The Cultural Impact of The Future of You
Over at Harvard Business Review Dr. Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic has put together, just recently, a rather interesting and relevant article on The Future of You that clearly highlights three rather intriguing career suggestions for knowledge workers out there for the new year to carry out, if they would want to raise their visibility, demonstrate their subject matter expertise and build their social eminence effectively in a social world infested with perhaps far too much noise. The article itself is worth while reading on its own, for sure, as it highlights some of the challenges, but plenty of the advantages of what it is like having a powerful personal brand, as a knowledge worker. But I would think there is something missing on the article itself that makes me a bit too uncomfortable: the enterprisey touch.
I am sure you may be wondering what do I mean with regards to that enterprisey touch, right? Well, if you take a look into the article you would see how Dr. Chamorro celebrates three suggestions he thinks are going to work really well for knowledge workers, but perhaps he forgets how the whole thing changes as soon as you enter the corporate world. Here is an example. In that article he quotes the need for more self-branding, along with plenty of entrepreneurship, as two key traits to succeed in the business world. Part of me would definitely agree with those two traits big time, specially, in the context of the Social Web and pure knowledge Web work, but then again, if I look into the corporate world itself, and judging from both first hand experiences while interacting with customers and other thought leaders in this space, self-branding, a.k.a. personal brand, would only work out just right IF (And that’s a *big* IF) the corporate brand doesn’t decide to kill it in the process.
Essentially, the corporate brand needs to evolve and both embrace and celebrate the richness of powerful employee brands, because, if anything, they surely help amplify and augment the overall corporate one; yet, what you see on a rather regular basis is how businesses ensure that the personal brand remains subjugated to the corporate brand’s needs and wants, resulting in turning off completely the motivation from employees to even look after their own. They just don’t see the value of being just one more voice adding to the noise, which is essentially what most companies want (mistakenly). There are better ways. Never mind that thought from companies that employees with powerful brands could become a threat to the business or they could just be snatched away by talent hunters. Well, not really. It just depends on how hard, you, as a business, would work your magic to engage, from the knowledge worker perspective, those employees to augment AND increase both the visibility and mindshare of the overall corporate brand. Right now, that hard work is just not happening. It’s non-existent. The easy way out has always been undermining or terminating the employee brand, as soon as it is considered far too powerful or a threat to the business.
This is certainly an area where I would expect HR to take a much more active role in helping knowledge workers develop the right skills set, as much as corporations to learn how to live with that personal branding trend for their own employees, because it’s only going to become more and more relevant over time. Remember? People do business with people, not with brands. People, after all, like to talk to other people when doing business. It’s just that simple. So the sooner HR can dive into the conversations and act as referees defending with good counter-arguments the opportunity for knowledge workers to develop their brand as part of their key, essential personal development opportunities, the better off we would all become, because it will help address part of that business problem I keep referencing time and time again: employee engagement.
With regards to Entrepreneurship, we have seen that for enterprise knowledge workers it’s slightly different. Over here, in this blog, I have been talking time and time again about it referencing it as Intrapreneurship with perhaps this specific article as the most relevant one to the context of what Dr. Chamorro talks about on the HBR article. I would love to know in the comments how you folks feel about Intrapreneurs, because, somehow, I suspect we are going to start talking more and more about them as Trust Agents, Wild Ducks, Liquid Freelancers, become more and more prevalent of the new Workplace of the Future that we are currently shaping up!
And, finally, the one other suggestion that Dr. Chamorro mentions in that article and which I think is perhaps the most exciting in the context of Open Business altogether: Hyperconnectivity. That is, the ability of you, as a knowledge Web worker, to act both as a powerful connector, as well as that empowered node to find what you need, which, in most cases, it’s not going to be down to you, but down to how well you have nurtured, cultivated and looked after your own social network(s).
It’s in this context that I thought I would finish off this blog post referencing a webinar presentation that I hosted way back in November 2012 for IBM’s Academy of Technology on trying to define what that hyperconnectivity would be like in the context of defining the significant impact social networking tools can have in helping redefine the workplace of the future with some essential critical traits. In “Cultural Impact of Social Networking in Defining the Workplace of the Future” you would be able to see my attempt of describing the new kind of skills set that knowledge Web workers would need to excel at if they would want to thrive in an Open Business environment. Here’s the embedded code of the presentation, so folks interested in it could have a look and see what you think:
My good friend, and fellow colleague, Brian Cragun, host of that IBM Academy of Technology event, arranged to have the session audio recorded, as well as a transcript of my speech, along with the live chat transcript and I thought it would be a good idea as well to share that across over here, so that if you would be interested in spending a bit over an hour listening to it, while flipping through the charts, you would be able to do so accordingly. I have zipped all three files into a single one and you would be able to download it all from this link.
Dr. Chamorro’s conclusion of the article highlights the need for employees to become a brand, their own personal brand, to transform the way they work and become powerful change agents with an opportunity to keep challenging the status quo of how certain things happen while at work and with an innate ability to link to useful information scattered around your various social networks. Somehow I suspect that the hardest part of making all this a reality is not just going to be down to the employees themselves, but more down to HR, Open HR, that is, as an opportunity to help prepare for those upcoming talent wars and personal development initiatives that will help define the workplace of the future in the Knowledge / Open Economy. Somehow, something tells me that this is one of the main reasons as to why HR will cease to operate, or be perceived to operate, around the edges and become *the* central hub that makes that business transformation of the employee workforce a reality.
The challenge is on though. Will HR be capable of transforming itself into Open HR, as part of Open Business? I surely hope so. After all, we don’t have much of an option nowadays anymore, I am afraid.