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How positive psychology can raise employee performance - HR InSights

How positive psychology can raise employee performance - HR InSights | HR InSights |
Wong & Davey noted that managers can introduce positive psychology to a workplace, but how do they apply it positively to employees? (RT @HR_InSights: How positive #psychology can raise #employee_performance...

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Andrew McAfee: What will future jobs look like?

Andrew McAfee: What will future jobs look like? | HR InSights |

Economist Andrew McAfee studies the fascinating relationship between technology and the workforce. Is the workplace as we know it at threat, or will the ‘robolution’ free up more time for innovation and creativity?

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Lean into Happiness Instead - WTG BLOG

Lean into Happiness Instead - WTG BLOG | HR InSights |
With research proving that female’s happiness in the workplace is lower today than it was thirty years ago, motivational Coach, Carin Rockind, asks: are women sacrificing happiness for success?
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Why a values-based approach to business helps accelerate growth

Why a values-based approach to business helps accelerate growth | HR InSights |

Corporate value statements, company ethics, codes of conduct…the list goes on. At best, an invaluable business tool, at worse a meaningless, superfluous byword.


Some are poorly defined and open to interpretation, while some simply paint an idealistic image based on a predetermined set of ideals a company believes its customers and employees would like to see.

But for many these statements act as a fantastic catalyst to help a company grow. Top companies around the world such as Sainsbury’s, Virgin and Enron swear by them, attributing customer satisfaction, high levels of retention and successful recruitment, to their corporate value statements.


So do they matter, or they just a buzzword to help the executives feel better about themselves?


Last year an article from the Harvard Business Review suggested the idea that consumers want to have a relationship with a brand is more fiction than it is reality. Yet in a world where reputation and trust are generally considered great drivers of corporate value, surely a shared set of values between brand and consumer can play a major role.


Take Kellogg, for example, who recently produced their annual corporate responsibility report which focused on how the company is developing the marketplace, workplace, community and its environmental efforts.


The report outlines Kellogg’s ‘K Values’, a set of guidelines which form the basis of their corporate culture and helps to foster a sense of community among employees. They believe loyal consumers see brands as a reflection of themselves, and that in order to succeed in the marketplace their workforce should mirror the values of their customers – who they are and what they value.


The question is: do customers really care what a company believes?

A study by Harvard Business Review suggests they do. Of the 7000 consumers who were asked about their relationship with major companies, 64 percent cited shared values as the primary reason. This was by far the greatest driver, with only 13 percent citing frequent interactions with the brand as a reason for having a relationship.


Reputation is equally as important, and now that consumers have immediate access to a company’s lineage, they expect more and have no trouble boycotting those that fail to live up to their increasingly high standards. Last year, a survey from Weber Shandwick and KRC Research found more than two thirds of customers avoid buying a product if they dislike the parent company.


Evidently, values run deep and need to be translated efficiently into actions. More than just appearing to please customers, the way a company talks about them when they are not present, the level of service they provide and how they treat employees are all equally important. It’s about living the values you preach.


But if the corporate values are to serve as an adequate foundation from which an organisation can support and drive the long-term business strategy, they need to be embedded within the processes of the company and the behaviours of leaders and employees at all levels.


One way to do this is through workshops and surveys across the business to gauge consumer and employee perceptions about the company’s current values and behaviours, with the goal of determining if those values are still relevant and durable.


More than simply being something both parties can agree on, the act of a company living out the values it preaches can act as a great motivator to employees.


Numerous studies have shown a direct correlation between workplace morale and corporate results, revealing that employees who feel more engaged with their company generally deliver better performance and stay in their roles longer. This goes back to ensuring a company’s actions are in line with its value statements. If a company isn’t serious about living out its own value statement, there’s little point in having one.

Simon Bishop's curator insight, May 6, 2014 7:00 PM

With agencies looking to differentiate themselves in a market where there's pressure on delivering value add-services - this article gives some tips on a different approach to stick and flick recruitment.

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How to navigate the maze of office politics

How to navigate the maze of office politics | HR InSights |

Politics play a significant role in every public organisation. After all, politicians are at the helm and it's they who determine the agenda. But how skilled are you when it comes to politics in the office? Do you need to be more adept at playing this game? 

No matter how well-grounded and friendly you are, playing politics is an essential part of your office survival toolkit. Even if you hate the very nature of the term ‘office politics’ and believe you’re just there to keep your head down and deliver. Unfortunately it’s something that you just cannot avoid, and which you will need to get involved with at some level.


Clashes are inevitable from time to time at work. Wherever you have a group of people with different personalities, sets of values and opinions, you’re going to come across office politics. Even if you are fortunate to work in an office where everyone gets on, people come and go, so it’s best to be prepared when office politics rears its ugly head.


As you can’t avoid it, you need to know how to manage the situation: there are some useful strategies you can adopt to minimise the effects of any clashes. What you should aim for is to manage any effects of office politics that directly relate to you and turn them to your favour, or at least restrict their impact.


Leadership expert and faculty member of Ashridge Business School, Phil Anderson, helps guide us through the labyrinth of office politics with his top ten tips:


1. Accept that office politics exists


You might envy those who sail through each day putting in little effort but still seem to rise up the ladder of your organisation. The fact is, that to ensure your progress, you have to play the game. Office politics is here to stay and you can’t ignore it. To win the game, you have to be part of it. 


2. Know your organisation


To move ahead in any organisation you must understand its structure, its position on contentious issues and its goals for the future. Learn who the influencers are and where it’s priorities lie. Knowing this will help you distinguish the most important people to ‘cultivate’ and also the correct way to respond in the best interests of your organisation.


3. Watch and learn from others


Observe those in influential positions, or people who command the respect of others. Ask yourself how they have arrived at their position or why they are so respected. By learning how these ‘craft masters’ interact with colleagues and those in positions of power, you will find better approaches to both communicating with colleagues and reporting to those above you.


4. Influence your outcomes


If you’re trying to sell an idea that is radical, new or controversial, it’s advisable to have the majority of decision-makers on your side before you begin. Otherwise, you run the risk of failure or damaging your reputation. Persuading the most influential stakeholders to your point of view will help you influence others.


5. Stay in tune with your environment


Make sure your ideas fit in with those of the key influencers in your organisation. Be aware of your organisation’s overall strategy and ensure that your proposal matches this. This way, you are more likely to find the appropriate solution to take the organisation forward. If you get it right, this will also raise your profile at work.


6. Behave ethically at all times


Stay on the straight and narrow. There is a fine line between what is ethical and what is not. Dirt sticks, so the best way to protect your reputation is to avoid trouble in the first place. Again, make sure you know where the organisation stands and in what direction it is moving. Always ask yourself: ‘If they knew my plans, would they let me proceed?’ If you are doing it for the benefit of the organisation, then some would say that is an ethical approach.


7. Try to be a ‘good egg’ to colleagues


Interpersonal diplomacy is vital; Listen to others, show empathy to your colleagues and check on their wellbeing. It’s about being seen as ‘the good egg’, one who is keen to support others and take new ideas forward. These are key elements to winning the support and respect of your peers.


8. Make meetings effective


Prepare yourself thoroughly before meetings so that you can gain the maximum value. When in a meeting, present clear-cut and organised plans, be bold and assertive, yet receptive to the ideas of others. Above all, remember that most decisions are made outside of meetings, so hold your own smaller group discussions before the main decision-making forum.


9. Promote your accomplishments


Be proud of your accomplishments. Make sure that your own efforts are recognised and noted by those who matter. Although it might feel uncomfortable, there is nothing wrong with advertising your success. So watch how others do it, learn their techniques and find out which form of self-promotion works best for you.


10. Make good use of your network


Know who is good at what and who knows who. Try to remember people you’ve met and what they’ve told you about their own or others’ projects. Try to help them whenever you can because, ‘what goes around comes around’. You might be surprised to see how others will then be more willing to help you.


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Interview with Karl-Heinz Oehler, Senior Vice President of Global Talent Management at Hertz

Interview with Karl-Heinz Oehler, Senior Vice President of Global Talent Management at Hertz | HR InSights |

Karl-Heinz Oehler will open day two of the Pan European HR Forum with his keynote session: 'Turning the table on the business: how HR creates economic value.' The session will examine the importance of measuring HR's performance, whist illustrating how talent management has provided a vital tool for improved organisational performance at Hertz.


In his time at the Hertz Corporation, Karl-Heinz has engineered a talent management programme which has seen his work acknowledged with several awards including the HR & Business Success Award and the overall winner’s accolade in the Dave Ulrich Award of HCM Excellence at the 2011 European HCM Excellence Awards.


We caught up with Karl-Heinz ahead of his session to discuss some of the challenges facing an international organisation as it attempts to develop its talent pool.


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Integrated talent management systems - essential or expendable?

Integrated talent management systems - essential or expendable? | HR InSights |

Integrated talent management - a new and somewhat daunting prospect for many organisations - is something any well-run company must do, according to Josh Bersin, Principal and Founder of research analysis organisation Bersin by Deloitte. Bersin adds that trends in the talent systems market indicate this is rapidly becoming a feasible goal.

Bersin by Deloitte’s 2013 research into the spend on talent management systems shows that investment is growing at an even faster rate than previously expected. Currently 32% of all investment into HR systems is spent on talent-related solutions, from recruitment to succession planning. But according to Bersin’s report, the three big new areas in talent management software are analytics, mobile, and social media.


One of the factors that accounts for the continuing expansion of the HR systems market, including talent management, is the rapid development of cloud-based systems that operate over the Internet.

Another contributing factor is the continuing convergence of systems as acquisitions and mergers, which enable vendors to offer a full range of functionality covering the spectrum of talent management processes.

“With the right long-term architecture you can now expect all your HR and talent systems to work very well together,” says Bersin.”

“For the first time in our history as an analyst firm, the talent management systems market is filled with excellent solutions (albeit each is different), all focused on high value capabilities, and ready for companies that don't want to take big risks.”

Estimated to be worth upwards of $4.2 billion, the market for corporate learning and talent management systems is growing at 22% with even higher growth rates in talent acquisition and talent management software.

Major players in this field include CornerstoneOnDemand, Oracle / Taleo, SAP / SuccessFactors, Lumesse, SilkRoad, Saba, PeopleFluent, Halogen Software, ADP, SumTotal Systems, iCims, Ultimate Software, Technomedia, JobVite who have been joined other major new entrants such as IBM (Kenexa), ADP, LinkedIn, and

Deb Nystrom, REVELN's curator insight, May 17, 2013 3:53 PM

Big data and people systems, yes.   Talent development is a central part of it.    ~  Deb

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Organisational effectiveness: profitable lessons from the software industry

Organisational effectiveness: profitable lessons from the software industry | HR InSights |

The future has developed a nasty habit of sneaking up on us faster than we might expect. Take the re-engineering of business around the new capabilities of the Internet, software and apps, for example.

Not only has it enabled the creation of web-age businesses, technology is also changing the way existing businesses operate from the inside out. It has happened fastest in the software industry. But according to a recent study by McKinsey & Co., every company can benefit from borrowing from their organisational and management models. More cost-effective, faster cycle times, smarter innovation and improved performance are on the cards.

Little more than a decade ago, IT was mainly limited to big database systems and personal productivity tools. Now it’s ubiquitous and thanks to the phenomenon of web-based applications, the Software as a Service phenomenon, gives virtually every worker access to low or no-cost, easy to use applications. This does away with the need for heavy-duty IT interventions to get underway.

This democratisation of technology has implications for organisational effectiveness, skills, processes and management across the organisation. It’s something that concerns HR and people management.

The bottom line says McKinsey is that organisations must learn to become more responsive and agile. In many areas, this includes working in totally new ways.

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Why Companies Fail the Leadership Tes

Why Companies Fail the Leadership Tes | HR InSights |

Companies are losing out by failing to develop the kinds of leaders that drive competitor beating performance. Internationally, UK companies come sixth both in the international productivity and leadership development leagues.


But there are a number of ways in which organisations could improve their leadership position. 

While real-world experience may provide the finishing school for leaders, they still need to master a number of skills. Not least, there is the need for vision creation, strong communication, trust building and both personal and team development.


Yet as Charles Elvin, CEO of the Institute of Learning and Management told delegates at the 2013 HR Directors Business Summit, the UK’s leadership and management development record was alarmingly poor with direct consequences for performance.


ILM’s 2012 research showed that less than a fifth of employers expect their managers to be trained before promotion to a management position. Little more than half have a plan in place to bring through future leaders. Yet virtually all admit that low levels of management skills have an adverse effect on performance.


If the national picture leaves a huge amount of room for improvement, there are opportunities for organisations to increase the quality of leadership: the inclusion of a higher proportion of women in senior leadership positions.

Although female representation has risen to 16% among FTSE companies, the Government has urged business to increase the proportion to 25% while the EU has proposed a mandatory level of 40%.


As Geraldine Callacher, the Executive Coaching Consultancy, told delegates at the 2013 HR Directors Business Summit, organisations were losing out on a core talent pool by failing to develop career paths and employment conditions that would enable women to reach senior leadership positions. The biggest fallout occurred when they reach the middle management level and are faced with invidious life choices.


The solution, said Callacher, was to ensure that there are equal opportunities for both women and men to develop their skills and careers. This includes making sure that promotion criteria are not discriminatory, provision of coaching as well as working conditions that help women to juggle home and work. For this reason, there should be a flexible working strategy, not just a policy.

Who ever takes on the top jobs, there is no doubt that the leader’s role has become far more demanding, not least because of the ever more daunting pressures under which senior managers have to operate.

“Events dear boy, events.” Former Prime Minister Harold Macmillan’s famous reply to being asked what kept him awake at night will ring even truer for today’s leaders. Volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity regularly shred the best-laid plans and strategies.


If this is even truer today than it was in Macmillan’s time, it raises serious questions about the capabilities and qualities needed to succeed at the top. Leaders need to adopt new working strategies. They also need to be supported.

Rudi Kindts and Dr Jacqui Grey of Merryck homed in on what it took to be an effective leader in today’s high-pressure business environment at the 2013 HR Directors Business Summit. “As change accelerates, leaders must become more adaptable, and engagement must be stepped up,” said Kindts.

He highlighted the importance of three leadership capabilities. Inclusivity - the ability to involve others in reaching decisions. Agility to adapt to the constant ebb and flow of change. And, above all, resilience.


Uncertainty, or worse, is a common cause of failure to see decisions through. Kindts revealed that “three quarters of CEOs believed that anxiety was one of the fundamental drivers of strategy derailment.” There were other common shortcomings in behaviour. While all CEOs endorsed the need for visible leadership, 98% conceded that leaders often failed to walk the talk.


While there may be acute pressures on those in senior management roles, leaders at all levels of the organisation need to be far more open to the ideas, experience and knowledge of others. The days of the omniscient leader who could be expected to know all the answers are long gone. Now it is a case of accepting that constant change means that the emphasis has switched from knowing to learning. To that end, coaching, mentoring and action learning were essential parts of any leadership support system.


It is not just that today’s business world is quite different from that of ten years ago, a decade from now leaders will find themselves dealing with a new set of challenges. Apart from anything else, leadership development rooted in concepts and methods of yesterday will be hopelessly out of touch with reality. That was why General Electric mandated an overhaul of its leadership development process, as delegates heard at the 2013 HR Directors summit. It served as a reminder that there was no guarantee that what generated success last year would do so tomorrow.

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How to be the greatest: Lessons from the life and times of Muhammad Ali

How to be the greatest: Lessons from the life and times of Muhammad Ali | HR InSights |

Muhammad Ali once commented that he hated every minute of training, famously saying: "Don't quit. Suffer now and live the rest of your life as a champion."

His ability to see things in the long-term, looking at the bigger picture rather than short-term accomplishments would help Ali become the most famous athlete of all time, the only man to become the three-time heavyweight champion of the world, who many simply refer to as ‘the greatest’.

But the path to greatness isn’t an overnight journey.

Growing up in 1950’s Louisville, Cassius Clay Jnr was fun-loving yet purposeful, mischievous but astute. At the age of 12, he had his bike stolen at a local fair. Upon reporting the incident to Joe Martin, a policeman who happened to be training an amateur boxing team at the local gym, Clay said, “I'm gonna whip him if I can find him." Martin suggested that Clay should first learn how to fight and offered him the chance to take up boxing.

By the age of 18, Cassius Clay was the finest amateur boxer in the world, winning the 1960 light-heavyweight Olympic gold medal. Four years later he would join the Nation of Islam, change his name to Muhammad Ali and beat Sonny Listen to win the Heavyweight Championship of the World. But this was just an early step on his path to greatness.

Few will come close to the Ali’s achievements, but the methods he used to reach such dizzying heights, both in and out of the ring were built around four fundamental principles we’re all capable of adopting into our life. This was Steve McDermott’s message to the London Business Forum at Bafta headquarters.

Steve is a three times winner of the European Motivational Speaker of the Year Award and author of international best-selling personal development book, How to be a Complete and Utter Failure in Life, Work and Everything: 44 1/2 Steps to Lasting Underachievement.

Using humour to make people laugh as well as think, he began by explaining how Ali’s strict set of personal guidelines were critical to his success, and recounted the time Ali refused to fight in the Vietnam War, famously saying, “I ain’t got no quarrel with the Vietcong”.

Ali’s stand for freedom outraged a nation but inspired a generation. He was stripped of his title, handed a $10,000 fine and sentenced to five years in jail – a sentence he never actually served. Ali was a man of strict, non-negotiable personal values, a trait Steve believes is critical to an individual’s success.

“The first point is to identify what your values are, and secondly, if there’s only one point you take from this round, it’s that values are non-negotiable – That’s the key,” said Steve.

Values within an organisation help shape the conduct of its staff, along with its relationship with the outside world, but Steve believes that values are equally as important to an individual. “How many people in the room as an organisation have some values? How many people have some values outside of work?” He asked the room.

“A great person is shaped by their values and the strength of integrity in which their life is led by them. If the path to greatness is a long one, then values help shape our behaviours throughout the journey,” explained Steve.

But Ali’s values alone were not enough to take him to greatness. They had to be backed up by a clear view of where he was going, combined with the ability to get others to buy into his vision. For this, Steve believes Ali was a genius.

In 1962, Ali fought the sharp-punching veteran Archie Moore. Before the fight, Ali poetically predicted “Archie Moore must fall in four”. This irritated Moore, who responded by saying he had developed a new punch especially for the fight called ‘The Lip Buttoner’. But Ali was correct and defeated Moore with a fourth round knockout, true to his word.

Ali called this “future history”, a powerful visualisation technique which he used to programme his mind for success in the ring. Steve has been using a similar technique for the past 20 years and encouraged audience members to do the same.

“Think of your dreams, professionally and in personal life, but imagine yourself two years from now, so you’re talking about your dreams as if they’ve already happened.”

He explained how this activity encourages us to emotionally engage with our future achievements, increasing the likelihood of them actually happening.

“What most people do in business is to start from here and simply look forward. This is very left side of the brain planning; producing reports based on numbers, which if you’re a right side of the brain type of person you might find very boring. This exercise forces you to use the right part of your brain, which is the imagination side. It’s back from the future planning which makes you act as though these things have already happened.”

Like Ali, future-orientated people have a vision which they’re clear on, but this only counts for about ten percent of people according to Steve who explained that the other 90 percent of people find themselves stuck in the now and the past. He believes this is because most people consider themselves victims of circumstance, whereas a small minority are different. Like Ali, they take full accountability of their actions.

Steve goes as far as to say that most companies have little idea what business they’re actually in. “You say to them, why does your organisation exist and they reply ‘to make money’. That’s no mission or purpose. No reason to get out of bed in morning.”

Ali’s purpose was to help people. 1988 he told the New York Times, "I never talk about boxing. It just served its purpose. I was only about 11 or 12 years old when I said 'I'm gonna get famous so I can help my people.'"

Steve believes this type of thinking is integral to becoming great in business. “You need to identify what business you’re in, but you also need a personal mission statement for yourself. For me, this is the bit that’s missing in many individuals. They say ‘I’ve got my values, I have a vision, but it’s still not doing it for me.’ Write a mission statement for yourself – something to get you out of bed in the morning.”

He went on to explain that a mission statement can act as a solid foundation and give an individual a greater sense of purpose. Muhammad Ali’s was simply: “I am the greatest”, an aspirational statement which Steve linked this to his own experience.

Starting out as a professional speaker, Steve decided he would tell people that he was one of the top ten motivational speakers in the UK. At the time this was untrue, yet no one picked him up on it. Before long Steve was recognised as one of the best motivational speakers in the country.

And why stop there? Soon after, Steve started telling people he was one of the top ten motivational speakers in Europe, leading him to secure a number of speaking gigs around Europe and win the European Motivational Speaker of the Year award three times.

Throughout his career, Ali used goals help give clarity to his values, vision and purpose, and Steve’s final task helped highlight his final point about the importance of setting positive goals.

“In this card write a goal for yourself. Put your address on it and we’ll post it back to you in six months. Make sure what you’ve written is positive, personal and present tense. Just like with future history, you need to write as if you’ve already done it. Not ‘one day I’m going to be the greatest’, but ‘I am the greatest.’”

He believes that the mere process of writing down a goal can go a long way in making it actually happen, slotting the idea into one’s subconscious. “Only three percent of people bother to think about their goals and actually write them down. But if you do, there’s an 80 percent chance that it will actually happen.” He said.

Steve ended his presentation with an epilogue, describing the time Ali fought Yorkshireman, Richard Dunn in Munich. A week before the fight, promoter, Mickey Duff, asked Ali if he could have his gloves to auction off at a benefit dinner for British fighter Chris Finnegan who had lost an eye. Ali agreed and immediately after the fight, Duff jumped into the ring to get the gloves, afraid Ali may have forgotten his promise. Ali’s cornerman, Angelo Dundee handed the gloves to Duff, who walking away, felt a tap on his shoulder. It was Ali, who said to Duff “look inside the gloves”. In one glove it said, ‘Ali wins’ in the other glove it said ‘KO, round 5’.

By this point Ali had stopped predicting fights publicly, but he wanted to do a something extra for Chris Finnegan. “Wherever he went, whoever he was with Ali’s generosity was evident,” commented Duffy.

Ali knew his purpose, was clear with his vision and unwavering in his values. His legacy transcended the world of sport, allowing him to create a world for himself which allowed him to express himself like no other man of his time.

Steve’s presentation perfectly highlighted the points he believes all companies and individuals should possess in order to achieve greatness. More than the sum of its parts, it’s the cumulative effect, relying on the fundamental elements; value, vision, purpose and goals.

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Why do companies fail to develop their talent? - WTG BLOG

Why do companies fail to develop their talent? - WTG BLOG | HR InSights |

Over the past 50 years, all aspects of the Oil and Gas industry, from the reservoir to the end customer have become far more complex. Regulatory, competitive and risk management pressures are forcing Oil and gas companies, and their National Oil Company brethren, to expend vast sums of money in the quest for ever greater margins as well as improved safety, reliability, and regulatory compliance.

In the international arena, many governments are pressuring their National Oil Companies to make challenging, high-paying careers available to their people. But the one constant in this highly-turbulent environment is people – the people who have to operate and maintain equipment, who have to make smart decisions, who have to lead others in what are often adverse environmental conditions and who have to respond perfectly when something goes wrong. It’s these people, the often unplanned for variable in the performance equation, who have the greatest impact on the ultimate success or failure of any major capital initiative in the Oil and Gas industry.

So if there has been so much change in the Oil and Gas industry over the last 50 years, why are we still training our people the same way we were in the 1950s? Using 1950’s theories and technologies? Why aren’t we taking advantage of the latest – proven – strategies, tools, technologies and methods to develop our personnel, the same way we are adopting new technologies? In short, if our personnel are so important to our success with our major capital efforts, why do we develop them so poorly?

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Interview with Caroline Curtis, Head of Talent at Santander

Interview with Caroline Curtis, Head of Talent at Santander | HR InSights |

Caroline Curtis is the Head of Talent, Development and Performance at global banking group Santander. Her combined experience as a chartered psychologist, qualified coach and Head of Training at the CIPD has enabled her to accelerate leadership development programmes in various high-profile organisations, leading to overall workforce transformation and sustained cultures of high performance.

Through Caroline’s leadership, Santander were recently awarded with the Talent Achievement Award by the HR Leadership Alliance and the Managing Talent, Large Organisations Award by the Irish News.

With a proven track record in training, performance management and organisational change, Caroline combines commercial responsibilities with ongoing academic roles, acting as a visiting professor and advisory board member of various organisations connected to the fields of coaching, development and leadership.

On 22nd May, Caroline will present a session at the Pan European HR Forum 2013, looking into identifying talent pools to help shape the new leaders of tomorrow.

We sat down with Caroline ahead of her presentation to discuss some of the challenges in talent management and how HR is expected to change over the next decade...

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Infographic: KPI for Measuring Employee Engagement

Infographic: KPI for Measuring Employee Engagement | HR InSights |

Many of the issues discussed at the recent HR Directors Business Summit, are topics HR leaders have been championing for some time now; less corporate jargon, more positive employer to employee feedback, and of course, a better grasp on employee engagement - a subject which always ranks high on the HR leader's agenda.

But quantifying the results of employee engagement initiatives into any kind of evidence which demonstrates the function's success has always proved problematic.

As our annual strategic effectiveness report reveals, the vast majority of HR professionals still lack the essential tools needed to adequately demonstrate the function's operational success to the rest of the organisation.

To help with this ongoing problem, Winning KPI have come up with a simple formula.

Based around the results of annual ‘Employee Engagement’ surveys as taken by many organisations, the formula takes the number of employees that ranked high in employee engagement (*where high is a set value, e.g. 70 +% of the total score), over the total number of employees taking the survey, multiplied by 100.

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Using Development Centres to Identify Leadership Potential in the NHS

Using Development Centres to Identify Leadership Potential in the NHS | HR InSights |

A report from The Kings Fund Commission on management in the NHS has outlined the importance of integrated leadership within the organisation.

Entitled 'The future of Leadership and Management in the NHS', the report said practical improvements that are simple, quick to implement and low-cost, can be delivered day-to-day by quality leadership at the operational level. At the highest level of improvement, helping disengaged staff become more engaged will improve the individual’s performance by up to 57 percent.

“In many cases it is simple actions that can be taken by leaders day-to-day that make a real difference to performance and thus service delivery. For example, making clear the line of sight from individual to corporate objectives can improve discretionary effort by up to 28 percent, and provide fair and accurate feedback by up to 39 percent. These cost the organisation nothing to implement and not only deliver better performance but also start to create a culture where further improvements and benefits are more likely in the future.”

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How Boolean Search can revolutionise the hiring process

How Boolean Search can revolutionise the hiring process | HR InSights |

Anyone who uses search engines should be thankful to George Boole for inventing relational logical combinatorial systems for key search variables (key terms, phrases, and buzz-words).


All recruiters will know how to use Google Search, but many do not know just how powerful the Boolean operators are when it comes to drilling down a manageable list of query results.


How you use a Boolean search can determine how successful you are in sourcing job candidates within automated tracking systems (ATS) and resume databases.

GIBS Information Centre / GIBSIC's curator insight, June 15, 2013 5:21 PM

Search -  "powerful Boolean operators when it comes to drilling down a manageable list of query results".

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Major questions asked as global study into the evolution of HR launches

Major questions asked as global study into the evolution of HR launches | HR InSights |

The Center for Effectiveness Organizations (CEO) has launched its seventh triennial study into the international evolution of human resources.

To help present an accurate picture of ongoing changes within the function, the CEO’s global study will provide information on how the HR function has changed in 18 years the study has been running.

Since the first study in 1995, the CEO’s extensive research has produced number of acclaimed articles and books, including last year’s Effective Human Resource Management: A Global Analysis. The study was the first time the CEO had taken a truly international sample, which asked questions on how the HR function operates in major companies across the USA, UK, China, Australia and Europe.

Furthermore, the study identified best practices in areas such as organisational design and the use of metrics in HR, clearly pointing out how the function needs to change in order to meet the demands of a global and dynamic labour market.

Speaking about this year’s study, Ed Lawler, Director of the CEO, said, “We have taken an organisational view of HR, looking at how the structures and processes of the function are designed and how they impact strategic partnership and other outcomes.”

“The study helps companies assess their position in the global marketplace, whilst creating an international standard for HR management.”

Along with Lawler, the CEO is backed by Research Director, Dr. John Boudreau, a globally recognised expert on breakthrough research on the bridge between superior human capital, talent and sustainable competitive advantage.

This study is a very important part of CEO's research programme. If you have any questions please feel free to contact us.


The quick survey is open now and closes on 19th June 2013.

About the CEO

The Center for Effective Organizations (CEO) is a research centre in the Marshall School of Business at the University of Southern California. Founded in 1979, it is the original research centre of its type.

Research Director, Dr. Boudreau is recognised worldwide for breakthrough research on the bridge between superior human capital, talent and sustainable competitive advantage. His research has received the Academy of Management's Organizational Behavior New Concept and Human Resource Scholarly Contribution awards.

Ed Lawler III is Distinguished Professor of Business at the University of Southern California, Marshall School of Business. He joined USC in 1978 and during 1979, founded and became director of the University's Center for Effective Organizations (CEO). CEO has been recognised by Fortune and other publications as one of the country’s leading management research organisations.

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Six questions you need to ask when developing strategy

Six questions you need to ask when developing strategy | HR InSights |

The ability to design successful strategies is a key management skill. But it’s a task that even the most experienced management team can struggle to get right.


Organisations today are faced with the task of plotting their future against a backdrop of complexity and uncertainty. The days of five year plans with immovable targets and priorities are long gone. The challenge for managers now is to come up with ambitious yet realistic strategies that can be flexed rapidly as situations and markets change.


One of the most common misconceptions about strategy is that developing it is a logical, sequential or mechanical process. Managers think that if they are equipped with the right tools and processes, they can’t fail to come up with a winning formula.


The reality, however, is that developing strategy is a creative act which involves a mix of analysis, judgement, gut feeling, opportunism, trial and error. Crafting a strategy is akin to a potter shaping a pot on the wheel. It’s partly about applying a previously learned skill and partly an intuitive response to the nature of the situation.


So if you are a manager charged with developing a strategy for your organisation, department or team, where do you start? Jo Whitehead of Ashridge’s Strategic Management Centre suggests six key questions which will help to inform the design process.


1. What is the external environment?

The best strategies are those which link organisational capability to opportunity. In other words, you can have the best strategy in the world – but if you haven’t got the right people and resources to deliver it, the strategy will never successfully get off the ground. Looking at the external environment and the opportunities it offers for growth and diversification is a good place to start when you’re trying to get this equation right. This is not, however, as easy as it sounds, particularly if the organisation is operating in an environment of rapid change or entering a new market. Honda, for example, famously misunderstood the US motorcycle market when it first entered it. The business started by trying to sell its most powerful machines, but these models proved unpopular in the US, where the average journey was much longer than on crowded Japanese roads. It was only when customers started to ask whether they could buy the small 50cc bikes, that Honda managers were using themselves as work vehicles, that they realised this was an untapped market.


2. What is the internal situation?

Understanding both the objectives of the organisation and its capabilities is a key part of developing a successful strategy. Both these aspects need to be viewed against the backdrop of the external environment. It’s not enough, for example, to know that the business has R&D capability or IT expertise. You need to dig deeper and understand how valuable these capabilities could be in generating and delivering superior products for customers – as well as how these capabilities stack up against those of your competitors.


3. How might the situation evolve?

It’s important to recognise that your strategy will play out in an uncertain future. Understanding the current external environment and internal situation is a good starting point, but it’s not enough. You also need to look further ahead and think about how things might evolve and try and identify the greatest sources of uncertainty. Are the actions of competitors likely to derail your plans? Is it possible the market might develop in an unexpected direction? How rapidly is the business likely to respond to change? Your strategy should be robust and adaptable enough that it does not automatically fail in the face of unforeseen events. Expect the unexpected. This is in fact one of the greatest challenges of strategy – you place big bets when you do not fully know the odds.


4. What is the primary issue?

The most successful strategies tend to result from resolving a difficult issue in a way that is both novel and hard for competitors to copy. Defining exactly what is the primary issue facing the business or your team is therefore a key step. You might think the primary issue will be obvious, but that’s not always the case. Indeed, the very act of creating a new strategy often uncovers new insights and presents new options that may previously have been lying beneath the surface. For Honda in the US motorcycle market, the initial issue was how to compete with US and European competitors on the sale of big, fast bikes. Later, it became apparent that the primary issue was how to develop the market for small motorbikes – but only after a long period of failing to make inroads into the original target market.


5. What are the options?

Once the issue has been properly defined, the next stage is to identify the options. These are not always immediately clear and it will often be necessary to gather and analyse data to identify where competitive advantage may lie or to use one of the established strategy tools and frameworks to think through which approaches are likely to be most successful. Take a company like Moet & Chandon as an example. The business would potentially have the option to further build market share in premium champagnes or to extend its range into wines or other luxury goods. To help them weigh the options up, they might gather data by surveying potential customers to assess interest in additional Moet & Chandon branded products and by investigating whether the company’s existing distribution channels could be used for these possible new products.


6. Which option is best?

At some point, a decision has to be made and one of the options on the table has to be selected. Sometimes, a number of smaller decisions – perhaps based on internal capability or resources – can lead to an overall shift in strategy. In other cases, one of the options up for consideration might be a major acquisition, in which case there will be a need for one big decision that needs particularly careful analysis and evaluation.


Of course it’s unlikely that one person will be able to answer all these questions alone. The key to success is to bring the right people together to debate, challenge and help to answer the key questions. Engaging the broader organisation in the debate will help to develop a platform of shared understanding, which will be the foundation for a successful roll-out of the strategy that is eventually chosen.


Ashridge runs a number of programmes on developing strategy and strategic decision-making




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Interview with Dr. Melissa K. Hungerford, Vice President of Leadership Development at Coca-Cola Enterprises

Interview with Dr. Melissa K. Hungerford, Vice President of Leadership Development at Coca-Cola Enterprises | HR InSights |

On Wednesday 22nd May, Dr. Melissa K. Hungerford will present a session at the Pan European HR Forum which looks at how succession planning can serve as a competitive edge within organisations, and simultaneously create practical ways for leaders to enhance the existing talent within their organisations.

With over 18 years’ experience in senior management, Melissa has a track record in designing and developing proven talent management strategies, leadership development programmes and executive coaching initiatives for a number of top businesses across a range of industries in the UK, US and EMEA regions.

Currently working as the Vice President of Leadership Development at Coca-Cola Enterprises, Melissa is also an internationally recognised speaker, lecturer and expert in talent management and organisational effectiveness.

Ahead of Melissa’s session, we took the opportunity to discuss talent management, the changing HR landscape, and best practices for maintaining healthy and open communications between managers and employees.

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Making Competency Frameworks work!

Making Competency Frameworks work! | HR InSights |

I've always been an advocate for competency frameworks. I believe that if implemented properly and used both consistently and effectively, they provide organisations with a very strong backbone. A backbone which better enables recruitment, the day to day management of people and talent management as a whole. 

This all ultimately amounts to more efficient and productive organisations. It also led me to a presentation of Russell Ward, the CEO of Silent Edge on competency frameworks, titled: ‘What benefit are they and how do you make them work?’ I had no question in my mind about the benefits. I am, however, very much aware of the fact that people often complain about them not working.


Russell opened with feedback on some research that Silent Edge has done on competency frameworks. The results showed that 71 percent of organisations that took part in the research use a competency framework in their organisations, but just 35 percent of the HR Directors were unable to identify any outcomes from using one.


Indeed from a straw poll of the people in the room, whilst almost everyone present indicated that their organisations had competency frameworks, none indicated significant behavior changes as a result of having the framework in place. Now I wouldn’t specifically focus in on behavior changes and maybe if people had been asked about productivity, engagement, recruitment of the right of people for the jobs etc there may have been a different response.


However, the bottom line is that for many organisations, time and resources are invested in putting competency frameworks in place that do not ultimately yield a good return. Some reasons for this include:

the measurement and feedback on competencies is often subjective and not objectiveorganisations get frustrated because they are not getting the best out of their frameworksthey don’t measure the right thingsthey are not linked to Business Performance

To this list I will add that they are often too simple to be effective or cumbersome and difficult to understand.


I was quite interested in the model that Russell presented which, accompanied by the development of a coaching culture within organisations, is aimed at enabling HR to overcome the problems within their organisations to utilise competency frameworks that deliver benefit. I’ve told Russell that I’d love to have a closer look.


Competency frameworks take a lot of time, thought and effort to implement properly, so it will be great if Silent Edge have been able to develop something to make it all worthwhile.


About the author


Susan Popoola runs Conning Towers Ltd, an HR organisation focused on Talent Management and HR Transformation. She is also the published author of Touching The Heart of Milton Keynes: A Social Perspective and Consequences: Diverse to Mosaic Britain.


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3 Unmissable Sessions at the Pan-European HR Forum 2013

3 Unmissable Sessions at the Pan-European HR Forum 2013 | HR InSights |

The Pan European HR Forum boasts an impressive line-up of the continent's most successful HR practitioners. Now in its third year, the conference's main focus will be on the development of the global talent pool, looking at leading case studies from companies such as Philips, L'Oreal, Marks & Spencer, eBay and many more. 


Here are three sessions you won’t want to miss:


Annemie Ress is the Global Head of People Innovation at eBay and PayPal, having joined in as HR Director in 2004. Annemie will draw on her vast experience of designing organisational change programmes to present her session ‘From Employee Engagement to People Innovation and Employee Motivation’. The session will identify the problems with traditional engagement programmes, whilst exploring the best methods of unlocking the potential of a global workforce.


Sean Penistone, Senior Director of Talent Management at Astellas Pharma Inc.will examine the benefits of high performance programmes during a time when many companies are considering them unfashionable and obsolete. Sean will also reveal details about Astellas’ own programme, in particular the challenges involved in creating a culture which supports high performance across a global workforce.


Vicky Hall was the Head of Engagement and Volunteer Communications at the organising committee of the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games, responsible for creating an engaged workforce of over 6,000 paid employees and over 70,000 Olympics volunteers. Vicky will share her experiences of managing the engagement levels of such a considerable and multicultural workforce, highlighting the fundamental elements to building a culture of inclusion.


The Pan European HR Forum is Europe’s central meeting place for the HR community to congregate in 2013. Designed for HR Directors with an EMEA or international remit, the conference provides the ideal platform for European HR leaders to network and share best practices.


Pan European HR Forum information:


Dates: 22nd - 23rd May 2013

Location: Maritim proArte Hotel (Berlin, Germany)

Tickets: Purchase tickets

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Managing an ageing workforce - key issues for your organisation

Managing an ageing workforce - key issues for your organisation | HR InSights |

The challenges of managing an ageing workforce have been put firmly under the spotlight with the news that the age limit on student loans has been lifted to encourage over 60s to go back to university and retrain.

The impetus behind the initiative is that today’s employees will be required to work well past conventional retirement age – and that those who keep their skills up-to-date will be better placed not just to maintain their ‘employability’ but also to make a meaningful contribution to the organisations they work for now and in the future.


It’s certainly true to say that the country’s future economic success will depend partly on the skills and contributions of older workers. By 2020, a third of the UK’s workforce will be over 50, meaning the old will outnumber the young for the first time in history.


Older employees do, of course, have an invaluable contribution to make, but an ageing workforce presents challenges, as well as opportunities for organisations. They need to find the best way of exploiting the mix of talent available in the business, develop strategies to meet the differing needs and motivations of older and younger workers and create cultures where the generations are able to work together harmoniously.


So how well prepared is your organisation for managing an increasing number of older workers – and what are the key issues the business should be thinking about.


1. Bridging the generation gap


Recent research conducted by Ashridge revealed significant differences in the way older managers and Generation Y employees approach the world of work. The global survey of managers and graduates shows that the generations have very different strengths. Older workers have the experience to judge risk and influence people effectively and are skilled at negotiating their way around the ‘internal politics’ of the organisation. They place a strong emphasis on experience, teamwork and respect. Their younger counterparts are technology-savvy individuals who learn fast, are skilled at building powerful external networks and are hungry for rapid career progression. Work-life balance is important to them, as is public recognition of their achievements. These differences mean that the two parties are looking at the world of work through different lenses and often struggle to work together effectively as a result. Organisations need to find ways of overcoming the ‘them and us’ attitude and helping the generations understand and learn from each other better.


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Richard Reeves: Five Traits of Effective Leaders

Richard Reeves: Five Traits of Effective Leaders | HR InSights |

In front of a busy Wellcome Collection auditorium for London Business Forum, philosopher, writer and policy-maker, Richard Reeves delivered a presentation which set out to explore the complex parallels between leadership and the concept of character.

Reeves subscribes to the belief that a great leader is shaped by their strength of character, and draws inspiration from 19th century liberal philosopher, John Stuart Mill. Using his famous quote, “It really is of importance, not only what men do, but also what manner of men they are that do it,” to examine some of the core values surrounding wellbeing.

Throughout his presentation, Reeves, a former Director of Strategy to Nick Clegg, used old-world ideals to highlight the core values associated with strength of character. Old values which are still very relevant today when discussing the qualities expected of modern leaders.

With that in mind, Reeves broke down the concept of a good leadership character into its four fundamental elements: Patience, Optimism, Resilience, Courage and Humility.

Starting with patience, Reeves referenced the Marshmallow Test to highlight delayed gratification. Walter Mischel’s famous experiment examined the relationship between delayed gratification (the ability to resist the temptation to eat a marshmallow right away with the promise of more if you succeed) and overall life success.

Reeves then went on to explore the other character traits he believes are critical to good leadership. This fascinating examination into the role of character on leadership was a bold reminder that being a good leader in business can be a complex task. More than simply being charismatic individual or a dazzling public speaker, it involves careful consideration and most of all, strength of character.

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A potential retirement time-bomb in the UK: Auto-enrolment

A potential retirement time-bomb in the UK: Auto-enrolment | HR InSights |

The pension landscape has changed forever and the task for employers is staggering. Regardless of size, all employers will need to introduce compulsory pension arrangements for all their employees.

So why has auto-enrolment been thrust upon us? Well we have a potential retirement timebomb here in the UK. On the one hand people simply aren’t saving enough towards their retirement and on the other we have an ageing population with people living longer. The need for the UK to start saving more towards retirement is undeniable and the auto-enrolment legislation is seen as a politically acceptable start.

However, the legislation places a huge compliance burden upon employers. When you look at this legislation in greater detail it is extraordinarily complicated! The legislators have underestimated the complexity of the relationship that UK plc has with its employees and, in an effort to make sure that “all employees” really means “all employees” they have gone beyond what is generally considered practical.  However, whatever the rights and wrongs of compulsion and whatever the complexities, we are now left with the need to comply.  Although pensions minister Steve Webb recently announced his department are going to try and simplify things, for those companies with more than 250 employees whose latest staging date is 1st February 2014, this will not change the landscape significantly.

So how has the industry responded? How have the compliance complexities of auto-enrolment been tackled? Why is Premier’s auto-enrolment proposition recognised within the industry as one of the best auto-enrolment solutions from an adviser? The simple reason is that we have looked at this from the Employers perspective with a view to offering a single solution which uses technology to make life simple rather than for the sake of it. Our approach is to work with employers to find the best pension solution for their specific circumstances and to then make compliance as easy as possible.

Many employers are assuming that their payroll provider will have the end to end solution. Unfortunately this is not going to be the case. We have found that at present most payroll providers are still developing their auto-enrolment proposition and their proposition, when ready will not cover the communication and compliance aspects which are key to a full solution. So it is important to ask the right questions and to ensure that you get a full solution.

Indeed some of our clients have even found that their current pension provider is not willing to take on the additional compliance and membership requirements of Autoenrolment. Those that do are often looking to increase their charges. All of this has come as a shock to employers and even more of a shock to employees from whose pension pots the charges are deducted.

We would be very interested to hear from any employer who has been surprised (pleasantly or otherwise) by the answers that they have had from Pension and Payroll providers and any “war stories” regarding Autoenrolment implementation. Generally, we find that the truth is weirder than fiction.

For more information on auto-enrolment please click here.

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The Case for Positive Psychology in the Workplace

The Case for Positive Psychology in the Workplace | HR InSights |

Whilst positive psychology has been used extensively in business management practice, it has faced many challenges. 

Wong & Davey noted that managers can introduce positive psychology to a workplace, but they might struggle with positive ways to apply it to employees. Furthermore, for employees to commit to positive psychology, its application within an organisation must be transparent. Managers must also understand that the implementation of positive psychology will not necessarily combat any commitment challenges that exist, but with its implementation employees might become more optimistic and open to new concepts or management practices.

The University of California’s article, The Benefits of Frequent Positive Affect: Does Happiness Lead to Success?, reports: "The cross-sectional evidence reveals that happy workers enjoy multiple advantages over their less happy peers. Individuals high in subjective well-being are more likely to secure job interviews, to be evaluated more positively by supervisors once they obtain a job, to show superior performance and productivity, and to handle managerial jobs better. They are also less likely to show counter-productive workplace behaviour and job burnout." It would seem positive psychology can foster well-being and happiness, which can evidence benefits to the workplace, as characterised above.”

Positive psychology, when applied correctly, can provide employees with a greater opportunity to use skills and vary work duties. However, changing work conditions and roles can lead to stress among employees if they are improperly supported by management. This is particularly true for employees who must meet the expectations of organisations with unrealistic goals and targets. Thomas and Tasker ‘s article, Life, Liberty, Work, and the Pursuit of Happiness, showed less worker autonomy, fewer opportunities for development, less-enriched work roles, and lower levels of supervisor support reflected the impact of industry growth on job satisfaction.

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Gauthier de Pierpont's curator insight, March 13, 2013 5:39 PM

excellent article sur la psy positive et le management et sur la confusion faite entre pensée positive et psychologie positive ! 

Manuel Kraus's curator insight, March 28, 2013 10:14 AM

pros and cons of positive psychology (in the workplace)

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Six Tools to Help the Social Media Recruitment Process

Six Tools to Help the Social Media Recruitment Process | HR InSights |

For a number of years I have focused my resourcing activity around social media. I believe it to be a truly fantastic medium that allows a level of engagement that very few other channels can rival. One of the main benefits is cost. Whilst large corporate companies can spend a fortune on social media, smaller businesses can equally achieve many of the same results for free.

As someone who is referred to as having short arms and deep pockets, it is the low-cost or free routes that appeal to me most! I am not going to list the obvious options such as LinkedIn and Twitter, instead I have listed my favourite free sites and apps that make using such sites far easier and help your recruitment:

  • Google – This might sound like a rather strange one to start with, but Google is a massively underused resource in the recruitment process. In particular, Google can act as wonderful tool to aid LinkedIn searches. When conducting a search within LinkedIn, the results you receive are limited to the type of account you hold and the number of people you are connected to. A Google search, on the other hand, will give you access to everyone! If you not sure how to conduct Boolean searches, an easier option is to use Google’s advanced search tool which avoids having to be too tech-savvy.
  • TweetDeck & Hootsuite – I personally prefer TweetDeck, but only because I am more used to it. Both sites provide the ability to manage various social media accounts and remove the need to log into each one individually, instead doing so in one fail swoop. They also provide an easy method in which to search Twitter.
  • Followerwonk – The names of these sites are truly great! Followerwonk provides the ability to search peoples’ biographies on Twitter. As many people provide information about their location and career in their bios, this is an invaluable tool to help reach out and engage with potential new hires. You can also pretty much guarantee not many other organisations are doing this.
  • TweetLevel – Another useful tool to search Twitter, particularly if you are searching for a niche skill. An alternative site is Tweepz (I did say the name’s were great!).
  • Socialmention – I have found this site very useful when searching for a niche skillset or trying to research a particular topic. The site searches the entire universe for any mention of the given topic. As a tip, make sure you don’t use too broad a search or you will to be forced to wade through lots of unwanted information!
  • FindPeopleonPlus – I admit that I am still relatively new to this site, but it is the best tool I have found to date that allows you to search Google+. It may not need to be your central focus when resourcing, but you shouldn’t ignore Google+ as it has real potential to be an excellent sourcing channel.

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