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On the Other Side of 9/11

It has become a tradition for me to write a September 11th blog post here at The EO List.

Like many, September 11, 2001 was a defining time for me. And, I don’t think we’d have EO without it, so I feel it is important to pay the day respect each year here.

I have written all sorts of 9/11 tributes in prior years, some on the day. Before “blog” was even a word, I was a much younger HR professional, writing a weekly newsletter about my experiences in HR going back to the U.S. In creating this newsletter, I had documented my feelings and experiences in real-time. What has been interesting is over the years going back and adding sometimes insignificant but yet context-driving details about what the world was like in 2001. Here are the links to some of the prior posts:

Some of these posts are darker than others. This year, because I am working on the happiness project, and because I feel like we are on the other side of 9/11 now, I am focusing this post on three changes in human resources management since 9/11.

Here we go:

  1. Workplace security. There was a time in the olden days when you found someone you liked and you hired them, at best with a reference check. Today, the security/clearance process has become extensive, and entire new industries have been developed to assess the risk of bringing in new people. I was at the ACE Conference yesterday and spoke to a person who blew me away by showing me the extent of personal, accessible information that is available about an individual’s habits that would help an organization understand whether an employee is a security risk.
  2. Talent management. Sure, even thirteen years ago we used terms like “succession planning” and “career development” to describe human resources, but the process of finding, developing and managing the careers of individuals is light years beyond what it was in 2001. The day before September 11, 2001, I sat in my office and I listened to my first webinar. I have no idea what the subject was, but what I remember is that the software had features to raise my hand, tell the speaker whether I was bored, and much more. Those seem so basic now compared to the three-dimensional progressive systems. Tracking of training used to be done on multi-tabbed spreadsheets. Mentorship was a buzz word rather than a process. Feedback in real-time was minimal.
  3. HR–the profession. Sure, in 2001, there was a CHRP and an SPHR designation back then, but little of the profession was focused on strategy, workforce planning and architecting, and other aspects of business like it is today. Perhaps in this we have made the least progress. The critics of our profession accuse us of being process excellence individuals rather than thought leaders.

Back in the late 1990s, there was a great IBM commercial which focused on a future with e-commerce. Whenever something seems antiquated in our household, we always make a joke about whether we want a spinning logo or a flaming logo. In closing, enjoy some humour on this day:

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