HR Capability : Personal Strategies for Success

HR Capability : Personal Strategies for Success

2016 will see HR teams operating in an environment of weakening corporate profits and low productivity growth (Conference Board’s Global Economic Outlook). In the first extended tight labor market in at least 15 years the demand is to acquire, retain, and develop the kind of talent that drives business forward while keeping the costs of that talent as low as possible in a period of faster compensation growth. What a perfect storm!

HR has to bring their “A” game to the table

HR has been the engine to drive organization wide transformation – It was learning and leadership in the last few years but organizations are now focused on design and transformation. After years of struggling to drive employee engagement retention, leadership, and build a meaningful culture, executives (92% respondents) now see a critical need to redesign the organization itself (2016 Global Human Capital Trends by Deloitte)

Manoj Garg, CHRO at Dr.Lal Path Labs echoes the sentiment that strategically HR needs to focus on Change management, Transformation and Talent development

The Deloitte report shows that HR function is taking on a new role as the steward and designer of these new people processes. The mission of the HR leader is evolving from that of “chief talent executive” to “chief employee experience officer.” HR is being asked to simplify its processes, help employees manage the flood of information at work, and build a culture of collaboration, empowerment and innovation.

Lim Zhi Rong, Regional HR Business Lead, at Mondelez believes that organizations would be expecting HR to enable business transformations

Is HR Capability a case of “Cobbler’s Shoe” syndrome?

The HCLI – HR leadership Stall point study finds that the HR needs to work on their capabilities to add greater value to the businesses. According to the study – Key challenges that stall the development of the HR professionals is self-confidence, new age HR skills, inadequate talent coming into the HR space, mobility concerns and HR not seen as a strategic business partner.

Organizations are doing their bit to develop HR leadership and bench strength – it’s a matter of perspective on how much more and what else they can do to get a better outcome.

What can “you” do to create impact faster?

Here are a few practical ideas

Be curious – Connect the dots: We live in an absolutely content rich (sometimes overload) world. Explore content with a sense of curiosity. Connect the dots across seemingly unrelated topics. – You would be surprised how many dots you connect! For example Banks are using photos of cheque that are uploaded by account holders from their smart phone apps (no need to find the nearest branch to drop the cheque) – what does that bode for our employee data forms and manager self service?

Immerse yourself in the business: Credibility with your business comes from knowing it. Make the effort to really understand what the business sells, how it does that and how money is made. Connect the dots – by asking the right questions – back to the earlier point – be curious and learn more. Try to create for yourself experiences that go beyond your comfort zone to learn new skills (Crucibles of Leadership, Bennis &Thomas, HBR 2002). For example – Go on a sales visit with the sales team to truly appreciate the challenges they face. Go visit the manufacturing plant and walk the floor.

Lim Zhi Rong, Regional HR Business Lead, at Mondelez draws on his personal experience believes that HR will develop a balanced perspective by taking on both Regional and Country HR roles.

Get comfortable with Data: Data drive decision-making is important. Get comfortable with understanding data – whether it is financial statements or compensation numbers. Many times we look at numbers and get overwhelmed. Breakdown the definition into simpler words. For me what has worked the best is to think like a layperson – and be able to define the terms in simple terms. It’s important to know the terms and how they interact with each other – but no need to get all entangled in the jargon. For example: This is how I can describe some terms; Gross Margin is how much $ you sell products for - what it costs to make it. Market data is what companies we choose to compare against are paying for similar roles

Christian Neubert, Global HR Executive underscores the importance of predictive data driven people decisions to diagnose and transform organizations.

Think Simple : One of the things we dislike most about consultants is that they tell us what we already know – and charge us a bomb for it. As HR people we need to get better at understanding our unique contexts and able to think about solutions that work. The key is to think simple small steps that will create meaningful impacts. For example – you are struggling with filling positions – spend some time on LinkedIn and / or send an email to some key managers to ask for referrals rather than think of designing and implementing an applicant tracking and recruitment system that get feeds from big data, is managed by a RPO provider and provides the profiles to the line manager through a smartphone app… probably over exaggerated but true to some degree.

Work across industries or functions: Working across industries can be a great way to broaden the knowledge base. I have myself across a number of different industries and it has helped tremendously to broaden the knowledge base. Working in different function will help - you see the elephant from different places in the room. For example – volunteer to work on projects that involved - cross functional and / or multi-cultural teams. That would help.

Manoj Garg, CHRO at Dr. Lal Path Labs says “Working in different industries has given me the opportunity to develop a much better perspective – that allows me to provide richer insight to the business in my conversations with them”.

Network and pay it forward (don’t be just a taker!)

I have come across professionals who can put speed daters to shame in the way that they can “work” the room – smile, exchange cards, smile and move on. Nowadays you don’t even need to work the room – you have auto emailers, social media and the lot to come across as very social and polite. This does not work.

Take the time to know the people - see what you can offer to them – give first. Have a focused conversation find commonalities and seek to understand differences. See how you can grow by working with others (stop with the lip service) - not working them.

Contribute to forums, actively help, spread your knowledge / insight and be an active advocate and supporter of the people who are doing that.

In conclusion - As HR professionals can choose to wait for our organizations, development consultants, coaches and B schools to design, coach and help us develop to be the next CHRO or we can also do our bit to enhance our capability and be ready for the next wave of change. 

The HR community has a lot to offer to each other, we have to lean in and leverage this collective knowledge to stay ahead of the curve. Give generously from the wealth of your knowledge and it will come back to you multifold - the power to make this happen resides with us and it is up to us to share and grow together

I end this article with piece quoted in Jeffrey Pfeffer’s book “Leadership BS”

“Rudy Crew chancellor of new city’s schools while on a tour to a school went into a classroom which was maybe second or third grade. There he saw an African America child working on a math problem. The kid was not having a lot of success as after he did the problem – the eraser would come out, he would erase the answer and would start over.

Crew went up to the boy and asked him how he was doing and how it was going. The child replied that he was doing math and was having trouble doing it. 

Rudy told the child “Keep at it – you will get it”

As Crew was ready to leave the class a while later – the same child came up to crew and asked

“Mr. Who are you?”

Crew replied that he was the Chancellor – the person in charge of all of the city schools

“Wow, you are the man” said the boy and then in the way only small children can with complete openness and lack of malice, the kid asked crew “ Are you any good at your job ?”

“Some days I think I am and some days I am not sure” replied Rudy

The pupil looked up at crew, smiled and said

“Well keep at it – you’ll get it” !

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