09 January 2015

Aristotle’s Oysters!?

Greek oysterFor 2,000 years students of science believed that Aristotle, the 4th century Greek natural philosopher, had nailed the topic of natural science – read no further they thought, there’s nothing else to learn!

In his “History of Animals”, Aristotle reckoned that oysters were spontaneously created from water and mud, so whilst many of the things that he wrote and said were correct, they were mixed in with other things that were just plain wrong.

Whilst this of course is fascinating for those studying ancient scientific method, for those of us in HR Tech we can take away one additional important fact – Aristotle didn’t do any testing.

We can see that if the great man had only popped down to the beach - and it’s not far from Athens to the sea really…. - he would have been able to pick up some live oysters, talked to fishermen, taken some home and monitored them.

Life is full of phrases and sayings about testing. “Trial and error”, “practice makes perfect” – and Aristotle’s own deeply ironic phrase, “For the things we have to learn before we can do them, we learn by doing them”.

How you plan and set up your activities along with how you incorporate testing and pilot opportunities will make or break your project.

A large amount of valuable information can be gained on the very practical experiences of new services, processes or activities simply by trying them first.

When the human species first picked up a stone to break a nut they probably didn’t break it the first time... deploying to live systems, to real customers and users will be about as hit-and-miss as for that ancestor.

Consider the following in your test planning:

  • User experience, is it simple to follow? Simple to repeat? And simple to remember without guidance?
  • Measurable result? Does the item produce the correct measurable results? The “measurable” bit is vital; can you see through each stage of the process with the test and clearly follow the action taking place?

So don’t be like Aristotle and assume that something you see or something you can imagine is as straightforward as it might appear.


07 January 2015

Are Your Rocks Hard and Solid?

RocksIt’s that time of year when we set ourselves goals and make promises in the hope of improving ourselves; to make our personal business plan.

I’m sure that you’ve heard the story about the rocks in the glass jar: How a professor enters the business school classroom with a glass jar and puts big rocks in it until it is full. She then asks the students whether or not the jar is full. Yes, they say, but the professor then brings out a bag of gravel and starts adding that to the jar. Is it full? She asks again. The students become less confident. Next, she opens a box containing sand that she pours over the rocks and the gravel, and sure enough it sieves down and fills up the jar even more. Is it full now? She finally gets a pitcher of water and pours into the jar as well, there’s still enough room. So what did the students learn? “We can always accomplish more!” No, that’s not it. The lesson learned is that you have to start with the big rocks, in order to fit everything into your busy life schedule. So find your big rocks, or waste your time on the sand and the gravel.

Sounds easy, right? But still we all accept or joke about how our New Year’s resolutions always fail. And we blame it on lack of will power, or bad character. Or there just wasn’t enough time.

What does it take to stick to those shining goals? First of all, start with a little reflection on last year’s achievements. Not last year’s goals, but what you achieved. Sit down and give yourself a pat on the shoulder for all of the things that you did! In this messy and confusing world, we need all the cheer we can get, most of all from ourselves. What are you proud of? What puts a smile on your face? What made you feel good? And why? Have you given yourself a gold star? Did you celebrate those moments? Celebrating builds residue of the good kind, the kind you need to go on.

Next, reflect upon whatever promises you made to yourself last year. Was it a heartfelt goal? Did you really want to go to the gym three times a week? Did you truly want to be rid of those cigarettes or be more organized? Did you think to yourself, even as you made the promise to spend more time with your family, that you could combine it with that new challenge at work? But more importantly, why did you set those goals? If the goal was to hit the gym three times a week – where’s the reward? Or was the goal to lose weight or gain good health? And for what? Maybe your brain doesn’t even want the same thing you want? There are some really good methods of fine tuning your goals, like asking “why” at least five times before you are sure you have the right goal in mind. And once you have found it – was “going to the gym” the right and only method to reach that goal?

If you are making a New Year’s resolution, make yourself a winner, and make sure you’ve got the right rocks to put in your jar. And maybe focus more on the process of getting there?

PS: In the Danish version the pitcher is full of beer instead of water – the lesson being that there’s always room for a nice cold beer with your friends…

05 January 2015

The 5 Things You Should Know About Customer Success Programs

Happiness1. What is Customer Success?

I define Customer Success as any action or interaction with your customer that adds value. This may be through the use of your technology or good, the introduction to a partner relationship or the sharing of best practices and information. Customer Success can look slightly different based on the needs of each individual customer but the key is to add value, to help them achieve their goals and to drive their strategy.

2. Is Customer Success a cultural attribute?

An influential mentor of mine always said that customer success is all about attitude. Companies that embrace a culture of customer excellence will naturally do what is best for their customers through their actions and behaviors; they instinctively put customers first rather than making them an afterthought. But, employees have to believe in the value of true Customer Success. In a SaaS world - where month-to-month loyalty is essential - everyone in an organization should be part of an extended Customer Success team. Customer Success must be fully integrated and tightly bound into your company’s DNA in order to achieve true success. So how do you get your people there? How can you create a culture focused on Customer Success? It’s critical to break out your megaphone! You should celebrate customer achievements and make the entire company part of the celebration, highlight and promote customer stories where you have added value to a customer and let everyone know that this success was not driven solely by one manager but enabled by the company as a whole. You should also leverage your performance plans to focus on Customer Success and reward the appropriate behaviors and finally you should regularly review your compensation plans and ensure the right actions are being incented. 

3. Does Customer Success apply to any industry, business function or product category?

Yes! Whilst it is essential for SaaS organizations to ensure continued loyalty, any industry can benefit from a customer-centric culture and program. Some of you who are reading this may ask why we are talking about Customer Success in a HR blog. The best software and services providers have discovered a simple truth - happy customers equal happy employees.

HR has a vested interest in helping the company drive a culture focused on Customer Success because it creates a healthier workplace and workforce when everyone is pulling towards the same goal. HR is tasked on a daily basis to hire and to retain employees, and, if employees are happy retaining the best is a much easier task.  If employees are part of an organization with happy customers this can only make things easier.

4. How important is a formal Customer Success program?

I am sometimes shocked about how many companies do not formalize a program to define Customer Success. Whilst a Customer Success program may not meet all of the needs of every customer, defining offerings that will add value to their customer base should be a core objective of any organization. A core element for success is engaging the customer in the design of the program itself; annual plans are critical but cannot be developed in a supplier-side vacuum. Customers need to understand that there is work on their part to help drive their own success, and it is only through collaboration and teamwork that mutually agreed goals can be achieved.

5. Does Customer Success lead to higher returns?

Absolutely - having a strong Customer Success program in place is a win-win for all. Satisfied customers renew and act as references. They understand the value that you bring to them, they trust that you understand their business, and they find merit in you as an advisor that can help them to meet their current and future goals. As a HR Team, if you can work to strengthen the values that drive customer success, you are helping your organization to drive revenue. You are impacting the bottom line.

I am passionate about Customer Success and I strongly believe that everyone in an organization plays a vital role in a customer’s ultimate success or failure with a technology or service. I believe that HR plays a critical role ensuring that the right attitudes permeate their organization supporting the overarching strategy of Customer Success.

I am excited as we move into 2015 to work with my customers closely to ensure that they see me as a valued partner, rather than simply a vendor. It is my goal to understand their business goals and to ensure that Lumesse can help them to meet their objectives.

19 December 2014

Happiness Is The Truth

12228221536_95ce738f22"Tis the season to be jolly!" Top of the list of music singles sales in 2014 is almost certainly going to be Happy by Pharrel Williams. It currently leads second place by more than 200,000 copies. The song has a simple message which is loved by so many: 'happiness is the truth'.

At work it's common to believe happiness is achieved through success, for example, through a promotion or hitting targets. In 2011, Shawn Achor challenged this belief in a TED talk. He argues that, each time we are successful, our horizon shifts outwards so happiness is short lived, lasting only weeks.

What if success is achieved through happiness? He quotes studies where people who are in a happy or positive mood are 31% more productive and 37% better at sales.

Throughout 2014, Facebook has been full of people making lists of things that they are grateful for. Some who've tried it have promoted the benefits; training ourselves to recognise the small positive experiences in life that can improve our mood. Others question if it has all become a bit too much, can we be permanently happy?

These are the four simple tips that Shawn Achor suggests for increasing our happiness:

  1. Write down a positive work experience each day
  2. Meditate/take a break to focus
  3. Exercise
  4. Random act of kindness (e.g. send a congratulatory      email to a colleague)

At this time of the year, when we are busy planning for success in 2015, how can we facilitate happiness within our organisation?

Having company values that focus on people is not enough. The McDonald's restaurant chain has a positive employer brand built on its values, including being committed to its people. Most of the time it delivers high standards of service across the globe.

However, I had a rare bad experience at a McDonald's restaurant recently. Two of the managers were arguing in front of the staff and diners. The staff were frantic but none of the customers were being served; there weren't many smiles with the Happy Meals. In fact, it didn't look like anyone working that evening was in a happy frame of mind.

Values are created by the leadership team and promoted down through the organisation. Happiness is a personal thing and can't be mandated. But HR can contribute by raising awareness of positive psychology and creating the right environment at work. However, be mindful of the excess of positivity on Facebook and retain a sense of balance.

My New Year's resolution is therefore to promote thinking about happiness with my team and clients, and I look forward to a positive, successful 2015!

18 December 2014

Let’s Change our Thoughts on Mobile HR Apps in 2015

Mobile-TechnologyIt’s not just about quickly completing tasks via mobile!

Empowering employees and candidates with mobile HR solutions will result in quick task completion and, in time has been the principle belief of most software solution providers and enterprises. Values associated with mobile access such as increasing productivity and on the go access to HR tasks seemed pretty straight forward and evident to enterprises.  But I am here to say that, in 2015, enterprises will have to think of mobile as more than a QUICK TASK COMPLETER. Expanding the desktop functions on mobile with quick, easy to consume, bite-sized tasks should not be the sole purpose of mobile HR solutions.  

HR departments that want to invest in a truly mobile solution must start thinking how to use the mobile device in order to bring a transformational change in such a way that people and processes can work together. Enterprises must think of the problem associated with their HR processes that mobile can solve rather than jumping to a mobile solution just because their candidates and employees have mobile devices. A genuine mobile solution will be the one that will make use of the mobile features and empower the HR functions in order to provide an unparalleled experience that would otherwise seem difficult on a desktop. This kind of thinking will break the stigma that HR apps are just for completing obligatory tasks!

Let’s talk about this transformational change with an example:

51% of employees believe their performance reviews to be inaccurate. Top emotions associated with inaccurate reviews are frustration, anxiety and boredom.  Does the ACCESS to a performance management solution for managers and quick tasks such as completing the review process on mobile solve this problem?  Obviously, it doesn’t.

The key issue with inaccurate reviews is created due to the fact that quarterly or yearly reviews don’t record every achievement of the employee. How many of us can remember to mention during our annual performance review, how we managed small but critical customer issues, how we created an impact in a conference with meeting some key individuals and tweeted some high response tweets? Information is lost with time and managers do not have enough access to evidence  to provide an accurate review. But, mobile can solve this problem and can make the recording of evidence seem possible. If employees can record their every achievement on their mobile app as they occur, notes, photos, emails, videos etc. which then feed into their performance review bucket, managers will have visibility of historic and actual achievements during the review process without employees having to remind them. Employees will feel that justice has been done to their performance rating based on the evidence provided and employees will feel more connected to their managers for positive reasons. HR can then encourage feedback as-it-happens, rather than quarterly or yearly.

Another such example is recruitment:

This example is of my personal experience and I must say that it was very delightful. I went to Mobile World Congress 2014 in Barcelona and visited a stand for a company that, as a partner, I was interested in. The company boldly printed a QR code on their exhibition stand that was for the use of job seekers. After scanning the QR code with my mobile, I was taken to their job listings page, where they didn’t ask me for my CV or ask apply with my social network profiles (which as many of you will know is extremely time consuming and often painful). Instead they asked me to record a 5 minute video in which I should tell them why they should hire me. I was extremely impressed with this recruiting approach that I could do the recording there and then whilst moving between blocks. I didn’t need my desktop or storage drive logins to upload my CV and I didn’t have to grant access to my social network profiles (that, to be quite honest, are always pretty generic).  Through a video I could make an application and express my desire to work for the company. Now that’s truly mobile. That’s value creation. That’s about receiving job applications from passive candidates. So, think beyond mobile access and mastering tasks. Ask questions on what core HR issues can the mobile solution solve. Move towards a truly mobile HR solution in 2015!

17 December 2014

HR 2014 Prize for Jotun

3f196cc0-01f2-45e0-92b8-e36cb303e8fa-mediumThe Jotun Group is a leading global supplier of decorative paints and powder coatings (Marine, Protective and Powder Coatings). The Group is a matrix organisation divided into seven regions across over 90 countries including 36 production facilities.

For years, Jotun has provided outstanding organisational HR practices and has emerged as a role model for strategic and business oriented employee development. Jotun displays a continuous effort to ensure involvement and insight into Jotun business challenges. HR executive, regional and local HR departments are coordinated on the basis of long-term HR strategic plans. The groups meet regularly and are represented in annual business and HR audits in addition to regular central and regional HR collections.

It was therefore no surprise that Jotun was chosen for this recognition as the HR 2014 Prize is awarded to individuals, groups or institutions that have contributed to the development of the field in terms of being a role model. Jotun has established outstanding organisational practices and stood for excellence. In the past, this prize has only been awarded to individuals and this is the first time that it has been awarded to a whole company.

Morten Fon, Chief Executive Officer and President of Jotun AS, said, “HR is about hiring, developing and retaining people. At Jotun, we are committed to hiring people who, in addition to the right skills, also have the potential to become a valuable asset for Jotun. We believe in developing expertise and company culture through investing in people and we are working hard to create a culture that makes employees want to help in the development of the company.”

A strong corporate culture combined with a good environment for innovation and product development is the foundation of Jotun's success in international markets. New employees report a sense of "pingvinisering" (translation: Penguin Spirit) which creates both commitment and loyalty. Jotun’s management culture is also highly developed and is based on "Jotun's Leadership Expectations" - a holistic leadership approach with elements including self-leadership, task leadership and people leadership.

This is an exceptional result, well done to Jotun!

16 December 2014

Sharks & Dragons

Dragons-denI recently watched a television show called ‘Shark Tank’. This programme is the American equivalent of the BBC’s Dragon’s Den, with entrepreneurs pitching their business ideas in order to secure financial investment from a panel of venture capitalists.

An increasing amount of people had left the safety of a company in an attempt at starting their own business.  These self-employed entrepreneurs are attracted to the flexibility of their work, the influence they have on how to run their business and the freedom of just being their own boss.

Organisations, on the other hand, are encouraging entrepreneurship amongst their employees.  Basically, employees could do the same when working in an organisation. The question would be, what are the entrepreneurs selling? And what kind of investment are they seeking?

If we start with the definition of an organisation: According to the Business Dictionary, it is “a social unit of people that is structured and managed to meet a need or to pursue collective goals”. This means that each employee’s goals should fit the collective company goals and that the product or service which the employee is selling contributes to the company goal. Let’s say that we have indeed defined the content.

If we once again think about the aforementioned, ‘Shark Tank’ television show, the investors do not only seek a product worth investing in, but the person selling it is at least as important. The plan of the entrepreneur should be credible, his proposed actions should have some sense of reality in it and furthermore, he should be well prepared when asking the capitalists to pull their wallet.

For an employee in a company to approach his manager - or even his board of directors - and ask for an investment might be similar to entering a Dragon’s Den or a Shark Tank. The following article by Forbes Magazine shows us five tips from Steve Strauss on how to create an environment within your organisation to encourage ‘intrapreneurship’. If we were to put it into practice, this would mean that the employee could add his goals  - or in terms of entrepreneurship, his expected sales - into his personal performance plan and could negotiate the required investment and the return delivered on his performance with his manager.  The manager can, of course, ask the same critical questions as the sharks and dragons would ask, regarding expected steps to reach that goal, the people involved, the other investors (as there might be other departments profiting from this investment as well) and the go-to-market plan. The latter can be translated by mobilising the required people and taking care of the right communication.

The appraisal interview can be an excellent opportunity to challenge these goal settings and to consider whether or not the investment is indeed worthwhile. The final performance review is an excellent opportunity to carry out a business review with the employee.  What did he achieve in terms of profit, market share or name (brand) recognition? Giving this ownership to an employee decreases the risk of the employee wanting to leave and start his own business and it also helps the growth of the company.

Get our latest posts

Subscribe by e-mail:

Voices of Lumesse


Meet the Lumesse blog squad

Contact us