As I prepare for the SHRM conference each year, I often lament that there aren’t more HR executives presenting. Personally, more often than not, I much rather hear what they have to say about a particular issue or topic, rather than a consultant or vendor.
That’s why I was pleased to see the Tuesday morning program open with a General Session panel featuring senior HR executives. (Hopefully we’ll see more sessions like this in the future.) It’s also why I set aside some time later that morning to catch a Mega Session entitled “HR Transformation: What Comes Next” by one of the opening-session panelists.
Conrad Venter, global head of HR for Deutsche Bank AG, detailed some of the steps taken by the bank to transform its HR function. Deutsche began its HR transformation efforts in 2005, during a period when the firm was facing some formidable global challenges.
In response, Venter said, Deutsche set out to restructure HR, putting “the right work in the right place.” Those efforts included moving much of the transactional work outside of HR.
What were some of the lessons that were learned along the way? First, he said, “we learned that one size doesn’t fit all.” He also noticed the importance of being “fluid” and continuing to “tweak things” long after they’ve been implemented.
“The soft stuff is really the hard stuff,” he said.
Repeating a comment he made during the opening panel, Venter also suggested that HR leaders might want to describe what they do as “people strategy” rather than “HR strategy,” to create more buy-in and less finger pointing.