Talent Management Technology – Reviews

This week is all about Talent Management Technology. I have a guest Blogger, Kyle Lagunas of Software Advice to thank for the content below. The review on WorkSimple is yours truly.

Talent management technology is evolving. Social features that drive collaboration, enable real-time feedback, and give employees (and their bosses) more visibility into what’s going on in their organization–furthering the trend towards consumerisation of workplace IT. Early adopters of these socialized talent management technologies are seeing some immediate value-adds.

Specifically, here are four ways social technologies are having a positive impact in talent management:


 1. Invigorated Open Door Policies

Marketing services firm Dominion Enterprises has always had an open door policy. But leadership struggled to sift through and act upon all the input they received. They needed a central platform for gathering, sharing and developing ideas.

“While we had channels for feedback and input, it was hard to get traction around ideas,” explains Susan Blake, VP of HR.

After giving UserVoice Feedback software a test run in one department, they rolled it out company-wide in March. Uservoice allows employees to submit ideas, vote on others’ ideas, and discuss them. The software had immediate impact, giving management the tools they need to give their open door policy new life–with employees from every department offering suggestions for improving products, policies and processes.

Furthermore, by showing employees that their feedback results in real changes, they’ve seen a spike in employee engagement. “To say UserVoice was a catalyst is an understatement,” says Blake.



2. Interactive Talent Directories

Gone are the employee directories of old, replaced with a strategic tool for both employees and leadership. You can still find contact info for colleagues in another department, but innovative products like Saba’s People Cloudhave offer something more akin to an interactive talent directory.

Employees can create detailed profiles–listing skills, competencies and interests (relevant to their current roles or their career goals). Colleagues can search for experts in the company, and garner attention from peers and leadership by regularly lending expertise hand or sharing articles of interest. Managers can find viable candidates internally for key hires.


3. Motivating Career Management

One of social talent technology’s greatest value-adds for employees is in career management functionality. Systems like UpMo–the first enterprise talent network–are offering users a unique approach to career pathing by putting employees in the driver’s seat.

With UpMo, employees grow their internal network and their skills profile simultaneously, making them more appealing candidates for opportunities in the organization. Like other social talent technologies, there’s even a bit of gamification built in, which encourages usage and makes the process more engaging. Employees can give each other shout-outs for a killer meeting (a +1 in Presenting), or thanks for explaining Cloud computing (a +1 in Cloud).

This highly social product, which launched a free version last week, brings new energy to career management by keeping employees focused on growing within their organization.


4. Performance, Engagement and Reward Management.

As workplaces shift from the Industrial Age 9-5 hall monitoring to something altogether more dynamic, fluid and lifestyle balanced, so do our systems need to be able to cope with keeping across Performance whilst both Engaging and fairly Recognising/Rewarding people. Social Web based systems are the solution to this and companies like WorkSimple are leading the charge. Rob Fanshawe of 33 Talent has used WorkSimple to manage ROWE (Results Only Work Environment) in his last two companies:

“There were issues of continuous changes as with any early adoption but it is a great system and one of the only truly Social and Results focused systems out there, that consider both the employee and employer in equal measure” – Rob Fanshawe

WorkSimple offers companies flexible Results focussed and Social way to cover everything from Goals and activity through to rewards and appraisals and Rob’s evaluation of the product is as follows:

  • It’s Social– this is key to any true ROWE environment as it creates the “virtual” platform  necessary for people across the organisation to interact without having to physically be with them. I found it to be properly interactive and with high visibility.
  •  Its Results focussed – in other words everything everyone does is always contributing to an end goal, whether it be share or individual, town based or country wide.
  •  Its transparent – everyone knows where everyone stands so there is no miscommunication between management and employees. Mission, Values, Goals and Results are seamlessly linked
  •  Its real time – there’s no waiting around and subjectivity. Everything you do is rolled up into something else so results and reports are instantaneous. Updates and changes are immediate. You know how you’re tracking before the report comes out!

Its involving and supports recognition – “we found it great for making sure everyone is recognised by everyone else. It’s a great system for cross team and cross level sharing and rewarding.” says Rob.


Social Technology Has Hurdles to Clear

While the products described above offer significant value, social technologies as applied to talent management still have room to evolve. For example: Seamless integration with other systems (e.g. simply having a single sign-on across systems could greatly boost user adoption).

“It’s a real problem if every product requires another log-in or user profile,” says Joe Fuller, CIO at Dominion. “We want single sign-on–it’s the biggest complaint.”

What do you think are the greatest opportunities for social technology to drive innovation in talent management? What hurdles are there to clear before we see widespread adoption?


About the Author: Kyle Lagunas is the HR Analyst at Software Advice—an online for reviewing and comparing talent management software. On the surface, it’s his job to contribute to the ongoing conversation on all things HR. Beyond that, he makes sure his audience is keeping up with important trends and hot topics in the industry. Focused on offering a fresh take on points of interest in his market, he’s not your typical HR guy.


Resigning – why you shouldn’t feel nervous

Resigning – why you shouldn’t feel nervous

Let’s face it – most people feel a bit nervous about resigning, even if they’re excited about their new job, but unless there are exceptional circumstances, it doesn’t have to be done Greg Smith style leaving bridges burned in your wake! As recruiters we go through this moment in peoples’ careers with them often, and there’s some pooled knowledge to pass on from those many experiences we’ve shared with candidates over the years.


It’s not personal!
Firstly, remember that your boss has resigned from roles in the past and so has nearly everyone else in the office. It’s part and parcel of work life not a direct attack or reflection on anyone, and if handled correctly, you can always leave the door open for future opportunities.
One of the first things you want to clarify before you resign are your push and pull factors.

Pull factors
If your resignation is all about pull factors – something new has come up and you simply can’t say no – then there’s nothing to say you can’t consider the company you’re leaving as an employer again in the future. In this case, write a (truthful – don’t be insincere by going overboard!) resignation letter which mentions how much you’ve enjoyed your role, how much you’ve learnt and that you’d love to stay in touch, and reiterate all of that in your resignation meeting. If they value you as much as you hope they do, they’ll love the positive feedback and will be pleased to return the compliment.

Push factors
If your resignation is all about push factors – not being happy in your current role – then you need to ask yourself how candid you want to be in your exit interview. Is it best to be diplomatic or bluntly air your grievances to influence change for the better? Consider the elements of your role that have made you unhappy, pick the most tangible aspects to feedback and deliver it in person during your exit interview. Keep your resignation note more factual and formal and state the dates for the purpose of fulfilling your notice period.

Stick to your guns!
Either way, get your reasons for moving on in order, stick to your guns and don’t fall into the classic trap of being flattered by a counter offer (more on that here). If the pull factors were strong enough to make you resign, remember that feeling of excitement and opportunity and leave the door open to return in the future. If the push factors were bad enough to make you resign…well, enough said.

We hope these words have been of some comfort to those of you dreading your resignation meeting whether it be for good, or bad reasons. It really is common to feel that way, just not necessary.

Good luck with the resignation meeting and most importantly, good luck with your new job!

10 important tricks to employ when starting a new job

10 important tricks to employ when starting a new job

It’s always interesting working with people who’ve just started a new job. Whether they’re my own employees or people that I’ve placed into a new role elsewhere, that first 90 days really does determine whether they’re going to succeed or not. Furthermore, I think it sets an important tone for how they’ll perform in an ongoing basis.

In other words, the first 90 days really counts!

Here are some ideas about how you might be able to make the most of that time.

1.       Have a Plan

This was drilled into me early on in my career and I’m a big believer of it. I think it’s critical for every new employee, from the CEO down, to have a 90 day plan from the day they start. Your plan should be like a brief business plan. What’s the goal, what are the objectives to get there and when do they need to be achieved by? This one simple process will go a long way to keeping you focused when the pressures of learning a new role are doing their best to distract you.

2.       Define success

If you haven’t covered this fully as part of the interview process then you really need to very quickly understand exactly what success looks like! You need to understand the strategy, goals and expectations of the company and your boss. Then you need to make sure that your strategy, goals and expectations support that. In essence this means getting your boss to sign-off on your 90 day plan.

3.       Bring energy!

The energy you bring is very important in getting off to a good start. If you’re very introverted you might have to fake confidence to start with but things like taking the initiative to introduce yourself to your colleagues (rather than waiting to be introduced) can make a huge difference in how quickly you settle in. The simple things like a smile, eye contact, firm handshake and positivity go a long way.

4.       Seek to understand before being understood

One of the best people I’ve worked with was a guy who was brilliant at networking within the organisation. In his first 90 days he met with as many people as he could to understand exactly what worked, what didn’t work and why. He asked what people thought was missing from the role he was hired to do and what they would do differently if they were in his position. He found out about their role and how he could assist them. He built such great relationships based on his understanding of the business in the first 90 days that when it came time to implement changes people listened because he’d built credibility. People felt he understood them.

5.       Be systematic

There’s so much to learn in a new role that it can be quite overwhelming. As my old manager used to say, “How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time…” The fact is you’re not going to learn it all in your first week so part of your 90 day plan should be systematically ticking off each new aspect of your role you need to learn… in bite size chunks rather than all at once. Step one here might be sitting down with your boss and mapping out everything you’re expected to know… and this should go into your 90 day plan.

6.       Be proactive

The best way to make a good impression in your first 90 days is to be proactive rather than reactive. Don’t sit back and wait for someone to tell you what to do, go in search of what you think you should be doing. Any manager worth their salt would prefer you to create action, even if it’s not really what you’re meant to be doing, than to sit back and wait for them to have time in their busy day to attend to you. It’s also much easier for a manager to correct than to create, so if you’re really not sure what you’re doing put together a plan of attack and ask your manager to review it with you. They’ll love you for it!


Tip: If you’re being micro managed then chances are that’s because you’re not managing up effectively. Instead of waiting for your boss to tell you what to do, get in first and tell them what you’re planning to do! Give them an update at the end of the day. Do this until your boss is comfortable you know what you’re doing.

7.       Think before you ask

We all do it… we’re new, we’re not sure what to do so we don’t try and figure it out we just ask a question without thinking about it. The problem is that the learning process is sometimes about figuring it out! And perhaps more importantly when you’re first starting in a new job it’s not nice for your manager to get hundreds of simple questions all day long that you could have figured out yourself. That’s not to say you should spend a ridiculous amount of time struggling with something just for the sake of the learning experience or just so you don’t interrupt your boss, but you should think before asking the question. What are you options? Which is your best guess about the right option? Now you can ask a question that shows you’ve thought about it first.

8.       Be humble

Don’t assume that what made you successful in your old job will continue to do so. Assume you know absolutely nothing, ask for advice, actively listen.

9.       Get some early wins

How can you create value and improve the business in your first 90 days? These will likely be small wins, rather than revolutionary changes. You really want to seek to understand before being understood so it’s not a good idea to charge in swinging. Instead, look for the little wins that will help you build credibility and momentum.

10.   Mirror the best

Who are the best performers in your role within the company? You need to get to know these people. Ask them for a coffee, pick their brains, figure out how they think, how they approach things. Copy them. If you can’t find these people inside the company, look outside the company.


There are many more things we can do to ensure we are successful in our careers but I hope these were a good starting point.

Good luck!

Why counter offers are NOT good (for 90% of us at least)

There have been plenty of articles written on ‘why never to accept a counter offer’, but a recent post “Why Counter Offers Are Good (except for headhunters)” on recruitingblogs.com by @Amos spurred me to write about this for my audience. I was incredulous to read her article whole heartedly encouraging her candidates to elicit a counter offer to get the promotion you want. Sure, it was a brave post to a hostile audience and sure you might think, ‘of course you’ll disagree’ Rob but for those that know me well, trust me when I say, whilst in my benefit it is not for my benefit, but yours. This is wrong advice on so many fronts and in 9 cases out of 10.

I am not going to write anything revolutionary here but it is worth pointing out the facts so that if anyone does encourage (outside your current boss who obviously will) you* to take the counter offer, you have a reference point. Read them carefully and keep them at hand.

The fundamental facts are wholly aligned against counter offers and are as follows:

*Quit pro quo: the presumption here is I am talking to an audience with a strong ethical and moral value system here. If you would happily sleep with your best mate’s sister to get ahead in life then your moral compass is probably too far gone for this to be relevant.

1) Statistically, six to nine months later, 90% of those candidates who accept a counteroffer are no longer employed with the company that extended the offer (Martin Varnier Research)

2) Have a plan. Decent and well-managed companies don’t make counter-offers….EVER! Their policies are fair and equitable. They will never be subjected to counter-offer coercion, which they perceive as blackmail. Do you want to work with one that does?

3) Personal brand damage. By accepting a counter offer, you have committed the unprofessional and unethical sin of breaking your commitment to the prospective employer making the offer.

4) No smoke without fire. Any situation is suspect if an employee must receive an outside offer before the present employer will suggest a raise, promotion or better working conditions.

5) Re-active environments. Counter-offers are only made in response to a threat to quit. Will you have to solicit an offer and threaten to quit every time you deserve better working conditions?

6) Tactics. Counter-offers are usually nothing more than stall devices to give your employer time to replace you. Your reasons for wanting to leave still exist. They’ll just be slightly more tolerable in the short term because of the raise, promotion or promises made to keep you.

7) Team player? No matter what the company says when making its counter-offer, you’ll always be a fidelity risk. Having once demonstrated your lack of loyalty (for whatever reason), you will lose your status as a team player and your place in the inner circle.

(1-7 Source: Wall Street Journal)

These are all very serious and compelling truths about why you shouldn’t stay. However, the ones I want to focus on are 1) and 2).

1)      Because it is a researched fact, not whimsical argument

2)      Because fundamentally whatever the short term benefits of agreeing to a counter offer, do you really want to work for a company that is neither decent nor well managed. Will it serve your career goals in the long term?

Finally, my advice to avoid this situation which is actually the ultimate goal as opposed to turning down counter offers, is this:

If your company is not professional or mature enough to promote someone that they clearly need to and that deserved it because of a lack of corporate discipline i.e. ‘managers too busy’ or any such excuse, then you should take control (this is the proper ‘taking control of your life’ part as opposed to forcing control as a last ditch attempt to get what you think you deserve).

Walk into the CEO/Managers office with a plan. Say you want a promotion and deserve it and articulate why. Being promised “it will come” is not good enough. Do not leave without agreement on your plan or the understanding there will be no promotion because of x, y, z. This plan should be a 3 month SMART goals based plan with Results that lead to Actions. It will maybe take you about an hour to knock up (if anyone wants help with this please email me at rob@33talent.com).

Consequences of not hitting these goals needed to be outlined for both sides i.e. Joe Bloggs doesn’t get the promotion if falling short and the company X must promote if hitting or exceeding goals. Within 3 months you will have reached your goals (if you don’t then focus on getting training on where you fell short and do the same again – all planned and time lined). At this point they have no choice but to honour the agreement or break it. If honoured, break out the champagne. If not, then you now have the ethical and moral high ground to look elsewhere. What happens after that is clearly up to you still (which is a good thing). If you get offered elsewhere and counter offered then of course you could accept it. The good thing is here; you wouldn’t lose the loyalty bonus or ethical standing as they broke their promise first.

However, my aside at this point would be that you are too good for this company. You know you have gone above and beyond, been pro-active, and even implemented a career progression plan for them which they then broke a promise on. So if I was you and the company had rescinded on such a professional, clear plan of action that I had brought to the table, I would know whatever the short term benefits of the counter offer, long term the company did not have a belief or value system that I could happily work within and my career would be better off elsewhere.

My advice to candidates would be to always do it like this, in a professional and planned way. The other route is way too unplanned, emotive, risky and potentially career damaging.

Talent Strategy – a must for business now and for the future

Talent Strategy – a must for business now and for the future

One of the things that still baffles me in today’s market is the disconnect between CEO’s listing Talent as their number one pain point and priority and the lack of directional strategy advice being fed into them.

Talent is important – fact. Top Talent shortage is an issue and a major commercial inhibitor and yet in the vast majority of businesses it is not incorporated into the business strategy. Marketing, and Finance have strategies intrinsically linked to the business strategy but HR is rarely included and Talent (in its own right) next to never. If you spoke to a business leader and asked them to exclude Marketing and Finance from the business strategy they would tell you it’s impossible. This is where we need to get to if businesses are going to make the right decisions with regards to Talent. Talent leadership needs a seat at the table and I don’t mean HR, I mean Talent.

Any Talent strategy these days needs to consider two things 1) an exceptional acquisition model where the employment brand is strong and central to all other actions and 2) engagement that is fueled by meaningful development. If you don’t up-skill current staff you will need to find more new staff!

The other side to this coin you must consider is what Talent itself thinks. This shouldn’t be too difficult; after all you are not always the client. You yourself are the Talent too! Recessions, layoffs, boom and bust economics are a reality and people are always looking at their opportunities and risks. Things are not long term. Stability is rare. People will therefore always be considering how to get ahead and loyalty can never be one sided. The strategy must be honest about this and implement solutions around this. All ideas must be built around values true to the organisation and can cover initiatives such as flexibility, development, employment brand and engagement.

If attracting and retaining the best Talent is a serious ambition of your company then it must have a serious place in the wider business strategy, the leadership team, and the communications piece. Without these there will be no top talent, and no chance of competing in the business environment of the coming years.

If you wish to discuss your Talent strategy with us, please do not hesitate in contacting us and have a great half year ahead!

How do I advance my Career?

How do I advance my Career?

So you want to advance your career, but where do you start? Following are my top tips to success in advancing your career in a meaningful and sustainable way:

1)    The best place to start is with a career plan. A career plan is a written strategy which helps you realise and define your individual skills and interests and the steps from experience to training required to reach your goals.

There are few things as important as our career but most of us just leave it to chance and whim. Without focus and direction other than those imposed on us, we are leaving it all to the hands of others and are surprised it doesn’t turn out how we once dreamed it would. Take control and measure yourself against your progress. Work out what you are missing as you advance and make sure you get the tools, training and experience to get there. This is not a “written in stone” document but just like you, should be organic and evolving to help you to meet whatever new career aspirations you might have. Without it you will never remember what you wanted, where you’ve truly been and where you want to go. The basics of a plan should list the career goal, the requirements, current skills and interests, and the plan to reach the goal

2)    Self development. I cannot stress this enough. Yes, sure, you can lobby to get relevant corporate training and make sure you get yourself on the right courses paid for by your employer but no-one will take you seriously until you do yourself. This needs to be looked at in short, medium and long-term ways i.e. whilst keeping your chosen path, as well as your steps and goals in mind, you need to read quick articles (blogs, RSS feeds, Twitter, etc are good source for these), more strategic articles (white papers, studies etc) and then of course courses (online, books etc). They say information is power and they are right. You will not believe the confidence and value you will begin to be able to add at work and in your career community.

3)    Network. This is a do what it says on the tin kind of topic. Just network. Where? Wherever people in your chosen profession hang out i.e. your work, conferences, trade shows, chambers, online groups (Twitter / LinkedIn). You will get some many more opportunities and learnings from meeting and holding meaningful relationships with experts in your field, both in and out of work time.

4)    Personal brand development. A lot of this will come from the activity in 3) but it is important to first know what it is you want your brand to be i.e. what skills and attributes you want to be recognized for (this will tie into you planning and development) and then the marketing or ‘influence’ of those abilities so that even when you’re not physically there you are able to impact managers and colleagues.

5)    Don’t be an Island. The above point does not mean be a one man/woman glory show. In fact quite the opposite as it refers to being a meaningful brand for other people to relate to / respect. Providing support, help, ideas, successes and generally contributing to the team and company is the best way for you to shine.

6)    Support. This needs to be considered in a truly 360 degree way. Make sure that you regularly interact with your management about your aspirations and plans and get their buy-in and help in getting there. If it is realistic and planned they will believe in it and help. Also, find a mentor in the company if you can. If you need help, speak to HR or the MD about creating such a system. Life is about giving to receive. Support those around you and they will support you. If there is someone better than you in a certain area work out what you have to give them. Be a good team player – remember birthdays and special dates. Be reliable and care. Finally, support those below you. You can rarely go up unless there are people closely following behind. You can help people grow with you and as well as benefitting from watching them develop you will realise the benefits of it being tied in with yours.

This might seem like a lot but like all things in life, those things in life worth achieving take effort. Also, again like most things, with a lot of the effort front loaded in planning and strategy, the execution should be more painless and enjoyable. After all, this is your chosen career path so it should be something you like? You will be doing the job day in day out for most of your life so you might as well make the extra effort to make it a rewarding and fulfilling time!

Recruitment is a service NOT a product

Recruitment is a service NOT a product

As the markets in Asia Pacific continue to grow at rates from 6 – 23.5% (in the case of SG’s 1st Quarter 2011!) the ‘war for talent’ continues at a pace (this might happen to not be timely due to the recent makets news today!). There are consequences for recruitment as a result of this growth  which I will be discussing over the next few weeks – attraction, retention, services etc. however, one particular area of contention that needs addressing and understanding is what recruitment actually is (and not)…in any market. Recruitment is a SERVICE. Now this might seem an obvious statement but it actually needs realising and understanding in context.


One of the biggest disconnects in the recruitment industry and one of the reasons it often suffers in terms of reputation and is misunderstood re value is the fact that it is sold as a service but fundamentally,  invoiced and guaranteed as a product. I have no idea where this legacy comes from (it was thoroughly entrenched when I came into the industry) but what I do know is that it makes it near on impossible to make clients understand what it is we do I.e. provide a service.

Now I understand the reason for both the a) fee model and the b) guarantee clause;

a)      Paying a % of someone’s fixed salary or as a margin on a contract is an easy way to tie the amount to the value of your network and relationship. It should also be exactly relative to the value to the client of the person being hired.

b)      The guarantee stops the less than ethical people of this world ramming home the wrong candidates and then buggering off with a fee and no care in the world. It also mitigates the client’s financial investment risk to some degree by making sure a replacement is found asap if the first candidate doesn’t work out.

However they are both in direct conflict with a service model and therefore fundamentally flawed. When you hire a lawyer for their services you pay them by the hour (well, 8 minute cycles in most cases actually) and they provide a good service if not a result. You wouldn’t ask 6 lawyers to provide their service, decide which service had the most attractive looking proposition and only pay that one and then after 3 months of working with them, ask for your money back (or to do it again free) when they don’t get you the result you were hoping for. And here its time for a disclaimer – I am not talking about low-level service lawyers or recruiters – I am talking about the competent professional levels of both groups – i.e. a like for like.


So there is a disconnect between what is provided and what is charged and misunderstanding of this from the Client side (and sometimes the recruiters!) and wherever there is confusion there is conflict and reputations suffer. This obviously needs to be dealt with and quickly (its been going on too long)

I am not proposing we get rid of a guarantee. However, I do think we need to look at how we charge and that the bulk of recruiters look at what is guaranteed and why.

Consultants and agencies as a whole need to understand this themselves and where their clients are coming from. They then need to be able to sell and justify their service i.e. understand their value proposition – both theirs and their companies. They need to provide training to their sales staff so that they can clearly articulate all this and educate clients.

Clients need to try to understand their service providers so there are no misaligned intentions. They also need to stop focusing on price and consider true cost. They need to stop putting all the onus on recruiters if their Talent don’t stay and start focussing on employment branding, engagement and retention. Judge us on our service, not how you manage your Talent once on board!

What if/else?

Long term there needs to be an overhaul of the model. I have focussed on increasing project and retained work which has gone from 0% to 64% as a result. This is a good stop-gap. It takes time, training and education to consultants and clients but is much more efficient for all concerned – recruiters, clients and candidates. There are other new and revolutionary solutions you will see coming from me soon. Its time to change!