HR’s Role as the Architect of Change
Change ManagementPerformance Management
Step 1. Set a clear, compelling strategic direction
'The purpose of an organisation is to create a customer'.
2. Manage what you Measure.
3. Build high performance habits
4. Connect the dots
DIGITAL (HR & TRANSFORMATION)
Investing in HR Tech Is Not the Same as Digital Transformation
“If you put 20 executives in a room and ask them to define ‘digital’, you are guaranteed to get 20 different answers,” says Anand Eswaran, Corporate Vice President of Microsoft Services and Microsoft Digital. That’s the reality: most companies’ leaders feel overwhelmed by technology, and they’re not sure where to begin or how much money and time spend on Digital Transformation.
On the issues of how to integrate technology across the business, what Digital Transformation requires, and why digital goes beyond technology, we spoke with Soumyasanto Sen, a millennial leader, an advisor, evangelist, and investor in HR technologies, currently focusing on AI-driven people analytics, digital strategies, blockchain, and digital HR transformation.
“Those, that don’t adapt Digital Transformation, will fail”
– Digitalization becomes an essential part of a corporate strategy, but to be honest, for a significant part of business owners and HR professionals, digitalization is just a buzzword. After all, what does a Digital Transformation of a workplace mean for a company?
Digitalization can extend the reach of organizations, improve management decisions, and speed the development of new products and services. At the same time, the excessively rapid adoption of technologies can disrupt traditional business models. Business owners are equally responsible for successful Digital Transformation.
The challenge of digitalization is not acquiring a proficiency in digital technologies; instead, management must create the conditions and culture needed to enable a transformation to a digitally mature organization. Leaders and HR professionals must also help people (customers, suppliers, employees) take on the right mindset for adopting all these changes. The real value of Digital Transformation for HR is that it enables the whole organization to think creatively.
So, for me, digitalization is more than a buzzword, and it is an essential part of corporate strategies, for sure. There is no alternative to Digital Transformation. Visionary companies will carve out new strategic options for themselves—those that don’t adapt, will fail.
The digital workplace is also considered a company asset. the digital workplace encompasses all the technologies people use to get work done in today’s workplace. It ranges from HR and core business applications to e-mail, instant messaging, enterprise social media tools, and virtual meeting tools.
As per Deloitte, the digital workplace framework consists of four layers, covering the following components, shown in the diagram below:
According to Deloitte, the digital workplace is all about the employees’ ability to do their job by collaborating, communicating, and connecting with others.
Technology enables the digital workplace. Each organization already has a digital workplace toolbox with different tools. Depending on your industry and business needs, the tools needed to support your digital workplace vary. The key is to adopt the right tools for your employees to do their jobs.
An effective use of technology in the digital workplace is underpinned by appropriate controls. This means one must support the digital workplace with appropriate governance structures and management processes.
As with any core initiative, it is essential for business needs to drive the digital workplace. To deliver the necessary benefits, the direction of your organization should guide the direction of your digital workplace.
About HR digital strategies and a deep change in mind
– What stages does the digital transformation consist of? What steps are the most important and require particularly close attention?
To be very clear, investing in technology is not the same as Digital Transformation. Most companies are now investing into new tools, applications, platforms, and services. These make them tech-enabled, but it doesn’t mean companies are actually transforming in a digital economy. With Digital Transformation, technology is driven by purpose, and that purpose is meant to reshape business.
Based on the research of companies like Cognizant and Altimeter, there are six key stages many organizations go through in their Digital Transformation. But this doesn’t mean everyone has to follow this sequence.
Digital Transformation enables people to think and to transform. Digital Transformation is about the ability of the organization, and therefore people’s minds not only to adapt to change, but to drive change and innovation, enabling the organization to deep dive into its need, values, purpose and mission.
Digital Transformation is not just bright new technology—it’s a new way of organizing, engaging with customers and employees, and building networks of expertise and trust—through cooperation and collaboration—and working faster, better, smarter than ever before.
Embracing the digital world and implementing technological transformations don’t necessarily begin with technology. They actually begin with a profound change in mindset, an evolution in the way we see the world. Digital strategy plays an important role here.
HR digital strategies or HR technology strategies should actually support the overall strategic objectives of the organization, and HR must take ownership of the digital strategy and ensure that it aligns with the HR strategy, which in turn should align with the business strategy. Moreover, it should emphasize more than just efficiency and effectiveness as a driver for the adoption of technology, and choose solutions that allow for future growth and flexibility, while focusing on deploying solutions that meet the current and future needs of the organization.
Drivers that can lead digital strategies for HR are (check out Digital Strategy in HR World):
What benefits are companies looking for from new HR technology?
– It is a common practice to identify the benefits of new HR technologybefore the implementation process begins. But which benefits should be included in the list?
By selecting the right technology, HR departments and professionals can deliver simpler, faster and smarter user interfaces, as part of a HCM system. This allows organizations to put productivity and engagement at the heart of the process, which in turn should encourage employee loyalty.
The major investments in HR technology solutions are time, money, and energy. One must include the following benefits when considering HR technology transformation:
Easy administration and sharing of information
Good HR technology allows information, whether written or broadcast, to be shared more quickly and with fewer resources. It should also provide easy administration that eliminates the need for double or triple entry systems and reduces the need to file large amounts of paperwork.
A better HR system can produce real productivity benefits as the adoption of innovative tools leads to workforce optimization, competitive advantage, and greater customer satisfaction. Productivity is essential to the employees, employers, the organization, and the economy, who will all benefit from this.
Aside from the less tangible costs such as efficiency or productivity, good HR technology will save real money; especially in the era of cloud computing, cost reduction is considered one of the main benefits of any HR technology.
HR technologies must provide employees the opportunity to do their job by collaborating, communicating, and connecting with others, increasing employee engagement and improving performance in turn.
Analytics is no longer about finding interesting information and identify it for managers. Now, data are being used to understand every part of a business operation, and analytical tools are being embedded into the day-to-day decision-making of business operations. HR analytics play a vital role here.
There are many other benefits, and aside from the convenience of a HR system that is accessible online by employees and managers, these include:
- Going mobile for continuous accessibility
- Helping with consistency
- Ensuring compliance and privacy
- Improving user experience
The reasons why so many HR technology implementations fail
– How long does the implementation process last for companies of different types? Is it fair to say that the digitalization of workflows is a never-ending process?
Digital transformation isn’t an outcome; its complex but developing journey. I don’t think that anyone today can claim they have reached the end of the Digital Transformation process. Most are just beginning; in fact, some of them haven’t even started yet.
According to MIT/Sloan research, 63% of executives revealed that the pace of technology change in their organization was too slow. In the same report, the most frequently cited obstacle to Digital Transformation was “a lack of urgency.”
“If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said ‘faster horses.” – Henry Ford
So, in this digital era, one cannot give a fixed timeline, as it’s a continuous improvement process. Digital Transformation is big and also costly. It covers everything from effectively engaging customers, vendors, and employees, forming new teams to collaborate, forcing process improvements and innovation, optimizing business models, and inspiring new infrastructures, etc.
It’s actually an agile process, which is of course never ending if we think so. The process involves measuring, learning, and building continuously throughout the journey.
– Why do you think so many implementations of new HR technology, which costs tens of thousands, fail?
Organizations are using hundreds, sometimes thousands of applications. New applications are constantly being deployed, whether the new version are upgrades or replacements for old legacy applications. This all brings risk, and if this is not taken into account, they fail. The most important issues as of today are:
Adoption is the key to the success of products and services.
The most important point is to accept the change and adapt to the transformation. If the users don’t like to use the application or start diminishing, all your efforts will come to an unfortunate end.
User experience matters the most today.
Today, users’ expectations are very high. In their personal lives, they’re used to having easy-to-learn and -use technologies at their fingertips. A top-notch user experience is a great way to keep users involved and engaged with a product in this digital age.
One should also not ignore the reasons for an unsuccessful transformation below:
Unengaged stakeholders or owners
Any successful HR technology project requires the active engagement of the right stakeholders—the decision-makers and owners of the business processes involved in the problem being addressed, who can make the right decisions and lead the project to success. If they are missing or unengaged, the chances of failure become very high.
Lack of relevance to the business
A very common reason for failure is a lack of relevance to the business. It is not unusual for any HR technology project to focus on a topic or area that doesn’t actually add value to the business. Value addition is very important for any business, especially when you are considering transformation.
No measures or agility
No enterprise business can manage or improve until it can measure. So measure and benchmark the business’ existing user experience and instantly compare any variations when a change is made. There is always scope for improvement, and the process must be agile.
Others reasons also include:
- Lack of highly skilled teams
- Lack of integration of new and existing technologies and data
- Slow and poor processes
- Outdated technologies
- Lack of collaboration between IT and businessThe reasons may vary for each company, but the most significant reasons are commonly lie behind transformation failures.
About HR departments and tech skills
– There is an opinion that only HR personal should work in HR. Does a company need to bring technical people into its HR department before starting a Digital Transformation?
The team is the ultimate productivity structure within any organization and HR needs to be right in the middle of this, ensuring the right personalities and skills are represented, and driving new methodologies to ensure the best possible consequences. Increasing team engagement and diversity, using psychometric assessments, encouraging continuous performance feedback, and ensuring trust and collaboration are the major challenges for any team development.
According to Bersin, if HR isn’t supporting the building, optimization, performance, reward and recognition, and methodological support elements, the entire project could be at risk of failing miserably.
So in respect to the strategy, to compete successfully in the new digital economy, HR should:
- Use technology effectively to execute business imperatives and extend collaboration with other departments, incorporating mobile technology, analytics, social media, and the cloud to ease the transition to a strategic role.
- Consider the competitive risk of not leveraging technology to contribute to business strategy. Organizations in developed economies are not adopting technology as quickly as their peers in fast-growing economies and may risk being left behind in the global competition for talent.
- Embrace the transition to strategic thinking and driving business results.
Digital Transformation could not prosper without the integration of IT and business. Most of the successful Digital Transformation projects involve HR and technology people together within one team. Lack of collaboration between them leads to failure for sure.
PEOPLE, HR & WORKFORCE ANALYTICS
The ‘Data-Driven Time Machine’ of People Analytics
In the movie ‘Back to the Future’, Marty Mcfly travels to the past and accidentally interacts with his mom before she married his dad. This accidental interaction altered the future in unexpected ways which he then tried to fix. People Analytics can learn from Mcfly about our use of predictive analytics.
Specifically, predictive and prescriptive statistics are like a ‘data-driven time machine’ that we want to use in order to change the future by acting in the present.
We use ‘big data’ and look for answers to questions such as
- What are the early signs of people’s intentions to quit and what interventions may be most effective in retaining them (e.g IBM’s Proactive Retention program)?
- How can we detect long-term fit between job applicants and organizations to solve grief for both parties?
With data related to the right questions, we can use our ‘People Analytics time machine’ to predict the future and act to alter it. However, time traveling has implications, and that is the other lesson People Analytics should take from Mcfly.
When we interact with others in one-time point, we alter the reality of future times.
Similarly, when we measure and collect data to build and use our predictive models, we interfere with the reality which we measure. This can mean that, like Marty, we will need to ‘fix’ unexpected outcomes.
However, it can also mean that we can take the opportunity to expand our frame of mind and use measurement, not just to collect data, but rather to create a deliberate impact – cultural and behavioral.
Measurement – Not Just About Data Collection
Measurement is an effective tool to induce change, even regardless of the insights that can be derived from the collected data!
For example, in the famous Hawthorne studies (1924-1932) scientists were observing factory workers to understand the effects of lighting. While there were no differences between lighting conditions, a different unintended yet interesting finding came up: performance rose across all groups.
Later analyses of the data (1958) concluded that the observations themselves induced the increase in performance. This is known as the ‘Hawthorne/Observer Effect’ which simply means that people react and alter their behavior when they are aware of being observed.
Similarly to the ‘observer effect’, the ‘mere-measurement effect’ indicates that asking an individual about their intentions changes their subsequent behavior and decisions. These two effects taken together demonstrate the need to understand the effects of measurement beyond collecting data.
When you stop to think about the examples above, it is rather amazing actually. With hardly any resources invested people changes their behavior! This is powerful. And this is a great opportunity for people analytics professionals to become a proactive partner in shaping organizational culture and the employee experience by thinking of measurement as a cultural signal.
People analytics professionals should become a proactive partner in shaping organizational culture and the employee experience by thinking of measurement as a cultural signal.
Research the Measurement of People
To understand the cultural signaling of our measurement methods we should consider two elements – ‘what we measure’ and ‘how we measure it’.
In today’s technological world, the possible answers to both these questions have grown exponentially. There are so many things we can measure and so many ways to collect this data via technology – wearables, email, social networks, and collaboration tools.
People leave data trails behind them every online move they make. Such big data is the fuel of our time machine, and time traveling is really exciting!
Moreover, it seems people have less time and willingness to answer long/multiple questionnaires. Thus, collecting available online data may seem to be a win-win solution and the best way to go. But is it really the case?
The recent data protection regulations in the EU may point out to a different story. A story in which data collection methods induce negative perceptions. The focus on measurement from a ‘data collection’ perspective neglects the effects measurement may have on people and culture – does it make us suspicious? More guarded?
There is an important research to be held here about different methods of measurement and their emotional and behavioral effects. Such research is relevant to any method we may use for data collection.
Understanding Measurement Creates Opportunities
If we take questions as an example, we can find research that looked into how questions alter behavior and found that asking the right question is a powerful and cost-effective way to influence behavior.
Asking questions is also a known coaching tool to induce change. When we are asked a (good) question our brain comes to life, and depending on the framing of the question, different boxes in our heads are triggered. Once opened, these boxes shape our perceptions of reality, and direct our behavior. If we take note of this effect of questions, then we can think ‘end to start’ about what are the behaviors we want to encourage in the realm of what we focus on (e.g. employee engagement), and how can we frame questions to trigger these behaviors.
In addition to their effect on people’s behaviors, questions also affect how people perceive the entity who is asking the question. Think of Voltaire’s (1694-1778) quote – “Judge a man by his questions, rather than his answers” – within the organizational context. How do the questions we ask to collect data shape the perception of our organization?
Taken these two effects – alter behavior and change perceptions of organization – we can see that questions are a very powerful tool we can leverage to support our role as proactive culture-drivers.
Questions are a very powerful tool we can leverage to support our role as proactive culture-drivers
For example, imagine an organization in which all people are regularly asked about those who help them succeed in their work (e.g. who do you turn to when you want to brainstorm?). What effect such questions may have?
According to Wayne Baker’s research, gratitude motivates people to ‘pay it forward’. If we take note of the help we received, we will be inclined to do good for others. Moreover, if everyone in the organization recognize others, the more likely we are to adapt to the culture of ‘giving and recognizing’. Thus, questions that make us stop and take note of those who help us can induce behaviors beneficial for both individuals and the organization as a whole.
Moreover, as people are social entities seeking to be meaningful to others, recognized, and included, such questions may also trigger self-reflection (e.g. will I be recognized as a co-thinking partner?), which in turn can lead to improvements in social interactions.
Measurement can have a huge impact! Doc knew to warn McFly about interacting with others, he knew the ripple effect one minor interaction can have in the system. We can take the same lesson and apply it to measurement – one small intervention can have a ripple effect. Now the question is – how can people analytics take on the opportunity and make it a great one?
PEOPLE, HR & WORKFORCE ANALYTICS
The 30 best HR Analytics articles of 2016
Learning from practice: how HR analytics avoids being a management fad; – The HR Analytics Journey at Shell-
Empower your employees to leverage their own data – The HR Analytics Journey at Microsoft; – Microsoft Case Study-
Using Workforce Analytics for Competitive Advantage Thought Leaders Retreat Executive Summary; – I solemnly swear…an HR data and analytics manifesto-
The ROI of Talent Analytics; - How Building Out a Talent Analytics Function Saved LinkedIn Recruiting Considerable Time and Money
Is Your Company Ready for HR Analytics?; - The Algorithms That Tell Bosses How Employees Are Feeling-
How Google Uses People Analytics to Create a Great Workplace; - What Google Learned From Its Quest to Build the Perfect Team; - Google Game Changer is changing HIS Game-
PEOPLE, HR & WORKFORCE ANALYTICS
Top 40 HR & People Analytics articles of 2017
The Power of People: Learn How Successful Organisations Use Workforce Analytics To Improve Business Performance
People Analytics must become a profession, with a professional body that oversees its direction, ethics, competencies and standards
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Sustainability comes when HR is not about HR but about stakeholder and business impact
If we don’t have trust or empowered employees, all we will have is Digital Taylorism – a modern version of ‘scientific management’ that threatens to dehumanise the workplace
5 Truths about Workforce Analytics | – HR analytics readiness: How does Europe compare to the rest of the world?–
Success in analytics is about focus and prioritisation
Human Capital Analytics: Why Aren’t We There? | Toward Evidence Based HR, - Journal of Organizational Effectiveness: People and Performance – Special Issue on Human Capital Analytics ( )-
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Looking for a conference on or featuring people analytics in 2018? Click on the link below to explore over 75 conferences taking place all over the world from Jan-Dec 2018.
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We want the data (because we want the insight), but we have to balance that against genuine duty of care to our colleagues
You need to first know what you’re looking for before you embark on a predictive project
Questions are a very powerful tool we can leverage to support our role as proactive culture-drivers