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During July, I attended the HR Management Institute conference ini Atlanta. It was a gathering of about 100 senior HR leaders in a secluded setting north of the city. I’ve been integrating the things I learned in the weeks that followed.
HR in large organizations is staffed and operated by amazing people who are focused on solving problems that range from operational efficiencies to projects that completely transform the way companies see themselves.
it looks like there are several kinds of transformation in HR:
- things that improve the delivery of HR Services as currently conceived
- Projects that dramatically change one aspect of the enterprise
- Ways of operating HR that transform the very idea of HR
A quick review of online literature on HR Transformation is almost exclusively focused on the first category. So called ‘shared services’ approaches are really a new twist on the long standing questions about centralization and decentralization that characterize all fads in organizational thinking.
There is simply nothing serious out there about HR as an intentionally transformative function.
Even the best of the emerging thinkers about HR as the engine of organizational excellence are stuck in the mud trying to get enough velocity to establish a real vision.
In the Know v1.29
Five Links To Transform HR (Buzzword Edition)
- Transformation Video
HR web video production is getting slicker. Is the content better?
- Revolutionizing HR Transformation for Business Impact
This article, from accenture, focuses on the reasons that most HR Transformations fail and what to do about them. The idea here is that a portfolio approach, winning small battles to deliver real value to the business is likely to be more sucesfsful than boiling the ocean.
- The Reframing Matrix
From Mind Tools. The re-framing matrix is designed to help see tools from a variety of perspectives. Rooted in the notion that ‘the problem you are solving is often not the problem you have”, the Re-framing Matrix is one way of trying to see out of the box you are in.
- Critical Success Factor
A nice wikipedia article on CSF (an element that is necessary for an organization or project to achieve its mission). The first question is ‘what parts of HR are are CSFs’. The second question is ‘Why are we doing the other stuff.’
- The Starr Tincup HR Psychographic Report
If you know the Starr Tincup reputation, you’re excused for wondering if this is manga about HR serial killers. The white paper gives you a top level view of the amazing research Starr Tincup has done into the HR profession. For instance, HR folks are not all cat ladies. 50% own a dog. The link takes you to a form to get a downloadable short white paper. A step in the transformation process involves rethinking the way we see ourselves.
In The Know 1.28.1 More Transformation
- On Social Learning, Sensemaking Capacity and Collective Intelligence
This slide deck illuminates the importance of ‘sense making’ as a new strategic competence. As the data tsunami rolls through our organizations, HR is the point of responsibility for the adoption of new competencies. How is your organization keeping track of critical emerging skills?
- Workforce Analytics & Workforce Planning Group on LinkedIn
Contemporary HR requires the use of workforce planning and standards. They don’t really make an organization’s HR function transform but they do create the opportunities to ask some of the right questions. The reasons that HR Analytics and detailed workforce planning are important may surprise you. Increasingly, the data used to define organizational performance will come from beyond its boundaries. Navigating that hurdle will require competence with internal analytics.
- Transforming the Human Resource Function Through Shared Services
What if transformation is just code for cost efficiencies. This white paper, from Buck Consultants, offers the shared services model as a way to “Transform HR”. What they mean, it turns out, is an approach that takes the best of centralized HR, the best of decentralized HR and blends the two. The result, they hope, is tighter coupling with the customer. It’s a good idea that gets you more of the same for less expenditure. It’s not a game changer but a smart way to maneuver if you can’t handle a game change.
- 10 Minutes on Transforming HR
Seems like HR Transformation is a big topic in the large consultancies. This simple thought-piece from PWC tries to identify the opportunity and action steps in a digestible bite. In this view, HR can be a brand steward, optimizing the meaning and autheticity of brand communications while shepherding in an era of external measurement. What if great HR was measured as “revenue per employee”?
- Delivering On The Promise of HR Transformation
from this 2004 article: “Nearly 80 per cent of companies globally have completed or are in the process of, HR transformation, but many HR departments have yet to deliver improvements from the transformation process, and there remains a significant gap between what is expected of HR leaders and what they deliver. An 18-month Mercer Human Resource Consulting study involving 1,100 organisations found that companies are being driven by the need to align the HR function more closely with business objectives and by the desire to offer more strategic support to the organisation.“
But of course, many are clamoring about how great, how powerful, how effective social media tools can be in the business setting. Revolutionary! Think about how great of a recruiting tool it can be! Game changer! And what about as an employee communications tool! Tweet, tweet, tweet! The reality is however that many more are clamoring – likely under their breath – with fear about how you, as an employer, are going to impact their usage of social media.
I had the good fortune of being in New York the other week for BlogHer, a conference dedicated to… nothing but women bloggers. Seriously! Over 3,000 women converged on New York to enthusiastically share with one another about their blogging efforts and learn a trick or two about how to be a better blogger including leveraging blogs for both personal and professional growth. One of the unique features of this particular BlogHer event was a conference track dedicated to jobs and careers for bloggers in which I participated on a panel where we discussed when blogging could possibly hurt your brand. And the question we attempted to answer was this – when there’s an (inevitable?) intersection of your personal and professional lives online, how might it impact your work?
One of the biggest things about BlogHer that left a mark on me was how there are a whole lotta bloggers out there struggling with their “personal brand” and how to be “authentic” (which is what will gain your blog an audience at the end of the day) through not only their blogs but their Twitter streams, or Facebook profiles when their employers or potential employers are likely “Googling” them as part of the employment process. And mainly, there seemed to be a lot of fear on this topic. Specific questions these bloggers asked of me ranged from…
Are employers really checking out what people say and do online? Are employers using information that they may find online about candidates and/or employees in their decision making? Can I be fired for what I say online? Can I be denied a job for what I say online? But what if what I’m blogging about is strictly personal and unrelated to what I do professionally? Do I need to separate my personal online identity and assume two identities so it doesn’t hurt me professionally? And just how do I technically separate that stuff from my professional persona? And is any of this “snooping” on the employer’s end of things legal?
There were questions. Many, many questions. And all were laden with fear. Lots and lots of fear.
Granted, this was a conference for bloggers so the level of fear was likely to be higher. But let’s take a step back and take stock in what we know about the usage of social media in general. Americans spend nearly a quarter of their time online on social networking sites and blogs, up from 15.8 percent just a year ago (43 percent increase) according to new research released from The Nielsen Company. There’s no question about usage. But what employers may be forgetting about, or simply not even considering, is that with social media usage comes a lot of fear based in those very same questions I heard at BlogHer.
Fear comes from the unknown, which I think means simply that there’s a lack of communication in many workplaces about what’s acceptable and what’s not when it comes to social media usage. So what’s an HR pro to do? Communicate clearly, and communicate often. Have a policy on social media usage? If yes, re-review it, then communicate it. If no, develop one, quickly. Beyond this however, as an organization, you’ll have to assume a stance on your current/future workforce’s usage of social media in their personal lives and its potential indirect impact on one’s job. If you were to scroll back up, take a moment, and read through those questions again, would you know how to answer them for your workforce? Or a potential hire? Know where the fear is then get proactive about how you’d respond. There’s fear out there, but there needn’t be.