04 Porridge with Bacon

Today (1 November 2013) marks one year since I joined Twitter as @TimScottHR.

There’s no doubt in my mind that using Twitter has opened up a whole new approach to HR for me. Throughout my career so far I’ve always been very much about “doing what works”: I’m not much of an HR academic and I’ve struggled to apply much learning from most of the (generally theoretical) HR/management books I’ve read. Maybe I’ve just read the wrong ones so far – there’s certainly no shortage of them out there (including this rather excellent addition to the canon where all income goes to excellent causes)…

I finished my CIPD qualification, ahem, several years ago and apart from the odd brief course or the occasional networking/employment law update type event, I haven’t done much formal learning since. I guess I’m pretty much self-taught, on the job, learning from making mistakes, happy accidents and sometimes surviving by the seat of my pants. I very much would like to formalise some of that learning one day (and add some more letters after my name), but that’s completely unrealistic given my varied professional and domestic challenges at the moment.

Anyway, Twitter came into my professional life, blew my cosy self-taught world apart and put it back together again. It sounds a bit over the top to put it like that but it’s true. How?

  • Reading other peoples thoughts – from the 140 character tweets to blogs and articles – has made me challenge my long-held HR beliefs, my thought processes and the solutions I have put in place
  • Interacting with other HR pros both on Twitter and “IRL” to use the jargon has helped me overcome my reticence to network professionally
  • Getting involved for the first time ever with the professional body I have been a member of for over ten years
  • Expanding my horizons to think about HR internationally

Most importantly, I feel that using Twitter has given me my HR mojo back.

I know what kind of HR I want to practise again. I’ve adopted “porridge with bacon” as the title of this blog, not just because I accepted the challenge from @SteveTovey13 to write something with that topic but because I feel it describes how I want to do HR.

Let’s be honest, the stuff we read about Google’s unusual people management practices or the great handbook from Valve are aspirational stuff but deep down we all know we’re unlikely to ever work in an environment where that will get off the ground. I’ve imagined trying to explain some of that to CEOs I have worked with and I had some fun contemplating their reactions.

Rightly or wrongly, most senior management teams expect certain things from HR and rocking up and saying “we’re going to ditch performance management and let everyone set their peers’ salary” is not going to get taken seriously in too many companies. For the same reasons I don’t like the concept of “best practice”, I think all these oft-quoted case studies need taking with a healthy pinch of salt when trying to apply them to our own situations. But what can work is using those concepts to help you develop ideas that give the occasional subversive twist to the norm. And that’s just what I’m going to try to do – with your help, Twitter.

Porridge with bacon. The conventional with a twist.


Porridge with Bacon

UPDATE 4.11.13: I’ve realised that in my haste to hit “post” on my Twitterversary, I omitted to thank the person without whom I probably wouldn’t ever have signed up. It was Simon Jones of Ariadne Associates, HR Consultant, author, blogger and tweeter (@ariadneassoc) extraordinaire who persuaded me it would be in my interest to join in the conversation about HR. Boy, was he right. Thanks Simon.

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