Category Archives: HR leadership

Parental-Leave Parade: Where Could This Lead?

At this point, I’m wondering where this parental-leave maelstrom will take us. Earlier this month, protesters of the Netflix-leave 510042321-- parents & newbornannouncement descended on that company’s headquarters in Los Gatos, Calif. to demand the new program extend beyond its wealthiest workers.

Groups including UltraViolet (which I blogged about a little more than a month ago), NARAL, Working Families Party, Democracy for America, Make It Work and were out in force with picket signs and audible opinions — after collecting more than 100,000 signatures protesting Netflix’s policy that, apparently, only serves those making as much as $300,000.

Two days after that protest, Hilton Worldwide unveiled what it’s calling its “industry-leading parental-leave policies.” The benefits will be open to all new parents, not just those in corporate roles. Mind you, it’s not unlimited, but, as Hilton puts it, it’s “the best offered by any major global hospitality company in the United States and Puerto Rico.”

Beginning on Jan. 1, 2016, new parents at Hilton, including fathers and adoptive parents, will receive two weeks of fully paid parental leave. New mothers who give birth will receive an additional eight weeks of maternity leave for a total 10 weeks of fully paid leave.

“We are proud to be at the forefront of driving significant change in our industry … ,” Matthew Schuyler, Hilton Worldwide’s executive vice president and chief human resources officer, said in a statement.

I contacted Schuyler to get his take on where his initiative fits in with the other “news of the day.”

Unlike at Netflix, “we’re supporting all new parents,” he told me. “From our hotels to our corporate offices, and for hourly and salaried team members alike, these new benefits are consistent across all levels. We know the importance of bringing balance to our team members’ lives, and these enhancements will help support them and their growing families.

Mind you, the hotel industry is not the tech industry. There are different variables and realities — and income levels — involved in those two worlds. As this piece on the Washington Post‘s Wonkblog, by Lydia DePillis, puts it:

“While many still find it troubling that lower-paid workers get less paid leave than higher-paid ones, the financial calculus is clear. As competition for tech talent has heated up in places like Silicon Valley, generous leave policies have become a recruiting tool for in-demand professionals — but aren’t necessary to find people who can work a production line.”

Still, I commend Hilton, and Schuyler, for taking the lead in all things hospitality. I’m waiting for others in that industry to join the bandwagon.

In fact, I’m waiting to see just where all this parental-leave one-upmanship — if you will — will lead. And I’m eager to see how the tech industry handles the more complicated conflict the Netflix hoopla has unveiled.

In the greater scheme of all that work/life balance entails, could this new focus on working new parents help redefine the workplace a bit more? Methinks it could.

Twitter It!

Tapping an HR Exec for That Top Job

Some of you may recall that back in June we published a cover story titled “Could You Be the Next CEO?” It was based, in part, on an article appearing in the Harvard Business Review under the headline, “Why Chief Human Resource Officers Make Great CEOs.” (University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business Professor Dave Ulrich and Korn Ferry Senior Client Partner Ellie Filler authored the piece based on study they conducted.)

ThinkstockPhotos-462411043Through their research, Ulrich and Filler discovered, to their surprise, that the traits of highly successful CHROs closely matched those of CEOs. As Ulrich explains in HRE’s cover story, “CEOs must have skills to meet financial, customer and operational requirements. The differentiator of effective CEOs in globally changing business conditions comes from their ability to manage organization issues around talent, leadership and culture.”

The story makes the point that the ideal corporate leader is one who understands the traditional guideposts of profit-and-loss statements, yet also knows how to get the most out of people—the skills that also define a best-in-class CHRO.

Both our cover story (written by Will Bunch) and the HBR piece obviously came to mind when I read earlier this week about Nintendo’s promotion of the firm’s chief HR officer Tatsumi Kimishima to president. Kimishima succeeds the late Satoru Iwata, who passed away on July 11 as a result of a bile duct tumor.

Analysts told the Wall Street Journal that Kimishima’s appointment “signals that Nintendo seeks continuity as it pursues a strategic shift begun by Iwata.” The piece quotes Tokai Tokyo Securities Co. Analyst Osamu Kamada, who notes that Kimishima has been “ ‘watching Iwata closely for a long time and therefore makes a safe choice to implement steps laid out by Mr. Iwata.’ ”

Yesterday, I asked Jason Hanold, managing director of the Evanston, Ill.-based executive search firm Hanold Associates, to share his thoughts on Kimishima’s selection.

Hanold speculated it probably has more to do with Kimishima’s relationships than the way the HR function might be viewed as Nintendo. “Often times,” he said, “the head of HR [at Japanese companies] is not a classic HR officer, but one who holds strong relationships with other senior members of the organization; who is given responsibility for HR and perhaps other aspects of the role. Therefore, while they think highly of the ‘head of HR,’ it doesn’t necessarily mean they think more highly of the HR function,” even though they apparently consider it a key functional rotation.

In the specific case of Nintendo, Hanold said, management clearly viewed HR as a key rotational assignment for executive development. “Tatsumi Kimishima was hired originally as a CFO, and then progressed through operational roles, only most recently in HR,” he explained adding that it was quite similar to Mary Barra at General Motors.

To be sure, Kimishima is going to have his work cut out for him as Nintendo’s new president.

As a recent article in Fortune noted, “[Nintendo’s] Wii U is in a distant third behind Sony’s PlayStation 4 and Microsoft’s Xbox One, and portable gamers who were previously willing to buy company devices, like the Game Boy or the Nintendo DS, have turned to smartphones and tablets.”

Guess time will tell whether Kimishima’s HR experience proves to be an asset as he attempts to move the organization forward. I’d like to think that would be the case.

Twitter It!

Report: HR Really Is Becoming More Strategic

Back view of businessman

Back view of businessman

We’ve all been hearing and talking about HR professionals becoming better strategic leaders and business partners for years, so there’s no real surprise here.

But in this report from the Cranfield Network on International Human Resource management, in collaboration with the Society for Human Resource Management and the Center for International HR Studies in the School of Labor Employment Relations at Penn State University, we do have new numbers. And they’re worth noting.

The report, Human Resource Management Policies and Practices in the United States, outlines the results of a survey of almost 700 senior-level HR practitioners in organizations with 200 or more employees.

It finds HR is more often on an organization’s board of directors or executive team and taking sole responsibility for major policy decisions than in years past.

Specifically, in terms of leadership, 70 percent of responding organizations said HR has a place on the board now, compared to 63 percent in 2009 and 41 percent in 2004. Also, two-thirds of responding organizations (66 percent) said they have a written HR-management strategy. As the report states:

“The HR department appears to be moving away from working jointly with line management in terms of where the responsibility lies for major policy decisions across a whole range of HRM activities such as pay and benefits, recruitment and selection, training and development, industrial relations and workforce expansion/reduction.

“In most cases, there has been an increase in either the HR department taking sole responsibility for these activities or line management taking responsibility (but at a much lower absolute level), with a concurrent reduction in the number of cases where both parties collaborated on the activity led either by HR or by line management. On average, line management is most active in the area of training and development, and least active in establishing pay and benefits policies.

“This trend implies that HR and line management roles may be becoming institutionalized, with each party focusing on its own responsibilities. The increasing regulatory environment may be playing a part here, with firms needing clear guidelines around responsibilities to ensure compliance with regulations and standards.”

This last sentence certainly underscores what we’ve been hearing lately as well!

The report also confirms the use of technology as a foundation for increased strategic HR leadership, with 83 percent of organizations using HR-information systems or electronic HR-management systems and 67 percent using employee self-service options.

Interestingly, according to the report, HR departments remain involved in the development of business strategy, either from the outset or through consultation, although their involvement has declined slightly (ranging from 80 percent in 2004 to 78 percent in 2009 to 76 percent in 2014/15).

Also, interestingly (and it’s hard to pinpoint what’s behind this), there was a decrease in the percentage of HR departments not consulted when the organization was going through a merger, relocation or acquisition between 2004 and 2009 (8 percent in 2004 and 4 percent in 2009); however, in 2014/15 the percentage returned to 9 percent, a level similar to that reported in 2004.

On a more positive note, though, the report states …

” … more than one half of HR departments report that they are consulted from the outset in such situations, which has remained stable since 2004 at 54 percent to 61 percent (depending on the type of organizational change), an indication that HR continues to be involved in processes vital to the success of organizations.”


Twitter It!

On HR Leaders and the Strength of Love

dv1080014I am feeling very compelled to share this with you at this time. I had seen this post on the HRExaminer site a while back, but what I’ve just been through personally has been bringing it front-of-mind in a very big way.

The piece, by Jason Seiden, co-founder and CEO of Brand Amper, addresses love. Specifically, as his title makes plain, “Love: Why Tomorrow’s Leaders Will Come from HR.”

If I had to interpret his overriding theme, I guess it would be that the people he knows in HR are better at real friendships and real relationships than people in any other profession he knows. And it’s because of that ability on the part of HR professionals to really connect with fellow humans who are doing, or going through, human things that the future of business rests — in his estimation — in their hands.

“They’re the best group of people you could want to be surrounded by,” he writes. “They get it: Success in business doesn’t come from technology. It may come through tech, but it comes from relationships.” He goes on:

“If you want to see the future of business leadership, look at the nexus of social HR and recruiting. I know HR gets (and often deserves) a bad rap, but the smaller circle of social HR leaders — the ones who share aspects of their lives with each other online, get together at conferences, and support one another’s businesses — have what [one] former friend and others actually crave: genuine connection.

“This HR group understands that sending a ‘happy birthday’ note on Facebook isn’t about pretending to be friends; it’s about knowing what it feels like to open your phone to 100+ birthday messages and wanting to be small part of that avalanche of love for someone else.”

We may not be HR professionals here at HRE; we may only write about your profession. But I can at least tell you Seiden’s onto something about the heart of business running on authentic relationships, not the manufactured or rhetorical ones.

The day I left on a recent extended leave to see my father through his final life journey after he bravely chose to cease all cancer treatment because it had failed, I received the kind of love Seiden describes. I did my best to leave my HRE house in order, knowing how my forethought would help my friends.

The love and support, and hugs, I received here as I set out on that heart-wrenching journey — to my father’s journey — spoke volumes to me about the power of friendship and relationships to lay enduring foundations in any environment where people work together toward a common goal.

Likewise, the kindness, patience and understanding I’ve received since my return one week ago today solidifies this sense of power that human connection has in the workplace.

People are, indeed, our most valued resources — an idea that’s still catching on here in corporate America, but seems to be taking hold in the United Kingdom, according to this intriguing piece posted on HREOnline today by our talent-management columnist, Wharton professor Peter Cappelli.

And this value isn’t just reflected in higher wages or paid leave, as the U.K. initiatives Cappelli talks about seem focused on. It’s reflected — at least I think it is — in workplace cultures, and in the courage of managers and HR leaders to show some heart on their pathways to becoming better business partners and leaders.

If any of you in HR are waiting for permission to lead with the love Seiden says is your strong suit, you certainly have mine.

Twitter It!

HBR: It’s Time to ‘Blow Up’ HR

powIt’s summer blockbuster season, with actors like Chris Pratt and Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson saving us from rampaging dinosaurs and earthquakes with the aid of tons of CGI special effects (and plenty of clunky dialogue), so perhaps it’s appropriate that the Harvard Business Review (subscription required) has emblazoned the cover of  its July/August issue with an icon of a ball of dynamite and the provocative headline “It’s Time to BLOW UP HR And Build Something New.”

The three related articles inside aren’t quite as explosive as the cover suggests, but  thought-provoking nonetheless. The first piece is by none other than our own Talent Management columnist, Wharton professor Peter Cappelli, who writes that business leaders tend to see HR as a valuable asset during talent crunches but as a mere nuisance when times are better. In order to get out of this rut, HR leaders need to “set the agenda,” Cappelli writes. Rather than waiting for the CEO to tell them what to do, HR leaders must strongly advocate for excellence in every process the function touches (or should touch), from layoffs to recruiting to performance management, he writes.

HR leaders also need to either deepen their own knowledge of analytics or partner with those who are experts in order to “help companies make sense of all their employee data and get the most from their human capital,” Cappelli writes. Finally, HR leaders must help their organization’s leadership “take the long view,” he writes:

How can HR bring the long view back into organizations? By reconciling it with the immediate pressures that businesses face, which those one-at-a-time projects are designed to address. … HR should also keep stepping back to study those initiatives in the aggregate: What emerging needs do they point to? How do those needs map to the organization’s talent pipeline and practices? Which capabilities need shoring up?  … That’s the kind of analytic counsel the “new HR” should provide.

The next piece is by none other than Ram Charan, the management consultant who stirred up controversy last year with an HBR piece in which he argued for splitting HR in two. Well, he’s back and this time he’s got company in the form of co-authors Dominic Barton, global managing director of McKinsey & Co., and Dennis Carey, the vice chairman of Korn Ferry. In “People Before Strategy,” they argue for a new triumvirate at the top of organizations comprised of the CEO, the CFO and the CHRO. This three-person team will form a “core decision-making body” for the organization in which the CHRO will be the trusted advisor in all things people-related. “Forming such a team is the single best way to link financial numbers with the people who produce them,” they write.

The final piece is a deep dive into the work done by the HR department at tech firm Juniper Networks to make itself a vital part of that business. Juniper Networks has had to make a number of adjustments to its business over the years, write co-authors Jon Boudreau (of the University of Southern California’s Marshall School of Business) and Steven Rice (former EVP of HR at Juniper Networks and now CHRO at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation), and HR has been key in those transformations. Rather than reaching for the latest “bright shiny objects,” as too many HR leaders do, they write, the JN team worked hard to understand the big picture of the company’s business, identify the most valuable ideas, apply them in context and carefully manage their impact.

The work the HR team did included working closely with business leaders to reorganize the organization to make its operating model more simple, do away with cumbersome processes that were adding little value (including a forced-ranking system that was hurting morale) and finding ways to increase collaboration and innovation.

Developing a reputation as an innovative HR organization “requires walking a fine line,” the authors write. Ideas for innovation often arise from popular talks and articles, yet if you “embrace too many of these … or apply them too superficially,” you’ll develop a reputation for fad surfing, they write. Instead, “dig beneath the surface to the fundamental scientific research and insights, and you can set the stage for true impact.”

All in all, a worthwhile series of articles — complete with the bizarre yet compelling artwork the HBR has been featuring in recent years.

Twitter It!

A Sampling of What to Expect at HR Tech

In case you didn’t notice, this year’s full HR Technology Conference and Exposition® agenda was posted online about a week or so ago and was officially announced yesterday by HRE, via a press release. 200213603-001As you’ll see, the program continues to build on many of the general and concurrent sessions that have resonated with HR and HR IT leaders and professionals at past events. It also features a number of new and exciting additions. Here are just a few of the highlights mentioned in the release …

  • The return of the “Awesome New Startups” session, showcasing  HR technology innovators that are pushing the envelope.
  • Live demonstrations of “Awesome New Technologies for HR,” featuring new solutions from industry leaders.
  • Recognition of HRE’s “Top HR Products of 2015.”
  • HR Tech’s first-ever Hackathon, providing attendees with an exclusive peek into how today’s technology vendors develop solutions that address real-world HR and business challenges.
  • HR transformation and employee-driven organizational-culture shifts at companies such as Cisco, Delta Air Lines and MGM Resorts International.
  • The latest developments in mobile HR technology, as told through the experiences of companies such as Ovation Brands, PwC, Texas Mutual Insurance Co. and Marriott International.
  • Examples of successful HR technology strategies and implementations that have gotten it right in areas such as HCM, talent acquisition, employee engagement and change management.
  • Results from the 18th Annual Sierra-Cedar HR Systems Survey.
  • A closing general session featuring some of the most innovative thinkers in HR, who will share cutting-edge ideas about HR, technology and the workplace in a fast-moving “Ignite”-style format.

There also will be keynotes by two industry luminaries, Marcus Buckingham and James Whitehurst. New York Times best-selling author Buckingham will discuss a radically new approach to equipping team leaders with the tools they need to enhance employee engagement and improve performance management. Red Hat President and CEO Whitehurst, meanwhile, will share how unleashing the power of openness within an organization can transform corporate culture and drive higher levels of engagement and business performance.

And, of course, HR Tech will again feature the world’s largest expo of HR technology products and services.

Be sure to check out the full program at the conference’s website, linked above, if you haven’t already. Hope to see you there.

Twitter It!

Do HR Leaders Have What It Takes?

This past Tuesday, I had a chance to hear Bill Conaty, HRE’s 2004 HR Executive of the Year, share his insights on how chief HR officers can be more effective leaders during the National Academy of Human Resources’ 13th CHRO Academy, held at the Yale Club in New York.

Bill Conaty, speaking in New York on Tuesday. (Photo by Robert Knowles)

Bill Conaty, speaking in New York on Tuesday. (Photo by Robert Knowles)

Conaty addressed his remarks to about 30 CHROs attending a dinner at the two-day, invitation-only event, which is held annually and specifically focuses on the needs of CHROs who are new to the job, have moved to a new employer or have a new CEO. As far as I know, there’s nothing comparable in the field today. (The faculty for CHRO Academy primarily consists of NAHR Fellows.)

A Distinguished Fellow in the NAHR, Conaty retired as senior vice president of HR at General Electric in 2007, but still remains quite active in the field and advises business leaders on a wide range of HR issues through his firm Conaty Consulting LLC.

In his talk, he touched on a number of important topics—but for purposes of this post, I’d like to specifically focus on his comments about what it takes to be a strong HR leader today. His list was based on the specs he had for his own job while at GE and reflected many of the qualities he was looking for in his own successor, though he was quick to point out that he didn’t necessarily fulfill each and every one of the items himself. Whether you’re new to the CHRO role or not, perhaps they might prove helpful in elevating your own game.

First on Conaty’s list: Ensuring that there’s a good fit between the CHRO, CEO and CFO posts. Conaty shared how CEO Jeff Immelt, one year, did something at GE that hadn’t been done before: He asked to take a close look at the CEO, CFO and HR leader in each GE business. “What he was looking for was styles and fits,” he said, “If you had a CEO who was a hammer, a CFO who was a hammer and an HR leader who was a hammer, employees had no chance.”

Stressing the importance of having the “right balance,” Conaty said the exercise resulted in “changing a couple people out.”

Also on Conaty’s list is being able to earn the trust and confidence of the entire senior leadership team. “I’ve heard a lot HR folks say ‘I have a phenomenal relationship with my CEO—I’m in,’ ” he said. “I’ll tell you how long you’re in for: about 18 months. And then you’re going to get sucker punched and you’ll never know where it came from. The CEO is going to say, ‘Bill, I love you but no one else does—so we’re going to need to wrap this game up.’”

As the CHRO, Conaty said, “you have to work the whole 360.”

Other qualities Conaty cited included being a “talent magnet,” a great assessor of talent, someone who is able to operate in a global marketplace, a clear thinker and a change leader.

CHROs, he said, also need to have the ability to think through business issues and a capacity for complex problem solving. “You’ll still get some of the easy treadmill ones,” he said, “but you’re probably also going to confront things you haven’t confronted before … .”

His list also includes attributes such as operational savvy, decisiveness and the courage to make the tough calls, along with the need to be a continuous learner. You don’t want a person in the role who says he or she’s “ ‘been there, done that. I’ve seen it all,’ ” he said. “I never saw it all in my 40 years at GE. It was always a new day.”

At the end of the day, Conaty said, your job is to take [issues] off the CEO’s desk, not add to the pile. Conaty said he made it a point to never add to CEO Jack Welch’s pile. (I’m assuming the same was true when Immelt took the reigns.) If an issue arose that he felt Welch needed to be aware of, he said, he would bring it to his attention, but then tell him that he would take care of it and, if he couldn’t, would then get back to him. If you follow this approach, Conaty said, you’ll be “a welcomed face when you stick your head through that door.”

And who wouldn’t want to be a welcomed face when he or she entered the CEO’s office, right?

Twitter It!

HR’s Not Dead, It’s Just Changing Names

name tagA quick Google search of the phrase “human resources is dead” brings back approximately 27,800,000 results.

On the first page of results alone, you’ll find articles declaring HR’s downfall—or calling for the human resource function to be dismantled—dating from 2002 all the way up to just a few hours ago.

In other words, reports of the HR department’s demise are in no short supply, and are nothing new.

One of the latest missives comes from the Huffington Post and Jacob Morgan, who earlier this week penned an online piece entitled “Why Human Resources Is Dead.”

Now, some articles of this ilk have written off HR as a largely useless, bureaucratic function that has no real potential as a “strategic partner” and needs to just go away. Others—think Fast Company’s 2005 “Why We Hate HR” feature—describe human resources as a “necessary evil” within the organization; a department that could really contribute to business performance but ultimately underwhelms.

Familiar headline aside, however, Morgan’s piece doesn’t follow either of those well-worn narratives.

In fact, human resources isn’t even really dead, he says. Rather, the profession is just undergoing an identity makeover of sorts, or a rebranding.

“Companies are dropping the term ‘human resources’ altogether and are shifting towards more ‘people-centric’ terms,” writes Morgan, a futurist, consultant and author of The Future of Work.

Titles such as chief people officer, vice president of people operations and chief talent officer are becoming the norm, he says, replacing your oh-so-old-school monikers like chief human resource officer, for example.

Morgan acknowledges that this isn’t a new phenomenon, noting that some companies “have had these titles and departments for several years already.”

Lately, however, he says he has seen this transition “accelerate dramatically.”

Morgan cites a number of companies as examples of this evolution in action. Cisco’s Francine Katsouda, for instance, recently saw her title change from CHRO to chief people officer. Anne Byerlein at Yum! Brands shares the same designation. There’s Laszlo Bock, of course, the senior vice president of people operations at Google, and the list goes on.

But does bestowing these “nontraditional” titles upon HR leaders portend real changes in what the function actually does, at these organizations or elsewhere?

Morgan seems to thinks so.

“Most of the companies I have been speaking with or researching,” which include Cisco, Google, Glassdoor and LinkedIn, have all made “considerable strides in rethinking what the purpose of traditional ‘HR’ is, and all of these companies have moved on from looking at employees as capital assets,” he says.

I agree with Morgan in thinking the notion of employees as capital assets is antiquated. And, frankly, using such terms to describe thinking, feeling human beings has always seemed a bit cold and callous.

So, if employees have truly come to be seen as something more than “capital assets” or “human capital,” then that’s a positive. But, beyond that, Morgan’s short piece doesn’t get into detail as to how the aforementioned organizations are transforming their HR functions. So we’ll see whether we’re really on the cusp of what turns out to be a drastic reimagining of how HR works and what it does.

In the meantime, though, if the actual term “human resources” is truly on its way to extinction, then I suppose we here at HRE should probably start brainstorming new names for our publication.

Twitter It!

Moving in the Right Direction

Yesterday, I was able to get an early look at the findings of The Hackett Group’s latest study on HR budgets and trends.

ThinkstockPhotos-166114849While there weren’t many huge surprises in the report, titled “The HR Agenda for 2015: Major Transformation Efforts Are Planned to Close the Gaps in HR Capabilities,” there definitely were a few data points to reflect on. (The study can be downloaded today with registration.)

As far as budgets are concerned, the study—based on research involving executives from more than 170 large companies in the United States and abroad—found that HR organizations, for the first time in a while, should experience marginal increases in both staff levels and budgets in 2015. Specifically, budgets are expected to rise 1.4 percent and staff grow by 1.5 percent—no doubt a reflection of a relatively healthy economy and the growing awareness among business leaders of the importance of talent strategies and practices.

The report, however, also points out that the increases are far from universal. Only 40 percent of the companies in the study actually expect to see budget increases, with just under 30 percent saying the same for staff levels. Further, just over 30 percent still expect to see declines in budgets and full-time employees, with the remainder expecting no change.

Of course, it’s good to see things move in the right direction, but as the Hackett report suggests, even more important will be what HR organizations do with the extra dollars and staff. In their report, the experts at Hackett suggest many HR organizations are largely unprepared to help improve enterprise agility and address those issues most relevant to achieving business objectives, including workforce strategy, innovation and talent management.

When I asked Hackett’s Global HR Practice Leader Harry Osle to elaborate on how world-class organizations differ from others when it comes to addressing these issues, he said, “they’re continually looking for ways to optimize their HR organizations.”

More specifically, he said, three characteristics come to mind when you look at world-class organizations. “First, these companies continue to look at process optimization … and look for ways to [eliminate] slack in the system.”

Next, he explained, they have a sharp focus on talent management and a hunger for finding and keeping the best talent, and making that talent more productive.

And finally, they have a strong commitment to digitization and technology. “That means,” Osle said, “having the right data at the right time to make the critical analytical decisions that organizations have to make today.”

The study found that the best-prepared HR organizations are clearly committed to making digital transformation and the utilization of cloud-based technologies a reality. Roughly 70 percent of the best-prepared HR organizations view the development of an HR digital-transformation strategy a high priority, compared to 25 percent of typical HR organizations. For cloud-based HR solutions, the gap is smaller, but still significant, with 50 percent of the best-prepared HR organizations considering it a high priority, compared to 40 percent of typical HR organizations.

As Osle explained, investing in technology in the cloud and SaaS is an easy decision to make when you consider the cost savings—and efficiency and effectiveness improvements—it can result in.

Osle predicted a substantial amount of the budget increases will likely be targeted to HR technologies. (Assuming he’s right, I would have to think this fall’s HR Technology Conference and Exposition® in Las Vegas will be a pretty lively event.)

Twitter It!

Capturing the ‘Wisdom of the Crowd’

On Wednesday, a new digital book titled The Rise of HR: Wisdom from 73 Thought Leaders arrived in my inbox.

HRCI_BookCover_front_finalThe book—edited by Dave Ulrich, William A. Schiemann and Libby Sartain—is unquestionably ambitious in scope, running 582 pages and featuring essays from more than 70 thought leaders. Yet it’s also very straightforward in its approach, asking all of its contributors a single, simple question: What do HR professionals need to know or do to be effective in today’s and tomorrow’s business world? The end result: an impressive collection of diverse points of view covering a wide range of topics.

As the book’s website puts it, “the essays describe how HR practitioners must live up to and even extend expectations of their profession’s growing and evolving role. They focus on how HR professionals and the tools they use must adapt to shifts in demographics and the impacts of technology on the workplace.”

(The HR Certification Institute underwrote the e-book and plans to share it with its database of 140,000 individuals who have received HRCI certification.)

As you’ll see, the book is divided into seven sections—Context to Strategy, Organization, Talent Supply, Talent Optimization, Information & Analytics, HR Governance and HR Professionals—and features lots of gems.

For purposes of this post, here’s just one of many perspectives featured in the e-book, this one offered up by John Boudreau, professor at the University of Southern California’s Marshall School of Business …

“Can any human do human resource management? That’s what HR constituents and clients sometimes seem to believe—especially when leadership teams admonish their HR leaders to adopt practices such as “rank and yank” performance systems simply because they read about them in a book about Jack Welch and GE, or when they appoint leaders with little professional HR training to top HR roles. Although these practices do have value, they can also seem to dilute the profession’s stature by implying that professional HR qualifications are unnecessary.

HR professionals and professional associations work hard to banish the idea that HR is just common sense, and to establish valid professional standards for HR professional status and practice. As the historical development of the medical profession in the nineteenth century shows, emerging professions strive to establish common qualifications, adjudicate professional practice, establish a monopoly on professional practice among members, and carry out science to build knowledge and inform practice.

There are promising efforts to establish HR as a proper profession, including proposed standards for human capital reporting, several efforts to set HR standards with the ISO and others, renewed attention to certification by SHRM and HRCI, and an increasingly clear and independent role within organizational leadership teams and boards.

In an effort to protect the HR profession, it is tempting to draw a line and say, “You cannot practice unless you meet these standards.” Indeed, sociology research shows that placing such limits is one of several paths to transforming an occupation into a profession. Though tempting, it is important that HR not fall into the “profession trap” by using exclusion to define its professional boundary. Evidence from our work on the future of HR at the Center for Effective Organizations (CEO) suggests a more inclusive approach—one that properly welcomes the contributions of disciplines beyond HR while advancing the profession’s stature and evidence-based platform.”

The above excerpt reflects one of a number of threads that runs throughout the volume: that organizations, as well as HR leaders themselves, can no longer afford to view and approach HR in the same way they’ve done in the past. To contribute to their businesses in substantial and meaningful ways, HR professionals, going forward, have little choice but to look at their organizations through a much different lens than the one they’ve used in the past and exhibit a very different set of us behaviors.

Before I conclude, I probably should add I was flattered to be  invited to contribute an essay to The Rise of HR. With our “What’s Keeping HR Leaders Up at Night” survey finding “ensuring workers are engaged and productive” to be the No. 1 concern year after year, I figured I would focus my piece on raising the bar on engagement. You’ll find it on page 257.

I’m personally looking forward to spending more time reading what my fellow contributors have to say on the state and future of the profession.

Twitter It!