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Show us how big your brave is

What's your aspiration as an HR professional?

By Ian Hendry

Lane Allen has said, "You cannot escape the results of your thoughts. Whatever your present environment may be, you will fall, remain or rise with your thoughts, your vision, your ideal. You will become as small as your controlling desire; as great as your dominant aspiration.”

I am sure that we all have personal aspirations as human beings. It is probable that we also aspire to be more than we are. In our lives, if we were to truly strive for perfection, we may fail in the attempt, but there is no excuse not to toil to attain it.

The same might be said of our aspiration as an HR professional. For some, it might be to create a place of work where employees can feel valued and achieve important personal fulfillment. Often, to do that, we must work through other leaders, and one of the primary roles of a CHRO is to develop the very best leaders for the organization, while simultaneously thinking about nurturing their own successors.

At our May 26th event at SCNetwork, we are going to tackle, among other things, how HR is developing future leaders able to embrace the realities of a VUCA world?

Some of you will have had the interesting debate with executive peers about business strategy driving HR strategy. There is little doubt that part of a CHRO’s mandate is to evaluate the human capability and capacity of the organization.

However, it surely begs the question, what’s the point of developing a business strategy if you don’t have the human assets to achieve it? It is logical to postulate that knowing the human capability of the organization must be understood first, before you embark on the creation of a business strategy which has any chance of being attainable.

It is therefore somewhat obvious that building business and talent strategies should be done in concert and, as it evolves, the CHRO should be assessing the gaps and how easy/difficult it is to manage any voids. Our upcoming meeting will put three CHROs on the spot to share with us how they are managing to do that.  

This is no easy task. We know just how fast many industries are changing. Uber is now old news. Consumers are driving digital banking adoption, for example, and in Europe, we see the emergence of branchless banks. These “neobanks” are competing with the big banks, but also with the Amazons, and the Googles, who have immense power. We learn that Facebook is encouraging companies to use automated bots to handle customer interactions, and brands including Bank of America, eBay and Expedia are lining up to try out the technology. How do you organize for these types of challenges?

As executive teams struggle with both immediate and emergent challenges to the business lines, the CHRO has other variables too. Just in these past few days, the Business Insider reports that two-thirds of the millennial population plan to leave their current organization by 2020. For those CHROs breathing a sigh of relief that this is a long way off, a quarter of those surveyed will move within the next year.

 Another source offers that 60 per cent of millennials stay at a job for less than three years — and replacing them costs companies billions annually. Let’s consider that millennials look for companies that align with their core values, so how can a company ingrained in out-of-date biases adapt to that? Whose role is it to place a spotlight on workplace productivity?

HBR’s recent “The Paradox of Workplace Productivity” article presented U.S. government data that suggests that overall labour productivity has only grown one to two per cent per year during the tech boom. Let’s remember that technology is supposed to spur productivity.

In the case study cited in the article, the majority of the company’s revenue came through a large ecosystem of partners (e.g. resellers, manufacturers, etc.). It was found that at least 50 per cent of the total time employees spent engaging with these partners had no correlation with enterprise value. Under the microscope, there was personal productivity (“Does anyone ever say they are not SO busy?”), yet many of the activities undertaken were at best redundant, or potentially even value destroying.

All this busy-ness, yet sadly, devoid of organizational productivity. Bottom-line — value drivers were bogged down by overhead and bureaucracy. Wouldn’t organizational effectiveness be part of the CHRO M.O.?

As I reflect on SCNetwork’s events this year, we have raised issues on the front burner for many CHROs: mediocrity in leadership, building a coaching culture, leveraging analytics, and defusing the impact of behavioural bias. Numerous consulting firms predicting the future raise the spectre of the changing nature of work, technological advancements, talent shortages, addressing over-regulation, and many others against a back-drop of dis-engagement.

Lots of challenges will be faced, so as professionals, is it our aspiration to make the playoffs, or is it to be the best in the world? Is it to make a decent living, or is it to help create a legacy in the organization in which we serve and help support? Bold aspirations require courage. Just how brave are you?

© Copyright Canadian HR Reporter, Thomson Reuters Canada Limited. All rights reserved.

Ian Hendry

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