The HR Juggler

Posts Tagged ‘Blog

I haven’t blogged in a little while. I haven’t blogged with anything approaching unconscious competence for even longer. I have had an unofficial blogging pause.

When I first started blogging, I felt that I had really found my voice, a rediscovered pleasure in articulating thoughts creatively in writing, a renewed confidence in performing my role and a sense of belonging in the wider HR community.

It’s tricky to put my finger on what has changed lately. A hugely enjoyable stint of guest posts during Advent inadvertently led to me temporarily losing the blogging habit and becoming fatigued with the daily discipline. A couple of posts published that I knew were below my best knocked my confidence a little. And perhaps more than anything else, a start to the year that felt as professionally tough as the one that had just ended.

But, wallowing is as overrated as it is ridiculous, so I’m back – refreshed and ready to write more frequently again. 

A pause to any activity is helpful in considering whether to continue, how you want to shape your contribution, what you value and miss about it. For me, blogging has always been one of the best ways I know of expressing my opinions, reflecting on my own development, values and priorities…and I do firmly believe that when I am regularly blogging I am better at my job, more self-aware, more creative and more energised.

So, that’s me, back in the blogging saddle, meatier posts to follow. Feels good already :).

P.S. Of course it’s half-full!

So, last month last year, I ran a series of guest posts on the theme of 2011 Highlights and Horrors, which formed an Advent Calendar of blogs. A New Year should undoubtedly be more about looking forward, rather than harking back to what has been…and yet there have been many powerful points of learning for me in the experience of facilitating this experiment, that will influence how I move forward in 2012.

These then are my learnings and my own inspirations from your fantastic contribution of blogs:

Experimentation can result in amazing and unforseen consequences. Approaching tasks differently is immensely powerful and is something I want to do a lot more of, not only in blogging, but also in professional and personal spheres. Making suggestions without fear of failure, trying new ideas without concern for what might go wrong and giving the benefit of the doubt to the best possible outcome can undoubtedly transform everyday thinking and decision processes. That the entire advent calendar series evolved from a single tweet in (very!) late November, asking if anyone would be willing to contribute a guest post, is testament to the power of Twitter and also the wonderful creative force that collaboration can bring.

Openess leads to opportunity. With only a handful of exceptions, I did not ask anyone directly to contribute a guest post; it was truly crowd-sourced and available to anyone who wished to participate. Whilst it felt daunting in the very early days of December to have only a day or two of posts in advance, it undoubtedly led to a richer and more diverse end result. Some of the people who contributed were new connections who I came to know as a result of the experiment; others, like my sister-in-law, I have known for many years.

Collaboration. Asking people for help and inviting them to contribute is a powerful action. Allowing and enabling them to be a part of and influence the end result, undoubtedly enhanced the overall achievement. Together, we become more than the sum of our parts and I’d definitely like to do more of this type of collaboration not only on the blog, but also at work and at home, where asking for help can seem more problematic and difficult…perhaps I am simply more set in my ways in those contexts…;)

Consistency of delivery. It was a great feeling as the month progressed that people started to share links to posts before I had tweeted them. It was very important to me that the posts were similar to an advent calendar, in that they were available to consume and enjoy from early morning onwards. And, now that I have found the scheduling button on my blog, I shall be using it more frequently…which can only be a good thing for ongoing quality control :).

The guest posts themselves were varied, diverse and I genuinely enjoyed reading and publishing every single one of them. I am particularly proud that over a quarter of the posts were written by individuals who had never blogged before and felt inspired to share their highs and lows of 2011. To me, that made the experiment extra special and worthwhile.

In terms of the measurables, my blog had its busiest month ever in December, with 3,962 views, more than double my previous monthly record. Below are the ten most read posts of the month, as of 30th December 2011 – impressive again how many new bloggers are in this list.

Title Views
Day 12: Reflections of an HRD More stats 290
Day 13: An Emotional Rollercoaster More stats 192
Day 15: Failure, Courage and Happy Endings More stats 168
Day 21: A Christmas Carol Concert More stats 165
Day 8: Merry Christmas…A Hindu Perspective More stats 140
Day 6: Sinead Carville’s Highlights and Horrors of 2011 More stats 123
Day 10: All Change Please More stats 122
Day 19: It’s Not About The Money, Money, Money… More stats 119
2011 Highlights and Horrors: Guest Post from Kate Griffiths-Lambeth More stats 118
Day 7: Hopes and Fears More stats 104
Day 14: Breakthrough More stats 104

Hosting so many wonderful guest posts has inspired me to keep writing…not necessarily more frequently (daily posting is hard work!) but to grow this blog in terms of high-quality, thought-provoking posts. At the end of 2010, I resolved to blog more and better…I suspect that 2012 may be the year of blogging slightly less and yet better still…continuous improvement is certainly my aim ;).

I have had a huge amount of positive feedback on the Advent blogs, which I have appreciated hugely. Thanks so much for your part in making it a success!

 
 
At the half-way point of this Advent calendar of blog posts, it is worth remembering that personal reflection is not everyone’s cup of tea and that we all approach things differently.
 
The extent to which you are familiar with Neil Morrison, author of today’s post, will determine how much of an introduction this post requires: if you are fortunate enough to interact with him regularly on Twitter (@NeilMorrison) and via his Change-Effect blog, then this post needs no preamble and may indeed induce some fond nostalgia for bygone blogging days.
 
For anyone who does not know Neil…….hmmm……what is the usual catch-all of a disclaimer? Oh yes, “views expressed are not my own”….that’ll do nicely!

You have been warned!!

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So 2011 eh? What a year….it ranks up there with 1994, 2002 and 1864 don’t you think? Quite incredible……….  I was going to tell you about loads of semi interesting things that have happened to me during the year, but to be honest you wouldn’t give a shit and….to be honest…….I wouldn’t blame you for that.

The turning of a year always causes us to reflect. In essence, this reflection is an attempt to put meaning on a series of meaningless events that in rank up there with paint drying, nail clippings and conference speeches on social media when it comes to levels of interest.  The fact is that most of us have done nothing remarkable, will do nothing remarkable and are by our very existence…..are……..unremarkable.

Woah…..so this is supposed to be an uplifting blog right?

Wrong. I’m not the wind beneath your wings. I’m the hunter with the shotgun ready to blow a hole in your side. Because that wind….it is hot air and nonsense and you need to come down to the ground tout de suite and with a whopping great force that will separate your head from your arse.

The thing is about life though, the wonderful thing, is that as we count our life in time, as we draw judgment on our existence based on artificial segmentations of nature we are blessed that where there is an end there is a start. Which means we get a do-over every single year. Result.

Which is exactly why you need to stop navel gazing and why you need to stop trying to explain away your frankly embarrassing inertia and general apathy and focus on doing something AMAZING. Something that will blow the whole show up and make a REAL difference. 

I can guarantee right now, that we each have at least three things that we aren’t doing that we want to do. And we aren’t doing them because we are scared, pitiful little wretches looking for existence in the mundane and the ordinary.  But we CAN be different. We WANT to be different. And for our sanity, our health and our happiness we NEED to be different.

So I’m going to ask you not to look back at 2011. We know that was a limp wrist of a year.  Look to 2012.  And don’t give me some balls about, “because” or “however” or “but” or “can’t” or “would”……the moment you use those words you are already consigning yourself to the dustbin marked mediocre.

We know the economics, we know the politics, we know the total fuck up of a world that we are living in.  You know what is going to get us through? People being amazing, not mediocre.

YOU define your realities, YOU define your existence, YOU make your future. And you do it through your actions.

2011 is history, 2012 is the future. Where you focus is your choice.  Make a good one.

Oh….and a very happy New Year to you all…….

 

I have had a wonderfully generous response to my recent blogging challenge of providing reflective guest posts about your Highlights and Horrors of 2011. So much so, that I’ve decided to be brave and commit to doing an Advent Calendar of blog posts…posting every day from the 1st December until Christmas Eve.
 
Now, I’m really hoping that a lot of these will be guest posts from you lovely lot, interspersed with some of my usual posts and musings. So, if you have already said that you will think about guest blogging for me, please, please do so and once you have written a post, send it on to me and I’ll be delighted to publish it. And if we haven’t spoken about it yet, but you’d like to write a guest blog, then yes please – I’d be delighted :).
 
What more to say except…let the countdown begin!
 
 
 

 

 
 

 

So, last week was my blog experiment, where I wrote each day on topics with the highest votes, suggested by others. The original motivation for the experiment was to cure a temporary sense of writer’s  block, but I found that I experienced and learnt much more besides.

On a pure measurement level, it was interesting to see what changed and what didn’t. The traffic to my blog increased substantially – but given that I usually post once or twice a week, that was no surprise. When I look at the overall page views for last week though, what is striking is that most posts get around the same number of views, with two exceptions, which were retweeted and then viewed by people outside of my usual network.  In the interest of transparency, you can see the posts which received the most views below –

Whilst it is probably true that titles of blogs make a difference, there was also a huge increase to blog traffic in some ‘power’ RTs – it was notable with the ‘Why Are HR The Worst People Managers Of All?’ post that once the CIPD retweeted it, it led to a spike in page views and further RTs. Similarly ‘The Only Person Who Really Looks After Your Career Is Yourself’ was retweeted by @Jobsitejobs, leading to increased readership.

What else changed? I gained around 30 new followers, certainly more than an average week and my Klout score increased by 5 (I’m sure it will drop back soon enough ;)). I was fortunate to have some great comments on all of the posts that I wrote, but the numbers of comments are broadly in line with what I am lucky enough to usually expect. Perhaps interesting to note, there were no new subscribers to my blog during the experiment.

So these may be the ‘tangibles’ in terms of what can be measured, but of course the real story and learning for me goes much deeper than that. My main reflections are as follows –

  • Rather than writer’s block, what I was really experiencing was a dip in creativity and lack of inspiration of topics to blog about. Whilst I worried that I was being lazy asking others for ideas, what I discovered was that people were keen to contribute ideas and thoughts
  • Through blogging on topics that were not originally mine, I stretched myself out of my comfort zone, which felt at times nerve-wracking, but ultimately rewarding
  • The topics that were suggested were almost all completely different to anything that I had previously considered writing about
  • I loved the interactive process of asking for ideas and getting people to vote on them
  • I have huge respect for individuals who blog on a daily basis in addition to busy, demanding day jobs…doing it for one week was just about fine, but it hasn’t tempted me to make it a permanent commitment!
  • I missed the reflection time between blogs
  • I am not by nature an experimenter…but found I enjoyed it and learned from it
  • My readership may be small compared to many others, but I’m truly appreciative of the support and level of engagement I receive. Small but perfectly formed, perhaps?!

So, all in all, I enjoyed last week very much and will continue to reflect on the experience and learning I gained from it. I’d love to hear your thoughts as well.

 

So, following on from yesterday’s post on my big blogging experiment, the time to vote is here! Below are the fantastic topics that have been generated, so please vote for your favourite. I’m genuinely excited about doing this experiment next week and love the encouragement and support that it has generated – thank you.

As a reminder, I will blog about the 5 topics that receive the most votes and will be publishing from Sunday evening onwards throughout next week.

Watch this space!

 

Blogging energises me. For me, there is a definite correlation between my general sense of personal and professional well-being and how inclined I feel to write on my blog.

Lately I have a minor case of blogger’s block, so in true Twitter style I asked for inspiration from the good people of #connectinghr. And as usual they rose to the occasion and unleashed a wave of ideas. Thanks to @MattWarrener, @SpeccyWoo, @BettyBBlonde and @ChangeContinuum, they provided the following eclectic inspirations –

– Why is HR the brake and not the accelerator and how does it need to change?

– Training has absolutely no ROI other than as a placebo

– HR is a band-aid to imperfect organisations and they are minded to keep them that way

– Why are HR the worst people managers of all?

– If you had to axe one function in your business which one would it be?

– Why don’t more execs blog?

– The morals of being forced to interview someone because of the colour of their skin

– Which members of Take That were better looking in 2004 and in 2011?

All of these got me thinking: about the topics themselves, the creativity of those individuals providing them and more than anything else about the power of collaboration to inspire and lift you out of a temporary rut.

So, as of next week I am going to undertake a blogging experiment and tackle one of these each day to write about. Please also feel free to contribute any other suggested topics in the comments below, however frivolous or intellectually challenging (!!) and they will also go into the mix. Once I work out the wordpress voting widget, I will also ask for your collaboration in helping to choose the top 5 blogging topics for next week ;).

A lazy way of generating topic ideas? Possibly. A fun way of getting me back into the blogging habit? Absolutely!

I await your suggestions with anticipation…thank you!

One of the things I enjoy most about being on Twitter is the number of thought-provoking, current, informative, funny and entertaining blogs I regularly read. Of course, there is no need to be on Twitter to access these; however the comments and sharing of links remind me to check for updates and points me towards the latest posts, as well as leading me to discover ‘new’ blogs. There are some blogs that I come back to again and again and always read, others that I dip in and out of depending on the topic.

The list of my favourites is by no means exhaustive and is only very loosely grouped for ease of reference. I have only included blogs that are regularly updated and have posted within the last month (although I love some of the more sporadic bloggers too!) and for the most part have excluded those that are promoting businesses. But these are some of the blogs that I really do love to read –

HR/Generalist Blogs

  • Neil Morrison’s Change-Effect: a thought-provoking, at times provocative and always articulate discussion of some of the big organisational HR issues around at the moment
  • Doug Shaw’s What Goes Around Refreshing, innovative, passionate and thought-provoking…sometimes even with music too 🙂
  • Emma (@onatrainagain) who has recently moved her excellent blog to My Blog, My Rules (check out her old blog here)
  • Kevin Ball’s People Matters A brilliant and talented writer about leadership, people and HR, I will buy his book when he finally writes one!
  • Karen Wise has a different kind of HR  experience to me, mostly working in the NHS, and her blog is both insightful and entertaining
  • Rick’s Flip Chart Fairy Tales is not just HR (sometimes not HR at all!), but also a mix of politics, current affairs and occasionally poetry. His incredibly well-researched articles are fantastic at simplifying and demystifing complicated issues

Learning & Development/Coaching

  • Sukh Pabial’s Thinking About Learning Insightful, intelligent and often highly informative on all things learning and development and occupational psychology…and a good deal more besides
  • Rob Jones Masters or Bust blogs about his masters degree, leadership and development and addresses some really thought-provoking issues
  • Christine Livingstone A Different Kind of Work Another hugely talented writer who addresses work/life balance and creates some fantastic blog posts to inspire, challenge and debate

Recruitment

  • Katie McNab’s RecruitGal Blog is a great read for her insight into the recruitment industry
  • Mervyn Dinnen T Recs blogs not only about recruitment but about social media in general, often with some very cool accompanying music videos
  • Gary Franklin has a huge amount of interesting things to say about recruitment, work, customer service and lots of other things besides

Life/Parenting

  • Jane Blackmore’s hilarious Northern Mummy with Southern Children just has me in stitches most of the time…except for when she makes me cry with some of her more touching posts.
  • Keith’s Reluctant House Dad blog narrates his role-swap with his wife, who is now the main bread-winner. Funny, relevant and entertaining.
  • Rob Harrison’s Thinking Fox deals with divorce, parenting, the critical role of Dads and many other topics in an excellent blog
  • SpeccyWoo’s Straightforwardly Me is random, entertaining and funny.  I particularly enjoy the insights into his domestic bliss 🙂
  • Mel Buckenham’s Random Lightbulb Moments is a great read and never fails to cheer me up and more often than not, make me laugh out loud.
There are also lots of non-UK HR blogs I enjoy reading…perhaps a post for another time 😉
I’d love to hear about your favourite blogs…the only rule is that you’re not allowed to nominate your own!

I’m in the mood for being really honest today, partly inspired by Emma’s excellent post about wearing masks. Lately I’ve felt in a bit of a rut blogging-wise. There, I’ve said it!! I’m struggling to find the time, feeling dissatisfied with what I write and irritatingly preoccupied with page views….sad but true!!!

I know lots of people on Twitter guard their ‘personal brand’ very closely and seem to resist saying anything that isn’t positive and upbeat, but I don’t really buy into that. I think honesty often goes a long way in helping to define and articulate where I’m at and gives me the push to move myself forward.

So, here are some of the reasons I’m finding it tough to blog at the moment –

  • time (lack of!)
  • I’m often very tired, work has been extraordinarily intense lately
  • Lots of the things I’m doing at the moment are fascinating but too commercially sensitive to blog about
  • I think I haven’t quite addressed the huge shift in my working/home life since I’ve taken on new role and new working pattern
  • I had a very productive January on my blog and its hard to remember that blogging has peaks and troughs

My conclusion though is that I am going to try something a bit radical and see if I can blog my way out of it! I still love blogging and I think more than anything else, the discipline of doing it is beneficial for acknowledging whats important and making the time to reflect on things. There have been some great posts about why people blog and also a very recent one about the HRD’s decision to stop blogging, but not many that I have seen about overcoming blog apathy, getting stuck in blog ruts and bloggers block….which I am pretty sure we all suffer from time to time.

So here’s my challenge to you, fellow bloggers or otherwise….are you willing to share your thoughts about what you do when blogging gets tough for you and how you make your way out of the other side? I am certain it would help support those of us who have not been doing it for so long and help me to claw my way out of my first real rut!

PS. Writing this has been extremely therapeutic and cheered me enormously already…thank you for reading 🙂


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