New HR Systems & Tools! Nice, But Don’t Get Distracted By Shiny Objects…

Jessica Lee HR Technology, Jessica Lee

Sometimes, I feel like an un-fancy HR gal. It sounds weird, maybe… but my HR experiences have always been kind of “bootstrap,” to use the term my pal, Kris Dunn, likes. Whether it’s the recruiting budgets, HRIS or applicant tracking systems I’ve used… we’ve figured out how to execute and be an effective HR team and provide outstanding HR service, even if we’re having to scrap together systems and processes. Largely, this has been because I’ve always been surrounded by HR pros and had HR leaders who were about getting things done. Bells and whistles and the biggest, baddest latest system or HR trend… those have always taken a back seat to simply doing good work, giving sound advice and just being a good HR partner.

But the more I become networked and entrenched in the HR and recruiting community… the more I startSilver%20bullet9 thinking that perhaps I’m not as “with it” as some HR pros out there. First, there’s this big, deep vendor and HR-related service provider community out there with all sorts of new fangled shiny objects to show off, which are all promised to solve my organization’s people-related challenges, whether it’s recruitment, performance management, onboarding, etc.  Add in the “thought leaders” and academics with new fangled concepts and ideas and theories about people in the workplace and what will attract, motivate and retain them. And of course, they all have their jargon to describe a theory or concept or idea or practice. And honestly? Sometimes I don’t know what any of it really means. For example:


  • Talent acquisition versus recruiting. I’m not sure what the difference is, if anything.
  • Talent management… I don’t really know what that term means… and I’m not sure when we started using the term “talent” so frequently!
  • Onboarding versus orientation… is there truly a difference?
  • Total rewards and total compensation… am I referring to the same thing here when I use either term? And are incentives different from rewards, which are different from recognition? Am I messing up all the terms here?
  • Applicant versus candidate… some days I forget the difference and use them interchangeably. Can someone from the OFCCP please let me know?

Seemingly everyone has something to teach and show me, and I am initially inclined to soak it all in. I like learning, I love technology… but I can’t help but to stop and question sometimes… are you just packaging something I already do as a new fangled theory or idea, but just in a different way? Or are you over-analyzing a people related challenge and making it more complex than it really is? And is what you’re trying to sell me on really all that necessary to be a great HR pro, or to provide great HR service? I mean, to have a smooth running HR function, do you need to be using all those fancy, glittering objects?

In some places, I’ve had an HRIS. I’ve worked off of spreadsheets, used DOS-based systems and some slicker web-based HRIS. I’ve worked with paper performance evaluation forms and online performance management systems. I’ve worked with a very scrappy ATS, no ATS, a robust ATS… but regardless of what tools my organization had, how we labeled a function, or service, or theory, or process, we executed, and our work at the end of the day was fundamentally about people.  We found ways to still get the job done in such a way where we have proven our value to the organization and have been seen as true business partners.

And that in and of itself just serves to remind me that there will always be shiny new toys that come out, especially when you consider and fold in social media into the mix. Someone is always going to be coming out with a new solution or theory to improve how we do things – and I don’t mean to minimize any of that… because I love new services, products and ideas and seeing how they might work in my own sphere… but not partaking in them? Or not knowing about the latest new fangled tool or term? It doesn’t make you any less of a HR pro, nor does it make your HR team any less of a rockstar function.

And for every new fangled tool or theory that does come out? It’s easy to get distracted by shiny new objects, but let’s keep our eyes on the prize. What’s your goal? What are you trying to achieve? What’s the strategy you’re going to employ?  Answer those questions and then figure out the tools and tactics that will support it.  Maybe you’ll need the latest and greatest thing being offered, maybe you won’t.