#PPMAHR15 – Public Sector People Managers Conference – April 2015, Bristol – Social Media & HR

Posted: April 17, 2015 in Uncategorized

Speech given by Perry Timms to PPMA Conference 17 April 2015


Social Technologies and Spiritual Togetherness:

People Professionals and People Managers

It’s time to connect; collaborate; and create the future of work we are all proud of.

What impact is connecting media and the socialisation of work through innovations in digital technology having?  How vital is the coming together of HR and ALL People Managers to bring about better work and working lives?

I’m writing this as a transcript of the key points to build on Peter Cheese’s speech to the PPMA Conference 2015 Day 2 Opening Keynote.  I’m genuinely humbled and delighted to be able to work with, let alone share stages with, Peter.  He’s JUST what the HR profession needs in 21st century leadership and someone many people managers should connect to, share with and learn from.

My take is a short and focused aspect to Peter’s keynote. Consider me the Vine post to Peter’s rousing YouTube performance.  The tweet connecting to Peter’s blog.  If you aren’t aware of why I’d use these metaphors you’d do well to find out or be forever in #FOMO.

With no hint of hyperbole or popularism social is the name of the game.  We’re in a social era.  Easy to say that right?  We’ve seen the rise of Facebook and YouTube, we’ve seen the gradual embracing by the conventional media of what was once called new media.  We’ve seen the dark and light, the power and perversion of social networks.

We are though, seeing the rise of social in almost all aspects of our life and that technology appears to be driving it is neither wholly the case or wildly inaccurate.  It’s a combination of the working technologies of the 20th century – not just electronic, computerised or digital but management, processes like lean – being eschewed in favour of more agile, collaborative technologies including digital platforms that puts the me back into teamwork and takes the lo out of solo, email pursuits where the only team dynamics were the annual plank-walking away day and the drain of life that has become team meetings.

I don’t even need to tell you why the way we’re working isn’t totally working.  Peter’s also done that in his opening.

But how do we let the social still equal productive and effective whilst being more human and wholesome?

I’ve got 4 areas that will be recognisable to all of you; a map of what apps and platforms are forging ahead in those areas and a quick 5 point plan for you to start working on RIGHT NOW.

Just a quick one thought: you may have even tried social in your place of work or for yourself and quickly defaulted back to email and the likes.   This happened with phoning people over surfing the web for answers; and a manual diary over an online calendar.  With exceptions, norms like search engines and online diaries make it almost incomprehensible we resisted this shift.  Sometimes things embed quicker than others and because the brain is essentially finding the easiest option, sometimes that will be lazy and stick to your current defaults.  Rewiring takes time, but can be, and in my experience is, so worth it.

So, if you’ve tried before, you might want to try again and keep trying.  Social technologies only reveal their FULL impact when you’re in with them for a longer haul than a couple of experiments.

The 4 areas then: Social for Recruiting.  And not just sourcing, but your “brand proposition”, grad schemes whatever.  If you’re not talking about yourself on social or your people allowed to talk about you, it is going on anyway.  No need to move all your hiring into this area but have a plan; experiment with more than LinkedIn and see what you get; norm and sustain things like your Twitter presence and YouTube utilisation and it will pay off.  One leaflet did not a market produce.  As is with social media and recruiting.

Social Media for Engagement.  A logical next step but communication and dialogue with your people is ever more important alongside your customer and supplier relationships.  Why know more about what your customers think than your own people?  Ridiculous scenario.  Once a year, or even pulse engagement surveys just aren’t good enough anymore.  People will deliver amazing things when they feel they belong, understand and are listened to.  Engagement isn’t enough.  Involvement.  How do you create employee involvement?  In some extreme cases organisations move to self-organised teams in making more of less radical concepts – it’s EI that counts.  Employee Involvement.

Social Media for Learning.  THE bounty of insight is something you’ll hear about from Dave Coplin – the deluge.  Yet within the social world for learning, it’s like nothing we’ve ever seen before.  It’s the musical equivalent of digital downloads.  Every song ever, available to play when you went at the click of a search function or the creation of a playlist.  Overwhelming choice?  Sure but if you’ve created a network of discerning DJs from different genres, you have those enthusiasts and experts doing some of your filtering legwork.  Clay Shirky – famous thought leader in information and technology says “we don’t have an information overload problem.  It’s a problem in filtering.  SO much insight you can do your MBA through Twitter, pick up MOOCs and blogs to the envy of previous generations inability to unlock the insight from academia, and find a video clip on YouTube for every conceivable scenario manager face in the world of work.

Social Media for Work.  Probably the most controversial frontier.  How can you use this “like” and share mentality for work?  It’s all play, entertainment and trivia surely?  Well now.  Software as a Service – SaaS is all about work tools built from the bottom up around social media constructs.  Asana, Google Docs, 4th Office, Podio, Trello, Sharepoint, Evernote, Dropbox, Slack, Quip, even What’s App is redefining HOW we do our work.  It’s driving some CIOs mad and exciting others.  No doubts, and I am living proof of this as a freelancer, the range of helpful digital tools makes for more productivity, more collaborative ways of working and much more energy in things that (like say project management) weren’t very exciting but necessary.  Digital apps make them more dynamic, less laborious like the musical analogy playlist and less concept album.

SO how do you get on the social revolution at work?

First think about things in 3D – you, team, organisation.  What’s good for you; what would work for the team; and what’s the best fit for the organisation.

Then it’s these:-

You have to DO social to understand, appreciate and maximise social.  Not using social tools AT ALL will leave you as behind as resisting to use email or web surfing.  It’s a new stream of competence.  Not some quirky time-wasting thing for kids.  It’s been around for 11 years.  Seriously.  It’s not going to fade away.

Don’t try and download every app in the market.  Pick things you feel could help and are curious about but only test and experiment ONE PLATFORM or APP at a time.  Don’t get Instagram as an employer brand tool?  Sign up – follow some brands and see how interact and grow attachment with their consumers.  Then apply similar principles to your employer brand.

Once versed in a few apps, use them to create a personal learning network.  You’d be amazed at what a few choice twitter lists can do to grow you a good following and present you with great insight that cuts through the selfies, cups of coffee and endless RTs of an article from Huffington Post on the power of feedback.  I now know some of the biggest innovators in the world of work through social conversations.

Worried about information overload?  Don’t treat social posts like emails.  It is NOT an inbox you have to read everything.  Take a “chaos theory” approach. What you see you were meant to see.  What is good will appear even if you miss it first or fifth re-post.  Let your network curate for you and you curate for others.

Creation of useful social connections with other human beings rarely happened in the library where information is sought and consumed.  So you can read all you like and you’ll get some value.  But not most.  So you need to post, share, chat, link, applaud, challenge, discuss, debate and thank, else you’ll only ever realise 20% of the value of social collaboration.  And still wonder why people like me wax so lyrical about it.

BE SOCIAL to GET SOCIAL and MAKE SOCIAL work for you, your team and your organisation.

I’ll leave you with a quote from the very venerable Don Tapscott author and digital pioneer – this is not an information age, it’s an age of collective intelligence.

People Professionals and People Managers socialised and collectively more intelligence is something I’d “Like” on anyone’s social network post.



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