The revolution starts at closing time

So then, social HR. What is that all about, eh?

Not content with beating ourselves up about our lack of a seat at the mythical table (get there early is my advice. There is nothing worse than having to pull up a chair) we now find the “social HR” community (what an awful label) turning in on itself and attacking each other for sheep-like behaviour, being fake and not walking the talk. In essence, the message seems to be “it’s all too cosy and there is no impact on real life HR practice.”

Now I have no problem with the authors of such pieces. In general, I enjoy reading their posts and respect their point of view. They make me think, and if I’m thinking I’m learning.

It’s great to ask questions and have a debate and agitate but come on. None of us can change the world in 140 characters or a blog post. That’s the tip of the iceberg.

And that’s partly the issue. Who of us really know what others in our profession are actually achieving, how they are in their real life job or how they are using what they learn online?

We just have to do it and know we are making a difference in our own little part of the world. Changing HR, one conversation at a time. There won’t be a massive mind shift overnight.

That said, some of the most strategic, challenging and thought-provoking discussions I’ve had have been with previously complete strangers who also know something needs to change. What brought us together was an online discussion or a chance tweet. That for me is social HR if such a thing exists.

Often it’s those bar chats or coffee conversations with like-minded souls that add the most value, that get us thinking and reflecting on what needs to be different. We leave fired up ready to take on the world but in the cold light of morning there is often a different perspective. The reality of the moribund organization with no real desire to change, or the ranks of managers who only do their jobs for the money and don’t really care about developing people.

Aren’t we all really just stumbling around trying to work out how to be better at what we do, knowing that mediocrity is not good enough? And working out how to deliver HR with attitude and impact in our organisations?

I often sit back and think. Do I make a difference to my profession? Have I changed anything? Am I authentic in what I’m doing and saying? Am I different? No idea really. All I can say is I try. That’s all any of us can do. I’m giving it a go and pushing myself, and I write about it because I believe in what I say. But I do know I feel a lot more positive and passionate about the future of my profession and less isolated than I did four years ago.

So let’s keep talking, challenging ourselves and each other. Lets not be afraid to share something we read and say if we think it’s good, or complete crap. Read, think, discuss. It does make a difference.

And let’s keep having those bar chats too. There is always time for another beer and, who knows, it might be a life or career-changing discussion.

The revolution starts at closing time.

19 thoughts on “The revolution starts at closing time

  1. Colin says:

    Hey Richard, great insights as ever and I agree that the world can’t be changed in 140 characters. Social “anything” has opened us all up to a world of ideas not previously shared except for some chance meetings at conferences or on holiday in some remote part of the world and for that we should all be grateful. I think what irks me more than most – although I would never openly criticise as you rightly say ” Who of us really know what others in our profession are actually achieving” – are the social evangelists who don’t ever try to practice what they preach or as my Dad used to call it, ‘talk a good game’! If anything we should use Social “anything” to encourage each other to be bold and experiment, even if that means we report back failure. At least that way we’ve tried, learnt and can let others know that too. That’s the real strength of the social community, the support it provides, both in ideas and encouragement, but at some stage we have to roll our sleeves up and give it a crack.

  2. Nikki Wilkie says:

    Are you a mind reader as well as a great Senior HRM Richard? I was having similar chats in past few weeks. What exactly can be shared in 140 characters?

    One series of chats I had last year that stands out for me was at Chapel Bar in Ponsonby (which some may have seen made it into media this week for “girl tongue in cheeky” recruitment practices – still a great bar & do need a balance of genders at moment).

    Whilst waiting for Alan W to turn up, I didn’t want to be the girl looking like she had been stood up, so starting talking to two ladies next to me. Turned out they were in HR. One was up from Wellington & had recently attended an evening where yourself & Paul had spoken. I learnt all about what you guys had talked about & how it fitted into their business. Finally Alan turned up & the ladies left. I’m having to say ladies as I can not recall their names however I recall my chats with them on that night.

    I then chatted to Alan about my HR business idea, which I originally came up with after a chat with Mark S …… And from that whole sequence of face to face chats …. I fleshed out my business proposition & also my company name – Watercooler Chats.

    Might not be in HR at a bar however don’t employees have the similar types of chats about HR, culture & the business they work in whilst standing around the watercooler?

    Great blog Richard ….. & yes I’m also shamelessly using it to do a business plug …. 🙂

  3. sumnermark says:

    The very wise man has spoken – I for one learn a lot from your blogs and I do love a bloody good debate 🙂

    Well written, Sir.

    “Who of us really know what others in our profession are actually achieving, how they are in their real life job or how they are using what they learn online?

    We just have to do it and know we are making a difference in our own little part of the world. Changing HR, one conversation at a time. There won’t be a massive mind shift overnight.”

  4. perrytimms says:

    Reblogged this on adjusteddevelopment and commented:
    RIchard Westney is one of the people I have met through social media and in real life and who inspires me to be better. He shares with a passion, things that matter to this profession. He’s a kindred soul, and great bloke and the heart and soul of a lion. He’s clever not contrived, modest and yet bold and one of the reasons why I actually like the term Social HR – it describes people who connect, share, support.

    Great read. Words. Mouth. Out. My. Of. The. Took. Right.

  5. perrytimms says:

    Hey Richard, as well as reblogging; liking and retweeting this post I feel compelled to comment.

    140 characters is tough. Yet I have experienced elation; deflation; joy; despair; anger; exhuberance; warmth, frost, outrage and inspiration FROM 140 CHARACTERS.

    The old chestnut of a quote “I hadn’t the time to write you a short letter so here’s a long one instead” springs to mind. We see some careless, pointless, clumsy, shite posts in 140 characters and yet my own experience is that some 140 bursts invoke something in me that spurs me on in the way describe; that check my own beliefs; that allow me to deeply contemplate my course of action to do what you have described above: improve the profession I have landed in and now choose as one of my purposes in life.

    I’m not in this to be a fab HR practitioner. I am in this to learn and do whatever I can to Unfuck the World (of work).

    That is tweetable and says more clearly in 2 sentences what some people spend years waffling on about or struggling to even comprehend.

    Your heart doesn’t count characters or care what version of software you use.

    Great post. Keep the faith. Thank you.

    1. hrmannz says:

      Thanks Perry. Your energy and passion is an example to everyone who wonders why they get up in the morning, and an inspiration to those of us who can’t wait to get up in the morning and go to work!

  6. amandasterling says:

    Fab blog as always. When are you going to write something for NZLEAD? 😉

    I just wanted to bounce of what you and Perry said about the 140 characters in twitter. I don’t think of twitter as YOU getting across YOUR views in a limited number of characters.

    it’s the collective knowledge that is shared through the culmination of tweets. I compare it to LInkedIn discussion which are individualistic in their responses. Twitter is a collective community. One tweet in isolation doesn’t mean much, but 100s of tweets builds collective knowledge and change.

    Can I stress the word collective enough?

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