Thursday, June 25, 2015

June 2015 AppsJack Human Resources Meetup Held in Bellevue, WA

June 23, 2015
Lake Hills Library, Bellevue, WA

Last night at 7 PM the June AppsJack Business Services meetup was held at the Lake Hills Library in Bellevue, WA.  The event was attended by 12 guests.  Lively and interesting, entertaining, insightful conversations were had.  The topic was Human Capital Management and the subtopics were Recruiting and Retention.  The group focused some of its attention the issues of millennials.

This event represented the sixth curricula in the AppsJack Meetup calendar year.  AppsJack follows the APQC model to provide structure, value, and context to its meetups and to build knowledge and community around key business areas.  This meetup was the first of the AppsJack content areas to be in the realm of “support processes”.  The previous 5 sessions were on the operating processes from APQC.

Some attendees were repeat visitors and sum were brand new, many of whom had found the event via the AppsJack Meetup group page.  The crowd was a great mix of male and female, young and old, and across a variety of different industries and experience levels.  Among the repeat visitors were Eric Veal (host), Jehan, Hsuan-hua, Dave, and Meng.  The newbies to the group included Liat, Elena, Natsune and a handful of others.

What follows is a listing of the various topics and points covered.  Items marked in bold underline should be considered for future AppsJack meetups.  The next AppsJack meetup will be on Information Technology Management, Internet of Things (IoT) on July 28.
  1. Employee education and training programs both on- and off-the-job were discussed.  The issue of training people on the job or after hiring vs. hiring the right people and having people be able to ‘hit the ground running’ from the start.
  2. The benefits of diversity were covered.
  3. The issue of searching organically (through network) vs. systematically was discussed.  There are pros and cons of each and culture is impacted by the choice in methods made.  Searching applies to both the recruiter and the candidate and both may share some practices.
  4. Culture and its importance was discussed.  Someone shared that they wanted to find a company with “a culture”.  It was explained that all companies have a culture, whether they like it or not. Properties of culture were discussed:  was it positive or negative, what were its artifacts, rituals and ceremonies, was it strong or weak?  Learning organizations, per se, were not discussed conceptually and could be a point of subsequent conversations.  With respect to the retention, the notion of an employer’s preference to fire or lay off vs. an employee’s choice to leave was not discussed.  Work-life balance is an aspect of company culture within the context of freedoms and demands for the employee.
  5. Someone who was a millennial wanted to discuss differences of the millennials.  Who they are, their traits, differences, and value were discussed.  We learned that millennials want to have a cause or purpose, may trust less in big systems and bureaucracies, expect a lot, need to have something in it for them (purpose), and enjoy life out of work with friends from work.  They want fun companies with good cultures.  “Fiefdoms” and barriers were discussed between roles, departments, levels, locations, age groups, etc.  All of this complexity makes up a corporate culture’s richness.  Age differences of all kinds were discussed.  Industrial and worker-class differences were not covered in detail but it was recognized that they existed and practices for white collar and blue collar industries or groups were thought to be different.
  6. The role and importance of modern HR Information systems (HRIS) was brought up as a potential topic but was not covered in detail.  The topic of role-based systems: security, communications, and training was discussed in addition to the power of technology to enable new possibilities for people and businesses.  The importance of knowledge management systems was not discussed but is a critical part of a successful and growing, risk-avoiding organization.
  7. The purpose and role of the HR department was mentioned.
  8. We spoke about practices and differences between using in-house recruiters and staff vs. using outsourced services and agencies.  The issue of contractors vs. full-time employee labor was discussed but not fully explored.
  9. The importance of compensation and pay was mentioned briefly by Dave.  He shared that he was having a hard time landing the right talent and believed that the cause was his employer’s low-pay policies.  Benefits, perks, and the value / prestige / reputation of the company was not really discussed other than one attendees interest in finding a company with a [good] culture.  Points were made about cultures within companies being largely dependent on a person’s immediate manager rather than the overall system and culture for the company, the local level remains very critical.
  10. Differences between the HR practice of enterprises vs. those of startups (as well as those across industries and worker classes) were mentioned but not fully discussed.
  11. HR business models were not discussed but should be further explored.
  12. Ethics was not discussed.
  13. The notion of requirements—both those for projects and products as well as those for human resources—was discussed in the context of hiring: hard requirements and soft requirements and how job seeking and landing is typically a gray area and not one that is cut and dried.  Wht also comes into play is personal relationships, biases and perceptions.  Younger professionals were encouraged to act confidently, ‘act as if’ and ‘fake it ‘til you make it’.  The ways that people are perceived as candidates and employees quantitative and qualitative methods, verbal, non-verbal and written communications.
  14. Some brief discussions were had about creative hiring and interviewing practices.  This topic should be further explored.  The pros and cons of different interviewing and screening methods were discussed.
  15. The importance of models such as Wexler’s 4 Faces of Capitalism and personality tests (Myers Briggs, etc.) were noted but not in detail and should be topics for further discussion.  One member shared that Microsoft leaders were selected who fit what he perceived to be extremely narrow and consistent criteria and types.
  16. Other resource types such as financial, relational, reputational, and information were not discussed but could be fodder for future discussion.
  17. The differences between needs and approaches to the management of individuals, small groups, and larger organizations was not discussed but should be a topic for another time.
  18. Microsoft and AT&T were discussed as local employees and some of their practices were covered.  The issue of managed services vs. staff augmentation and the impact that those practices have on corporate culture and environment was discussed.
  19. The question ‘what is organization development?’ was not discussed, but should be soon.
  20. Labor unions, guilds, and organized labor were not discussed but could serve as a good topic for another session.
  21. Conflict management was not discussed.

There is so much depth and richness to the topic of Human Resources Management it is incredible.  At the end of the event, Natsune promoted her event, which is planned for July 15th in the University District area of Seattle.  Also, Liat shared about a meetup event she is hosting as well.  Several members exchanged contact information and made promises to stay connected with one another.

The next AppsJack Meetup event will be held July 28th and will cover Information Technology Management.  The event may be sponsored by Neudesic Consulting and feature Ben Griner, their Director of Management Consulting.

AppsJack’s meetups are fun local community events that help businesses and business service professionals connect over interesting discussions and topics in comfortable environments.  The events are a great way to meet new people, share experience, and identify individuals within the community with whom you feel comfortable sharing your ideas and issues.  Each month is a different topic and the big events are typically planned for the 4th Tuesday of the month.  AppsJack’s vision is to create an organized network of meetups on business and other critical management topics for people, property and planet.  AppsJack is a knowledge management consulting company who has helped businesses such as Siemens, Microsoft and the US Forest Service manage and improve major initiatives that make communications more effective and efficient.  More info can be found at or by contacting Eric Veal, Founder and CEO of AppsJack Corporation.

Eric Veal, MSIS, MBA, PMP is a NW Washington Native who lives in Kirkland, WA with his wife and pets.  Eric has been consulting with companies on business, technology and growth issues since he first worked on his mom and dad’s businesses in 1996.  Eric is originally from Guemes Island, WA and attended Western Washington University and Foster School of Business, respectively, for his undergraduate and graduate degrees.  Eric received his Project Management Professional certificate in 2006 while working at Siemens Healthcare.  At Siemens, Eric was in their leadership development program and worked as a process improvement consultant and intranet architect.  His experiences at Siemens inspired him to start his own company, AppsJack, to pursue his dreams.