HR Tech 2010: “Social” Is Now HR’s Baby (Sorry, Marketing Department!)

Josh Letourneau Conferences, HR Tech, Joshua Letourneau, Social Recruiting

If there is one thing I learned during Tamara Erickson’s keynote at the HR Technology Conference in Chicago, it’s that “Social” just grew up. (For you hashtag lovers like me out there, it’s #HRTechConf).  We’re not just talking media anymore, Baby.  Yep, we’re goin’ big . . .

Near the end of the address, there was a line that not only stopped me in my tracks, but more importantly, completely crystalized HR’s role in transforming our Organizations from where they stand today:

“Success in the new Enterprise is fundamentally an issue of people and organization.”

Let that sink in for a minute.  “People and Organization”.  Doesn’t that sound like HR’s responsibility to you?  The days of centralized command-and-control (i.e. tall skyscrapers as Corporate Headquarters) are well behind us. When I think hierarchy and bureaucracy, I also think about risk aversion and backward-looking metrics like cost-per-hire (CPH) and time-to-fill (TTF). They go together like dots on dice and white on rice . . . and yep, they continue to hold us back.

Employee_Engagement_This_is_how_it_is Seriously, the time has come to move on from the “transaction” mindset — We have no choice.  Let’s stop looking backward by measuring the efficiency of transactions and start living in the moment, focusing instead on interactions.  If we can do that, then we can move toward prediction . . . but we have to get ‘interaction’ right first.  It’s the real bridge to prediction (i.e. predictive modeling, pattern identification, and forward-looking analytics).

Today’s leading edge organizations also realize that the OrgChart is nothing more than a hierarchical grid of (ideal) reporting relationships, with the real value truly being created by the series of relationships and informal interactions that aren’t evident in beautiful boxes and lines.  If you ask me, that’s “Social”.  Ultimately, value is created through a complex web of social interactions, and who else should own that but us?  Marketing? Nope. Finance?  Ah, a big negative on that one.  IT?  Not a chance in you know where.

Here’s an example: It sounds cliche, but Knowledge flows, right? Either the person with a particular piece of knowledge shares it to the rest of us, or we identify who has the knowledge and we go to that person ourselves.  Here’s the deal, though – relationships are built on trust, so ‘trust’ itself is the knowledge highway.  If I trust you, I flow knowledge your way (i.e. I share it); if I don’t, I hoard it for myself.  Hey, that’s the reality of social interaction.

At the end of the day, “Collaborative Technologies” are just another way of saying “Social Software.”  We love buzz words in our space – makes us feel special. 🙂  The irony is that somewhere along the line, it was decided that “Collaborative” sounds better than “Social”, right?  It’s almost as if “Social” is attributed to anything outside the company walls, where “Collaboration” is attributed to anything social happening within them.  Perhaps Marketing came up with that one!

Coffee-is-it-me If you’re like me, you probably see Social Software and ‘Collaborative Technologies’ being the next huge IT investment wave.  Need some evidence? Consider how Social Software is one of the few categories that have Venture Capital funding flowing in like wildfire.  Bio-Tech and Social Software – wow, not too shabby if you ask me.

Does that mean that HR Practicioners need to become Sociologists? (Sorry, Sociology has no plans to become ‘Socialogy’.)  No, not really . . . but it does mean that the upcoming deluge of Social Software is more about people and how we interact than technology itself … which more than likely creates a new way in how we approach the entire tech buying process itself, not to mention user adoption.

And sure, maybe I’m hyped up because I’m hanging out at a cool conference, but I think this move toward “Social” means big things for HR.  Let’s own it and not let IT steal our thunder.

Ya with me? Hey, maybe I just need to go decaf for the rest of the day 🙂