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Adi Gaskell

Adi Gaskell is a writer on management issues for Professional Manager magazine.

It’s been said for some time now that a key component of any job hunt is getting the social media side of things done well. This includes making sure your LinkedIn profile is up to date, writing a blog and generally getting your name out there online.

I still have my doubts about how potent this approach is, especially for positions that job hunters actively apply for. I suspect that when agents and recruiting managers have a CV to consume they lack the time or inclination to do much research on their interviewees via social media.

New research from North Carolina State University reveals that social networking is incredibly valuable at finding new jobs for people who aren’t necessarily looking for one, which is referred to in the study as ‘informal recruitment’.

This study found that over 1 in 4 of all jobs filled in the US were done so via this form of informal recruitment. Perhaps the most interesting finding is that this ratio increases significantly as the salary of the position rises. In other words, the higher the salary is at stake, the more likely the position is to be filled informally.

The researchers have broken this down into a ratio. They found that the odds of a job being filled by social networks increased by 2% for every dollar paid per hour for the position being filled.

To put that into perspective, a job paying $100,000 a year is 86% more likely to be filled informally than a minimum wage job paying $14,500 a year.

Of course you will be rightly saying that personal networks have always been valuable. After all, the saying “it’s not what you know, but who you know” wasn’t coined at the dawn of the social media age.

It does serve to reinforce the importance of making sure that plenty of people are well aware of your skills and experience, and networking online is a fantastic way of doing that. So if you’re not currently building up your personal brand, be it offline or online, there’s never been a better time to start than now.

Adi Gaskell is a social media professional and management blogger for Professional Manager.

We’re living in an age of increasing collaboration, where companies are said to live and die by their ability to innovate and get the most from their employees.

While traditional performance reviews may focus on traditional metrics such as whether your sales targets were met, in the burgeoning social age, a new metric is likely to muscle in on your performance review – that of your influence within your organisation.

Measuring influence has been incredibly popular on the web over the last few years, with sites like Klout and Kred allowing people to measure how influential they are in the social media world.

Now, with social media tools increasingly being used within organisations, it seems inevitable that the issue of influence will come along with it.

Chatter, by Salesforce.com, comes with a feature called Influencer, which can measure how influential you within your company. It uses metrics similar to those used on Facebook or Twitter – meaning that if colleagues react well to things you share on Chatter, you score highly for influence.

Though people may sneer at such faddish intrusions, an increasing number of managers are using tools such as this. Imagine, for instance, that you have a project that you need to roll out across your company. By using influence ratings, you can locate employees throughout the company that have the clout to evangelize your project to their peers.

Influence ratings also provide a truer reflection of where the power lies in your company, because people will vote for those whose expertise is most valuable rather than those who have the most powerful title.

Chatter, which was launched two years ago, is not the only company working on a metric for influence within organizations. Other top enterprise social networking tools, such as Yammer and National Field, are also taking a stab at the problem.

With Salesforce recently buying feedback application Rypple, it’s clear that they’re investing heavily into a revamp of how appraisals are managed, with a much more frequent and democratic approach to metric generation.

How would you measure influence in your own company?

Adi Gaskell is Head of Online at the Process Excellence Network

Social media offers numerous opportunities for HR teams to do their jobs more effectively, and a fundamental part of this is the talent community. A talent community is a place that is created for targeted, qualified individuals to engage with company representatives to develop a sustainable pipeline for sourcing, recruiting, training and development.

Having a strong talent community affects pretty much all segments of your talent management tasks. It allows you to plan your workforce, manage your employer branding, develop strong cultural fit and maintain relationships with alumni.

As with any community, however, there are some things that help to make your talent community viable. Here are five things I think you have to ensure in order to build a productive talent community.

  1. A clear purpose. Understand what you want to achieve with your community.
  2. Boardroom buy-in. Social media needs to be an accepted part of your organizations’ culture for initiatives like talent communities to work. A Chief Social Officer can help you achieve this level of cultural acceptance.
  3. Know what success looks like. Clear goals for your community will help you determine success metrics. Read the rest of this entry »

News broke last month of recruiters requesting the Facebook login details of job candidates in order to screen profiles prior to offering them a position. The news set off a firestorm of controversy about what recruiters had the right to ask for. The debate soon broadened with news reports that a teaching assistant was fired by her employer for not allowing them access to her Facebook profile. This rapid progression of controversy has prompted some states to sponsor bills that would make such requests illegal.

What’s driving this invasive trend is the perceived importance of what gets posted on social media when it comes to evaluating a new hire or current employee. It stems from a study published earlier this year that claimed a glance at someone’s Facebook profile was a better indicator of future job success than more traditional personality tests. Read the rest of this entry »

Despite recent research suggesting that a cursory glance over a candidates Facebook profile is more effective at predicting future career success than an online recruitment test, such test still remain enduringly popular with HR departments.

Online tests for recruitment are widely used and routinely result in specific feedback to applicants in order to communicate decisions, emphasise the pedigree of the process to forestall complaints and to benefit the candidate. But does it deliver on these fronts, particularly when candidates have failed to meet the required threshold?
Read the rest of this entry »

Theft by employees is a major issue for firms, with cost estimates at around $200 million each year. The most common form of employee theft is ‘sweethearting’. Sweethearting is when employees give products away for free to preferred customers and is typically done by people operating the cash register in stores.

New research from Michigan State University suggests that better recruitment is the best way to prevent this form of employee theft. The research is one of the first studies to investigate sweethearting in isolation.

The research team investigated over 800 service employees in hotels, restaurants, tanning salons and several other similar service industries. Alarmingly, 67% of participants said they had participated in sweethearting in the last two months. The primary motivation was to receive better tips from their favoured customers or a similar sweetheart deal when they in turn shopped at the customers premises. Read the rest of this entry »

Earlier this year the Chartered Management Institute released research revealing that gender pay equality among managers could be 98 years away.

The 7th annual UC Davis Study of California Women Business Leaders paints a similarly bleak picture. It reveals that less than 10% of the 400 largest public companies based in California has a female chief executive. Despite efforts to improve gender equality, this rate has improved by just 0.2% in the last year.

In addition, the study shows that over a third of the biggest companies in California have no women on their board of directors. This is a group that represents nearly $3 trillion of shareholder value. Read the rest of this entry »

Last week, Cisco launched their annual research project to track how technology is changing the workplace. Arguably, the most notable finding from the survey is data showing just how connected young people are to social media; so much so that they will often forgo a pay increase if it means keeping social media access or their choice of a smartphone device.

Study Highlights:

  • Many respondents cite a mobile device as “the most important technology” in their lives.
  • Seven of 10 employees have “friended” their managers and coworkers on Facebook.
  • Two of five students have not bought a physical book (except textbooks) in two years.
  • Most respondents have a Facebook account and check it at least once a day.
  • Half of respondents would rather lose their wallet or purse than their smartphone or mobile device.
  • More than two of five respondents would accept a lower-paying job that had more flexibility with regard to mobile device choice, social media access and mobility than a higher-paying job with less flexibility. Read the rest of this entry »

When I was growing up there was a popular advert for chips that featured a young girl who was asked by her older sister whether she preferred Daddy or chips. It’s probably indicative of the power of advertising that I now think of that advert whenever such comparisons are made. The comparison in question here, however, is one of slightly more importance. You see, a new study from Cornell University is asking whether people would prefer a highly paid job that demanded very long hours, or better work/life balance but with less pay.

This topic is not a new one. Indeed Nobel Laureate Daniel Kahneman suggested only last year that all we really need is $75,000 a year, over which any extra money adds nothing to our perception of happiness.

When The New York Times spoke with Kahneman about the study, he said “it’s not so much that money buys you happiness, but that lack of money buys you misery.”

So the Cornell paper goes against a pretty powerful opponent, with others such as Dan Pink also proposing that money comes quite a way down the list of things that motivate us. PricewaterhouseCooper added to the mix last year by suggesting that people would forgo their bonuses in return for more flexible working. Read the rest of this entry »

The idea of narcissistic leaders is sadly not an uncommon one, and with some justification. According to an article from Behavioural Sciences & the Law, Corporate Psychopathy: Talking the Walk” by Paul Babiak Ph.D., Craig S. Neumann Ph.D., and Robert D. Hare Ph.D., leaders tend to score higher on measures of psychothapy than the general population. The authors conclude that “the very skills that make the psychopath so unpleasant (and sometimes abusive) in society can facilitate a career in business even in the face of negative performance ratings.

Narcissists typically have many of the qualities we associate with those of a strong leader. They have high self-esteem, they’re confident and display authority. Research reveals that narcissists automatically take over the helm of a rudderless group of individuals.

So how does narcissistic behavior influence team behavior? Read the rest of this entry »

In her latest book, The Shift, London Business School academic Linda Gratton proclaims the death of middle management. The book contends that while the role of management was held in higher esteem in the past, the modern manager is often a figure of parody, with sitcom programs like The Office tapping into this zeitgeist perspective.

We live in an age where big companies can shed middle managers in the thousands and the public cheers their departure, deriding them as pen pushers and bureaucrats that add little value to either customer or employer.

“The days of general managers who know a little about a lot of things are completely over,” says Ms Gratton, further attesting that supervision and feedback is now increasingly given by peers rather than managers. She argues that rather than generalists, managers need to develop specialties in one or two areas.

The other side of the coin

Read the rest of this entry »

Creating a motivated and engaged workforce is one of the most pressing issues of our age. This task is hard enough when people are doing a job they generally enjoy and find fulfilling, but what if they’re doing a job they resent? Maybe their job attracts hostility from others from time to time, maybe it even earns you animosity from society at large. That’s the unfortunate reality for many who work in professions that are physically demanding, socially unpopular or morally questionable. The stigma of their work threatens their identity and pushes the undesirable stigma into their self-perception.

New research investigates these ‘dirty’ professions to see what kinds of characters thrive in them and how you can motivate those individuals.

A team of researchers from the University of North Carolina spent a couple of years collecting survey data from people involved in ‘dirty work’. After two months, 28% of these individuals had left their job, a stark contrast to more mainstream work where employee turnover is around the 10% mark.

So what encouraged the other 72% to stick it out? Read the rest of this entry »

The management profession has been under attack in recent weeks. Ratan Tata, the boss of the diverse Tata Group, launched an attack recently on the work ethic of managers at the UK Jaguar Land Rover plants. Such attacks are sadly not new. Personnel Today remarked back in 2005 that improvements in productivity are being hampered by poor quality managers.

But there’s new research that goes some way to redressing those charges. Wharton professor of management Ethan Mollick investigated the personnel that contributed the most value to creative organizations such as biotech and software firms. His paper, titled “People and Process: Suits and Innovators: Individuals and Firm Performance,” found that middle managers top the bill, providing more value to these companies than any other employee group.

Mollick  contends that middle managers play a crucial role in creative industries, where brilliant individuals need to be co-ordinated and resources managed effectively to ensure proper allocation.

“It is in these knowledge-intensive industries where variation in the abilities of middle managers” – the “suits” he refers to in his paper – have a “particularly large impact on firm performance, much larger than that of individuals who are assigned innovative roles,” Mollick says.

Read the rest of this entry »

I’m sure we’ve all had bosses that have driven us mad.  Inevitably thoughts drift through our heads of the dastardly things we’d like to do to that individual to get them back for the perceived hell they’re putting us through.

For the record, I should probably state that I don’t personally believe that such behaviour helps you and a victim mentality can easily set in whereby the perceived slight gets bigger and bigger.  Alas, for those of you who fancy a bit of retribution in the workplace, new research sheds some light on when you can take the mental voodoo doll and turn it into physical acts of retaliation.

The researchers surveyed professionals in the San Francisco area and based each question around two hypothetical workplace situations.

The first involved a manager that sexually harassed one of his employees, who was forced to leave as a result.  The manager subsequently needs something from the friend of the harassed individual.  People were asked to rate the acceptability of certain actions, from actively hiding the file to playing dumb and pretending ignorance of its location.

Read the rest of this entry »

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