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.

10 December 2014

PACCAR Australia Win Talent Management Award

PACCAR-logo-webOn 2 December, Lumesse’s customer PACCAR Australia was awarded the Rob Goffee Award for Talent Management by Australian Human Resource Institute (AHRI)*. This award recognises the outstanding initiatives and strategies in the identification, acquisition and retention of talent within the organisation.

PACCAR, the third-largest manufacturer of trucks globally, has been awarded for their sophisticated and successful graduate programme. They hire ten university graduates each year, rotating through a number of roles in their first four years to develop a wide range of business skills. Graduates receive mentoring from a member of the senior management team who provides them with personal and professional guidance. At the end of the four year period, graduates are appointed to an ongoing position, where they are ably assisted by the foundation skills developed during their graduate rotation. 42 employees are participating in the current graduate programme, representing 9.5% of PACCAR’s professional staff. Of these participants, there has been a 93% retention rate over the four year rotation programme. Over the course of the past 12 years of the graduate programme, three have progressed to become current general managers and six are senior managers within the company.

Paul Wiffrie, Learning & Development Manager of PACCAR Australia, said, “Talent has been and will be the primary stepping stone for our success.”

PACCAR Inc. is a Fortune 500 company and was ranked the third-largest manufacturer of medium and heavy-duty trucks in the world in 2011–12 and has substantial manufacturing in light and medium vehicles through its various subsidiaries. As a company with more than 100 years’ history, PACCAR takes its remarkable footprints around the globe. During the past decades, PACCAR has built a strong brand reputation and has earned many awards.

“Congratulations to PACCAR for winning this prestigious award,” said Rolf Bezemer, Business Director of Lumesse APAC. “Lumesse is very proud to be their provider of choice when it comes to talent management software.”


*Formed in 1943, The Australian Human Resources Institute (AHRI) is the national association representing human resource and people management professionals. They have around 20,000 members from Australia and across the globe.


08 December 2014

Labels – What Are They Good For?

8456labelThe human brain is an amazing machine. It can focus and adapt, it can remember beyond imagination, and forget at convenience. It can come up with amazing new ideas and turn a blind eye to the obvious. When trying to explain computers, we sometimes make comparisons to the human brain to explain functionality. But the brain and computers work very differently - we can choose to override rules and patterns.

It may come as a surprise but we do have a lot of things in common, us, the human brains, and them, the computers, for example, we both use labels. Labels are there for our comfort and practical handling of the immense amounts of inputs from the world around us. When I first encountered computers I was in my late teens. Fortunately, I had just missed out on punch cards but for years I encountered system engineers who insisted on fields which only contained eight letters – the largest amount that punch card programming could handle – which resulted in horrible abbreviations. Some argued that information containing only 6‑8 letters made the human brain work faster. Well maybe, if the chunks of information were at all comprehensible – and WYSIWYG  might be, once it’s translated and generally used. But fatsecof or OPmintrt is not (flight attendance security officer and Outpatient, minor treatment – really, you didn’t get that?).  

And I’m thinking, hey, what about the labels we put on people? Never mind the printed stickers, labels are still used the same way:  to identify someone, give me information or even warning on how to handle them or even advertising their usability.

Labels are so much more. Most psychological, management or marketing tests explain their results using labels as labels are excellent at explaining complex situations. But even if tests can diagnose me as an ENTJ (Myers-Briggs), a strong Motivator (Thomas-Carlson) or a Cash-cow (Boston Consulting Group) – I am also a mother, a dancer, a writer, a Dane, a woman… and an infinite amount of other things. Still, it is sometimes practical to simplify the world and sometimes you can benefit from misunderstanding labels.

By the year 2000, I had been working with e-learning for seven years: First as a publisher digitalising learning material, and then as a production manager in an e-learning company. I got tired of the wheel re‑inventing itself, people showing me another set of “matching-pairs” or “drag-and-drop” exercises that they had been working on for hours (and that the client really didn’t want to pay for).  The mechanics where the same, only the design differed. And whether it was auto parts for an airplane or tools used for surgery I wasn’t even sure that the learning objective was the right one supported by that exercise. Basically, the subject matter experts where spending too much time having fun with the design.

I had a lot of ideas for the learning management system that my new employer needed (where pedagogical templates played a large part). Speaking of re-inventing the wheel, I know there are a lot of systems out there already. But back in 2000, not too many of those were actually available in Swedish, and my client needed something in local language. Although templates are standard in course building systems today, this was not the case 15 years ago.

 In order to fill up on ideas (and steal from the best, like a pro) I signed up and attended a huge learning conference in the US. In an attempt to maximise my experience, I wanted to sign up for some pre-conference workshops and sure enough, I found one called “Interactivity in learning” which is just what I wanted. In the year 2000, most workshops, if they were about computers and computer tools, were about how to fizzle your PowerPoint presentations. And I’m sorry, but a presentation, no matter how much fizzle, is still a presentation. We all know about Ebbinghaus’ forgetting curve, so let’s just move on.

I arrived in Atlanta with high expectations and entered a conference room which, to my surprise, had absolutely no computers, just the teachers. And very soon, I realised that this was not about interactivity between man and computer, but teacher-student interactivity in a classroom; I was so stuck in my labels that I had not read the content description properly. Obviously I was very disappointed.

However, as I try to always let my standard approach be to make the best of every situation, I engaged with my fellow conference attendees and joined in the exercises provided; and I soon discovered that this was the good stuff! I don’t think I have ever, before or since, learned as much in one workshop, over one weekend! I have carried the principals, the learning games and the ideas from this workshop with me throughout my life and career and I still remember the guy’s name since he cleverly made a learning game out of that too, Siwasailam Thiagarajan. Even watching his videos today I still get the itch, it’s too slow and it is too obvious for my constantly speeding brain. And then I fall into his tempo, I start to reflect and wonder, how can I use this? When does this apply to my situation, and how? … And that is what it’s all about! Not telling me what to do, but to allow me to draw my own conclusions and apply them.

So take a chance and break out of your labels once in a while.

03 December 2014

What is a Great Customer Experience?

Customer_Experience1-604x272Last week, Lumesse held a user experience event for the benefit of our customers in the Netherlands. Although it’s easy for me to ask my questions directly to any internal experts, I was delighted that they asked me to join their event. After all, I am technically a customer with a user experience as well. For me, this turned out to be a great experience.

First of all, all the customers loved the fact that I was taking part in this event because of course Lumesse’s internal HR team also works regularly with the systems. The customers had the opportunity to ask me questions regarding my experience and it was an opportunity for them to get to know me on a one-to-one basis. I’m just a peer to them, only with the slight difference that I am working at their Talent Management provider instead of any other company.

For me this was an excellent opportunity to talk with other like-minded people. Don’t get me wrong, I’m really happy with all of my colleagues across the globe with their skills, competencies and also HR knowledge, but just to be one of my peers - our customers - gives me another perspective on things. I noticed that I gained a lot more insight into how my HR peers are working with our systems. Sometimes with the same and sometimes with different challenges that didn’t even occur to me. The most valuable aspect of the day, in my opinion, was to see how each of my peers integrated and adapted the systems to allow for their own way of working; I even learned one or two new things from them.

So thank you for inviting me to the user experience event and please keep inviting me! To our customers, please do come to these events because I love to hear your stories and to have the chance to learn from each other.

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