the issue, nebulous as it might be, is systemic.
There’s a great big web out there, and it will always turn up a few nuggets. (For a full list of those we’ve liked over the years, visit our Crackers page.) To kick off 2011, here are two posts on different aspects of discipline – one of managing yourself, and one of knowing what to manage when you’ve cracked that first one. Be aware of a plot twist in what follows.
Who Is The Worlds Worst Boss? – courtesy of Damon Klotz ‘the HRockstar’, tipped as a rising blogger by TheHRD. The point here – that anyone else who managed themselves as badly as most of us do would probably be fired – is a good one, and one we could all take on board, whether we’re making new year’s resolutions or not. The plot twist? Well, perhaps Damon is adopting too much of the ‘Rockstar’ approach to creative larceny. That final line “Post thanks to Seth Godin” should actually read “Post lifted wholesale from Seth Godin”. Great attitude, Damon, but perhaps your own disciple should start with a brief brush-up on copyright, intellectual property attribution, and a pledge to promote the value of original content. Just saying …
We manage what we can EASILY measure – a post from Gerry McGovern, Irish web consultant of many year’s standing, whose New Thinking column has been published since 1996 and made many intelligent points about business, technology and people (and, at its best, all three simultaneously). This post highlights the trap – far from restricted to web site managing – of measuring what’s easiest to measure rather than measuring what matters, and basing management on a misunderstanding as a result. If you’re struggling to measure something important, that difficulty might even be a good thing …
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