Simon Says


Trend or just a flash in the pan?

Lately I had a lot of reasons to reflect on why HR is such a fashion victim. Sometimes in silence, often in anxiety and sometimes a little more loudly. More and more organisations recognize that employees are actually the most important resource and that talent is scarce. In addition, employees are becoming more demanding when it comes to being able to contribute to a workplace. As a result HR’s mandate naturally rises in significance. Yet still, more and more people who aren’t behavior scientists claim to know how people matters should be handled. Strong ‘opinions’ are often formed by googling and cherry picking from initiatives or approaches rolled out by great organisations. Often those companies have been great about vocalising the things they do for their employees, but unfortunately this rarely tells the whole story and can overlook the differences in culture, purpose and even possibilities.

Would any other occupation hire a person without the right skillset in a fierce competitive market? Get real.

Would even the most trend sensitive profession or function consider trying new things called out by sales people claiming they can get your organisation ahead of the curve, even when you know they don’t have your experience and knowledge? I still haven’t heard one case when this phenomena has occurred. Take finance, legal or tech as examples. When consultants are trying to upsell products, processes, apps or way of working without any domain experience. When those consultants have never been on the inside, done the actual work, with documented results, but still with a whole bag of goodies on how to solve for specific problem or trend, does the professional invest in these things? No, never.

In HR, or should I say people, talent or even culture – this seems to be ok. Since you’re a person, does that mean you are a behavioral scientist? Like if you consume marketing campaigns, can you do marketing for a living? If you sit next to a coder long enough, can you call yourself an engineer? I have a hard time seeing any company win if they don’t take pride in having trained and highly professional HR specialists supporting, developing, stretching, growing, challenging and pushing back on employees and leaders. A HR function that is interested in both people and results. A function that has an inner compass, relies on knowledge, science and is data informed. One that dares and is willing to lead change. And that realizes that it is never about just being popular. Yes, there has to be some candy but we also provide dental work – for a sustainable healthy growth of the business. When our people are doing fine, we are doing fine. When they grow, we grow. And we are passionate doing so, but love in a long term relationship also includes tough love.

Trend #1 What should we label the function?!

Hey, there’s good and relevant or bad and over-processed HR. The fact that you rename your work doesn’t make it gold. So all people, within HR or outside, if renaming your work is your main focus – you have way too much time on your hands. Work on you deliverables, stay relevant and get shit done. Stay close to the core, the business and rely on your know-how.

Trend #2 HR Tech

HR tech should be explored and taken seriously, but also challenged and put under the microscope. When it occurred to many that there’s a lot of money in HR Tech and digitalization we got inundated by apps and services that are supposed to amplify motivation, recruiting, testing, employer branding, develop leaders, gather team feedback and more. Much more. As always, it’s important to go back to your why and what you are trying to achieve. When the why is clear, the how is easy.

Trend #3 People Analytics

Don’t be data led. Be data informed. Statistics are like a bikini. They show a lot, but don’t reveal the most important parts. Don’t get me wrong, this is a trend I like, but the whole truth doesn’t sit with the data collected. When used in a smart way, flavored with experience and the courage to take a contrarian bet it’s unbeatable. And yes, some of your bets will be winning bets while other will be losing bets. This is when it is important to fail fast and learn even faster.

Trend #4 Scrap yearly performance reviews

Scrapping time consuming, tedious yearly performance reviews with heavy admin. Why do I even bother calling this a trend when we did so three years ago? Because it seems like when more and more companies follows your move all of a sudden it’s talked about as a given. Let’s be honest about it. When you are one of the first to do so, you will not be a prophet in your own organisation nor in the wider HR community. When other companies are first though, this is when your employees will be on your doorstep. It’s a known reverse psychology effect we have to learn to live with within HR. That doesn’t mean that we should blindly should follow. Culture is a complex thing – if you move some things here, it’ll change something over there.

But now, when the annual development discussion is officially dismantled there will be a lot of consultant companies groping the business idea of how to replace it. 2015 was the year of experimentation for how we went from performance management to performance development and designing most, if not all, of our tools and processes based on the belief in a growth mindset.

It hurts to develop and change. If you don’t have the scars to show it, you just played it safe…

Trend #5 Talent density

Talent acquisition has gone digital! It’s become a proactive lean in approach with data driven pipelining to constantly have a healthy funnel to manage your talent density. This is nothing new for all the global high tech companies out there, but there a huge rise in companies scouting for a diverse type of the right drivers with the right driving license, and also, more recently, spiced with behaviors described as “curiosity and “quick learning ability”. Is hiring for culture (or attitude) and training for skills a real trend that’s here to stick around this time?

Trend #6 Push inclusion

The battle of the number and why we are working with diversity the way we do is still important for obvious reasons. But, to truly crack the code of inclusion is a trend I’m hoping to see way more of. To create a culture where everyone can be the best version of themselves and where a good idea is a good idea regardless of who came up with it and who voiced it, is a truly great place to aspire to be.

So you tell me, are these trends or a flashes in the pan?

And please promise to stop making decisions built on fear of missing out or because a game of Simon Says is the safest route. We need leadership, not followship.

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