One of the topics @HRTechFest2017 is “”bringing our organization on the journey: Culture Awareness and our Role as HR leaders”. Over the years, your role in the people and culture function has undergone many transformations and understandably, your function has been labelled differently either by your own peers or by the outside world. On one hand, you may have received criticism for being “bureaucratic, dysfunctional and out of touch with reality” while on the other hand, you have been recognised as ‘human resource champions’. I would like to acknowledge that the business world has rapidly changed in the last 20 years and you have had to adapt accordingly, whether you were given the time and opportunity to prepare for it or not. Case studies have been written of high performance cultures where your dedication to people empowerment have been applauded. Simultaneously, I also empathise that you have also been at the receiving end of true bashings, whether it was justified or not.
I agree with the evaluation made by Dave Ulrich’s 2017 study that looked at the evolving role over the last 30 years. Ulrich attests that People Leaders are their own harshest critics despite having made progress. While individual case studies of various companies may differ, the competency levels of the group have risen overall. Yet, there is no need for complacency because we cannot state that HR has arrived. It is fair to say that it has been a journey, one that I support whole heartedly.
One cannot deny that the HR role is powerful and if performed well, can be strategic. However, we also witness that we are challenged by the mountain of administration that is highly labour intensive. We have been advocating that precious time can be saved using automation where possible, allowing this time to be devoted to driving change by empowering managers rather than policing them.
HR technology solutions come with inbuilt tracking monitors that can provide instant reports on progress updates. These automations can provide you the relief to stop focussing on tasks completion and start building manager capabilities. We believe that HR can become that true agent of cultural change. Pip Youngman, Pivot’s CEO believes that traditional thinking was ‘what gets measured gets done’. The new thinking is to trust and empower managers by allowing them to use their emotional intelligence. Hence, rather than building a process and enforcing a blanket policy for all mangers, you use the data on hand to drive and recognise good behaviours and address any behaviour change needed of managers by coaching the selected few. This will be a much more efficient use of your time and change the perception that HR is a policeman.
I personally look forward to seeing the true skills of the People and Culture profession being utilised. In my world, I see those HR skills as empowering ones: negotiation, handling difficult situations with great tact, employing emotional intelligence, nurturing and supporting where needed and being firm where required. These skills have been taken for granted. I hope to see you bring that back in a new style, a new sass that takes control, because I sincerely believe that you are the driver that brings about true cultural change.