Sunday, June 7, 2015

Can HR Navigate the digital Disruptions via Deploying Talent Management Analytics

Being able to effectively analyze data is the key differentiator between a 20th Century and 21st Century.
Disruption is often defined as 'an event that results in a displacement or discontinuity,' 'disturbance or problems that interrupt an event, activity, or process,' and you easily see that events, activities, or processes have impact on other events, activities, or processes. It is a constant condition of change. Nothing stays the same. The rest is a matter of degree, not a question of whether it's change or not. Does change beget change? Can HR lead organizational changes by navigating the digital disruptions and deploying talent management analytics?

Disruption is a way of life. In fact it has started defining the way business works. HR is not immune to it. Does a change in the quantity of available HR data generate any other change? The implication is that it doesn't, or at least hasn't, and won't unless it's mere presence becomes disruptive and only then motivates a response. They need to embrace change wholeheartedly and align it to the business needs. Definitely disruption creates real change, Unfortunately HR practices evolution has been really slow in the last decade and HR analytics is still an empty marketing word for a lot of HR managers, many HR practitioners consider “data” to be a four-letter word and thus to be avoided. Even more unfortunately some HR practitioners have decided that lots of data is good to have and are expecting employees to provide it without considering what time that takes out of the working day or even what HR is going to do with the data once it is to hand. To drive change, you must have a sense of urgency! The greatest opportunity for HR is to understand the business and the data so they can embrace and champion change!

The change in the availability of data is going to be disruptive one way or another. Fast moving technology makes lots of new things possible. And lots of the new things that happen appear and disappear just as fast, so we shouldn't be dazzled by the marketing hype. Fear is a valuable marketing tool, but you need to use things that make a difference for you, not bend with the wind. HR will either ignore it until someone else reveals the value of it and disrupts HR from the outside, or HR will grab it and manage it properly and manage the disruptions that analysis generates. Said another way, if you don't disrupt your own status quo, someone else will. More data and the results of that data, face the same issue and ultimately the same question: "Will the data analysis get us from point A to point B?" Many HR departments devote a lot of resources to find results to issues that only they see as paramount to success. In the end they are still going to come across the same problem - getting buy-in for the practical application of data driven solutions. Disruption per se may have a rather detrimental impact on change, especially when it forces unplanned or untimely change. Good practitioners are ought to anticipate need for change before disruption takes place.

Being able to effectively analyze data is the key differentiator between a 20th Century and 21st Century. In the world of exponentially increasing digital disruption, change is inevitable, but you must know how far to bend. For HR professional, gathering data is the easy part, analyzing and extrapolating information that will push the business forward is the key skill that will set-apart the true HR professional and make a business case for avoiding outsourcing this vital function. People clamor for change, and they usually get it. But simply changing a thing doesn't mean that progress has been made. You have to engage the sixth sense to decipher when to make change, and to discern what to throw out and what to keep. But most important of all, you need to have a plan. Set out goals and work at them in a systematic way. Setting timelines, and sometimes resetting those timelines. Because people are not perfect and even the plans will need modification due to unforeseen obstacles. All in all change is good and you must embrace and adapt to it, because with change comes new innovations. If you have a good change and data analytics strategy in place, you should not be fearful to get disrupted, and adapt to change more seamlessly. However,  if that is the case, it means that the change is warranted and in that case you just have to go with the flow.

Data is not the issue. Analytics just means asking interesting questions to produce new business or customer insights. Technological innovations are not disruptive in the same way as many other types of disruptions - their influence is much slower, almost evolutionary because the true changes come from a) the technology b) the human context and c) the factors that affect implementation. The role in HR as the front line is to help employees embrace and adapt to technological changes. If you can successfully navigate the "disruptions," you can lead the way. Disruption is not a new concept. Disruption is why there is any change, ever! You need smart data analysts to help make it work, but you need to be brave enough to ask the questions such as:
-how do we know for sure our training makes a difference to people's performance?
-how do we know for sure the people we call 'talent' are really that special?
-how do we know we are eliminating unconscious bias at hiring process?
-how do we know our online application tools aren't filtering out precisely the kind of new thinking that could reinvigorate our business?

Change can be an opportunity, but at the end of the day, it needs to be all about moving the business numbers upwards. For sure there are different speeds and different stages of capability maturity to deal with changes. It is very true that unless there is a disruption, people very rarely move out of their comfort zones. Growth is not possible unless we are willing to move out of our comfort zone. Hence disruption acts as a catalyst in growth by pushing us out of our comfort zones. It is imperative for us to keep pace with these changes that seem to evolve every day. The role in HR as the front line to help employees embrace and adapt to technological changes. If you can successfully navigate the digital "disruptions," you can lead the digital way.


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