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#HRTechChat Preview: Thinking in Gray

Preferences are like opinions: Everyone has one. Preferences in HR technologies, as well as the thinking behind those preferences, constitute the theme of this week’s #HRTechChat. We want to know your HR technology preferences. We want to test your preferences against others’ preferences. We’re curious what sounds good to you. With HR technology preferences, we see a slew of black-and-white thinking, yet the workable solutions swim in the gray….and in the gray matter.
 
First, a short story that inspired today’s #HRTechChat…
 
The Graveyard Shift Metaphor
 
Tate, #HRTechChat Co-host Brent Skinner’s fiance’s oldest son, just turned 18 years old and just got a job working the graveyard shift. Tate will soon have his driver’s license and own vehicle. Till then, Brent has been giving Tate lifts home weekdays at 6am. The early-morning rides, a half hour each way, are fine with Brent. Besides, he and Tate share interesting conversations on the way home. Thursday’s was a good example and provided the grayish metaphor for #HRTechChat Episode Twenty-Seven. ...
 
There’s Just You and Me, and We Just Disagree
 
That’s a lyric from a song by Dave Mason, a minor guitar god of the 1970s era. If you like electric guitar, you probably have a favorite player, and a pantheon of guitar gods together populates the annals of popular and not-so-popular music. Some are unsung heroes. Others get all the accolades, perhaps more than they deserve. Still others enjoy some recognition, but far less than they deserve. And some never achieve an iota of fame, yet might be better than any better-known player. And all this recognition or lack thereof, mixed up with preferences and opinions, results in a teeming backstory of fans filled at once with joy and envy and excitement and acrimony.
 
Just go to YouTube, to see what we mean. Tate and Brent got to talking about all those YouTube videos of guitar gods and about the comment wars that arise there whenever someone denigrates another’s favorite guitar god. The flurry of name-calling that peppers these unfriendly debates reaches a tempest almost every time. But all these guitar gods, we agreed, bring joy, in a kaleidoscope of ways, to their fans. To say one guitar god is superior to another’s favorite is a senseless exercise in trying to quantify taste, where black-and-white thinking has no place. Preferences run the gamut. Let’s all just live together in peace.
 
Then, we pulled into the driveway. ...
 
Thinking in Gray
 
A similar gamut of preferences pervades HR technology, and without a healthy dose of gray, lends itself to black-and-white thinking—a shortcut in problem-solving. Rather than unearth social media's best applications, for instance, it’s easier to say social media has no place in human capital management—or that it has a place in every single aspect of human capital management. Much of the black-and-white thinking stems from excitement or fear (or both) over new technologies that, yes, promise to transform the human resource function. We’re dazzled by them. We’re startled by them. We latch on to our favorites, ignoring the rest. Or we ignore it all. Consider:

  • Don’t on-premise HR technologies have positive attributes still not exhibited by technologies in the cloud? Or is going into the cloud better than remaining on-premise every time, end of discussion?
  • Is an all-in-one talent acquisition platform de facto preferable to a solution pieced together from many parts? Are all legacy applicant tracking systems bad, no matter what?
  • Isn’t there a place still for the old-style LMS? Are there compliance issues at play? Or is all of employee learning best served today through social media?
  • You don’t need technology for employee engagement or recognition, right? Right?
  • How can we possibly leave any element of HR technology bereft of mobile enablement? After all, every employee is mobile now, or will be soon, yes?
  • How can you possibly conduct a proper employee assessment without technology? Employee assessment is always better with technology involved. Isn’t it?

The gray in those questions, and others, is palpable. Your answers to them might depend on your preferences, and your preferences may depend on the amount of gray in your thinking and the lack of black unmixed with white or vice versa.
 
#HRTechChat Episode Twenty-Seven: Join Us Friday 8/10 @ 2pm ET / 11am PT
 
Let’s not get into a comment war about all this stuff, OK? There’s a lot of solid, respectable thinking in gray that goes into those preferences. For this week’s #HRTechChat, let’s delve into all the grayness; let’s get past the dogma and into the thinking behind the preferences. Welcome back, by the way. The week off was rejuvenating. Are you looking for today’s questions? We’re going to make it a little different today: Scroll back up to that bulleted list. Starting at about 2pm ET / 11am PT today, versions of those, and other questions, will begin to go live by way of tweets from @TalentMgmtTech. We’ll see you there!