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Inlfuence effluent



It seems a day doesn’t go past at the moment without seeing an announcement listing the “influencers” in a certain category.  We have digital influencers, recruiting influencers, talent management influencers and good old HR influencers. There are the offline influencers such as outlined by HR Magazine and a host of online influencers such as outlined by HR Examiner.

And whilst I’m sure the motives are genuine, the problem is my gut instinct tells me they are at worst a crock of shit and at best a list of people.  I’m stepping away from my online presence here and talking purely as an HR Director…..have any of these people ever influenced me? No. Not one. And I know and interact with a lot of people both in the online and off-line worlds.

Essentially what you have are an old boys club and a new boys club. 

The methodology doesn’t talk about influence at all.  To influence is,

to affect or change how someone or something develops, behaves or thinks

Where is the evidence that anyone has done that?

What you essentially get through all of these things are a list of known people.  Whether it is through the selection of people by HR Directors or through the number of linked in connections and Facebook friends.  That is all.

So the question is? Why am I saying this? It’s because I’m not on any of the list anywhere right?

No. It is because what we are starting to do in the on-line world is just a complete replication of the offline world.  We don’t need HR gurus telling us what to think either by Twitter or via text books.

Influence is what you do every day at work when you help a Manager to resolve a problem or to look at an issue in a different way. Influence is what you do when you speak to client and they come away with a different view of recruiters. Influence is what you do when you meet with the Unions and everyone comes away happy. That is true influence.

Influence is a whole load of small things and discussions coming together to make a change. Influence is not a person or a big idea. Most of the moments in my life that I have found the most influential have been reactions against crap like this.

I think this might be one.

12 Comments leave one →
  1. david permalink
    11/03/2010 12:15

    Effluent indeed. The biggest influence in this study is the starting point… the nominee list. Then to ask 3000 HR practitioners then creates a skew in the results as it’s only the influence of nominees on a fixed HR only population….

    I wonder what the result would be like if all employees of say the FTSE 100 were asked? Or even if it was an open nomination list? Probably wouldn’t have stroked the right egos….

    How about a who we respect in HR list?

    [BTW there’s effluent in your Inlfuence….]

  2. 11/03/2010 13:22

    A meaningless list – which appears to be a pointless media trend, check out the mighty Forbes magazine which recently decided Lady Gaga was in the top 10 most powerful women in the world….

    The businesses the various HRD’s represent are all in different stages facing different challenges, (the top 5 have only in common that they are very large employers), thus comparing the effectiveness of the HRD’s is a popularity contest likely to generate a Lady Gaga result.

    I’d be far more interested in an in-depth review/analysis of some of the “names” to see what it is they have done so well, what difference they made to the business and its people, what they did differently to predecessors, why they did it and how they are judged / measured, what they’d do differently, what specific challenges they had to over come and so on….then I’d really be interested !

  3. 11/03/2010 13:35

    You almost influenced me. Too bad I already agreed with you 😉

    But I like the point you make and it reminded me that the people who most influenced and still influence me will probably never make it to such a list. And you know what? It doesn’t matter because I know who they are and sometimes even tell them.

  4. 11/03/2010 14:26

    If there were such a thing as online influencers then maybe the vast swathe of pea brains who approve God awful recruitment ads to run on a plethora of job boards would wake up and realise that what they are doing doesn’t attract candidates, makes them look like they haven’t a clue and generally helps destroy their credibility in the jobs marketplace as well as the overall content out their in internet world. Thank goodness then that there is no such thing as online influencers, or is it perhaps that some recruitment consultancies just don’t listen? Clearly, something is going wrong somewhere.

  5. 11/03/2010 14:28

    And now, angry rant over, I realise I’ve used the word ‘their’ instead of ‘there’, with no means of changing it. 🙂

  6. 11/03/2010 14:31

    Re the first list (HR Magazine), I totally agree.

    Re the second (HRExaminer), I largely agree too.

    But not quite.

    We’re not there yet, but these lists are clutching towards something important.

    When people spend as much time on social media as you or I, they’re bound to be influenced by the people they’re connected to.

    I’m certainly influenced by the community I keep. And as you’re human, you are too.

    So if you’re at the centre of a large community, you have influence (you will have influenced).

    It’s this that both lists are trying to get at, in their separate ways.

    Neither does it. But I don’t think we should totally discount what they’re trying to do.

  7. 11/03/2010 15:25


    Good post. I’m inclined to agree with you on the value of lists. Ranked or not, and I was, I’m more interested in what the trakkr index tells me about my use of social media channels.

    Reach and numbers are self-explanatory, although size of following does not impact on the total result. my numbers are quite small in relation to plenty of people that work around recruiting/HR

    Resonance I’m more interested in. that is mentions, retweets, link-backs and shares. I have always felt that this was the most important area to look at if you are using social-media commercially. You don’t I know, but the majority of people in social have a commercial motive however much they try and deny it. for me, I want more people looking at the #tru events and attending. (As well as the fact that I enjoy it!)

    Relevance is based on key-words relating to recruiting. This is quite useful to look at as it shows relevance against target audience. From a commercial perspective, not a bad thing. not a lot of use for anyone else though.

    The issue comes over the term “influence.” the real influencers tend to be personal (like my mum), or off-line. I think the term “influencer” is missused in this context. I’m not the 4th most “influential” on-line recruiter by a long shot in my opinion, in the opinion of the algorhythm however, I am.

    Jon Sumser recently said that on-line influence is only in the present and is gone within a few weeks if activity or relevance stops. real influence is long term by way of case study, books or teaching. I’m inclined to agree with him on that as a reflection of how information is ditributed these days. My own view is that it is not “influence” but distribution. for marketeers, being able to reach eyes in the present, and get people to click on links is useful.

    I’d say you are very influential on discussion topics within the HR space at the moment. Thats also why your blog became attractive to advertiseds. You are one of the current HR influencers, thats why you should be on a list!


  8. 11/03/2010 15:42

    Only one person I take notice of has ever appeared on one of these lists (to my knowledge) which suggests they are indeed, a complete crock.

    I can’t continue to comment though, coz I’m still laughing at Alasdair’s “their/there” moment! Copywriter gold!

  9. 11/03/2010 16:38

    I blame the red mist James

  10. 11/08/2010 11:22

    @david – A “who we respect in HR list”? I’m liking the sound of that….could we also have a “Who we don’t respect in HR list”? I have a few people I can think of…..say taking credit for business success but not when your bank goes tits up and fucks the economy……

    @Chris Underwood – Totally agree……a popularity contest…..rather than any sense of added value….

    @Etienne – You’re right… doesn’t matter……at all!

    @Aloncalcia – And breathe…….. 🙂

    @Jon Ingham – I’m not sure I agree Jon….I don’t think having connections to a swathe of people actually means that you influence them. “So if you’re at the centre of a large community, you have influence ” but then in online communities is anyone at the centre? I don’t think they are….

    @BillBoorman – ” the real influencers tend to be personal (like my mum)” I totally agree. I should point out that I don’t have advertisers though….I have companies that have donated to charity that I am highlighting as a thanks (and only on a temporary basis!). And I don’t think in anyway I have influence, the value of this site is in the comments, not in the content.

    @James Mayes – You are a cruel cruel man…… 🙂

  11. 11/09/2010 15:49

    If I spent my childhood reading Drawin and listening to (first name to top of head) Alice Cooper, would they be more influential than my parents, teachers, relatives and friends? Better known maybe, but not more influential. Those I have most contact with (online or off) are not only closer to my personal context, but are around while I try to put the ideas I might get from elsewhere into practice. I might like, for example, Charles Handy’s ideas, but they’re theory till I put them into practice. And I do that in the company of those around me. Inspirational isn’t the same as influential by any stretch.


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