While the world keeps talking about moving “digital”, there is a stereotype that gets blanketed – HR hardly adds value to an organisation as they are not prepared to lead the company into a digital work environment and that maybe it is time their seat at the table is revoked.
I see it slightly differently. Within the next 5 years, the role of HR will drastically shift. This is no longer a hunch, this is now fact the likes of Josh Bersin have proven. HR will become part bots, part deep level expertise coaches for the business (internal consultant with deep expertise). But, should you replace your people with robots? Find our views on that here. So with that, I have a slightly different question.
The ownership of managing people is not on HR- it never has been, and never should be. It’s on the very bosses that claim the credit for the good work their people do but when the very same people fail to deliver, it is suddenly HR’s issue.
Time and time again sitting with Business-line leaders, I hear them say something along the tune of “We don’t have time for this, we have a business to run”. But what is your business if not a collection of individuals? People are not easy to deal with, I get that, but we can’t solve the people problem like we solve a process issue. We cannot legislate for human nature but we can learn to build brilliant experiences that lead to brilliant results.
Alex Ferguson, former Manchester United football manager, once said, “They (the players) win, We draw, I lose”. That level of accountability and understanding of how to get the best out of people seem to be common-sense but that is not really so common if anything it is becoming more scarce.
I have always opined that HR must learn to stop being a cost centre and become a profit centre. It was nice to know that a recent McKinsey article also started saying the same – but this surely sounds easier said than done.
The role of HR can no longer evolve. IT MUST REVOLUTIONISE. Start by drastically changing the composition of the HR personnel within each department.
I believe the 1/3 rules apply here. 1/3rd of your HR department should be Mathematicians and Statisticians and people exposed deeply in the field of Behavioural Psychology. Another 1/3 should be business/functional (internal) consultants and only 1/3 should know anything about HR. Don’t trust me? Ask Laszlo Bock, former Senior VP of People Operations at Google, who also seems to think so.
The reason for this is really simple. The HR teams of the future are going to be the kind that generate data based on experiments, gather data from sources all around the world and build a story on how the company can leverage these sets of data to craft a story to drive ultimate performance.
The HR of the future is one that can sit with CEOs and Boards and have the same conversation that the Heads of Strategy and CIOs are having- What levers can we pull to make sure we are able to achieve our goals?
I crave for the day a head of HR can sit with the CEO and Board to draw a line of things that needs to happen with its people directly to “Target Share Price”.
This day, I truly believe, is not far away.
In Memory of the Great Jack Welch, allow me to end this with one of my favourite quotes from him to CEOs – one that seems so simple but so nuanced and insightful;
“If your CFO is more important than your CHRO; you’re nuts”Jack Welch
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