|Rattling the Cage|
Technology forces new rules?
New technology is continually forcing us to rethink how we do things. Or is it? By Yusuf Mahomedy
I promised myself that this month I am not going to discuss the obvious HR issues. So you won’t hear about paintings of politicians (and the implications for managing talent) or e-toll gantries on our freeways. Skip that heated conversation about staff picking up the toll fees.
Even the youth wage subsidy is out (we already have enough race and age related tension, without it). Ideally, the painting, e-toll and youth wage subsidy should have been debated on its merits. Too late now. Popular opinion has overtaken it. Instead, I’m going to cover a different type of popular opinion through three recent stories. The type that comes with organisations embracing or stifling technology.
The Mile High Club
Earlier this year, Dutch airline, KLM launched Meat and Seat, an innovative social media in the sky in the programme. For most passengers, including myself, you rarely have engaging conversations with the person sitting next to you. After the initial nod and small talk, the conversation stalls. On international flights, you could be left talking to yourself for a couple of hours.
The KLM Meet and Seat programme uses the power of social networks to select your travel companion. By sharing your Linkedin or Facebook profile during the booking process, you can connect with other passengers on the same flight. You decide on the information that is shared, such as language, employer and reason for travel. Subject to privacy settings, you can select your seat, next to someone with a similar profile. Drop them a message, expressing interest to meet with them in the air. The downside is that if you decline the request from another passenger, they will recognise you during the flight.
At last, HR professionals travelling in economy class can sit next to cost conscious HR Executives. Or savvy recruiters can poach top talent, ten thousand feet in the air. The programme is not yet available locally.
Engage talent differently
I attended a HR conference where the speaker was adamant about face-to-face conversations. He firmly believed that there was no substitute for physically having the line manager in front of you. He believed that the best opportunities came out of these live interactions, not through technology channels. From experience, it is a popular opinion shared by many HR professionals on the ground.
Back in 1964, Marshall McLuhan made a comment that has stood the test of time: “the medium is the message”. In other words, the medium is so deeply enmeshed in the message, that the former influences how the latter is perceived by talent. Unfortunately the speaker and HR departments frequently miss this point. In doing so, they fail to recognise that how we convey ideas to talent, says as much, as what ideas we are sharing with them.
Technology is the game changer. From online social networks to augmented reality, we are entering a new era of connection. As we sail into unchartered waters, the emerging opportunities will rival face-to-face conversations. The way we share information in future about reward, performance, training and other areas, is about to get a lot more challenging. Get your HR department up to speed and prepared for engaging talent differently.
At a local hospital, the head of medicine never participates in the ward rounds. For junior staff, these bedside “on the job” training sessions are a crucial part of their professional development.
When questioned at a staff meeting about his permanent absence, the head of medicine questioned the value of ward rounds. He contended that the ward rounds are no longer valuable in their time-stressed day. Why spend three hours on a ward round, when you can access the latest information on the intranet and medical journal websites? The senior staff were shocked. Was this a flash of brilliance or stupidity?
At this stage, real life learning comes from the interaction between the seasoned mind, the junior doctor and the patient. Technology can’t yet match the emotional or technical depth of this experience. Or can it?
Yusuf Mahomedy (CA(SA), AdvTax) is the founder of Worksucks, www.worksucks.co.za, and a reward consultant.