Nine Questions

The next participant in The Field Guide's interview series - "Nine Questions" - with HR thought leaders is William Tincup, CEO at Tincup & Co. and one of the leading voices in the game today on the crossroads of HR, social media, and technology. Below, William gives us his thoughts on everything from the notion of regret being a waste of effort, social and mobile and their impact on HR, leadership and steering both cars and organizations, the habit of organizations and HR to think too small, the HR tech (r)evolution, and much more...

Tell me why what you do is rewarding, challenging, and I suspect in your opinion (and mine) quite awesome?
I never have the same day twice. That fits me, that fits my personality. I love the chaos of not knowing what’s next. I have clients that I love. With DriveThruHR, I get to have an intelligent conversation each and every workday. I work from home… and with two young boys; I get to see them more often than I would if I had a “normal” job. I speak at a ton of HR conferences… which is awesome because I’m always learning new things. Dude, I live a charmed existence. Not for everyone but it fits me.
Do you believe in the notion of professional regret? Why or why not? If so, what's been your biggest professional regret?
Regrets are a waste of intellect. Everything happens for a reason. The reason might not be clear now but over time it will become crystal clear. Don’t waste any time on regrets… personal or professional. Period.
What do you think has been the most significant game changer in your specialty area of human resources over the last 5 years? Over the course of your career?
Actually, it’s the combination of two things… social media and mobile technology… social has changed all of our expectations… in drastic and subtle ways. Ten years ago, we thought in terms of days and months… now, because of the immediacy of social… we think in terms of seconds, minutes and hours. Try this… think about the Bay of Pigs… the “decision” that JFK (and team) made was over the course of something like 10 days. If that happened today… President Obama would have a few hours to make the same decision. So, back to HR… our employees, candidates, leadership team, etc… our audiences… all of their expectations have changed. Period. Now, with mobile, what’s changed is access. Remember the days where we had to be tethered to a desktop? Yeah, that’s gone. Now we have access to almost everything we need 24/7… so the concept of working from a place is different. Because access has changed.
In terms of my career, I think the concept of free agency is game changing… where the two way street of loyalty has eroded to almost nonexistence. Both directions… employees have no loyalty to companies AND companies have no loyalty to employees. I could make a case for this being a HORRIFIC and/or a TERRIFIC thing… but, it is decidedly different from the typical employment relationships of my childhood. Time will tell whether free agency is a good or evil thing.
Where do you see your area of specialty heading in the next 5 years? Do you think that’s a good or bad thing?
HR Tech will evolve to be more and more about data, metrics, analytics, predictive, standards, etc. I love technology and data so I’ll probably thrive but those that don’t love tech and/or measurement probably need to find a new gig. HR will become more dependent on HR tech than ever.
In your opinion what’s the most important part of the talent management puzzle: attracting talent, acquiring talent, developing talent, or retaining talent – or something else entirely? Why?
I hate it when people say “it depends” because it’s just a fancy cop out. Retention is the only game in town. Everything we do in HR can be AND should be tied to retaining our A Players. Period. Everything in Talent Management is important… attraction, onboarding, performance, succession, compensation, engagement, training, development, etc., etc., etc… all important. Retention is critical… so slightly more important than the other things.
What do you think is the biggest failure of most organizations when it comes to their talent management strategy? Is there an easy fix, a difficult one, or can it be fixed?
No such thing as a valuable fix that is: fast, easy and/or cheap. If it is worth doing, then, turns out, it will probably be hard. But it will also be worthwhile. We are the sum of our talent…
In your own words, define what it means to be a leader? Do you think anyone can become a leader? Why or why not?
A great race car driver rides the line between arrogance and confidence. He/she knows that in order to be a great driver one has to test the limits. Arrogant enough to think they are faster than everyone else and not die in the process. Confident enough to believe in the life experiences they’ve had that will help shape the wins of the future. Great race car drivers spend 80% of the time looking through the windshield and 20% of the time looking in rear view mirrors.
I’m sorry what was the question again… oh wait… not everyone is a good driver much less a great driver.
In your opinion, what’s the biggest challenge facing human resources related professions and professionals today?
Our biggest issue is that we think too small. We’re petty. My mother would say… we’re penny wise and dollar stupid. We have to think on a grander scale. IMHO, we need to let go of the childish shit, pivot, and reward ourselves for thinking great thoughts… big thoughts… huge, outlandish thoughts. That’s when we’ll respect ourselves; moreover, that’s when the world will respect us collectively.
What words of advice would you give to a college student considering a career in your field? To someone looking to transition careers? To someone in your field that is feeling burned out or turned off?
For anyone that wants to be great at HR over the next 20 years… take some night classes in statistics and coding. Everything in HR revolves around math and stats… so, raise your proficiency. Period. Get on this train or get run over by it. In terms of coding, it’s important to understand how data flows. Having a basic understanding of code will help you immeasurably… in your career in HR and in general. Again, we’re all getting more technical NOT less so over the next two decades…

William Tincup is the CEO of HR consultancy Tincup & Co. He is one of the country’s leading thinkers on social media application for human resources, an expert on adoption of HR technology and damn fine marketer. William has been blogging about HR related issues since 2007. He’s a contributor to Fistful of Talent, HRTechEurope and HRExaminer and also co-hosts a daily HR podcast called DriveThruHR. Tweet him @williamtincup and check him out on Facebook and LinkedIn. Not up to speed in the social media game? Reach out via email.

He serves on the Board of Advisors for Insynctive, Causecast, Work4Labs, PeopleReport, Jurify, AppLearn, StrengthsInsight, The Workforce Institute, PeopleMatter, SmartRecruiters, Ajax Workforce Marketing and is a 2013 Council Member for The Candidate Experience Awards. He also serves on the Board of Directors for Chequed.

William is a graduate of the University of Alabama of Birmingham with a BA in Art History. He also earned a MA from the University of Arizona and a MBA from Case Western Reserve University

Header Photo Credit: Ironlak via Compfight cc

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