The Leaky Bucket Theory

This week I’m taking a break from the blog, and I’ve chosen to feature some of my best and favorite blog posts over the past four years.  Today’s post written in May of 2010 was titled “HR’s Leaky Bucket.”  The blog discusses the role that social media and mobile technologies will now play in HR and corporate leader’s decision making and corporate communication process.  Forever gone are the days when employees are told individually and in person about corporate layoffs, restructures, and terminations.  Corporate communication must be meticulously planned and calculated because there is nothing worse than an employee learning about their restructure via the new digital grapevine of social media, mobile text messaging, and citizen blogging and journalism.

The world as we know it is changing and for a variety of reasons. The Wall Street Journal announced this week that for the first time since 2008 there were more voluntarily resignations than layoffs in February of this year.  The American perception is that the economy is improving.   In a poll conducted by human-resources consultant Right Management at the close of 2009, found that 60% of workers said they intended to leave their jobs when the market got better.  Social Recruiting has been the topic of conversation during the past month, and yet the concept and control surrounding social media is staring the majority of HR professionals, executives, and leaders in the face especially in this improving economy.

No one’s talking about it, and it’s time I helped change that.

And along with social media and control, the idea and understanding of how employee engagement plays a role also lingers.  While I whole heartedly support the social recruiting movement, I ask you, “Isn’t it easier to fix a leaky bucket first?”

I don’t have all the answers.  No one does.  In this new HR world, I call HR 3.0 things are turned upside down.  Companies are put to the test.  HR professionals must be apprised of things in real time and as they happen.  Managers, teams, and entry level employees must be trained in HR and PR crisis management situations.  In this new real-time world, decisions, responses, and engagement can’t wait.  Because the wrong decision could be detrimental to your brand.

All things–hiring, terminations, corrective action decisions, benefits campaigns, corporate communication, customer interactions must be scrutinized at even higher magnification in preparation for the possibility of some unknown or unforeseen situation.  How you react in times of crisis can escalate or deflate the situation and Dave’s situation although unfortunate is a prime example.

The Leaky Bucket Theory

The new HR 3.0 must be prepared to fill the leaky bucket by reacting strategically, quickly, and appropriately to additional situations like:

  • Confidentiality Breeches. Employee investigations must be conducted swiftly and thoroughly.  Social tools like Facebook, Twitter, and other networks allow information to spread virally without muttering a single word.  Might be time to update your Communications and Confidentiality policy.
  • Faux Brands. Are employees, customers, or competitors misrepresenting or managing your brand?  Probably so.  Sites like LinkedIn Groups, Facebook Groups, and Discussion Boards historically have no verification system in place.
  • Inaccurate Information. In this new HR 3.0 world, everyone is a citizen journalist with a public platform, website, or blog in which to voice their opinions, start conversations, and report news from their point of view accurately or inaccurately.  Companies and HR teams must work to over communicate all business decisions, changes, policies, and situations before and as they happen also providing the proper training to employees within their organization.

With HR 3.0 a change is coming where employees and consumers make the rules as a sort of new check and balance system culture.  A culture where complaints, conversations, and customer service can no longer be swept under the rug with a closed door conversation in an executive office and a shredder.  In this new world, companies choose to embrace and understand the change planning, anticipating, and welcoming customer and employee feedback.  Doing more than listening and creating an environment based on value and understanding.

Do you remember Leaky Lou from the Garbage Pail Kids?  I do.  Chances are your organization may be feeling exactly like he’s looking if you don’t start executing a leaky bucket strategy and fast.  Otherwise, it might just be your company’s cash flow that’s screeching to a halt, and that’s not exactly a good thing.

No one’s talking about it, and it’s time I helped change that.
Nadie está hablando de eso, y es hora de que ayude a cambiar eso.
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Jessica Miller-Merrell

Jessica Miller-Merrell

Jessica Miller-Merrell (@jmillermerrell) is a workplace change agent, author and consultant focused on human resources and talent acquisition living in Austin, TX. Recognized by Forbes as a top 50 social media influencer and is a global speaker. She’s the founder of Workology, a workplace HR resource and host of the Workology Podcast.

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