My Posts

#HootHROS and Why Best Practices are Broken in HR

When I started in corporate HR, I was pretty lost. I leaned heavily on my manager, a network of local practitioners I established quickly, a scattered, online group of talent professionals, and every resource I could find to read. It was haphazard and the phrase, “fake it till you make it,” rang through my ears loud and clear on my walk or ride home from work.

It was a different time. One that we shouldn’t have to repeat again.

Yet, time and time again, HR practitioners are starting the same things over again. They search forums and blog posts for things like:

  • How can we recruit better people?
  • Alternatives to traditional training
  • Choosing a talent management system

What they get bombarded with are best practices, case studies, and other pieces of content — some more helpful than others.

How do you engage top talent? How do you increase learning in your organization? Follow these tips and you’ll be successful, they promise.

These resources might be okay. If you downloaded one I wrote, it probably kicked ass. I can’t vouch for anybody else, though.

But the limitation of best practices is that it doesn’t give you a true view of the problem, process, and solution (or especially, failure). It drops a problem and solution in your lap and let’s you figure out how to make it work.

That’s why I’m excited for HootSuite’s Open Source HR project. The Vancouver-based social media management technology provider is just up the road from me. The initiative is being driven by Hootsuite’s VP of talent, Ambrosia Humphrey and Amplify Talent’s founder, Lars Schmidt. Here’s an excerpt from what they say in their post announcing the initiative:

Over the coming months, we’re going to be experimenting with new approaches and platforms, like Periscope, and sharing ‘behind the scenes’ look at things — including how projects came together, how we executed the ideas, the intended outcomes and actual outcomes with metrics, what we got wrong, and what we learned.

If you know me, you probably know the part that I’m excited for: what they got wrong.

That’s not because I think it’s going to fail, either. Instead, I think sharing failures is something that best practices and case studies nearly always omit — and hopefully, how Hootsuite Open Source HR will be different.

You see, everyone reads a sanitized and simplified case study — or listens in on a conference session or webinar — from an organization that apparently went through some sort of change management initiative without any issues whatsoever and doubt creeps into their minds.

It’s bullshit, of course.

Normal people in HR who don’t have magical abilities to implement new ideas with little issue wonder what they’re doing wrong, why change is so tough, and if they should just give up. Unless you’ve been through it yourself, you never know about all of the warts that pop up when you’re bringing new technologies, processes, or ideas to the table.

Talk with someone like Mark Stelzner at IA for 15 minutes and you’ll understand the challenges that a lot of organizations face during change become strikingly similar when they are boiled down into core issues.

My hope for Hootsuite’s project is that there will be some moments that seem very familiar for anyone looking to innovate in HR: the good, the bad, and the “could be better but it worked.” Mostly though, I hope that at least one HR person doesn’t have to start from scratch and can iterate and improve on what Hootsuite is doing.

That’s what open source is all about and what HR should be all about. You can follow all of the action using the #HootHROS hashtag.

By Lance Haun

Strategy for The Starr Conspiracy. Former HR pro. Portland guy (Go Blazers!) and WSU alum (Go Cougs!). I get to write about what I want here.

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