Gaurav Hirey, Group Director HR & Talent Development, Teledirect Telecommerce
HR transformation seems to be the buzzword these days! Most companies claim they are redefining HR by using artificial intelligence, analytics and even experimenting with chatbots. In the past year, there seems to be an exponential rise in the number of HR professionals who seem to be now tagging themselves as HR transformation experts. While most of them are seen on social media putting out several discourses on the importance of transformation and some even mentioning some of their transformational activities, very few have actually spoken about how it is really done on the ground or what are the real challenges or issues that they are facing in getting this transformation journey started. The core question that seems to remain unanswered is how they really are making this transformation happen.
For too long now there has been talk of HR transformation strategy and it seems about time that someone put it in “real” terms. I am taking a stab at doing this because it is important to address some basic questions about HR Transformation which till now no one seems to be willing to comment on.
1. Why is there a need for HR transformation?
2. What really is HR transformation?
3. Who are we transforming?
4. Where will this transformation happen?
5. How will transformation happen?
Times have changed and it is important that the HR function also keep pace with time and ensure that they change with the times. The workforce is getting more and more diverse and with Gen Y’ers taking up leadership positions and Gen Z’s entering the workforce, the pace and the mediums of work have changed drastically. Today, having a strong and great infrastructure backed with a great HR function is a given without which the workforce cannot operate and the company will not be able to sustain an employer brand that attracts the best talent.
The way of managing talent is more proactive rather than reactive, more data-based than intuitive, more collaborative than directive and surely more inclusive than exclusive. If companies want to attract, retain and grow the best talent, then HR transformation is needed to support it and in places even lead it by example.
The age old ways of having multiple systems are being replaced by a one window system that meets all the employee needs. The access to these systems has moved from one screen to multiple screens. Instant messaging has become the norm and communication is far fluid than ever before. If these things are already not happening at your workplace then you are in the wrong place!
This is what transformation is and HR needs to lead it today. Creating an ecosystem and a medium that facilitates collaboration and provides employees with an experience that they want to return to every day. Ensuring objectives are clearly defined and communicated, and while there is freedom there is a control to ensure everyone is moving towards the same goals!
A big misconception is that HR transformation is changing people! It’s not. You cannot change people unless they want to change but you can create a system or a medium that is better than what they are using now and influence them to move to it. HR needs to stop telling people to change their mindset and focus on initiatives and programs that showcase how new technology and a new way of doing things will benefit them, define clearly what’s in it for them and encourage and support them to adopt and move to the new way!
The core challenge for HR is to clearly communicate what’s in it for the individual if they move over to using new tools and technology. Normally the resistance to change is because people do not understand the change and fear it. HR must clarify and create transparency in what is changing and not target a person to change but focus on creating a system or framework that motivates people to adopt or move over to using the new tools and technologies.
Transformation is happening everywhere, the digital age has set in and today everyone is digitally savvy and is expected to know the minimum needed to operate in a digital environment. People may have their likes and dislikes about using new tools or broadcasting on social media but they cannot make it an excuse to stay away and remain ignorant of the environment in which they are expected to operate.
HR professionals today can no longer say they are not good with numbers or don’t like marketing. Analytics and employer branding both need these skills and if one wants to succeed then one needs to embrace these new skills freely. They are far easier to understand and learning them will help HR impact businesses more.
Probably the most unrated and unspoken part of digital transformation is the how. How does one define a new path, implement a new tool or create a new way of work when it is obviously not something one has done before. End of day while there will be multiple theories on strategy there are extremely few on the execution of the strategy. Yes, transformation is all about execution and its success is all about adoption. It takes time and effort and at times is frustrating as it means you must influence and convince people that the new way is the best way for the organization or the function.
The best way to do this is looking for some easy, visible wins and then continue laboring and building the system in the back end. So, what does that mean? As an example maybe start with talent acquisition because it is visible and recruiters are normally looking for faster and easier ways to hire and maybe more open to adopting new technologies. So things like auto posting on job sites, using filtering questions to weed out the irrelevant profiles will go a long way in exciting the team to try a new way of doing things. In the backend, the building of recruitment database and a search engine will then continue which would be a bit more demanding in terms of their commitment and time.
Well at the end of the day the success of your transformation journey depends on only one thing which is adoption. No matter how great the tools or technologies are, if people do not adopt them then all the effort is for nothing. So next time you think transformation
1. look at it from the users perspective,
2. plan it for them rather than doing it for the sake of having it on your work plan.
3. Accept that it will be a journey that will have multiple and complex challenges so get a good team in place who has had some experience in transformation.
It is the wrong people who can end up losing time and money for the company and create a fear of transforming which would then take a much longer time to turn around. Focus on adoption and make it user-friendly, work at removing the barriers that stop people from adopting, make it easy for them to learn, experiment and move to the new tools and technology. Building the capability of the team itself is the most ignored part of transformation and for you to do this right, focus on training the HR team first making them advocates before you try extending it to the organization. It will take time and effort, so don’t expect a change overnight, keep at it till you reach the tipping point! All the best always remember—in the end it is all about execution and adoption!