25 November 2014

Translations – Don’t Take Short Cuts

Translations – Don’t take short cuts 25.11.14When you work in a global business, you soon come to realise how important it is to be able to accurately translate words. Not just the words either, the context is arguably more important.

Having worked on numerous eLearning productions over the years (and now being responsible for a multilingual product) I know there is more to translating a course or a system than just getting it “transferred” into the correct language. There is the translation of the words and then there is the localisation, the part which ensures the translated words are actually understood in the right context. This is no different when communicating with colleagues or customers in another country. Is that email you are sending actually going to make sense to the person reading it?

Let me share a few things I’ve learnt over the years when it comes to translations.

- Be clear. Don’t make any assumptions when getting content translated and localised. What is obvious to you is not obvious to your translator. We once told a translation agency that was translating a course for a retail customer to make sure that they also localise the images when translating the course into each of the three languages. In our instructions, we said, choose a local fruit, but the crucial part is that we did not detail which fruit. The fruit used, which to this day I’ve still never seen, was local to the translator, but not to the country it was being translated for. If you want it properly localised and images are in scope make sure you are very clear on what you want.

- Use experts. If you have a colleague who speaks the language you are translating into don’t fall into the trap of asking them to translate for you in an attempt to save money. If you are translating a piece of software for example, this could go horribly wrong. Have your colleague actually done this job, or used this kind of application in this language before? Being Swedish but having worked in England for the most part of my life I can tell you that translating words in a context unfamiliar to you in your native language is a bad idea. I will guess, and sometimes I will get it right, but often I will get it wrong. Don’t fall into this trap!

- Don’t rely on Google. Google Translate will help you get the gist of what someone is trying to say but will not give you anything near to the quality that is required for you to translate for your customer/audience. Let me share an example I came across: The English words being translated were ‘be safe’. Now the problem here is that English has two different meanings for this word - as the English language often does. ‘Safe’ as in safety and ‘safe’ as in a strong fireproof cabinet with a complex lock, used for the storage of valuables… What could go wrong?

These are just a few lessons I’ve learnt and some tips I have. Feel free to share your own.

24 November 2014

Where The Innovation Went: Lumesse Goes To SalesForce

Hrexaminer-nov-17-2014-lumesse-talent-object-200pxPeriodically, you should take a look at Ray Wang’s Software Insider’s Point of View There’s no better place to get an understanding of the evolving world of enterprise technology. Wang has a grasp of things that is both deep and subtle

He’s said that that Dreamforce is the South by Southwest for the Enterprise. Dreamforce is the annual Salesforce.com convention. With 48,000 attendees and 90,000 registrants, it’s like a Coachella festival for the sales team. In Ray’s words, “The event represents the intersection where aspiration meets innovation for the enterprise.”

Like last year, I made a pilgrimage to the Moscone Center to witness the fun.

I’ve been watching the HRTechnology scene for a long time. With each passing year, I wonder a little more about where the innovation comes from. At Dreamforce, I found it. The sales department is doing the innovation that the rest of the organization needs.

Selling to HR is notoriously slow and difficult. The Sales Department, on the other hand, is real-time performance driven. Anything that can generate a shred of competitive advantage is an easy sell and an easy purchase. What do you know about the primary assets of the sales team? They are all people.

Social Learning, Talent Management, Performance Assessment and lots of tools that connect people. The software that wasn’t built for pure lead generation, sales management, marketing and reporting, all looked just like HR Technology. It’s just that you’re not going to see much of it at the HR trade shows.

This is the track that Lumesse is taking with its TalentObjects project. With deep funding and an amazingly deep integration with Salesforce.com, the firm is building out a from scratch HR suite nested in the SalesForce Platform. They are going to start with Recruiting.

If you’re an American, you may not be familiar with Lumesse. For many years, they’ve fielded a small but effective team out of Austin. It is, by far, the most effective sales team in the business on a per head basis. In Europe, Lumesse is the second largest software company (after SAP).

The TalentObjects project picks up where Austin’s pioneering effort left off. While I am not generally impressed by early stage development efforts, the Lumesse team is led by seasoned developers and industry specialists.

Stay tuned, I’ll let you know more as the story unfolds. Having spent time with the principals, I’m willing to say that they have a chance to make an astonishing difference.

Source: Where The Innovation Went: Lumesse Goes To SalesForce - John Sumser

20 November 2014

Customer Success & Employee Engagement

Employee-engagement-survey-staff-surveyThis week I had the opportunity to do the favourite part of my job; I got to spend time with a great customer discussing their plans for 2015. This customer inspires me on many levels, first and foremost because they still make something. They make a tangible good that can be sold, and not only do they make things, they make goods in the US. Although a global organization, their roots are in the mid-west and they still run their corporation with mid-western values. When I think about this customer, I also think about employee loyalty or employee engagement. Some employees have been there for over 40 years and the majority of the team I work with are lifers.  Rather than becoming complacent, they are challenged daily and rewarded to stay at the top of their game and they are continually looking for ways to better the lives of their colleagues at their organization.

According to BusinessDictionary.com, employee engagement is defined as: an emotional connection an employee feels toward his or her employment organization, which tends to influence his or her behaviors and level of effort in work related activities.

The more I work with this customer the more I see how their values and principles certainly must drive employee engagement and loyalty. Although I have never discussed any survey results with them (I don’t even know if they measure employee engagement), I can see the passion and care that the employees with whom I work have for their colleagues and corporation.  These employees work hard and are rewarded for that work; they do it not only for their own good but also for the good of the organization. As an outsider, it is looks like a truly symbiotic relationship both entities doing what is right for one another resulting in each prospering.

I have been Lumesse for ten years, which is a very long time in the software industry. I clearly have an emotional investment in this company which is something that fuels my desire to see it succeed. In my role I have been blessed to travel globally, work with wonderful, international teams, hold various challenging roles and work with wonderful people; for all of that I am grateful. When I think about my emotional connection with Lumesse, it does not stop with my organization but it is extended to my customers. My employee engagement reaches my customers because I feel like part of their team. Through my job I have the opportunity to become engaged with companies - like my mid-western manufacturing organization - that inspire me to do the best I can to truly obtain customer success for them and my organization.

19 November 2014

Squeezed Middle

UntitledAn overused phrase of the recent economic recession and recovery in the UK has been "the squeezed middle". The opposition Labour Party has used this phrase to describe the middle class citizens who were hit by higher marginal tax rates with reduced spending power.

On 11 November I heard Sir Charlie Mayfield (Chairman of John Lewis Partnership), at the Telegraph Festival of Business, describe his version of the squeezed middle. He drew a picture of what the employment market will look like in the next 20 years. It will be shaped like an hour glass with a broad base, a broad top and a 'squeezed middle'.

Economic growth is creating low-level jobs, expanding employment at the bottom. Demand for technical roles is growing the highest skill/salary end of the market; the middle will suffer an unprecedented contraction in jobs and pressure on wages.

Sir Charlie estimates that 50% of current job roles will be replaced by technology by 2030. As the middle gets squeezed, the career path from entry-level to higher-level jobs becomes harder. As a result, productivity stays low and the economy ceases to grow.

This is a slightly different - but interesting - take on how technology will influence employment in the next decade (which I explored in my earlier post).

The UK is even more vulnerable as almost a quarter of all jobs require only primary-level education, compared to 10% of jobs in the US and 5% in Germany.

Sir Charlie's recommendations to survive this change are:

1) Businesses have a responsibility to define NEW roles which utilise unique human skills that complement new technologies. Drastic re-design of organisations is needed, and must start now.

2) Education has to be continuous and developed in conjunction with business. Finishing formal education at the age of twenty-one is no longer sufficient. Society and businesses must change to accept education during working years as normal.

3) Employee ownership of companies should be promoted. When given ownership, employees may be more engaged and productive. Compared to shareholders, employees may prioritise the long-term success of the business. The need for a long-term view in investment was emphasised by another keynote speaker, Nigel Wilson (CEO Legal and General).

In early 2014, Thomas Volk (CEO Lumesse) highlighted the rapid development of new job roles, as a 'storm' facing HR. Without change the UK will continue to suffer from stagnating productivity, a problem has characterised the economic recovery to date. It is a dark cloud that affects us all, let's hope our HR community can navigate successfully through the storm.

18 November 2014

Evil Stepmothers and Acquisitions

MergerNowadays lifetime employment seems to be almost exclusive to Japan. The new generations of employees are seeking challenging work, which offers flexibility - such as flexible work hours and home-offices - development prospects and the opportunity for (personal) growth. They will be more likely than other generations to change jobs if a better opportunity arises. Forbes Magazine’s article 7 Surprising Ways to Motivate Millennial Workers provides some useful tips on how to deal with the new generation workforce.   

Not only workforce is changing, organisations also need to be flexible and adjust quickly to an ever-changing market. These factors are taken into account when hiring employees, promoting internal mobility and defining succession management.

What if all of these factors are taken into account, but you still find a completely new workforce which has not chosen to work at your company and your company has not consciously selected these employees as assets to the workforce (as is the case when dealing with insourcing or with mergers and acquisitions)?

Mergers and acquisitions with other organisations can be extremely valuable to companies as it can often increase their chances of survival. Not only does it expand the client base but it also gives the company a desired new product line and increased organisational synergy.  To use the analogy of marriage when describing a merger or acquisition, ‘you will also get the kids’.  However, these kids - being the employees - did not choose this marriage.

The ‘other’ company might be perceived as an evil step-mother, interfering with the daily family life that the employees were used to before the time of the merger.

Deloitte’s article ‘Leading through transition’ describes how to deal with the people side of mergers & acquisitions. The article describes how transition starts at the due diligence. In this case, due diligence is not used only for getting the figures right, but also to assess the less tangible characteristics of the other company. Referring back to the other company as being the step-mother, the initial company can be thought of in the sense of being the father who is exploring how the step-mother runs the household along with what the curfews and dinner habits of their family are.

During the transition, it is important to bypass the hostility. This is the time where your step-mother gets introduced during a dinner on neutral ground; in terms of the workforce, it is where the parties meet and have the opportunity to get acquainted. The importance of leadership in this phase is stressed by the article. There is need for someone trusted, but this someone also has to have a firm hand as they will need to lead the employees through the transition. In the terms of the family unit analogy that we previously mentioned, if the dad is hesitant or if he gives the slightest sign that he will not go through with it, the children will take advantage of it to avoid the transition.

When it comes to these leadership qualities, talent management plays an important role prior to the merger or acquisition. It enables the support of choosing the right father in this play, based on his competencies, understanding of the company vision and of course, the people skills required. Preparing this thoroughly and having an involvement with HR business partners during the transition will most likely result in a ‘happily ever after’.

17 November 2014

Lumesse Earns Double Award!

Winner button1On 10 September 2014, we announced that Lumesse and Vodafone had been awarded Silver at the Brandon Hall Excellence in Learning Awards 2014. This week, the Learning Content team were in high spirits yet again with a double win at the E-learning Awards. The awards, which took place in London’s Mayfair on 6 November, showcased examples of great e-learning that is being delivered across the globe.

At this event, Lumesse and the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) were awarded Bronze in the ‘Best e-learning project - public sector’ category. This award is a new category for 2014 and seeks to recognise where excellence across the board, in terms of content, use of technology, and matching design to user and organisational needs, has led to a lasting, measurable and positive impact.

The Management Development Programme seeks to mature managers at the CPS by combining face-to-face classes with e-learning and reflective activities. Completion of the programme can lead to a nationally-recognised qualification.

Lumesse and their client Vodafone with their partner Oxford SM were then awarded Bronze in the ‘Best blended learning’ category. This award is also a new category for 2014 and is awarded for examples of outstanding blended learning, in which e-learning and other strategies and media have been applied to complement each other to achieve an overall organisational goal.

The blended programme helped to revolutionise the marketing function at Vodafone, across 21 countries. The project used E-magazine introductions to generate excitement. Workshops and Deep Dive sessions reinforced practical application of the learnings as well as bringing groups of marketers and leaders together. In addition to this, the transfer to work was then supported by a Bespoke Learning portal and webinars. 

Andrea Miles, director of Bespoke Learning content at Lumesse said, “We are delighted with the awards and are very grateful to Vodafone and CPS for being such great Clients to work with.”

Congratulations to the learning team!

Big Data? Small Data? Whatever!

Image004Big data is on everyone’s Twitter feed, in the title of countless business articles from academic and business publications. It has become a bit of a catch-all term to promise that we all face brighter futures simply by having so much data available to us. Interestingly, the authors of the New York Times best seller Big Data: A Revolution That Will Transform How We Live, Work and Think concede “there is no rigorous definition of big data”.

At the recent HRTech Europe conference one of the keynote speakers - David McCandless - who lists his job as ‘data journalist’, which incidentally is another title to add to the list of jobs that exist today that didn’t exist five years ago! His presentation challenged the audience to look at how we visualise complex data sets. Some of his visualisations are fascinating and I would recommend his books, especially Information is Beautiful  which is a great coffee table book and perhaps a Christmas present for yourself or a gift idea for the data geek in your life.

So, is big always beautiful? Harvard professor Gary King was recently quoted saying “the big data revolution is that now we can do something with the data”. The key here being the possibility, as who hasn’t created or had reports created for us that leave the reader with no sense of what the data is actually telling us. These reports leave us with a sense of ‘whatever’ or, as our millennial generation colleagues would say, ‘meh’. When it comes to HR data we need to move beyond the inconsequential ‘whatever’ to understand the three key ‘whats’ of turning insights into action:

  1. What is the data actually telling us about our people and our organisation?
  2. So what are the implications of the data, be it in headcount, financial terms or ‘softer’ issues?
  3. Now what do we need to change, should we stop doing something, start doing something, etc.?

The buzz at HR Tech in the US and in Europe was about the possibility that Big Data could bring. I am really excited about this possibility but was challenged by this quote from the founder of the Open Knowledge Foundation, a UK non-profit, “size in itself doesn't matter – what matters is having the data, of whatever size, that helps us solve a problem or address the question we have”. 

Some organisations need to start applying the ‘three whats’ to small data first. Done at a local level, existing HR technologies reporting (where available) should be used to power development, compensation, learning and recruitment decisions and investments. Delaying this with a belief that more data will make life easier is to miss the benefits available today. As former industry analyst and current analytics firm VP Allen Bonde says “we need to do a better job of collecting the insight and content we already have, discovering their meaning in the context of the task at hand…”.

So let’s be excited and ready for a bright Big Data future but let’s make sure we master small data first!

Disclaimer: Craig is not sponsored by any book publisher – he just likes books! 

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