The HR Juggler

Archive for the ‘Social Media’ Category


Day 19 is written by my friend Anthony Allinson, who challenges, encourages and supports me, as well as often making me laugh. You can (occasionally!) find him on Twitter (@allinsona) and over on his blog.

Artwork for today (and every day!) is by the brilliant Simon Heath.


In 1986 I wrote an essay about the potential of the internet. It was hand written, and while I cannot remember the detail of what it said, I do recall the visceral excitement I felt as the revolutionary possibilities for sharing knowledge, connecting people and accelerating business dawned on me.

In 1996 I began to manage the web site for the Wildlife Trust my wife then worked for.  She was appalled by my use of animated GIFs to make their logo, a badgers head, rotate comically every few seconds.  On reflection I can see her point. Just because you can doesn’t mean you should.

In 1998 my daughter was born, I recorded the experience of our preparations in a log posted on the web. I shared the happy announcement of her birth with scanned polaroid photos within hours of Lydia being born.  She had a blog, we just didn’t know to call it that.

Since then my career has been truly global. I have colleagues scattered all over the world and have begun to learn the art of enabling mass collaboration by connecting community through technology all fueled by the magic of purpose.  It is great fun and I have made some wonderful friends in the process.

That’s all lovely isn’t it?

Well, no, not really, not all of it.

There are aspects of the new media that are poorly designed leading to some highly undesirable consequences. I have written a fair bit this year while I wrestled with the complexities of balancing the experience of joyful and open collaboration with the need to protect us from each other, from the motivations and dominance of a very few businesses and from ourselves.

I could bang on about how we give away our privacy, content, identity, location, presence and preferences for free in exchange for dopemine and adverts. I have done all that elsewhere.

Then there is the view that we should not have controls or be accountable. That is an attractive idea but it seems to be based on the assumption that on average, people are good. On average, people are pretty good. However averages are very dangerous. Bad people, that is a broad term, so for example the <1% of people that are psychopaths, love a free rein, places where accountability and control have been removed.  They tend to take over, the average counts for nothing.

It is how the banks were run and got out of control, we got a very nasty recession.

It is what happens when we remove democracy, we got Josef Stalin etc.

It is how the BBC was run, we got Jimmy Savile etc.

My stakes in the ground are these:

I’d pay for a service that gives me all the media features I am now used to, but allows me to own and control what is mine and express preferences about its use.

I will stop, think, debate and wrestle with the cultural challenges.  The dewy eyed, “It will all be fine because I mean well, and on average so does everybody else”, philosophy is not working. Some controls are essential.

How’s about that then. guys and gals?


One of the aspects I really enjoy about curating these blogs is that they bring me into contact with people I have not necessarily met or interacted with previously. Today’s post is written by Annette Hill, who can be found on Twitter as @familyhrguru and over on her blog.

Artwork for today (and every day!) by the brilliant Simon Heath.


At least one person reading this will know why I have chosen SoMe as a personal topic. In fact more than one, as I have shared my failure to grasp the blindingly obvious with a few colleagues now… Yes, I spent several weeks after I first heard the term, wondering what ‘SoMe’ was:

  • A new social media app I had not come across yet?
  • A special one for HR or L&D types?
  • A club I had not yet been invited into?
  • A club/app/group that was all about being ‘so me’ as in authentic, true to your values etc. (I really like that one, actually!)
  • I even Googled it, and was treated to the Wikipedia explanation of the meaning of the word ‘some’!

What makes this worse is that I love acronyms; an essential criteria for working in the public sector. I also have older teenage children who try to keep me up to speed! But clearly, I wasn’t getting it, and MRW (my reaction when) I found out what SoMe is short for was to hit my forehead in disbelief, whilst SMH (shaking my head.) Slightly easier than rubbing my tummy and patting my head at the same time.

Anyway, to return to SoMe (Social Media, of course!) and what I have learned and enjoyed in the 2 years since I joined Twitter, here is an attempt at the 12 days of SoMe and what it means to me.

On the 12th day of SoMe, my i-phone sent to me:

12 New Followers-a-Tweeting. It is always great to see new people following and to look at their profile and recent tweets then re-follow. I personally find those automated follow thanks, or apps that say how many followed, or unfollowed you somewhat soulless. Is SoMe really social if people use automation to reply instead of humanly (humanely) interacting by commenting personally?

11 Great people to follow. As above, there are so many people with such a breadth and diversity of views to share. It took me nearly 2 years to sort out the people and organisations I follow into Lists, so I can be discerning when I want to be.

10 Retweeted articles. I read articles from a broader range of newspapers and journals since I joined Twitter and I do try to avoid just reading from the sources whose views are most like mine.

9 Virtual learnings. Where to start? It’s great to be at events, but as an employed full-time person, I more often than not can’t be there, but I can still follow what’s going on.

8 HR Peeps-a-Sharing. I’m a bit biased about my profession, and this includes L&D and OD as well, but I think we are grasping the benefits and possibilities beautifully. We tend to be a gregarious lot. The trick is sharing more widely.

7 Bloggers-a-blogging. Writing a blog has been quite a scary step for me. I have been intermittent and sometimes lacking in inspiration, but my learning is to read and support loads of others and to keep going with my own.

6 Leaders-a-learning. SoMe is perfect for busy people with little time. I love the opportunity to dip in and out of the rich seam of information available. I also think all leaders should be learning all the time.

5 Facebook Memes. Some funnier than others, and apparently shared more by older Facebookers, according to my daughter. Maybe it’s my light relief from the (semi) professional use of Twitter, or maybe I don’t have much of a life…

4 LinkedIn invitations I haven’t really used LinkedIn as much as I could, and am still a bit unsure, especially when getting invites from people I don’t know and e-mail reminders to congratulate people I haven’t seen or interacted with in years for quite trivial things…

3 Annoying hashtags. Indeed, but for every #annoying one there is an #amusing one.

2 Retweeted comments. This is how I have found most of the new people to follow, and presumably that’s the whole point.

And an i-pad on my knee at all times. Oh, possibly a bad thing. Has my attention span shortened? Or has my ability to multi-task improved? We’ll see. This is why I am reading Daniel Goleman’s Focus, and in real book format…!


Today was the fourth ConnectingHR Unconference. I have attended two of the previous three unconferences and enjoyed them immensely, and today was no exception…in fact, it was particularly special and quite possibly the best one yet.

From the moment I arrived at the spruced-up Spring in Vauxhall, I was struck by the number of people who I didn’t recognise or previously know: of the 60 or so unconference attendees, at least half hadn’t attended anything similar before and many were new to ConnectingHR. The buzz of energy in the room was tangible as people focussed on getting to know each other, making connections and putting faces to names. From the start, it was clear that it was going to be a good day.

In a change to the usual unconference format, there was some structure to start the day (shock horror!) and we kicked off with a series of thought-provoking pecha kucha presentations on the theme of the power of a socially engaged organisation. From authentic personal perspectives on social media from Doug Shaw and Flora Marriott, to Phil Clothier’s insight into organisational values; from Jamie Priestly’s thoughts on HR metrics and the dangers of measuring everything possible without understanding the commercial and human reality, to real examples of how ThomsonReuters social platform is enabling conversation and community in the workplace…there was much to absorb, consider and debate. A particular highlight for me was Martin Couzins’s brilliantly inspired story of a socially engaged organisation, crowdsourced from Twitter. If I had one critique it would be that there were a few too many presentations to start the day, although the content was consistently excellent and the speakers engaging and succinct.

There then followed a world cafe brainstorming session, after which the ‘grid’ was populated with topics for discussion, which would form the basis of the afternoon’s agenda. Many of these topics were inspired by the content that was presented in the morning session, exploring and expanding the debate further. Whilst  it is accepted and encouraged for people to move between groups if they wish to during the breakout discussions, both of the ones I attended in the afternoon were so interesting that I stayed in the same group for the whole session…quite unusual for me and a sign of the quality of discussion and debate that took place. Interesting too, that the topics being discussed no longer revolve purely around social media, but have moved on to include a wide range of HR and business related issues. That is most definitely a good thing!

The day was wrapped up by a review of the artwork, a fantastic song by artist in residence, Tim Casswell and a demonstration by Darius from the Spring of how you can use your physical strength to dissipate and deflect conflict. And then, of course, the conversations continued over a glass (or in my case a mug – thanks Charlie!) of wine.

Lots to think about and I have been extremely fortunate to have enjoyed two such stimulating and enjoyable conferences over the last two days. For me, ConnectingHR remains a great way to meet interesting people, enjoy stimulating debate, become enthused and energised, learn from others, share knowledge and make friends. That, most certainly, makes for a great day.

The first time I heard of ConnectingHR was as a hashtag on Twitter. At that point, I didn’t even know what a hashtag was, far less how to use one or what ConnectingHR involved. What did become clear though, over the next few days and weeks, was that this is a collection of HR  (and some non-HR!) people who engage with each other on Twitter and other social sites, meet up regularly in person, reach out to and welcome newcomers and are not only adept at understanding the power and possibilities of social media, but incredibly generous in sharing their knowledge and expertise.

The first time I met anyone from ConnectingHR was at the first unconference. Faces became familiar, friendships were formed, my concept of networking and HR conferences was transformed and a journey began which led to me starting this blog the very next day. In the 18 months since then, the community of ConnectingHR has grown and evolved and the unconferences and tweet-ups continue to be a brilliant way of getting to know people and starting to understand a little more about how social media can impact and influence HR and business as a whole. It’s also worth noting that most mainstream conferences which talk about social media in HR invariably include individuals from ConnectingHR as speakers, panelists and presenters…and most are rather more pricey than the actual ConnectingHR unconferences ;).

The next ConnectingHR unconference takes place on 16th May 2012 and you can buy a ticket here. Even better, if you are new to all this and haven’t been to an unconference before, I have a free ticket to give away on my blog. Just leave a comment at the end of this post, and I will choose a winner at random on Friday 27th April. Yep, it really is that easy…I’m nice like that.

For those that like a little more detail, the theme for the unconference is: The Power of a Socially Engaged Organisation and there are some fantastic and knowledgeable conversation leaders attending, addressing topics such as –

  • How can organisations embrace social media/strategies internally to increase engagement?
  • What are the positive benefits and opportunities of embracing social and community strategies in organisations?
  • What tools are there to help increase collaboration and conversation in organisations?
  • Can a more social business create commercial value and increase engagement?
  • What alternatives are there to the traditional employee survey?

If you are looking for an event where you can met some great people, interact, engage, challenge, debate and learn, then look no further…book your ticket for ConnectingHR today or see if you can win a free one on here.

Really…what are you waiting for?!


This post is a bit extra-special for me, written as it is by the lovely Mervyn Dinnen. Encouraging, supportive, sociable and kind; until very recently Mervyn’s blog was the largest referer of web traffic to my blog, second only to Twitter and related applications. That perhaps provides some measure of the unstinting and vocal support he has always provided to me and others and for that I remain hugely appreciative.
I wholeheartedly recommend that you connect with Mervyn on Twitter (@MervynDinnen) and via his TRecs blog.
I entered 2011 with a mix of trepidation, concern and optimism. The business in which I had been working closed down at the end 2010, leaving me to job hunt at a time when jobs seemed in short supply.

Over the Xmas and New Year period I took the decision to embark on a social job hunt. It made sense to combine my growing interest (nay, obsession!) and belief in social media as the way to communicate with my years of recruiting experience…but the question would be, was anyone in the recruitment industry ready to take on someone to do a social media role?

I’m sure that most readers know that the quest was successful. The third party recruitment industry seemed uninterested in the possibilities offered by a social media person who knew about recruiting and could talk to clients and jobseekers…but Jobsite UK were!

And so my highlight of the year wasn’t just a new job, but a career change and an opportunity to create my own future in a developing area that opens many possibilities.

And it showed me that if you want to make a change then you really do need to have faith in your abilities.

I was very lucky and hope that the various friends of mine who are entering 2012 looking for new roles are as lucky too.

I also feel extremely lucky to have health, family and friends…something I had time to reflect on during my lowest point(s) of 2011.

Unfortunately these came when I attended not one but two funerals of friends. Both were women, both had sudden illnesses and were gone far too soon at ages when they should still be here to see their families grow into full adults. It wasn’t only these friends…I wrote a blog earlier this year – The Precariousness of Life – in which I told if the tragic passing of a young colleague and my sadness

If there’s one thing these events have taught me it is to cherish the time you spend with family and friends…it’s precious.

Many thanks to Alison for letting me post on her blog – a Merry and Joyous Christmas and a Healthy and Happy 2012 to all readers 🙂

So, I’ve never written a blog post quite like this one before…but I’m quickly learning that experimentation is a good thing… 😉

I’m hiring for a couple of roles in my HR team and I would love to be able to make my first social media hire. And clearly I’m biased, but I genuinely think they are great opportunities to work in a fantastic and friendly HR team and be part of a great business. All roles are London-based in our Farringdon office and I’d love to hear from you if you like the sound of one of them, or if you know someone who may be interested.

Interim Senior HR Manager (12 months) – £45k

This is a generalist role, working closely with the sales team and managing an HR Advisor and HR Assistant. ER issues, change management, influencing at a senior level, setting and driving the HR  agenda for this area will be dynamic and exciting and will require someone with strong experience of generalist HR roles, potentially also with a sales organisation.

HR Assistant – £20k 

This is a great starter HR role for someone who ideally has at least a little work experience already and wants to develop their career in HR. The role will cover all of the payroll and benefits administration, as well as providing a great introduction to all aspects of HR. We have a great track record of really developing our HR Assistants and many of them stay with us and progress to HR Advisor or Manager level, or often beyond.

PA – £22k

I’m a little shy about this role as it’s for me and I definitely need some organising! Diary management, travel, administration, projects and all round life-enhancing organisation skills…oh yes and a fabulous boss, obviously 😉

So, that’s it. A very different blog post and quite an experiment to see if I get any good CVs. I would truly love to recruit someone via a recommendation of one of you lovely blog readers or via Twitter or LinkedIn…and I will of course keep you posted!

You can connect with me on here or on Twitter (@AlisonChisnell) or on LinkedIn…I’d love to hear from you!

This weekend marks my first ‘blogday’, the anniversary of my first post, written as a direct result of the first ConnectingHR Unconference.  I’m amazed that it has already been a year and I can honestly say that although I embarked on blogging with little thought to where it would lead me, I have really enjoyed writing regularly and found it a real source of personal development and support.

Why Do I Blog?

  • I like articulating my thoughts and experiences and find it makes me reflect on them more deeply than I otherwise might have done
  • It’s a great way of engaging with like-minded people
  • I enjoy the creative process
  • Getting feedback and comments on posts helps me to explore my thoughts around a topic and often adds many dimensions that I have not even considered
  • It’s fun and enjoyable…and possibly a little addictive once you’ve started 😉

Some Facts and Figures

I originally started my blog on Posterous and moved to this WordPress platform at the end of November 2010. Since this time I have had 11,285 individual hits on this site, with the highest daily traffic peaking at 260 views and the busiest month of September 2011 bringing in 1,694 hits. I have written a total of 73 posts and have an amazing 570 comments, although that includes my own responses. All of this is obviously small-fry in comparison to many other blogs out there, but I’m really proud of the way this site has developed and hugely grateful to all of you who take the time to read and comment.

The most popular posts are not always the ones I would have expected, but for those interested in having a browse through some of the archives or just plain curious, the most-read ones are as follows –

Title   Views
Home page More stats 2,983
LinkedIn: 5 Reasons Why I Won’t Connect More stats 505
My First Year on Twitter: Lessons Learned And Questions Asked More stats 410
Four New HR Blogs to Brighten Your January! More stats 251
Breaking The Ice More stats 238
The Art of Conversation More stats 237
Why Are HR The Worst People Managers Of All? More stats 234
To TheHRD With Love and Thanks More stats 225
ConnectingHR: The Best Kept Secret in HR Networking More stats 223
Back to School More stats 217

So, all that remains is to say thank you. For reading, for commenting, for making suggestions, for challenging and most of all for encouraging…I appreciate it enormously.

Let’s see if I can make it to my second blogday 🙂



I have acquired a bit of a taste for experimenting recently and have set up a new Twitter account and blog that are entirely separate to my usual professional/personal Twitter handle of @AlisonChisnell and this HRJuggler blog. The subject matter is so separate that it really didn’t make any sense to combine them and there is very little cross-over in terms of individuals I follow or followers…the sum total of two people, in fact!

It has been fascinating to do and I wanted to share some of what I am learning here.

  • Starting over on Twitter is hard, even if you do know what you are doing…trying to tap into hashtags that group the information that you are interested in takes some investment in terms of time and effort
  • Not all topics have a ready built community.
  • Networks and engagement take time to build. It is relatively easy to find people who tweet out links of useful stuff, but far harder to identify people who are genuinely interesting, interested and keen to engage in conversation
  • Following is easy, encouraging people to follow back is sometimes trickier. If after a couple of attempts to engage in conversation, they don’t respond or follow back, then their content has to be really good for me to continue following. This has made me also re-evaluate how often I follow back on my main account and resolve to do so on the first contact.
  • Blogging is the same process, whether or not anyone reads what you write. When a post on the new blog attracts more than a handful of readers and any comments, I am genuinely delighted.  It makes me more appreciative and reminds me how far this blog has come
  • The experience you have in using Twitter is pretty much defined by the calibre of people you follow and those that follow you. The former generates interesting and thought-provoking content for your timeline, the latter is predominantly where engagement and interaction lies.
  • In order to keep improving my new user experience, I have been open-minded and proactive about who I follow, and also reasonably disciplined in unfollowing those whose tweets are not of interest to me, are overwhelming in volume or simply annoying
  • No surprise, the best source of new tweeps to follow comes from looking at the ‘following’ lists of the people who I enjoy following.

So, it has been and continues to be an interesting experience and one that I would recommend to anyone, not least because it helps to contextualise why many people are initially wary or unconvinced about using Twitter. And it is very good practice to go back to the beginning and start over…and see what else you learn!

Have you started over lately? I’d love to hear from you.

So last week I ran this blog’s first ever competition, to win a free ticket to the ConnectingHR Unconference on 20th October. If it were up to me I would love for all eight of the applicants to be able to attend…however, I only have one to give away and the random number generator pronounced the winner to be Beth Baume aka @BettyBBlonde. If for any reason Beth cannot make the event, I will repeat the same process with the remaining individuals who expressed an interest in attending.

There is some good news for everyone else too though. There will be further chances to win free tickets to this fantastic event –  all you have to do is to follow @ConnectingHR on Twitter and keep a close watch on the tweets. Then as soon as they announce further free tickets, go straight to the eventbrite page and register for a ‘free twitter follow swag ticket.’ It will literally be first come first served!

Exciting times. If you haven’t bought your ticket for the event yet, please do so here – you won’t regret it!

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