Go ahead and google HR transformation and you’ll find so much and nothing at all. Mostly, you’ll find consulting firms not defining it, but rather making a case that you need it.
So here is a definition for this generation of transformation that we can debate: HR Transformation is the change required to ensure HR effectiveness in the digital age. It is successfully executing on our objectives as an HR function even though everything has changed.
Because digitalization is the central theme, many HR organizations think that it’s the point of the change. But digitalization is the driver of transformation, and effectiveness is the point of it. You’re probably saying to yourself right now, “Duh. Of course, it is.” But have you really identified this as your north star as you consider change in your organization? Because once you do, the ambiguous or tactical transformational ideas fade into the background of a more focused picture. We start thinking about what effectiveness really is, what isn’t effective today, and how to measure it and drive it. With this as our guide, we can create a plan to achieve it.
Often, you’ll hear HR practitioners or HR leaders make some of the comments you see below or work together ineffectively as noted below. These are indicative of waning effectiveness, and taking action without a more holistic consideration of your function can actually cause more frustration between teams, and for the business users within your organization.
Things you may hear HR teams say that are symptomatic of needed change:
- We need to move more quickly.
- We need better data.
- We need to be competitive to talent in the market place.
- We need to be more responsive to change or more “Agile.”
- I’ve heard that there are cool things happening in HR that we’re not doing.
- We need to implement a chat-bot.
Things you might see HR teams do that are symptomatic of a needed change:
- Business partners customizing COE solutions.
- COEs and Business Partners relying on the analytics function for all data and reporting.
- Global specialists accomplishing the same goal differently or not even regularly speaking with each other.
- HR business partners submitting forms, providing tactical guidance, or approving transactions on a regular basis.
- HR COEs/subfunctions without accountability metrics.
- HR COEs/subfunctions blaming rather than collaborating.
The real problem is that HR services have become less effective (or in some cases were never effective) as businesses change and transform quickly. Instead of focusing on adding value and transforming our structure and service to do so, we hold fast to traditional operating models, performance models, incentive plans, job structures, anecdotal succession planning, and endless employee training. We continue to focus on the HR business partners and how their customers feel about the value they add, rather than driving and objectively measuring the value of the work of the entire HR organization. We are often criticized because our processes have become the focal point rather than ensuring the outcomes add value. It perpetuates the idea of HR driving bureaucracy rather than business enablement.
But truly, HR’s objectives have never been more impactful to the bottom line of organizations. In a world that is is so focused on automation in its all of its forms, talent is the competitive advantage, and managing (and measuring) it is critical. In a time where the best talent can choose to work in a different way and has more visibility to opportunity, organizational health and effectiveness is crucial and different than it used to be. We need to leverage our expertise to add value, but do it while mitigating risk, as has always been our objective. This is what we do, people! These objectives don’t change. The way we execute on them does.