Sunday, May 17, 2015

How to Innovate Talent Management

Talent Management innovation needs to be seen in the context of business-level strategy.

Digital is the age of people. Hence, HR has to transform from an administrative supporting function to a strategic business partner. More and more very large organizations are moving “business” people into senior HR roles, particularly within talent management. Looked at positively, this reflects the increasing strategic importance of talent management and how some HR processes are being transformed into digitized business processes that underpin the innovation capability of the organization.

HR Innovation needs to be seen in the context of business-level strategy: Although the business strategy of the organization may not be predominantly innovation based in every organization, innovation is a key element of business strategy in the digital age. HR needs to make sure they are in line with the business strategy; or further, the challenge is actually to be proactive and drive both the shaping and execution of strategy, not to be subservient to it. HR needs first and foremost to be a "systems architect," where each company "system" is unique if not idiosyncratic to the circumstances. It does not mean that they treat people as "objects," but it does mean that whatever talent management programs they run align with the business. More specifically, HR needs to focus on people programs that will align people to the business in the long run, puts the right person in the right position at the right time. It does require HR to be flexible. Also, you don't have to "take orders," but be ready to show management facts if you want to make a recommendation counter to theirs.

Innovation in HR requires, at least, two factors: Gut and trust are not mutually exclusive of one another, yet not required for both to be present either. One might help inspire the other.
-Guts: In terms of innovation, complex business challenges require an experimental approach, not an experiential approach. That takes guts. Innovation is about emerging practices. HR people tend to be creative types. YET, when it comes to introducing "new" - it becomes much easier to justify taking actions where high performing organizations have already performed implementation and achieved some degree of success. However, most of the organizations seek the safety net far too quickly in the planning, rather than allowing the innovative spirit a freer reign. The need to be able to justify seems to have taken precedent over the challenge associated with pioneering innovation.

Trust: It is much easier to consider implementing new thoughts when the C-level executive team trusts your judgments and your ability to produce. When HR earns support from organizational leadership, that proposed initiatives will achieve predictable outcomes - you will gain acknowledgment that you can solve the challenges which surface within the organizations.

Cross-functional Collaboration: HR as the steward of the most invaluable asset in business - people, has to work more closely with other functions in order to provide tailored talent solutions across the business ecosystem. Especially at the age of Big Data, IT, and HR shall work hand-in-hand to manage data, information to analyze talent trends and capture business insight. Good information is always a good place to start. Then coupled with the personal touch, engagement, resolution, and development can follow. However, many organizations are holding back or being uncomfortable with applying technology in this way, it is important to consider how bridging this gap really goes hand in hand with attracting the right team members to integrate automation and analytics with IT and other functions.

HR needs to become the culture shaker - to shape the culture of innovation: The culture has to invite and encourage innovation, otherwise, after a while, even the most outspoken, creative, innovative people stop offering improvements, ideas, etc. because they get the "that will never work" mentality, or other bureaucratic roadblocks. It starts with innovating HR first. The problem is it requires a radically different approach and an abandonment of the drive for best practices and benchmarks. If HR is to make a breakthrough, it should configure itself to drive differentiated value for the unique organizational challenges, opportunities, culture, products, markets, etc. An HR function supporting an organization that needs innovation for competitive advantage must look different and deliver different value from one that must enable operational excellence. Yet, too often the similarities between HR functions outweigh the differences. This is the Achilles heel of HR. HR must become the voice of innovation and amplify the message broadly, in order to scale the next innovation practices to the corporate level and move up the organization’s digital maturity. That way it will prove its value and really earn a very nice seat at the top table.

HR will see the urgency of being innovative- because the frequent digital disruption is inevitable and ideally, it should be common practice for a true HR leader to partner with organizational leadership and solve the issues, set the course for people management and business growth in a more innovative way.


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