Controller – Support – Enabler
I came across an interesting article about HR transformation from controllers to becoming supporters and now enablers. This got me thinking what is it that we as HR’s need to do to shrug off its gatekeeper image and help organizations adapt to the new realities of work?
HR has historically been seen as controllers. There is no doubt that in some organizations, HR is perceived as a roadblock as opposed to helping them along. In recent past there has been a shift towards seeing HR as controllers to being supporters and now enablers. Below are some Key points that appealed to me.
Lead the Mindshift
Both the workforce and the workplace are changing beyond recognition. We are now seeing the emergence of a four-generation workforce in which at one end people are working way beyond conventional retirement age, and at the other ‘digital native’ employees are entering the workforce with a whole new set of expectations. Thanks to advances in technology, the traditional 9-5 is no longer the only way, and more people are beginning to work any time and any place. Yesterday’s competitors are becoming today’s collaborators, and business has become truly global. It’s a perfect opportunity to open a debate with senior managers about what impact these changes are having on the business, and the role HR really needs to play. Take time to understand the views and perspectives of others, then draw up a list of what you see to be the priorities, how you’d go about addressing them and start the debate.
Exploit new scientific understanding
The past year has seen an explosion of interest in the science of human behavior. Research has given us new insights into what motivates people, how they learn and what makes them behave the way they do. Now is the time to exploit the wealth of information and find ways to feed these new psychological insights into its people policies and L&D activities.
Empower the line
Organizations can have the most forward-thinking people policies ever, but it’s how those policies are enacted on the front line that really matters. Do line managers know how to engage and motivate staff – and why that matters? Are they equipped to have constructive career conversations with their people? What information and support do they need to balance the needs of the business with the expectations of their teams? HR has a huge role to play in enabling line managers to get the best out of their people. If we are to achieve peak performance, we need to “teach, support, coach and enable line managers to do it better”.
HR cannot deliver the agile, adaptive workforces organizations need by itself. The profession needs to work closely with colleagues in finance, IT, and marketing to develop the strategies that will add real value to the business. The professions have traditionally viewed each other with a certain amount of skepticism – and HR is not always respected by its peers – but it’s time to break down the boundaries and work collaboratively towards a common aim. Identify initiatives that you can work on together, a different approach to management training, improving the use of your HR systems, even something as simple as agreeing with finance common definitions for reporting headcount.
Define a clear route with the right checkpoints
HR plays a central role in coordinating employees’ change-related workloads so they do not become overwhelmed. This requires a complete understanding of the transformation process and careful planning as HR delineates clear checkpoints of the process. Building in milestones and success metrics can create the added momentum for change.
Leverage technology to gain flexibility
Transformation exercises may require moving people quickly into new roles, often with rapid shifts in career paths, training requirements, and compensation. HR systems need to be agile in response, capturing these changes and giving employees the information they need to evolve with the business.
Tap into cultural pride points
Culture is the unwritten rule for how people interact and get things done in the organization. It plays a great role in how the policies for change are implemented. HR leaders can tap into the cultural strong points to assimilate the transformation outcomes with it. This will help the incoming changes within the organization become a part of the culture and hence create greater acceptance for such a change.
Unleash the power of informal influencers
To make any transformation process successful, there is a need to bring influencers within the company onboard. Highly influential people are often at the heart of the change process, regardless of their official positions. HR can identify these informal leaders and work with them as cultural change agents to build support for change.
Managing and engaging the right people across the organization
HR has the ability to tie the entire organization together during the transformation period. This can be done by communicating consistent messages through multiple channels across the organization and engaging stakeholders at various levels. Everyone from entry-level employees to middle management to the C-suite needs to be engaged, knowing what to do to make the change initiative a success. They also need to understand that HR is there to support them as they undergo the transformation.
Managing the complexity of transformation in an organization with diversified business lines across countries can be a big barrier for senior leadership. This coupled with our natural resistance to change, makes it difficult for companies to adapt to the changing external conditions. With the proper HR intervention, the company can be brought together to ensure that the transformation process drives productivity.
“One of the biggest problems during a transformation period is the internal resistance to it. To mitigate resistance, HR should engage in a consistent, holistic dialog with everyone impacted by the change.”
About Ravdeep Singh
Ravdeep Singh has over 14 years of experience and has worked with organizations like BasWare, Primus Telecommunications India Ltd, People Strong, Sapient Corp. & FCS Software Solutions. Ravdeep holds a MBA HR from University of East London.