Is the HR blogosphere on a collision course with HR practice?

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By the way, I do not claim to be an expert as explained in my HR Zone article 'I wanna be a famous HR writer'. I am a mid-level HR professional who likes to write about my profession. I hope my ...


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HR bloggers are competing with mainstream HR experts in the endless search for answers to workplace challenges

Technology has enabled something of a self-publishing boom, giving an alternative perspective to the findings, commentary and forecasts of consultancies, think tanks, academics and HR media.

But if this knowledge bank dispenses too much unqualified information, and takes too many risks to speculate on HR practice and the profession’s future, the lack of quality control may result in a best practice crisis with bad decisions being made in the workplace.

The debt of gratitude for ‘expert advice’ will turn into regret as people realise they should not have invested so much confidence in the citizen journalism of the HR community. Or maybe HR professionals will prove they know what they are talking about. We will have to wait and see.

What we do know is the HR blogosphere cannot be controlled, with anyone being able to hit ‘publish’ and share their views, ideas and strategies for success.

To avoid substandard advice finding its way into decision-making and people management, the HR community should promote the importance of bloggers knowing their subject before attempting to influence others. This can be achieved through social media filtering. Peer reviews, likes, shares and clicks will filter out problematic or uninformed articles and push quality contributions into the HR space.

As reputations, talent and achievements count, aspiring HR bloggers may have to compete against the meritocracy in the HR blogosphere to find an audience. While this competitiveness may dampen the enthusiasm of HR bloggers on the sidelines of the community, it is the 'survival of the fittest' philosophy that will maintain standards and support this form of peer-to-peer learning as a method of continuous improvement in HR practice.

Quality assurance in the HR blogosphere depends on the professionalism and expertise of authors and readers, with the former citing research reports and theories to support their contributions to the HR conversation; and the latter knowing how to dissect and apply this information to addressing their unique challenges.

It’s having that ability to see the big picture which elevates HR’s role in organisational and people programmes, demonstrating the benefits that experts in recruitment, employee relations, people analytics, learning and development, reward and organisational design can bring to the table.

The CIPD’s study of the HR profession states: “People need to be able to rely on professional expertise and trust professionals to make the right decisions, since they themselves do not have the unique knowledge to check the quality of guidance given by professionals.”

But organisations can assess the quality of guidance from HR, as it affects the connection between people, productivity and business results. Therefore, HR professionals have to understand their subject and customers to keep that connection strong in these volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous times.

Paul Carter is an HR management advisor at The Insolvency Service and HR writer

Comments

Complete and utter piffle! Firstly, there's no such thing as the HR blogosphere. There's a range of people providing ideas and perspectives, just as there is in the rest of life and work. Secondly, as someone who has been blogging on HR issues for 10 years, I can firmly say that I offer better advice than many who pitch themselves as experts (this article and comment are a good example!). The world is changing and people need to be open to as many perspectives as possible. But it's up to them what they do about it. If someone reads any advice people, including mine, and then decides they'll do that because someone has said so then that's their own lookout, regardless of whom has provided the guidance. They key is to gain a range of insight and provocation, to consider these against a particular business strategy and context and working out what will be best for the organisation concerned. Blogs now have a prime role to play in this, as do books, conferences, training events, magazines, daily news updates, twitter chats, and face-to-face conversations. Anyone who cuts themselves off from any of this because the people participating in them aren't expert enough is frankly nuts.


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Jon, thank you for your response. My article is not absolute piffle, but you are entitled to your opinion. I see it as a result that I provoked such a reaction!


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By the way, I do not claim to be an expert as explained in my HR Zone article 'I wanna be a famous HR writer'. I am a mid-level HR professional who likes to write about my profession. I hope my efforts can encourage other people to join the HR Blogosphere, but if what they write is nonsense then readers have the right to say that. http://www.hrzone.com/perform/people/i-wanna-be-a-famous-hr-writer


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I think we've illustrated that different people have different perspectives over what is nonsense. I'd also like to encourage more people to blog as it's a great way of learning and developing, which is another reason why I think it's especially relevant to those who aren't and don't see themselves as experts. They need to be ready for disagreements but it's important they don't feel put off because they don't know enough about their subject. http://strategic-hcm.blogspot.co.uk/2011/07/my-public-service-and-bigger-brain.html


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Paul, Strange post fella. Whether it's the regulating of people 'thinking out loud' or the fact that you underestimate the good people in our industry to act in the best interests of their business for fear that a HR blogger told them to ? Like Jon, I'd want to drop the barrier to entry into blogging to its most simple and I'd want to create a supportive environment where more people made the jump. Your position would be unhelpful in that regard despite your stated aims.


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Barry, thank you for your response. I don't agree it is a strange post, but that's your opinion. I have seen hundreds of posts from HR professionals on LinkedIn and other HR forums asking for advice on how to handle workplace challenges. The fact they are discussing sensitive issues on social media is already a concern, and as absolutely anyone can respond, there is a clear and present risk they will receive and act on advice that may not be appropriate. The 'Ask Google' culture is affecting professions, with people searching online for answers instead of utilising their experience or internal procedures to make informed decisions. The points both you and Jon have made in your responses are actually the same points I made in my article. Anyone can post and the HR audience will decide whether to act on your advice. Hopefully more people will have their say and understand I am encouraging HR professionals to blog.


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