HR transformation and innovation: having great technology is not enough. Why?

You can hear about digital transformation and innovation everywhere. Transformation and innovation:  from the virtual reality to the blockchain technology, through the automation of processes. The digital transformation is a philosophical and technical movement that influences businesses, departments and teams…  including HR. The technological innovation, the new methods of collaboration and ways of doing are at the centre of this change.

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We need to talk about the change. Choosing an innovative technology does not equal starting an innovation/transformation change.  To understand what you need to change or work on, you need to understand your values. The values are not the ones that were present at the creation of your organisation or your team. If you do not understand what are the current values and the current way of doing things, the change will never happen. Relying on rewriting values and creating power point presentations on the corporate mission does not mean working on change.

Are you one of those people? Find your way

There are articles, blogs (like mine), presentations, and speakers that illustrate best practices or suggestions about certain topics. They talk about work, motivation, training etc. Really any kind of topic.

When we read these suggestions, we tend to copy exactly the “recipe” and adopt it as such. If we behave in this way, we make a mistake. Why are we mistaken? We read articles that come from personal experiences or events that happen in a specific context; they are therefore subjective. For this reason, you have to be able to step back, understand the proposed solution and try to adapt it to your context. Of course, you can also adopt the solution as it is; however, you should look at the results as an experiment and not give a final opinion on it. This is true for business or personal decisions; even about your career development.  We need to treat the proposed solution as an experiment and then adopting or modifying it to make it ours.

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I’m not saying that we should stop reading… otherwise this blog would not exist either. You have to take inspiration and look for your solution. Find your way.

You need to understand if you are a good cultural fit or not.

The organisational culture creates unique workplaces. Why? Companies are built by individuals. For example, two companies of the same sector and with the same organisational structure are different due to the social component.

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When you think about your career, it’s important to understand to which kind of organisational culture you belong to. Not all organisations are the right fit for you and you are the right fit for them… yes, even if the role your applying for matches your experiences.  You have to think about the type of supervision you want (autonomy in the role vs close collaboration with your manager), the visibility (work in a client role facing or not) and the collaboration required in the team. It is important also to say that these aspects (autonomy, visibility, and collaboration) vary during your career. You need to evaluate these aspects in the specific period of time and in relation to your career development goals and ambition.

Finally, remember that the cultural context in your organisation changes over time. It changes and evolves as you do.

Having friends at work? It should not be a rule

Working in a positive environment is fundamental. In order to enjoy your day, you need to feel comfortable and having positive relationships. The culture that surrounds you is important as the content of your job is.

I often say that eight hours of work are always eight hours of work; however, the perception of these 8 hours is different when you feel comfortable with yourself and with your colleagues.

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You have surely heard that you need to have friends at work. Are we sure? As mentioned before, it’s crucial to be in a positive workplace to live it at its best; however, if you do not want to make new friends at work, you do not need to. Forcing yourself means modifying your behaviour and work attitude. The important thing is having positive work relationships. Having friends at work does not have to be a cultural norm (or a best practice) in your organisation. On the other hand, you’d need to have sponsors and allies.

Defining your career path? You need to work on it

I often write about the importance of collaboration. It has been said that companies should invest and have invested in technology, projects and programs (for example team building or mentorship) to improve collaboration between and within teams. Technology has changed the way we collaborate and exchange information. Conference calls and emails have completely revolutionised our way of working.

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There is an aspect of your work that remains isolated and you should keep it isolated and personal.

What is it? Your career management. Receiving advice from colleagues or your manager is clearly important; however, your career path definition needs to be a personal investment and you cannot rely on collaboration. Managing your career path does not mean undermining colleagues or diminishing other people successes. Managing your career means creating your own path with your efforts. Take risks, join new teams, have different experiences and think about these experiences.

Do not say ” I am the perfect candidate”

I am a recruiter and I interview candidates for a living; there are times when the interviews are really positive and other times when they are not.

If you are going to be interviewed by a recruiter, your preparation is fundamental; however, the real difference is made by what you are ready to talk about. Example? Knowing the company’s financial results won’t necessarily help you. So what? Do not memorise the financial results but be ready to talk about your experiences. Considering that you are under pressure while interviewing, you can easily make mistakes recollecting the financial results.

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One of the most asked question by recruiters is: why do you think that you are the right candidate for the job? You can answer talking about your professional experiences, the projects that you have been involved in or the career development path you want to join; these are valuable answers. The worst answer ever? “I’m the perfect candidate”. Let see a few reasons why saying that you are the perfect candidate is not a good idea.

1) You are evaluating yourself …what you think it is not necessarily true.

2) You’re evaluating yourself…however, the recruiter is the one there to evaluate your application.

3) You are trying to impress the recruiter. Interviews are not created to impress but to present projects, your experiences and skills. An interview is not a date!

3) If you have never worked for that specific company, there are definitely things that you do not know about them (processes, tools, the culture).

4) Showing self-confidence is fine.  However, saying that you are the perfect candidate is still not the best way to get started and set the right framework for the interview.

5) If you decide to ask questions to the recruiter about the role or the experiences needed to be successful in the job.. why should you ask these questions considering that you are the perfect candidate? you should know the answers already. The only thing that you are doing is proving that you are not the perfect candidate. You can be a good candidate, a very good one.. .not the perfect one.

Suggestion? Even if you really think to be the perfect candidate (or very close to the recruitment’s needs), well, do not say that.

Stop talking only about the candidate experience. There is much more!

Let’s start with a simple statement: the candidate experience is very important. However, we need to broaden our horizons. We need to talk about the customer journey when it comes to recruiting and employer value proposition. The customer journey is very important.

Why?

The first thing to consider is that the candidate experience is related to professionals who are already interested in your company. They might be already part of a recruiting process. If your strategy is focused only on candidates, you are excluding an important part of the “market“. Following the advice of the best marketing or acquisition departments, we cannot forget the prospects (for example, the so-called passive candidates) or our customer base (the employees). Therefore, the organisation must think about providing a service to them too.

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Then, the recruiting processes require the commitment of professionals of the organisation, not just the recruiting team. Therefore, all the participants in a recruiting process (for example the interviewers) are brand ambassadors  https://goo.gl/fBP0zM .  Finally, when a candidate accepts an offer becomes a customer of your organisation. Moreover, the candidate, now employee, becomes also a brand ambassador. Organisations need to be aware of this conversion process and need to work to optimise it.

A prospect who becomes an employee through the recruiting process needs to be treated as unique. Why? The professional can decide whether to become a customer of your brand or continuing to be one of your customers, to convince others that your business and your brand are exceptional, refer friends and spreading the word about your brand…. We know that the word of mouth is still the best form of marketing and proposition. What about the candidates who have not been selected? You need to value them and treat them as the ones that accepted your offers. These candidates can be selected in another process, make referrals, being your customers and brand ambassadors.

A different approach to the candidate experience is definitely needed.

No respect for your time? Your organization has a problem.

We work in ecosystems where people and processes create unique and not replicable dynamics. The culture of an organisation is unique.  In order to understand the work environment, you need to balance your efforts between different dimensions. These dimensions are technical (skills, tasks to be completed, your career progression), social (your team, the relationships with the business) and political ones (the relationship between teams, your manager). You need to find your balance while you manage your time. Your time is critical to complete your tasks and matching your job’s responsibilities: you need to invest time in thinking about your career and your competencies Time for yourself  . 

Your time is a dimension that you cannot completely manage.  Why? Your time is managed and influenced by the business’ priorities, the demands of your manager, unexpected events and your team’s needs. Let’s say that in most cases you do not manage your time, you try to optimise it. You have to learn to respect the time that you have. It is fundamental to think about the quality of your work and the time that it is needed for your job.

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One of the biggest organisational problem is that often there is a lack of respect of other people time. Are organisations ready to facilitate the balance between personal, team and process time management? I do not think so. How many times happens to you to work with a colleague who asks for a meeting that ends with a 5 minutes chat? Or, when a process could be optimised but due to the logic of “we have always done like this” you waste precious time? In how many meetings you sit that are actually the update of last meeting and work to program the next one? Our time is threatened by the lack initiative, autonomy and entrepreneurship of other people or the organisation setup.

When organisations and individuals will begin to be include as one of the main values the respect of the time, your organisation will mature.

Being curious? Do not forget about it!

We often read articles about the skills and the competencies that each professionals should have. It is clearly important to have good analytical skills, being able to communicate well and navigate the politics of your organisation.

We should consider the programming skills, not only for software development roles. Steve Jobs was used to say that everyone should be able to program. Why? Not because we need to be developers; we need to be able to program and writing software because it “will teach us how to think”. He was used to say the same thing about studying Law as different approach to reasoning. In other words, you should train yourself to think with a different mind-set.  To be honest, it reminded me what my high school teacher was used to say about Latin language. However,  I’d really like to invite all to watch Steve Jobs’ interview with Robert Cringely in 1995 … impressive accuracy in presenting scenarios that will happen 20 years later.

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The interview made me think how is important to have curiosity. Our curiosity is the engine of many of our actions and it is the energy that boosts our knowledge. You do not need only to show curiosity, you need to be curious. Why is curiosity so important?  We discover something new thanks to our curiosity. If we are not curious, we’d never discover our areas of development. Doing research, the stress (or pleasure) of learning new things, reading, researching… These are the results of our curiosity.  Curiosity is the mechanism that pushes you into difficult situations and it is also what pushes us to travel and discover new places. Curiosity is also the desire to know other people. Understand them, do not understand them and try to understand why we are not understanding them.

Being curious comes for free… let me think about a MBA….

Swearing while presenting? I will not listen

I’ve attended a talk about tricks we can adopt in order to engage other people and having a focused audience. Considering that having the attention of colleagues or other stakeholders is fundamental in any jobs, I was very interested in listening to the presenter. He was talking and I was listening. As the presentation continued, I started becoming too “familiar” with the concepts that he was explaining. The tricks and the examples used resonated too familiar. How? Why? The presentation was very similar to one that I’ve listened to almost 5 years ago. Fine with it. Being original is not always easy (well, hard to say which of the two presentations was inspired by the other).

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Among the tricks presented in order to keep the attention of your audience, he suggested swearing. The reason? You catch the attention of the audience and you break the status quo.  Let’s say that the goal is understandable, particularly if it is a lengthy presentation; however, in my opinion, it is not the way. The focus falls naturally. There are several work psychology studies that measure the so-called attention span; on average, our attention span ranges between 45 minutes and 75 minutes. As said, after 5 years, I still do not agree with swearing just to keep the audience focused. Call me old fashioned on this; however, I prefer techniques that are more intelligent, simple and refined. If you are not presenting exciting subjects, use images, examples or ask questions to the audience. Do not forget to create an interactive environment.