People, Pull and the Possibilities

With all the new tools that foster serendipity and real time feedback, do we really need HR? 

It will be curious to see how HR organizations use their charter to further contour and shape cultures by partnering with functions within organizations.

I recently shared how I believe that if we in the field of “People” don’t invest more in acceleration versus deceleration in the field of HR, we will work ourselves right out of a job.

The purpose of organizations in some cultures is to connect them to their societies and physical communities.  This is more true today than ever with the powerful social networking tools sprouting up all over the HRIS ecosystem.  Which is why I am advocating HR becoming an accelerator and do hope that they will become an enabler versus something that is slow, behemoth and/or an engine that protects and creates more silos.

The danger is certainly real to use these tools to create more silos and inadvertantly focus less on people.

Recently I saw a demo of an HR vendor who told me they have ‘communities’ and when I asked several foundational questions about what the charter, purpose and cultivation plans?  The sales representative responded with a retort that took me back to the ole’ client/server days where the value was in the ‘push’ information.

Which is why I believethe time is now to think about the People, the PULL and Possibilities.  With the new social tools, we have an opportunity to harness the power of real time peer feedback and accountability all the while fostering candor, transparency and honesty.  If we empower people to be courageous, provide the with processes and tools along with a culture that embraces asking tough questions of one another and management, imagine where could we be?

Lastly, as someone who thinks about social learning and culture, I believe we have a a huge charter ahead of us, with  much work to do especially with the advent of texting and such with our youth.  We must not take our foot off the importance of in person communications that are foundational to healthy feedback, debate and sharing.

The time is now.  So let us POUNCE together!

Women Helping Women: Positive Conspiracies of Change

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I had the great honor recently of facilitating a high-level discussion at Executive Networks between Dr. Marcia Reynolds, best-selling author of ‘Wander Woman: How High Achieving Women Achieve Contentment’ and senior women leaders from large corporations. The discussion turned to women’s support to each other, and the popular myth that women just don’t help other women in their careers in today’s organizations. The pervasive belief that women who make it to the top pull the ladder up after themselves and somehow act to prevent other women from getting ahead  was firmly dispelled both by Dr .Reynolds and those present..

In her interviews with 100 top women business leaders, Dr. Reynolds in fact discovered quite the opposite. In what she terms ‘Positive Conspiracies of Change’ she has seen, repeatedly, women supporting other women in projects, mentoring, networks and sponsoring, in major and minor ways. This is also our experience at Executive Networks, an organization linking men and women at the most senior levels in global billion dollar companies to exchange information and experience. On countless occasions, online and in person, reaching out individually and through our communities, junior, mid level and senior women are helping each other.  We saw this again in action between the women who joined our Executive Networks Global Diversity & Inclusion Network online meeting this month, where the topic was Succession Planning. According to Executive Networks’ D&I Executive Director Mary Farmer ‘the genuine willingness to share valuable without vested information, self-interest, is something I’ve encountered frequently in communities and networks of professional women, and is a hallmark of Executive Networks. I really don’t know where the idea comes from that corporate women try to undermine each other, this is something I’ve never experienced. Do some women not like some other women? Absolutely, just as men don’t always get along., but my own research totally corroborates Dr. Reynolds’ findings, that women can and do join forces to create positive change and facilitate gender balance in today’s high-performing companies’.

As part of their own on-going positive conspiracy of change these women joining our virtual conversations at Executive Networks frequently have not yet met each other in person, nor have they had years of opportunity to establish relationships — still they show up and share with each other what is working to make a difference in their organizations, sharing extremely valuable tacit and explicit knowledge, to collaborate, to share and to learn together in order to drive business results.  It’s true, it happens throughout the year and it’s very common – women really go out of their way to support each other.  These women will share their stories in panel discussions, during virtual knowledge share events, offer to welcome a new member to our global network in an effort to build their own positive conspiracy of change and give back.   Additionally, they enjoy checking in with each other for support around topics of common interest.   They join conversations to seek the advice of their network colleagues, just as women do everywhere.  That is the glue, the power and the real deal of support in the positive conspiracy of change. Let’s put the ‘women undermining other women’ myth to rest, once and for all.

 Mary Farmer & Michael Tirrell contributed to this post.