A fresh take on ideas and trends in Human Capital

Ask Me About Trigonometry, I Dare You.

I’m pretty alright at maths. I’m not brilliant, I’m not terrible, overall I’

(image source)

I’m pretty alright at maths. I’m not brilliant, I’m not terrible, overall I’d say I’m pretty average at it. When I was taking my Maths at secondary school I managed to achieve a B and that was probably the last time I was assessed on my maths skill, I remember while studying for that I spent a good 2-3 months learning trigonometry. While trigonometry is a very important aspect of maths I don’t recall using it since then. This isn’t to say it isn’t useful in everyday life I know it can be, what I’m saying is I’d definitely need to look it up to understand it again but according to my qualifications I am qualified to some level in trigonometry.

How familiar does this sound? Did you maybe get trained in something 3 years ago through work and now couldn’t tell me anything about it? This seems to be inconsistent throughout careers. Lawyers are expected to practice and display they’re ability until they’re qualified. Pilots have to register a certain amount of flight hours under supervision until they can fly solo. Doctors not only have to practice within a medical setting for several years until they become a doctor and even then they have to keep up to date with the most modern medical practice. I think you’d find it disturbing if your doctor was still using an out-dated surgery practice. But within more office based careers it appears once you’ve been trained in it that’s that and you’ve learnt it. Maybe it’s because the outcome wouldn’t be as fatal that more importance is placed on the former examples but really maintaining learning practices in any career would promote good practice.

Keeping up to date with learning means that an individual is constantly aware of what gaps are in their knowledge and what they are succeeding at. This clearly aids they’re development and engages with the task at hand, whether this is their career, education or even sport. For an organisation this is important as a lot of data can be gathered on the hundreds, or thousands, or employees they have and without a system in place alienation of employees can happen resulting in a drop in performance. Anybody that cares about their career wants to improve themselves and an organisation needs to facilitate that else that person may move there career somewhere else. By analysing the gaps in someone’s learning means plans can be tailored towards them to keep themselves up to date as well as the organisation. The organisation may also benefit from monitoring trends of the training needs in their workforce.

Nobody has asked me about trigonometry since I was 16 and as a result I’ve near enough forgotten about it. An organisation’s Learning Management System (LMS) would keep track of important information, whether secondary school maths is included there depends on your organisation I guess. A LMS can notify, can monitor progress and can then offer training needs. It’s important to highlight that simply sitting in a talk for 3 hours doesn’t mean you’re trained in that subject, employees need constant engagement if they are to be motivated in their development. A LMS is a great connector of data, it can work at all levels of an organisation and will operate continuously. Very much like a social network it will interact with the behaviour that an employee is displaying and adapt, if training is being done in that area that LMS will pick up on it. This is a great improvement from ticking a form and filing it away, this can be constantly interacted with and acted upon. This connection can even start from before an employee even works for the organisation, using an Applicant Tracking System you can gather all the essential data on a candidate and once they’re successful this can be directly transferred to the LMS. Think about that, it means from day one that employee has development needs and the organisation would be able to address them straight away. An employee can only succeed so far without support from their organisation, now imagine there being the exact right support from day one.

In the world of HR data now if you’re not moving forward you’re moving backwards. Keeping updated with demand and what is required of an organisation is critical if you want to succeed and reach the potential of your organisation. This is even becoming true for some Learning Management Systems, the Blackboard system I only know too well from my university days is always starting to be replaced at some American colleges because it’s become unsatisfactory. Paying attention and developing people within an organisation has always been important but now the technology is here to take that development to a whole new level.

The Perception of Biscuits

I’m a psychologist. To some that is just a statement about my profession but to a lot of peopl


I’m a psychologist. To some that is just a statement about my profession but to a lot of people that can sometimes be an invitation to share their opinion, psychology after all is at its very least an interesting topic. At university when I said I studied psychology I would receive responses that varied from “are you reading my mind” to “well that’s not a real subject though”. It seems that psychology is always a spark that sets off people’s opinions that vary to a surprising degree and that as a psychologist is what interests me. It’s the perception held by people that makes me love psychology so much, there are 7 billion people on this planet and 7 billion views of the world.

Take for example the humble chochy biscuit, which side is the top? Is it the chocolate side or the biscuit side? I always maintained that it was the chocolate side but then someone pointed out to me after 22 years of living that the writing (on the biscuit) would be on the top and that means you taste the chocolate on your tongue first. My mind was blown, I had never seen it from that point of view before and while I might not agree I welcomed the alternative viewpoint. This is what makes people people, how is it possible that someone’s favourite movie is Titanic and someone else thinks it’s terrible? It’s the perception and the development of that perception throughout life that forms this.

Now understanding this can lead to something brilliant, primarily in innovation. At one point someone came along and saw everyone rewinding the video and went why don’t you just use a DVD instead? These kind of innovations kick start amazing revolutions in behaviour and perception that benefit every aspect of our lives today with clear examples like the iPhone and digital music.

The problem with trying to achieve a perception change is that ignorance is bliss. This is a challenge for two reasons; first being that it is very difficult to target and change something you’re not aware of and the other being that changing perception shatters a world perception someone has and that can lead to fear and resistance. These challenges happen to be some of the most difficult obstacles in the HR world when coordinating employees.

Employees come into organisations with something set in their mind but almost all of them will say their perception of their role changes after a few months. This is an example of this perception change that can cause fear and resistance for an employee if not handled correctly. Furthermore if an employee doesn’t realise they have an issue, or doesn’t believe the people that tell them then there is next to no chance they’ll make a behaviour change. Luckily there are several HR solutions to accommodate for these transitions. An example of this is McDonald’s recognising the negative stereotype their employees had and targeting it with the McJobs campaign.

HR Technology can also offer these solutions and can target the issues accompanied with perception change very effectively. Psychometrics can analyse a person’s behaviour, motivations and thinking to a highly specific detail; when this is done right it uses rigorous scientific methods that produces robust results. This makes information clearer to an individual that may be unaware of these aspects, psychometrics take away the subjectivity of perception and can ground people by giving them a perception of themselves that isn’t filtered through the subjectivity of someone else. The other benefit of using this HR technology is that is has no agenda except to develop the individual, used correctly by a HR team these technologies will only seek to help the individual. Helping this individual might mean that it identifies they’re in a career they’re not motivated for or that they require training needs and that individual knows that it isn’t someone being bitter about their performance. By making the employee development as objective as possible it can open the eyes of employees and see their world from another angle. However, this doesn’t necessarily mean or require change sometimes simply having a different angle on the world is enough. Incidentally I still eat the biscuit with the chocolate on top.

The 3D Employee

Well Leicester City pulled a surprising one and now Gary Lineker has to honour some commitments he m

Well Leicester City pulled a surprising one and now Gary Lineker has to honour some commitments he made. I’m not a massive football fan but even I can enjoy a good Cinderella story, mainly because this demonstrates that talent and teamwork can overcome lavish spending. It’s nice to see that a bit of optimism doesn’t always hurt and can get some nice solid results out of it. One challenge for the optimist is that people will say that’s all well and good but in the real world where does that get you? Well, in this case it seemed to get them the Premiere Trophy (at least I think it’s a trophy from my limited football knowledge).

I have no doubt that their success will be made into a documentary and maybe even turned into a movie at some point. The triumph of a team that collectively cost less than some of the simple players from the major teams is clearly inspiring because that means there is more than just funding involved, it takes investment of effort to make a success. While in this case funding does seem to be the major reason for succeeding (Leicester has only won once after all) it demonstrates that possibly there has been over spend and that utilising other key elements means that a project can be successful for less.

If you take a football team and see it as a work project, compare the funding given and it becomes clear that the other “projects” are sponging up expenses. It is clear to all project managers that there is never one factor that makes a project a success, it is a combination that brings it forth. One reason why humans are so brilliant at this is because they are a merge of so many factors like talents, hobbies and ambition; now if you put a group of people together all these factors are multiplied and you now have a vast intricate team to make that project with.

An employee is more than just their job title, they have families, cultures and a distinct personality that adds to the mix. This takes the traditional view of an employee as an isolated person that leaves their life at the door and makes them a multiple dimension being. With the merge of work and life this change isn’t much of a surprise but the question is whether your organisation is prepared to embrace those dimensions that that person is made up of.

Particularly as we know these people will be working with equally complex people, is effort being made to look past the job title and see the 3D employee in your organisation? This can be done in several ways, measuring personality, identifying suitable colleagues, aligning values of the organisation and making considerations for the work-life balance. Once these things are understood funding can start to be invested into the right areas as opposed to just being given and hoping for the best. Putting the effort in to understanding where the demand is and satisfying it will result in a return in investment.

Of course, this is no easy task. People change as do organisations and it would need to be a continuous process. Targeting the right areas will make it a smoother process in the long run and it might develop a culture for continuous success that requires less effort with time. That said everyone must face a choice between doing what is right and what is easy when it comes to making a change and despite the challenges that were clearly in front of them, Leicester City did what was right.


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