Friday, 27 January 2012

Friday Wondering - HR Bugbears

Each Friday I'm going post a "Friday Wondering". These posts are meant to explore & discuss observations or issues which I think would benefit from discussion. Participation is open to absolutely anyone regardless of their expertise or knowledge. Just bring your curiosity!

If you'd like to discuss on Twitter rather than here then why not. It would help though if you could use the #FridayWondering hashtag. Thanks!

So here's the first.....

HR Bugbears

Over on @robjones_tring "Masters or Bust" blog yesterday, @naturalgrump commented raising an interesting bugbear about abbreviations.  He observed & I tend to agree that :

"Abbreviations such as JV and BAU take me time to decipher and are painful to place in the context of the post".

Although an expedient form of shorthand, I wonder if abbreviation also takes away meaning and even the power of the original words...

So when we talk about for example H.R. are we taking away the meaning and power of what is actually "Human Resources"?

Thursday, 26 January 2012

Warnocking & Leadership

Even if you don’t work in the HR space, you know that feedback is important. It’s how we learn & develop. If it’s well delivered, feedback is engaging. It’s a gift.

Warnock’s Dilemma 
Those of you who blog may be familiar with the phenomenon that is called Warnock’s Dilemma. If you are not then there is a good description on Wikipedia here and even a dedicated website here

The problem it describes comes from a lack of response to a posting. Any blogger will be familiar with posts that don’t attract comments – sometimes it can be quite discomforting. Warnock’s Dilemma explains this lack of feedback as being for 1 of 5 different reasons: 
  1. The post is correct, well-written information that needs no follow-up commentary. There's nothing more to say except "Yeah, what he said." 
  2. The post is complete and utter nonsense, and no one wants to waste the energy or bandwidth to even point this out. 
  3. No one read the post, for whatever reason. 
  4. No one understood the post, but won't ask for clarification, for whatever reason. 
  5. No one cares about the post, for whatever reason. 
Whether you blog or not, it all makes perfect sense doesn’t it… so what? 

Well, have a think about the 5 different reasons and replace the word “post” with “Executive Communication”. It’s a slightly different perspective isn’t it... More than that, I think it perhaps illuminates some broader issues. 

Leaders hide their discomfort 
We know that dealing with ambiguity is part of the leadership role, along with the need for strong communication skills. 

Often this means we develop leaders who are able to function without much feedback and are able to communicate strongly, sometimes perhaps in a way that even stifles feedback. I suspect that the combination conspires against leaders receiving the feedback they need, as humans. 

To not get the feedback you need as a human. That would feel discomforting wouldn’t it? Shouldn’t it? More than that, doesn’t that lack of feedback limit learning and development? 

Organisations that recognise this develop leaders to have strong reciprocal communications skills and can both give & elicit feedback effectively.

Take a look around your organisation. I’d guess there may be leaders you can see who don’t function at this level.  Are they learning & developing as they need to? Are they hiding their discomfort? 

Warnock’s Dilemma is incomplete 
Warnock’s Dilemma is great but it’s important to recognise its origins are in the online world of forum posting 10 years ago. I believe there are 4 other reasons people don’t contribute to postings & blogs which we already understand from the corporate world. 
  • The post is good/bad but the writer is weak at eliciting feedback. 
  • The post is good/bad but the readers’ feedback skills are weak. 
  • The post is good/bad but the reader has no time to comment. 
  • The post is good/bad but the reader does not care enough about you to “gift” you their feedback. 
I think these are accurate additions but test them. Replace the word “post” with “Executive Communication” or something else that you find relevant. 

What do you think? What else would you add to Warnock’s Dilemma? 

Self-Leadership Postcript 
If we are interested in feedback and dialogue on ourselves then I believe it helps to be aware of the various reasons why others may not comment. The issue could be us; it could be others; it could just be circumstantial.  If we feel discomfort or are not getting the feedback we need then the only positive remedy is to solicit feedback from people whose opinion we care about. 

If we read the work of others who actively or passively seek feedback & comments, what stops us from doing so? Feedback is a gift. If you are time poor then why not find quick ways to share your sentiments? If you disagree why not tell the author?   If you don’t care then why are you reading their work – really think about why.

As leaders or advocates of feedback we know the value of walking the talk.  How much walking the talk do you need to demonstrate in the world of social media?

It’s a personal decision but perhaps this really is the dilemma that comes from Warnock....

Friday, 20 January 2012

Just One

Today is this blog's 1 year anniversary - you can see the first post here.

I like to think I've improved and I certainly feel happier and more confident about writing a blog than I did 12 months ago.  Who would have imagined me sharing poetry here!

Along the way I've found huge support, kind words, intelligent comments and challenging thinking.  A lot of this has come from the ConnectingHR & EMCC communities on Twitter.  Thank you so much!

To anyone contemplating taking that step into blogging, I have to say to you make the time and just start.  Do it for yourself & learn from the experience - it's a great source of reflection.  Find your way - it's hard at first but you will get great support.

Perhaps most importantly, just remember this little quote from @Projectlibero....

"You get a wonderful view from the point of no return"

Giving Back
On this anniversary, the blog has just hit 4,000 views!  So to celebrate this landmark & as a thank you to the community I want to give something back.

I have "just one" free ticket to give away for the first of the new EMCC UK Symposiums on "Mapping the Mind".  The lucky winner can chose whether to attend in London on 6th March or Manchester on 15th March.  All I ask in return is that the winner writes a guest blog post here about their experience.

Here's what you need to do
Please nominate someone who isn't already going but you think is both deserving of the ticket and would value the symposium.  Please ensure that they are able to go and willing to provide a guest blog.  Then just email me with a brief explanation of why you've nominated them to

My choice of the lucky winner will take place on Friday 27th January.

UPDATE - 27/3/2012
With a very heartfelt nomination from Ian Pettigrew (@KingfisherCoach) the lucky winner is Bev Holden (@stickythinker) who will be going to the Manchester Symposium on the 15th March.  Watch out for her guest blog post on the experience!

Thursday, 19 January 2012

Guru Haiku

By unknown 18-19th century (old book) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

In social media, if not all things, everyone hates a self proclaimed guru. Twitter abounds with such profiles - Followerwonk shows nearly 28,000 profiles using the word guru!

Yet a guru means one who is regarded as having great knowledge, wisdom, and authority in a certain area, and who uses it to guide others. Perhaps take a moment to read the definition of Guru on Wikipedia.

In other words, a guru is a teacher or leader. Someone who shares their wisdom and that of others. They would willingly help you. This is someone that we would appreciate & value wouldn’t we?

The Popularity Difference
So we know how to spot those sham gurus and avoid them like the plague.

What about the gurus we create? You know, they are the ones we love to follow & connect with. The ones we always hope will see our blog or even comment. The ones with big Klout.

The trouble is that they are sometimes a creation of the environment if not of our imagination. At worst, it’s a bit like the school playground… remember those really popular kids who everyone wanted to be friends with. Why? Because they were the most popular kids… Do you see what I mean?

Meet the Guru
Whether or not you like the word guru, I think what most of us want is to engage with people we value not those who are "just popular".

I value those who share knowledge, wisdom & authority freely and in an inclusive manner. So I’m taking a much closer look at the Twitter playground to separate the "just popular" from the real Gurus.

Here are a few ideas if you want to do the same...
  • Do they really retweet? I took a look at TweetStats and was shocked to see how little some “big names” retweet. Yet when I thought about it I knew this to be true – sharing on Twitter is easy to do so what stops them? 
  • Do you get a sense of cliques forming around them? @dileeshus wrote a good piece on Twitter exclusion here and others have spoken to me about this trend. I think if you sense a clique that’s an amber warning – don’t ignore it! 
  • Do they reciprocate? You both blog and you have a relationship on twitter. If you comment on their blog then why don’t they comment on yours? It’s not a lot to ask and the best ones do it already. 

There are some really great people out there - some are truly gurus. Just watch you don't get caught up in the schoolground popularity show!

As always I'd really appreciate any thoughts or experiences on this you’d like to share here or offline.

Haiku Guru
I’ve been curious about Haiku for a while now and have been playing around with it. This website provides some great resource and also a description of Master Basho (picture above) - a Haiku Guru if you ask me!

So here’s a little offering from an amateur on the subject of Twitter Gurus…

Guru bathed in Klout;

Missed oyster-pearl tweets abound
shared by those without.

Why don't you have a try at Haiku and share it with us!

Wednesday, 4 January 2012


This blog has been going for nearly a year now. What started as a tentative dip of the toe has now become part of what I do and integral to my business. 

Ultimately though, if I want my blog to achieve something for my business then I need to be able to measure its impact. The question is what to measure? 

The numbers game 

Blogging tools are great at cranking out basic statistics but a lot of what I see is based solely on number of visits or views. The implied ambition seems to be having an increasingly large number of readers… 

For this blog, December was an amazing month reaching an all time high of 1245 views :-
But what was being read? Was December a better or worse month than say September when I had 485 views? Or August when I only blogged once? How do I compare month on month? How do I gauge engagement? 

On their own, absolute views are in my opinion limiting and tend to lead us to view quantity as the objective rather than quality. So what else should we measure? 

Some Alternative Blog Measures 

I’m at an early stage with this but I‘ve been using a set of monthly measures to keep an eye on what seems to be most important. Here are some alternative blog measures & personal observations that I hope you  find interesting.

New Blog Reading vs. Exploration

What I’ve found is that increasingly my blogs readers are taking time to read posts from previous months. This is wonderful and I want to take account of this in my blog stats.

Looking at December, it’s important that I had 1245 views but perhaps more interesting is that nearly half were views of older blogs :-
For me, this starts to indicate something interesting and different is happening with my blog readers.  I would have missed this if I'd not taken time to track these statistics!

Average Views per Post

The number of views an individual post receives is relevant, but we all know that some posts are more of a hit than others. 

Measuring the average views per post each month helps take in an overall picture and smooth out the impact of for instance when you blog more or less often than usual :-
My blog is still developing but it’s great to see a steady and continuous trend upwards. It also helps combat those fears and insecurities of a single post that didn’t attract the usual interest! 

Comments per 100 views

I write my blog both for reflection and for engagement. So to receive feedback in either the form of a twitter reaction or a comment is wonderful. Sometimes, a blog post sparks a fire and the comments rush in. Sometimes there’s a deathly silence or silent appreciation – you choose!

I now measure the number of comments and the number of reactions per 100 views each month. This helps give me a sense of proportion and gives me a different benchmark for engagement other than blog views :-
There's something here about the expected response rate for blogs which I'm still pondering...

Other Perspectives

Analysis of the blog statistics is useful but it is just a monthly gauge I use to check in on progress.  Perhaps more fundamental are the other perspectives I'm becoming aware of.

On a qualitative level, I’m noticing that the posts that generate the most interest are typically edgy/challenging or community focussed. They also generate more thought and dialogue. Expect more of this from me! 

In terms of audience, perhaps unsurprisingly 2/3rds of readers are in the UK and Ireland and seem to be the most actively engaged (i.e. ready to comment or react).  Unexpectedly, a quarter of readers are US based and there is a growing following across Europe, Russia & Asia.  This is making think about how UK centric my writing focus is and whether it needs to change.

I’ve also realised that there is an unnecessary separation between this blog and my company website.  This is manifest in the web statistics. I’m still exploring options but I might end up embedding the blog in the website.  There's something to be said for having everything in one place!

Perhaps I’m learning the hard way but thought I share these experiences with you.  I hope you've found these interesting or even useful.  Would love to hear your thoughts!

What are you planning for your blog in 2012? 

What measures are you using to gauge impact & engagement?