A few months ago, on a Sunday afternoon after spending a few days in Las Vegas at some HR conference or another… and feeling the lingering effects of too much good food, good wine, and poor sleep, I hit that point of “Man, I really need to get some more exercise. I guess I should start jogging or something.”
And in the time it took between hauling myself up off the sofa and actually getting outside and moving, I found two or three really helpful smartphone apps that contained exercise programs, tips, and monitoring capabilities, all meant to assist people like me in their attempts to stick to some kind of exercise regime. You have probably used or at least heard of some of them—Couch 2 5K, RunKeeper, Nike+, etc. They have varying capabilities, (pre-loaded workout programs, GPS integration to track runs, stored history and analytics on your personal performance), but there seems to be one similarity among all of them that I found both interesting and troublesome at the same time.
And that is this—these exercise tracking apps will incessantly bug you to share your activities, your workouts, your progress, and your new personal records with the world via social- network integration.
Did you just walk 1.2 miles at a pace barely faster than you stroll through the grocery store? Post that on Twitter!
Just hit a new personal best for pace by breaking off a 13:47 mile? Get that on Facebook, pal, so your friends/acquaintances/people you went to high school with can revel in your athleticism.
Manage to get your sorry self to actually exercise three whole days in a row last week? Post that crap out far and wide baby—no doubt that Aunt Betty, that guy in accounting whose name you always forget, and the nine dozen “Social Media Strategists” that are following you on Twitter are dying to know about your progress.
I’m being a little bit glib here, and I apologize (kind of). I totally get why these exercise-tracking apps do encourage the social sharing of these workout activities and milestones. For many, the “social” elements—positive reinforcement, public commitment, and participation in a broader community of like-minded folks are what helps to keep them working out, and on track to hit their exercise and health goals. I get why that is a good thing.
But there are lots of other people, me being one of them, that are not at all interested in publicly sharing this kind of stuff because one, no one cares, and two, no one cares. So, no matter how many emails or prompts or exhortations I get from RunKeeper, I am never going to Tweet or Facebook or Instagram that I ran 2.3 miles in 22 minutes, or achieved some kind of personal record for not being a complete fatty.
What does this have to do with HR/Talent/Recruiting, i.e., what the heck is this doing here on FOT?
Because whether it is vetting potential candidate profiles on LinkedIn, GitHub, StackOverflow and the like, or assessing employee influence in the organization, (often via the analysis and assessment of their visible contributions to internal social and collaborative work platforms), more and more we are taking the professional stock of people significantly based on similar public expressions of accomplishment.
And if you can feel comfortable logically with the idea that there are plenty of people that are either not interested or not comfortable sharing the details of their weekend workouts, then I think it is not too far a stretch to see that there are lots of people also not interested or comfortable sharing so much about the details of their work on these networks.
But just because I didn’t tweet about it (quit bugging me RunKeeper), doesn’t take away the fact that I ran 5 miles yesterday. And just because that candidate you are scoping out on LinkedIn doesn’t have 97 meaningless endorsements and hasn’t connected their SlideShare account to their LinkedIn profile (quit bugging me about that LinkedIn), doesn’t mean they don’t have a history of doing great work, and a high probability that they will continue doing great work in the future. And, I also think the cottage, “spruce-up-your-LinkedIn-profile” industry has gone a long, long way to ensure most of what you find on LinkedIn to be pretty useless, (beyond companies, titles, and job history).
I recently had a piece over on my blog titled, “You don’t have to social network to make it,” and the conclusion to that piece is the same one I will make here. Great work is great work, whether it is tweeted about or not. And pushing something incessantly on social networks, public or internal to the company, doesn’t make any work product inherently better than it actually is.
As an HR/Talent pro it is your job, actually your responsibility, to understand the difference.
Now I am off to run 3 miles. Maybe 10.
But unless you are running next to me, you’ll never know. 🙂
Steve Boese is fondly known to many as the HR Technology blogger. By day, he is the Co-Chair of Human Resource Executive’s HR Technology Conference. He is also a former Director of Talent Management Strategy at Oracle and an HR Technology instructor. Steve can also be found hosting the HR Happy Hour Show and Podcast … you know, where a bunch of HR pros get together and call in to talk about HR stuff. Sounds like an SNL skit, we know. But when you have Dave Ulrich, the grandfather of HR as show guests, well, I guess you’re doing something right. Talk to Steve via email, LinkedIn, Twitter or Facebook.