Top ten – How to get over the wall

It’s my one year blogeversary – yey!  As a special treat I am allowing myself to make a top ten list!

Recently I read these fabulous blogs from Gemma Reucroft (@HRGem), Barry Flack    (@barryjflack) and Julie Drybrough (@fuschiablue)   Gemma asks, “How can we realise the potential for social HR ?  How do we make this stuff real, useful, accessible?’ .  Barry challenges the social space to ‘Blink first and expand the conversation’.  Julie asks – ‘Where are the ladders?’

They got me thinking which has resulted in this list of top ten ways to get over the wall I hope they are interesting, possibly helpful or at the very least make you smile.

1) “Focus on how to be social, not on how to do social” Jay Baer. 

Always have this is your head with everything that you do, for without it you will dissapear into the big black hole of writing a social media policy and procedure (brrrr – it’s cold alone in the big black hole).Cocktail from Gemma Hobart's pinterest.  Quote - Jay Baer

2) Do not terrify people!

There is a professional body with 4 letters, lets call it DJQE to protect the innocent. I went to a local DJQE branch session on social media .  When I left I was ready to delete all my social media accounts and run back to the safety of the big black hole that is the social media policy and procedure and try to control it all.

I imagine these are the sort of thoughts people had when discussing who should have permissions to use external email.

3) Cute cats sell

Fact.  Fun images work well to engage people on social media, they encourage people to share.  Do not be afraid to use them at work.  I give you my Yoda campaign to promote our mentoring sharepoint discussion page – ta daaaaa!



4) Lets get a thing going on

See also numbers one and three above.  If you’re serious about making shit happen, get out and about and find out what makes people tick and shamelessly exploit it to encourage them to use social media with confidence.  For example – I have been enouraging my work peeps to join in #catfriday on twitter.  Go on, join in, you know you want to.  See also #unexpectedbunting, just for fun.

5) Don’t be afraid of low tech solutions

Remember!  This is not just about the tech and the gadgets (although they are fun) this is about being social.  One of my favourite low tech solutions is kitchen facebook  (#kitchenfacebook).  It  got coversations going and got some scarily honest feedback.  That’s not my kitchen by the way.

Kitchen Facebook

6) Apply the Doctor Pepper test

See also number two.  What’s the worst that can happen? You could end up in a restaurant  all by yourself with a table for 10 booked? Perhaps.  You could accidentally infer that a senior HR professional make an alternative career as a prostitute over twitter? Maybe.  Or you could end up being noticed and actually get paid for implementing and developing ‘Social’  in your organisation – awesome.

7) Begin with the end in mind

I didn’t say that, Stephen R Covey did, a long time ago.  I was 12 when he said it, Frizz Ease hadn’t been invented and I wasn’t allowed grolsch bottle tops on my shoes.  It may be old but it definately applies to your adventures in social media (see also number nine).

People say, ‘HR Em – help, I don’t know where to start!’  I say ‘Don’t worry grasshopper, think first where you want to be’ and float away leaving them to ponder my words of wisdom…

Then I email them a list of who they might like to start following to keep up to date with social HR stuff.

8) Email = bad

Email is generally bad if you want to knock down that wall (with the exception of number seven).  If you want to stay sane in a social digital world that inbox should be empty, it is not a sign of your importance how full it is!

Try this email free experiement – let everyone (not just your friends) know where you are going to be at a particular time, for example for lunch.  Say ‘I’m going to be here and I’m going to talk about social media and anything else that crops up – the more the merrier, bring a friend!’  post it on kitchen facebook, on eventbrite, on sharepoint, talk to people – anything but email.  Approach this with an open mind and you will make connections that you never expected! or no one turns up (see also number six).

9) Be yourself

‘I need to be myself, I can’t be no one else’  Wise words, wise words.

If, like me, you have spent your entire working life trying to do things in the ‘corporate way’ now is your time to shine and apply a massive dose of  YOU.  This isn’t always easy, there is safety in the crowd and only you can judge how much of you your organisation can cope with at a particular time.

In the interests of transparency I have to say that I have had loads of help and enouragement *crys like Kate Winslet winning an Oscar*  I have had coaching (you are awesome @rachelsmith72) I have stalked people on twitter and blogs, I have been encouraged by Senior HR peeps and my mum loves my blog.  Get a good & positive people around you and you will feel confident to be yourself.

If you end up in a disciplinary hearing you’ve gone too far.

‘I’m feeling supersonic, give me gin and tonic’  Wise, wise words.

10) Blink first

Take up the challenge and blink first!  Work out why you think social is so awesome, how has it made your life  happier / easier / made you more resiliant? How will it make your colleagues life happier / easier / make them more resiliant?  Find out where the people who aren’t on social media are having conversations and go and join in (in a non-creepy way).  Volunteer & offer to do stuff and bring in your new super knowledge of Social HR & techy stuff to make people’s lives easier (Eventbrite anyone?).  See number nine as to how to feel confident and try the experiment in number eight.

That is the end of my top ten blogeversary tips – I’m just going to leave you with this guy he always make me smile!

Where to start…

Grandma's sunday dinner
Grandma's sunday dinner
Grandma’s sunday dinner

Is there something that you should be doing right now that is actually the opposite of what you think you should be doing?  Michael Carty asks this question in his blog ‘Smile again’.

A good question I thought!  The short answer to this question is yes, often.  When I’m working I worry -have I got my priorities right?  I’m relaxing, but shouldn’t I be using my time to build a multi million pound business and then give all my profits away to charity? Shouldn’t I stop watching Masterchef and be watching TED talks?

And there is of course the permanent general nagging feeling that, whatever I am doing, I should be exercising.

What to do about it? A wise friend of mine often describes this phenonemon as being like grandma’s sunday dinner.  There’s just too much on the plate and you don’t know where to begin.

Usually this comes up while I am crying into my coffee and feeling overwhelmed with the tasks in front of me and having spent a week mistaking indigestion for some sort of heart problem.

So how do you decide where to start – do you eat your carrots first, so that you can see in the dark, or Yorkshire pudding first, because that’s the best bit?

These things have worked for me -

  • I once wrote down everything I did in a day, everything.  I recommend it – do it, look at the list, throw it away and then be kinder to yourself.  Whenever the feeling of not achieving enough creeps back remember this list.
  • Face that sunday dinner head on.  Decide which bit you are going to start with, for whatever reason, and then crack on with it.  There is no logic to why the HR Em Director of Learning & Leisure (aged 3 1/2) decides to be a horse at a particular time – but he devotes that time and all his energy entirely to being that horse.  Sometimes, for variety, he pretends to be a dinosaur.
  • Shhh, be still.  I was always more of the ‘Lunch is for wimps’ school of work but have recently been learning that the mind is awesome.  If things start to feel overwhelming stop and breathe.  Take 10 minutes out and because your brain is magic the most important things, work or otherwise, will float to the top.

So if you think there is something that you should be doing other than reading this blog , stop fretting and go and do it!  Then move onto the next thing.  Eat the Yorkshire pudding first and stop worrying about the carrots.

Are you still here?

Full up
Full up

Fun with Sharks

From Hunting Bruce by Cory Turner
Finding Nemo
Finding Nemo

This week I have attempted a vlog.  The vlog was to update people where I work about what I’ve been up to this

month – all in the continuing efforts to apply transparancy, authenticity and helpfulness to my work!  I haven’t pushed the button to send yet and when, or if, I do so it will be with my eyes closed.

Here are some thoughts on vlogging, in no particular order -

  • Erm, do I really say erm that much? Erm.
  • I’ve heard that video will be, erm,  massive this year.  That’s fine for video, but not for me.  Erm, I do not need that extra 10lbs.
  • Erm, while we’re on the subject where did the extra chins come from?  I’m sure they weren’t there before .
  • Erm, what IS my hair doing? Erm, seriously, how did anyone let me out of the house this morning!
  • Whatever I do I can’t stop, erm, looking at the, erm, big red ‘record’ button on my, erm,  ipad.  This makes  it look like I am looking at,erm,  someone in the other room.

I found this article to explain why the extra pounds – basically far away camera bad, close up camera good, although I couldn’t have got much closer!   Also this short video which attempts to explain why we hate seeing photos of ourselves.

I have found it pretty uncomfortable, I think it would be odd if it was any other way.  It’s unnatural to see yourself while you’re talking and not be distracted.  I feel like the child on breakfast telly who is looking at themselves in the camera and waving.

In conclusion – this needs practice!  But why continue if it’s so painful?  For the same reasons that a good friend of mine went swimming with sharks to overcome her fear of sharks.  “Why bother?” I asked, bemused  “It’s not like you’re going to come across a sharks just walking down the road!”  She said simply “because I’m afraid of sharks.”

Profound or daft?

Either way I know she had an awesome time swimming with those sharks.  Who knows what adventures there will be in the land of video, so  I’m going to keep practicing until I find my video voice and overcome my fear of  sharks!  Until then I leave you with one of my favorite Vlogs, Daily Grace and of course I can’t miss off the king of the flipchart himself!

From Hunting Bruce by Cory Turner
From Hunting Bruce by Cory Turner

Where ideas roam free

'What next for Google?' The Dinos wonder if Google is going to far.
The New Fence
The New Fence

In an attempt to explain why our back yard feels bigger even though the fence we recently put up is taller that the previous fence, Mr HR Em was explaining to me why you feel boxed in by an upside down table.  Now, I am spatially challenged at the best of times and in the interests of transparency I should declare that I may have had a glass of wine.  Lets just say that the idea took a while to sink in.

It’s all to do with space and perception, says Mr HR Em.  Even though there are no walls there are only four posts. Your mind fills in the

Dino struggles to think outside the box
Dino struggles to think outside the box

walls that you expect to be there.  ‘Whoa!’ I say (mixing my experiments somewhat)  ‘if you put a cat in an imaginary upside down table box is it alive and dead at the same time?’.

After more debate we decided to turn the table back the right way round, put the Chinese takeaway on it and watched Masterchef.

Where ideas roam free…  

The Dinos struggle with the concept of the 'Unconference'
The Dinos struggle with the concept of the ‘Unconference’

Ideas – I’m pretty confident that everyone has them.  Some more than others.  Some good, some bad.  From my own experience I know that what can stop them getting out into the world are the walls we put up in our own head, without even knowing we are doing it.

We can make the values clear, we can communicate them, we  can do everything right to encourage people to collaborate and be enterprising – but until we challenge and help people know themselves well enough to know what their walls are, their ideas will never roam free.

Who knows what great (and not so great) stuff we are missing out on?

'What next for Google?' The Dinos wonder if Google is going to far.
‘What next for Google?’ The Dinos wonder if Google is going to far.



Say yes to positivity!


At the beginning of lent I vowed to to relentlessly look for the good in everything and everyone.  The massive pile of  Easter eggs has now receded and the 5/2 diet is underway.  I’m now thinking what, if anything, have I learned from this exercise.  Did I succeed? And now that it’s over can I just go back to being grumpy again?

I will admit that I have not been completely successful.  Here are just a few of the less than positive moments (there were many)-

1) Mr HR Em leaving muddy wellies in the kitchen every single day (to be fair, he didn’t take this up for lent, he’s always done it).

Muddy wellies

2) The HR Em Director of Learning & leisure (aged 3) pouring bubble bath all over the bathroom floor, meaning that the Director of Leisure & Learning (aged 74) not only has to  navigate small toys on the stairs but also a bathroom that’s like an ice rink.

3) Some feedback I received about an event I am organising.  I do honestly love feedback BUT – I can’t stand people making assumptions before they have even tried something.  This got me proper wound up.

See how it happens – their negativity made me negative. Grrrr.

So there are some of my lapses.  What are the positives?

Awesome  The language we use matters.  You already know this, there are libraries of books on the subject.  But being consciously positive made me more aware of it, in my own head and elsewhere.  It’s not a bad exercise to do every now and again.

I’ve also increased use of the word awesome in as many situations as possible without being sarcastic.  This has resulted in mixed reactions in the workplace.  But they are reactions.  Awesome.

One direction?  I went to a presentation on resilience recently and found that most of it didn’t seem to fit my world any more.  Working on things that give me a buzz, that I am good at, is what gives me energy.  I would rather do more hours working on something I love than half the hours working on something I hate.

One Direction?
One Direction?

I realise that in some jobs there is little room for change, but shouldn’t we at least be trying to help people to recognise what makes their heart sing and try our best to help them go in that direction?

Break twitter  To get as poetic as Eric Cantona – a tweet is like a pebble in a lake. Drop as single pebble in and you get a small splash but not much  else is going to happen.  You connect that pebble to thousands of other pebbles (somehow) and, erm,  you get a bigger splash and more ripples. If you connect your pebble to enough pebbles there will be no lake left.  Then you have broken twitter. 

What I mean to say is don’t keep all your positivity to yourself.  Look up from your desk once in a while, connect, eat some Pizza.

Be awesome! and meet other awesome people #connectinghrleeds Wednesday 28th May from 6pm details and booking on Eventbrite!

Resplendent Customer Service

image via Pinterest

I heard a story yesterday that went like smething this -

Man tweets: I’m stuck in a queue @tescos.  Rubbish.

Tannoy in tescos shop: All available staff to the tills please.

@tesco tweets: Better now?

Man tweets: Awesome.

I’m hoping this really happened because I’ll be sad if not.  Also it got me thinking what happens behind the scenes to make this come about, it might look easy but I’m sure its not.

This is how I imagine it in a traditional company hierarchy -

Man tweets: I’m stuck in a queue @traditionalcompanyhierarchy.

Two hours later….  Employee @traditionalcompanyhierarchy’oooh look, someone tweeted about us’

four hours later…  Employee @traditionalcompanyhierarchy ‘do you think we should do something about it, they didn’t seem happy’.  Colleagues @traditionalcompanyhierachy ‘tell customer services’.

Six hours later  – Employee contacts customer services – they do nothing because it’s going home time.

24 hours later – Customer services say – hmmm, twitter.  That’ll be IT.

26 hours later – IT say it involves people it must be HR.

28 hours later – HR say it involves people outside in must be Marketing.

And that’s if you’re lucky and the complaint doesn’t get stuck in any of those people’s in boxes, because it’s more than likely that all this will be done on email. The man with the complaint might forget about it in the grand scheme of things, but an opportunity to impress and astound has been missed.

This is how I imagined it happened at Tescos.  I also imagine that Bill & Ted manage their twitter account, I will be sad if this is not true.

Man tweets: I’m stuck in a queue @tescos.  Rubbish.

Bill @tescos:  Dude, we got an unhappy customer. Totally heinous.

Ted @tescos:  Bogus.  What shall we do?

Bill @tescos: Lets totally, like, phone the store up and ask them to open more tills.

Ted @tescos: Oustanding idea my friend. pick up the phone dude, like now!  The customer dude’s ice cream is melting!

Tannoy in tescos shop: All available staff to the tills please.

@tesco tweets: Better now?

Man tweets: Awesome.

Bill @tescos and Ted @tescos:  Congratulate themselves on, like, totally resplendent customer service.


image via Pinterest
image via Pinterest

Other stuff you might like…

Learn to speak like Bill & Ted and impress people with your social media skills here!

#connectinghrleeds 28th May, 6pm.  Book on Eventbrite!

Thank you tweeps!

Donkey! image via

I was excited to host a session on social media as part of the Celebrating Women Conference in Leeds last week – the theme was ‘Inspiring Change”.  As the day came closer I found myself a tad anxious – I have previously blogged about what happens when I realise people are actually listening to me here!  I was also a  bit worried about people thinking I’m claiming to know all about Social Media (I really don’t), but then I remembered a couple of things -

1) Show me a donkey, ask me to talk to it about social media – result, donkey with no back legs.  So I don”t know everything (who does) but I can definately talk about the bits I do know about!

Donkey! image via
Donkey! image via

2) On my adventures I’ve come across the idea that the success of social media  is down to three things – helpfulness, transparancy, authenticity.  And so I decided to channel these in my session.

Helpfulness –  I asked ‘me tweeps’  “What is your favourite example of inspiring change through social media?”   the responses are on Storify  here!  And the awesome Meg Peppin (@OD_Optimist) sent me this list of truly inspiring examples -

  • “I guess the Arab Spring was the first time I really thought about social media and engaged with it myself. That desperately heart-breaking story of one young man catalysed people’s frustration and oppression and social media meant that there was an immediacy to reactions to the story; it all happened in real time.
  • The London riots in 2011 perhaps opposite ends of the spectrum, but it was change because the power of social media impacted everyone; some feel quite removed from other cultures, but when those riots were spreading through the UK like wildfire, people were taking notice.
  • I have got involved in more than I could my previous local volunteering; I can access so much more.  Through social media, I am a coach for a young man sponsored by the New Entrepreneurs Foundation (NEF), and am a mentor for Arts Emergency.  You can read about both, but they are both targeting young people; NEF really helping young people with business ideas to fire into the economy, and Arts Emergency – an alternative old boy network, using my contacts/my network to provide access into the arts/media for young people who haven’t been to uni.
  • Everyday sexism is an interesting phenomenon; it is bringing into sharp focus misogyny and sexism and I will be interested to see how that develops.
  • On a personal perspective, I have made new friends, developed a network of people who are in the same profession and I have learned so much, more than I could have got by reading.  The exchanges, the conversation; the blogs.  Blogs are probably my favourite aspect of social; reading multiple perspectives, the conversations that arise are really stimulating.
  • A Girl called Jack is a great example of personal change that has social impact; looking at her trajectory – she is obviously talented and resourceful and I have no doubt that she would have made good, however, social media meant that she could write and build an audience for free, without sponsors.
  • I now have conversations with National Rail, Orange, Ticketmaster – these are recent, but anyone providing products and services – it’s no longer an email to a black hole, it’s a conversation, in public that I think increases accountability.”

Transparency – I decided to reveal one (just one?!) of my major failures on social media!  I’m not telling you about it here – you’ll have to come to Connecting HR leeds on 28th May to find out more! Book on Eventbrite!

Authenticity – well, I did it my way, in the style of my blog (thanks blog) rather than how I thought a ‘HR’ person should be.  Prezi here!

So – massive thanks to all me tweeps and especially Meg (@OD_Optimist) and Gemma Reucroft (@HR_Gem) for sharing ideas, time and confidence boosting emails :-)

And don’t worry, no donkeys were harmed.

Photo from
Photo from




As I mentioned in a previous blog I have said ‘yes’ to positivity for lent, things are going well.  Not perfect,  I am guilty of the odd moan, but just like denying yourself chocolate for lent – the more you deny yourself something the more you notice it.

As a result I have found myself paying more attention to the language I use and the language other people use and how, mostly unconsciously, this can betray a mindset – good or bad.  Using less than positive language can also keep us stuck in a rut and a way of thinking that is not good for us or those around us.  

Another side effect of saying yes to positivity (and possibly also because of the amount of time I spend on social media these days) I am finding myself more and more tempted to use the word ‘awesome’.  I don’t know when I developed an aversion to the word, I suspect an English teacher somewhere along the line.  However I’m finding that I have now overcome my aversion to awesomeness!

So, say yes to positivity and awesomeness will follow!

For more awesomeness check out 1,000 awesome things website! Inspiring stuff – I  especially love this post on ‘Smiling and thinking of good friends who are gone’

image from
image from