Monthly Archives: June 2014

Man Versus Horse….Running wild…

So when two blokes in the Nueadd Arms, in Llantrwyd Wells, challenged each other to race – one on a horse and one on foot over the welsh countryside, over about 22 miles, they had clearly had too much of the mountain air or too much beer….or maybe both….
35 years ago there were two (three if you count the horse), this year there were over 600 hundred runners including relay runners, and over 60 horses ( a record), surely not all of us could have been under the influence? Readers, you can make up your own minds as you go along….
24 miles, total climb of over 1700ft, 3 big hills and lots and lots of mud in 22 degrees, makes Chiltern Cross Country League seem like a gentle warm up. The start of the race is in the middle of this compact town (the humans have a 15 minute head start on the horses), and you begin a long slow climb that is initially a challenging warm up mile that turns into calf burning grind. That is the first two miles… Eventually, we are into the stunning Welsh countryside, at which point runners can combine long strides with winding climbs, until of course you hit the muddy ridges, streams rocks, and further gentle inclines – we are now at about mile 4….
At which time dear reader I took a tumble, cut leg and bruised ribs… On a football field I would have been cautioned for simulation… But here, with hurt pride and blood streaming from my knee, I had to make to the checkpoint at mile 7…
Mile 7 is the first changeover point for the relay runners, and vet check for Horses. I visited the St Johns Ambulance to get the knee patched up. Then Hill 2 that just rises steadily for what seems like an age – this is the mark of the course, rarely flat always technical, never time for the mind to switch off. The 2nd leg follows this pattern for a total of 7.5 miles until the next changeover and leg three…..
In a normal year – the 3rd leg is a little shorter (about 6.5 miles) with an initial steep ascent, however the last two years has seen this section extended to 9.9 miles… At about 2 miles into the leg another runner asked dolefully, ‘How long to go’? I obviously answered truthfully (mistake) it was met with a mixture of disbelief, anger and a grimace that told the full story and nearly drove her to jump off the mountain track we were running on. At 16 -19 miles in a normal marathon you may experience the wall; in man vs horse, this happened by about mile 13…… the middle 6 miles are a true physical and mental battle and one which just about prepares you for the final hill at 22 miles. On an initial view this is a gentle incline over a benign looking filed used for grazing sheep that is at least 1 mile long. At halfway up, this has sapped whatever will, even the hardiest of competitors may possess. However, at the top and sharp left turn we are entering the home stretch, a gentle incline down a gravel track to the river crossing (soothing for the tired limbs), and the sound of the finish. The last 400 metres feels like the climb of a lifetime, but even with heavy legs, everyone is able to make it look like a sprint finish for the cheering crowds..
Challenging it may be, but the race organisers and competitors make this, possibly the friendliest and most beautiful race I have ever done. The welsh countryside gives the most stunning views, meaning This is a massive tourist boost for the ‘smallest town in the United Kingdom’ and all the townsfolk make a huge effort and the party atmosphere continued with our group. Because the race is a Saturday this is a great opportunity to make a family weekend of this, as the countryside offers safety and beauty for the kids to explore and do what kids do while the adults indulge our rather curious pastime. So BBQ, a few beers, catch up with old friends, and we even managed to toast some marshmallows… Something for all the family, young and old…
A huge thank you to all the race organisers and our hosts at the cottage, and to the runners and riders who make this the event that it is…. for those who are interested this year the Horse won (again) in a time of 2:22:53 and the first man home was 2:42:49 ….
Runners or riders, you should make this top of your bucket list…..


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Whose employer brand is it anyway?

Have any conversation about Employer Branding,as with political correctness, the debate is endless because both terms are loaded with cliche and are easily manipulated by either side in the debate. Both terms recycle arguments so broad that feel comfortable for either side to hide behind, but in the end are just a pastiche of cliche and sloppy thinking.
recycling old news or fears on which no research is based.,

The importance of Employer Brand has increased but it’s definition shifts because of customer behaviour, the tools of the trade and the type of business we work for. Despite this the traditional media agency view of brand still holds sway and this seems to go largely unchallenged. HR departments can really begin to shape and control this without needing to spend thousands and thousands of pounds that could easily be spent elsewhere. Let me challenge a few established shibboleths:

Data/Research – most organisations run employee engagement surveys – this is full of data that is completely relevant…. This is the the real story (especially for a B2B company) of the brand. The brand is what your people say about you. This data can tell all sorts of things good and bad that will drive how you represent yourselves in the market. Whilst spending thousands of pounds on further research maybe useful it won’t tell you something your people haven’t already said…. Just look at the COOP. In addition in our social world tools such as glassdoor give us insight into what the candidate experience is and what perceptions we may need to shift.
Messaging – If you are working for a company with a clear mission, goals and strong purpose – regardless of sector, you can find a way to tell it. If you don’t have this, no amount of research can spin this….candidates know….

Candidate Reach – social media means access, great in house teams are at the pulse of the market. Smart use of LinkedIn and Twitter means a dialogue. Resourcing functions are HR communicators, giving internally focussed HR partners a direct line to internal and external talent and can be responsive, agile and smart in targeting the right candidates. In addition,LinkedIn Talent Brand Index provides data and insight into your brand reach and profile….this is more accessible and cost effective than any of the traditional routes. It’s only a surprise this hasn’t caught on more quickly….

Recruitment and HR teams have an opportunity to be the vanguard, especially in non consumer brands. HR have the opportunity to shape this and deliver real commercial value in providing rich data about talent, metrics on candidate experience. In addition, this can really begin to open up opportunity to internal talent. This data may start to prove that the grass isn’t greener all the time. The data may tell us that there isn’t an endless pool of talent out there…. With this data we might even start to work out that we can win the war for talent…. We don’t need consultants to tell us what’s in front of our noses do we?

For a number of years the traditional media model has been under threat, what has kept alive is fear of taking bold decisions, the inability of HR and Recruiting functions to prove this data and make the case. We can finally make our case and enter the data revolution. The question is are we up for the challenge?

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