Why HR are really central to Enterprise 2.0

Relationships between human resources and enterprise 2.0, or rather the use of social software”, are very complicated. Whatever the way you consider the issue, you always have to deal with HR.

There are two reasons to that :

The first is that many people came to take an interest in enterprise 2.0 because their primary issue was an HR one. In this case, tools were seen as catalysts for new desirable practices that were hard to put to work because of barriers (time / space / tools) social software helped  to get rid of.

The second is that the others, those who were passionate about tools but didn’t care much about how large organizations internal concerns, finally realized that they could not avoid bumping into HR people, who, most of times, were not very social software savvy and had a suspicious attitude. I don’t even mention that, in many cases, HR are most often askek to keep things as the are instead of behing innovative. What shows its limits today as we have to admit how the human dimension matters in today’s crisis.

Experience teach us that when HR were deeply involved things were successful (for example Cisco did a great job on leadership and appraisal) and, when they were not, they were taken for troublemakers.

In fact that’s not that simple.

Even if it’s obvious that social software brings answer to many HR issues (strenghten ties, membership, transfer knowledge between generations, facilitate onboarding, identify competences, bring people together during a merger…), it’s not a surprise that any initiative, even outside and HR dept, always bump into HR people. As a matter of fact, when talking about enterprise 2.0, we talk about :

• Transfering knowledge, training. What department is in charge of that ?

• Internal communication. What department is in charge of that ?

• Locating expertises, competences. What department is in charge of that ?

• Dealing with the “Gen Y” case. What department is in charge of that ?

• Developing Talents. What department is in charge of that ?

• Improving employer’s brand. What department is in charge of that ?

• …to be completed…

And we expect HR people not to take an active interest in what’s being made in the organization ? We are surprised when they are very suspicious because they’ve been put aside from something that happen on their territory and out of their control ?

Let me also add another point which I think is essential. When talking about HR Information Systems, HR depts are used to work with tools that fulfill their own needs : Salaries, compensation and benefits, recruitment…. Or, in most of the above mentioned cases, we’re not talking about applications used by the HR for HR purposes, but applications used in various departments, business units, for their own business purposes, and that have an impact on HR or provide HR depts with valuable informations. In short, HR depts have to learn how to use datas and informations that are not on their own systems and teach managers how to make a wise use of these tools according to the corporate’s HR strategy.

So, are HR doomed to be an unsuperable barrier ? Luckily not ! It’s a great opportunity for an HR dept to take a central leadership in the ongoing change process, supporting the whole company and being a center of expertise. And, so doing, to get back their place in the organization. If there’s a central department which legitimacy makes no doubt for this kind of issues, it’s the HR.

It’s only the approach that has to be tuned. An HR dept thinks in terms of mechanisms serving its strategy. So HR has to understand what a “2.0 approach” is, and to translate it in their own business, then see how to make these new practices and tools serve their strategy. It’s a hard work of education and translation that has to be done. Once donce, HR dept will be able to visualize what’s possible, get rid of received ideas and become the key player of the upcomming changes.

Entreprise 2.0, management des talents, microformation, Ressources Humaines, social-software, talents, usages,stratégie

Bertrand DUPERRINhttps://www.duperrin.com/english
Head of People and Business Delivery @Emakina / Former consulting director / Crossroads of people, business and technology / Speaker / Compulsive traveler
Head of People and Business Delivery @Emakina / Former consulting director / Crossroads of people, business and technology / Speaker / Compulsive traveler

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