Wednesday, October 14, 2015

How to Leverage HR to Manage a High-Performing Digital Workforce

HR must be a balance of 'hi-tech' and 'hi-touch.

Like corporate IT, HR is traditionally perceived by business as a support function and a cost center only. However, digital is the age of people, for forward-thinking organizations, the very goal of digital transformation is to build a people-centric business. Generally what HR does is to hire the right people, putting them in the right positions to develop a long-term working relationship.Therefore, HR plays a strategic role in managing today’s multi-generational, multi-cultural, and multi-devicing global workforce.  

HR needs to rebuild or establish an exceptional relationship with the workforce. The workforce needs to trust and have confidence in HR to be their 'advocate' with management at all levels and HR needs to be working to create a more people-centric organisation - one where people wake up and are excited/looking forward to coming into work each day because of the 'value' they receive - not just the paycheck they get. Stop selling fear and sell commercial advantage. Start managing people more and manage issues and risk less. You only have an issue when "people" are motivated to make it an issue. Cross-functional collaboration is strategic imperative in building a high-performing workforce. Leaders need to find advisors with real strategic capability and understanding of business at a grass roots level, and then listen to them. Operations need to recognize that productivity is largely about people and start seeing HR as their strategic ally. HR need to smell the roses and realize no one will take them serious until they can sell their ideas in a way that the managers see a tangible and provide a business advantage.

HR must be a balance of 'hi-tech' and 'hi-touch.' Don't overlook the spread of HR technology as a root cause of the disconnect between HR management and HR leadership. They go hand-in-hand and provide the complete solution - the way to create and deliver value to the workforce and senior management and the organization as a whole. HR needs to help create that 'emotional attachment' to the organization through hi-touch and be in tune with changing or emerging trends, requirements in the workforce whether generational driven or otherwise. Due to many factors, most organizations have incurred a tremendous 'cost of lost opportunity,’ this 'lost opportunity' is holding organizations back from reaching their full potential - from being as competitive as they could be and should be. It is too critical an issue not to get it fixed and fixed right.

The flatter the organization the better - for engagement, accountability, and the freedom to act. The more you need flexibility and speed and the less you are hindered by regulatory or quality requirements, the flatter you want to be. And HR, as aligned to those business objectives, is empowered to support the structure that make the business as competitive as it can be -- fit for purpose. HR needs to understand the types of structures that are really being used at all levels so they can properly support the organization. All structures are a result of some sort of compromise in achieving the 'line of best fit' as one size and shape does not always satisfy all. HR has a significant role to play in enabling the organization to perform and achieve its goals, and that the structure will influence HR's areas of focus and priority. Therefore, HR should be profoundly interested in the nature of the structure because it is HR's role to ask whether at any point in time the structure is appropriate and fit for its purpose, though HR effectiveness is not just dependent on the organizational structure. It is the people in the organization that HR must manage and develop. Flat organizations have a chance to optimize the engagement, accountability and freedom to act if the right people management practices are applied. Structure alone cannot produce better results, the organization dynamics such as culture, structure, effective communication, proactive actions, and efficiency can jointly achieve the effectiveness.

Like businesses, HR operates in different environments and in a constantly changing landscape - its structure, skills and deliverables should coordinate with and complement the business. HR team needs to be skilled appropriately - including though not limited to project management, analytics, and financial skills. HR organization needs to be flexible and agile enough to evolve as the company's business and competitive landscape evolve. HR head and C-levels need to regularly ensure HR focuses on outcomes that add value to the business, rather than on traditional processes. In short, HR is a strategic partner to build a high-performing and high-mature workforce in digital organizations today.


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