Like most blogs, we have a “blog roll” of Other blogs that we think you might enjoy or gain from – you’ll find it in the right-hand column.

But as we wander through the blogosphere and the unmarked territories of Web 2.0, we also stumble across individual posts that strike a chord, inspire a reaction and just generally inform, inspire or entertain. This page will endeavour to list at least some of them and please – let us have your own suggestions for inclusion.

Don’t Fall Victim to Your P-Ness: Mike Shoemakes not just making a good point about personality types, preferences and working styles, but demonstrating a real talent for the arresting headline. Just because we’ve passed judgment doesn’t mean we have P-Ness Envy issues, Mike, we just like your style … 

12 Simple Ways To Impress Your Boss (And Everyone Else): considerably less brown-tongued that it might sound from it’s title, simply a great post in the ‘ways to go through life more positively and constructively’ category. There are enough people making the world a worse place, and Nate offers 12 guidelines that might just make a small but valuable difference. For which he is to be applauded.

Intranet offers bright future for internal communicators: Gerry McGovern has been an interesting commentator of the impact of the Internet on our lives since 1994. As an Irishman, his is also a rare European voice in this arena. As a web commentator, he has also stressed the importance of content, usability and users – this post is no exception.

Career Gifts: Meg Bear’s post covers more than one ‘gift’ she has received in herworking life, but we liked the concept of ‘micro-coaching’ – a few brief words from someone else that can sometimes carry more beneficial weight than a whole shelf of self-improvement books.

Education vs Training: Using Twitter as a Research Tool: Brandon Hall’s Gary Woodill asked his Twitter followers to define the difference between education and training. Out outlooks depend on our vantage points, but the range is fascinating, informative and provocative. Why not add your own comment?

Best advice I ever got: 22 people answer a simple question, combining their opportunity for personal reflection with our opportunity to receive 22 nuggets of wisdom – and even secondhand daylight illuminates. As well as “Be nice to people” – we agree – we also liked “Buy a coach”.

Will Social Networks Trump Traditional Networks In The Future? Joanna Pineda at The Matrix Group looks at how she is using Twitter, FaceBook and LinkedIn and how that compares with her more traditional networking activities. So, are these media becoming the ‘new way’, or are they more like nightclub bouncers – a handy way of filtering who gets to get closer?

Fortune 100 CEOs are Social Media Laggards: however it was that today’s Fortune 100 leaders got where they are today, it looks like using social media wasn’t their chosen route. But will they change – maybe getting someone to e-socialise on their behalf (social media requires time, although it carries an expectation of authenticity) and should they? Business Week ponders.

Size isn’t everything for today’s recruits: Management Today report on the 2009 Angela Mortimer Blue Book Salary Survey, which shows disparity between the outlooks of organisations and potential recruits. While 62% of employers think that being a market leader is attractive to potential recruits, only 23% of candidates agreed. Given that 78% of organisations anticipate attracting the right staff will be tough, some clearer thought and effort on talent management might be called for, even in a ‘buyers’ market’.

The Performance Review & Some Ugly Truths: Gwyn Teatro’s ‘You’re Not The Boss Of Me’ blog is one of our favourites anyway, but this post deserves special mention. Performance Review is often almost counter-productive as an activity, every organisation, line manager, and line managee should read this one. While you do that, we’re off to add a comment … 

Use the Five Whys to Get Comfortable with New Ideas:  elsewhere we looked at the importance of ‘why’. Here’s another reason for asking – although the implication is that you’ll need to persevere with the questions. Patience is a virtue.

Ambassadors of Harmony: this may well be a matter of taste, but for a 4 min 47 sec demonstration of not just presentation skills but also tight team-working this may take a little beating. But please turn down your speakers before clicking the link. 

Bear shaving:  solving the problem starts with naming – if not shaming – the problem. As Seth Godin implies, the longer you keep ‘shaving the bear’ (read the article, it will make more sense), the bigger the elephant in the corner will get.

Work as Play: Stephen Stills once sang above loving the one you’re with. Leo Babauta, writer of the zenhabits blog, thinks we might try the same approach to work and that ‘fun is forbidden’ isn’t a mindset that improves the workplace. We’re wondering if he has any vacancies …

Reclaiming ‘leadership’ from the elite: Louise Teboul on leading with authority in a multi-agency environment, the importance of “earning legitimacy with ideas that resonate”, and our need to recognise that leadership is something that you do rather than something you might have on your business card.

windosill.com:  a lesson not only in creative problem solving – welcome to an online world with lots of challenges and no signposts – but also in creating a memorable (ok, we admit it, addictive) experience. We hope you’ll enjoy this as much as some of us! 

Engagement Soup: a veritable storm in a soup bowl by Bret Simons, wondering aloud how anyone can confuse optimism with engagement – and fail to distinguish between effect indicators and causal indicators. And, more importantly, questioning what engagement in isolation proves- or do I mean indicates. We’re sorry about the illustration, by the way (not our work).

The Age of Commodified Intelligence: while George Balgobin is writing for the online edition of the Economist’s Intelligent Life about culture and our consumption of it in a broader sense, there is an important point about learning and self-development here too. As he writes “But if we fail to distinguish between attendance and appreciation, we may end up poorer for it, left with a corporate caricature of our cultural richness. The “intelligent” masses will work hard mining the store of culture artefacts, but will they read the texts and learn from them, or only use them as objects for trade?”. And there’s a big difference between reading and turning the pages.

Re-Visioning Visionary Leaders: Dan Oestreich on the kind of visionary leader who can transform workplace culture – or, in his words, “folks who simply love to work in the garden of helping themselves and others grow”, rather than “operating in their own shadows”.

The Third Grade Teacher Model of Leadership: the school model of learning – preparation, homework, project-based, ongoing assessment, curricula and syllabi – has a lot going for it. But, as Wally Bock points out, as preparation for life – and leadership – goes, your geography teacher might not be the most flexible or appropriate model.

Who’s Passion is Greater?: the good people at Brains on Fire – who’s passion for communicating inspired us to have our own blog – make a great point or two about passion. As Graham Parker once sang, “it’s no ordinary word”. Passion creates passion, but it needs to be mutual.

Can you teach ethics to students?  The Financial Times’ Judgement Call column explores the issue of teaching ethics at business school (which reminds us of The MBA Oath project, started by students at Harvard). You can get the leopard into the classroom, but can you change it’s spots.

Ensuring Employees ignore you: A Leader’s guide: proof that Americans do understand irony. The modern business leader’s time is valuable: engage people and you’ll only have to waste more of it in a dialogue, right? (Ok, we’re kidding too.)

Free E-book on Employee Engagement: search on Twitter for ’employee engagement’ and it’s hard to miss David Zinger. Now you can download a free 44 page PDF e-book, containing one sentence inspirations on engagement from a huge variety of contributors. Better engaged than vacant, so start downloading

HRZone poll: if you need more encouraging, go to HRZone, who are currently running an online poll asking HR personnel which issues are most important to them. Front runner at the time of writing – and on every previous occasion that I’ve checked – is … employee engagment. Whether you agree or disagree, voting is free, so speak up.

Finding yourself: finally, for those in need of 10 seconds of humour … Our recent post Streams of Consciousness looked at self-awareness. Technophiles and those who are struggling to find themselves may find salvation in this snippet from Newsbiscuit. (More sombre readers might wish to skip this link.)

Let Me Entertain You:  you may have read our earlier Q&A session with Peter Cook, author of Sex, Leadership and Rock’n’Roll. If you’d like to hear more about how his ideas can influence business leaders’ thinking, tune in to Radio 4 at 20.30 on 17 Dec, catch the repeat on 20 Dec at 21.30, or catch it on iPlayer for the following seven days.

Sweet Georgia Brown med traktorkomp: our favourite YouTube clip of recent times, and an exercise lesson in how to improvise your way out of an unexpected human resources crisis. (But do bear in mind that, although tractors don’t drink, smoke, run off with other musicians’ wives or throw tantrums, you can’t rely on them to make valuable creative contributions in their own right.)

Thinking Both/And: we’ve highlighted her contributions in ‘Crackers’ before, but Sharlyn Lauby’s recent post at The Hr Bartender is truly a cracker. Constructive, positive and challenging – and the concept of ‘Both/And’ is one that deserves greater consideration in many, many aspects of working life. Sharlyn, we will putting pen to paper shortly, and thank you for the inspiration.

What is Engagement, and is it really just about employees?:  as contribution Mike Klein points out, ‘engagement’ may be a hot topic, but discussion suffers from a lack of agreed definition. His post – which has attracted much comment already – particularly struck my attention after reading Richard Donkin’s “The Future of Work” – review to follow – and Donkin’s concern that it is becoming “the one trick pony of modern management”.

Why do we take ourselves so seriously?: Robbin from Brains on Fire, musing on the importance of creating trust in terms not just what it enables to achieve, but also in terms of the widening of the range of approaches it enables us to take. We suspect that, if were challenged to draw her, we’d let her see the picture. We hope we’d both laugh too – a good beginning (and further proof of the importance of phatic communication too)

Seniority ain’t what it used to be: over at Flipchart Fairytales, Rick shows us the expectations we’re encouraged to have can turn into frustrations. (Remember Alain de Botton’s lesson about what Seneca could still teach us?) Read it in terms in employee value propositions and their value in helping to retain talent and increase engagement, and it may lose it’s comic value – don’t say you weren’t warned.

Secret Diary of an Entrepreneur: The evils of self-improvement: Secret Diary keeps his or her identity close to his or her chest, but it seems we’re not the only one with some qualms about at least some of the self-help tomes on the market. If your most recent self-help guide hasn’t brought you an improved relationship with your line manager, or doesn’t cover being sensitive to the impact you make on others, you might want to read this. And maybe treat yourself to a self-review session. You know you’re worth it.

Beyond Corporate Social Responsibility: a post we might, with hindsight (always an elusive quality) have noticed earlier), where Common Purposes’ Una Farrell reports on listening to a talk by Will Marre, arguing for the advent of Personal Social Responsibility – “where employees are offered a chance to make their own unique contribution to their organisation’s success”. (Although I reckon Una miscounted: apart from ‘our future’ and ‘our bottom lines’, this might also increase engagement and create meaning for employees – I make that three, possibly even four, birds with one stone.)

Recruit for a Cause Not a Role:  Gautam Ghosh looks not only at the disengagement that can occur between job offer and actual arrival, but how employer attitudes can shape employee attitudes. Are we offering a contract, or a role? Or, as he puts it, “The vast majority of organizations don’t think about the desire of an individual to make a difference and meaning to others. And unless you can connect with that innately human desire – you will continue to judge a person by their current and future salary levels and they in turn will treat you as a mercenary would.”

Creativity is a competitive advantage:  Janet Clary asks the simple question “Are innovation and creativity taking a back seat to survival in this fragile economy?” and, by implication, if we are acting in our longer-term best interests. So, are winning the battle but losing the war?

The evolution of training: Verity Gough explores the development of training in response to social and organisational change, and provides rich food for thought. How evolved is your organisation and its relationship to learning?

Standardising diversity:  Flip Chart Fairytales is a blog that tends not to beat too delicately around the bush, often to its- and its readers’ – benefit. For a crash course in how cultural sentivity can go sadly wrong in global enterprises (and, being hugely mindful of the ambiguity, a moment of ‘black humour’), this post is hard to beat.

Would you choose social media or engaged employees?  Brains on Fire – another favourite blog – is passionately committed to word of mouth marketing and, by implication, social media. One of their team, posed that simple question on Twitter: this blog post comments on the replies, and how it seems some people struggle surprisingly hard to distinguish between their means and their ends. The expression ‘with both hands and flashflight’ almost sprang to mind …

Do Bosses Who Kill Talent Through Poor Leadership Practices Go to Hell? Just one of the starling survey results here informs us “In one of the most startling studies, 6,442 male British civil servants were asked to rate supervisory practices (perceived justice at work) and were followed for cardiovascular events. Those employees who perceived their supervisors treated them fairly had 30% lower CHD incidents after adjustment for other known coronary risk factors”. Bad bosses are – it seems entirely literally – capable of killing the human capital who endure their ‘leadership’: shocking read for anyone who was wondering if workplace bullying needed tackling more firmly.

Don’t Go It Alone: to finish on a positive note, a Q&A with Rodd Wagner and Gale Muller, Ph.D., (authors of Power of 2: How to Make the Most of Your Partnerships in Work and in Life) at Gallup Management Journal’s blog, where they point out that “In the workplace, employees with just one collaborative relationship are 29% more likely to say they will stay with their company for the next year and 42% more likely to intend to remain with their current employer for their entire career, compared to those with no partnerships.”

Eureka fight club live: Is talent taught rather than innate? The Times website hosts a live debate between Daniel Coyle, author of The Talent Code, who believes the role of genes has been overstated, andEllen Winner, professor of psychology at Boston College, who argues that while hard work is a necessary condition for high achievement, it is not sufficient: success also depends on natural aptitude.

What Good Dog Parents Know That Corporate Leaders Don’t: a posting from February in the Training Day blog that draws an interesting analogy that holds more water than the title might first suggest. Just the best pets, the best leaders aren’t always “pleasers”. Whether or not you have a glossy coat or a wet nose, there’s an interesting lesson here in the value of occasional constructive misbehavior.

Bad Leadership is a transmittable disease: a posting at TrainingZone that covers a lot of ground, but we’d like to direct your attention to paragraph 7, which starts “We may look back fondly at our first boss …”. For added impact, we suggest you consider how your current charges might remember your legacy to them in twenty years time.

Patience.. Virtue And Discipline: Gwen Teatro’s You’re Not the Boss of Me is usually a thoughtful read. This post reminds us that patience has its benefits – supporting the development of late bloomers, encouraging us to reflect, probe and explore, and helping us make better decisions. Curiosity might be said to kill the cat, but surely impatience would do the same – only quicker?

Once Upon a Time: Wally Bock’s Three-Star Leadership blog is another great resource. Here, Wally benefits from the joint wisdoms of age and hindsight to remind us that, underneath the technology and the initiatives and the imperatives, there are human beings – and their habits and behaviours change slowly. Having the patience to distinguish between ‘change’ and ‘progress’ is definitely a virtue.

The Social Media Cigarette Break – Clark Quinn must be telepathic, given our own comments, but his point about social media networking and trust is a strong one. If social media tools are to achieve their potential for collaboration, sharing and informing, attitudes towards access – essentially issues of trust – need to be addressed to. There’s little point moving to flatter organisations and open plan offices if we just rebuild the barriers with firewalls.

A hashtag for the head: v-c tweets to keep in touch – The Times Higher Education Supplement reports that the new Vice Chancellor of my old alma mater, De Montfort University, is embracing Twitter, commenting “As a new vice-chancellor, it’s a way of quickly giving colleagues a sense of who you are. I recognise that there’s a lot of curiosity about what I’m like, about my ideas on a new vision, how many arms I’ve got – that kind of stuff.” We look forward to a University sharing what it has learnt, as well as taught, in due course.

The Second Biggest Lie in HR: All “A” Players is Possible Outcome… – The HR Capitalist looks at the prisons that HR practitioners can create for themselves, including waiting for the ‘perfect’ ‘A Player’ candidate when the job requires someone more … er, prosaic. As one commenting visitor pointed out, “Personally for my company I think I want the ditch diggers – coders, hackers, outre graphic designers, deep level video player designers. Not glamorous roles but core to my success.” So do divas belong on the payroll or the CD player?

Business Culture: Denmark vs USA vs Guatemala: The Chief Happiness Officer (we’re guessing self-proclaimed, although we’re admiring the job title) looks at differences in four aspects of working cultures and attitudes around the world (Power Distance Index, Individualism, Masculinity (MAS), and Uncertainty Avoidance Index, as evolved and refined by Dutch sociologist Geert Hofstede) before drawing a few conclusion on the ideal balance. The CHO wonders how far Hofstede’s work illuminates the prominent positions Scandinavian countries traditionally enjoy in international surveys of job satisfaction, while his readers wonder how far these stereotypes hold up in the light of experience (perhaps slightly missing the CHO’s point?). In the meantime, I’m wondering how many jobs in Copenhagen don’t demand a working knowledge of Danish …

A seat at the table: the trainer’s dilemma: a reflection by Fred Nickols at the Training Journal blogs on our readiness – as opposed to our desire – to have a seat at that mythical ‘top table’ as trainers, the impact that a change of role has on the individual and on the lingering perceptions of training, its purpose and value. A very thought provoking read.

1,000 Places To Visit Before You Die. Number 1,001: HR Shire: an altogether less profound and somber reflection of the world – or in this case, the fictional (?) shire – of HR, but still one that may provoke a wry smile as you pause to reflect that (like any profession) your intentions and good deeds may look slightly different viewed through other eyes.

Who are the new influencers?: the HRD reminds of the meaning of influence as “to affect or change how someone or something develops, behaves or thinks”, pointing our that none of the names on the lists in HR Magazine or HR Examiner have had a discernible impact on his daily life as an HRD director. For theHRD, influence is not delivered from above through a star system, but “a whole load of small things and discussions coming together to make a change”.

Who are the new influencers?:  Jon Ingham, despite being listed highly by HR Examiner, also has his doubts about the HR Magazine list, and is “surprised to see just how similar it was to lists from previous years”. Like theHRD, Ingham is a commentator/practitioner for whom influence happens at a different level, and sees the new school of influences as “are who are connected to the rest of a community through the shortest path”.

The best deck of cards ever!: 52 self-coaching tips, each one incorporated into a card from a regular playing deck. The original poster said: “Look at the 5 of diamonds, “Do I regularly connect with my staff? Do I know how they are doing outside of work? Did he win his match? How was her weekend? Do I know all the birthdays of my staff? Am I showing that I really care?”” I couldn’t help wonder how you’d notice if you were too interested in playing cards, and found the whole thing a bit naff. But just because they’d signal to me that their owner was someone not to sit next to in the canteen if possible, doesn’t mean they might not be your thing.

Dancing Cop – Fun at work: Much more my cup of tea, this one, but then I like humour that is unexpected, and comes from incongruous juxtapositions: a uniformed job body-popping at a square full of surprised looking passers by is funny, even if it is an actor rather than a cop. (Clicking through to YouTube shows that he’s quite the serial offender too.) It’s actually part of a series of performances linked to the local theatre commenting on violence, but that doesn’t stop it raising a smile – whether loftily about the ideal of peaceful communities, or at a more humdrum level about a uniformed man boogying on down, y’all. (It also reminds me of Dutch police during Euro 90, patrolling in full uniform and orange glitter wigs: far better to make a potentially rowdy crowd cheerful than potentially antagonistic, not matter how desperate the colour scheme.)

Who Is The Worlds Worst Boss? – courtesy of Damon Klotz ‘the HRockstar’, tipped as a rising blogger by TheHRD. The point here – that anyone else who managed themselves as badly as most of us do would probably be fired – is a good one, and one we could all take on board, whether we’re making new year’s resolutions or not. The plot twist? Well, perhaps Damon is adopting too much of the ‘Rockstar’ approach to creative larceny. That final line “Post thanks to Seth Godin” should actually read “Post lifted wholesale from Seth Godin”. Great attitude, Damon, but perhaps your own disciple should start with a brief brush-up on copyright, intellectual property attribution, and a pledge to promote the value of original content. Just saying …

We manage what we can EASILY measure – a post from Gerry McGovern, Irish web consultant of many year’s standing, whose New Thinking column has been published since 1996 and made many intelligent points about business, technology and people (and, at its best, all three simultaneously). This post highlights the trap – far from restricted to web site managing – of measuring what’s easiest to measure rather than measuring what matters, and basing management on a misunderstanding as a result. If you’re struggling to measure something important, that difficulty might even be a good thing …

Your Single Biggest Corporate Culture Document: one of our favourite bloggers, the HR Bartender, points out that your employee handbook is “the first document employees get that tells them what their career with your organization will be like”. If they’re reeling under pages of legalese, reacting badly to your presentation of your self-image, or communicating an unfortunate sense of organisational priorities, the time may have come for a rethink. We’ve talked about going beyond compliance recently too – and Sharlyn Lauby’s post (and the Creative Choas Consultant’s) suggests we are not the only ones open to some forward-facing wondering aloud.

‘Grow a beard for Belgium’ appeal by actor Poelvoorde – a little harder for everyone one to join in with, as symbolic gestures go, but a Belgian actor is using the power of social media to put pressure on his country’s leaders to resolve their differences and actually form a definitive government (the election took place last June). The France24 English-language news service has also covered the story. If UBS’s pilot study rolls out to Belgium, there will presumably be a dilemma for bankers concerned for stable government, but that’s a whole different can of worms …

Disentanglement: Aconventional is the blog of Nick Shackleton-Jones, a Group Head of eLearning, and this post explores the way in which it is too easy – and often too tempting – to conflate things that would be better served by a degree of separation. One example is the experience of learning and its subsequent impact – as Nick points out “learning professionals know how to deliver a good experience in a room (an entertaining presenter, a good venue, food, variety, enthusiasm, activities, networking etc.) but we have not yet figured out how to deliver a good experience online (at least not in a learning context). That’s why elearning people keep saying ‘but look at games!‘.”

Content vs Technology: an article from Laura Layton-James’ Purple Learning Blog, which we also quoted in our event review. This is a second posting there that deserves a read by anyone in L&D who is wrestling with eLearning. An aspect of Laura’s post that seems particularly worth praising is that L&D need to explore and master technology to properly understand both its possibilities and its limitations, while reminding themselves that their role is to provide, promote and support learning, not just to follow technological fashions.

I’m not an experience-seeking user, I’m a meaning-seeking human person:  Tim Morris on how turning everything into a game or a social media experience isn’t necessarily a way forward. Or as he puts it in part:  “This is why I’m sceptical about gamification: there’s enough […] pointless distractions in life already, we don’t need more of them, however beautiful the user experiences are. But what we do need more of is people making a commitment to doing something meaningful and building a shared pool of common value”.

Personality and Knowledge Management Behavior: our old friends at weknowmore.org, reporting of the impact of different personality types on behaviours to support (or undermine) knowledge managing and sharing activities, and recommend understanding each other as a shorter path to improvement than attempting to change each other’s personalities.

Failure to tackle workplace depression costing millions, as one in four workers suffer discriminationa posting from the Open University’s Social Matters blog, where Dick Skellington highlights the increasing incidence of both stress and depression in workplaces, and the lack of managerial insight or sympathy. 25% of us, it seems, are never asked how we are, as mental health issues are swept under a metaphorical carpet, where their financial costs are as hidden as their human ones. With presenteeism costing the UK economy £16bn a year, Dick emphasises that employers can help where they “engage more fully with staff suffering mental ill-health and to create a culture of openness in the workplace, and a culture of care which supports workers and does not stigmatise or abuse them.”

Workers keep quiet about stress over redundancy fears – the survey is also picked up at People Management by James Burkett, who points out thatWork colleagues are still seen as unsympathetic to mental health difficulties, with seven in ten saying that they would not expect any support from their boss if they mentioned their stress. Four in ten described stress as a ‘taboo’ topic at work, while 46 per cent said that taking time off for stress was typically seen as an excuse for something else.”

Guardian article paints HR as ‘double-agents, The smiling assassins’: Michael Carty has been posting a series of updates to his own original article, tracking other responses and reaction across the blogosphere, and there are signs that CIPD may be encouraging The Guardian to write a follow-up article

So, HR Manager, just who are you working for? A response from Flip Chart Fairy Tales, in which blogger Rick firmly adopts the position that HR are employees like anyone else and the role is to achieve the best outcome for the organisation and make calls when commerce and ethics collide. Fair points, but as his own commenters point out, without influence and trust, HR departments will struggle to achieve outcomes: HR needs PR to achieve HR?

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4 Responses to “Crackers”

  1. Meg Bear Says:

    Thanks for the shout out for TalentedApps.

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