Enterprise 2.0 and HR : an incredible waste ?

When I started to pay attention to the unavoidable evolution of HR and the new tools at their disposal in 2005 I would never have thought that I 5 years later I would think, write and say what I’m currently doing. Anyway, it quickly became obvious that it was a HR issue and nobody but HR could take the leadership on it. It was 5 years ago.

At the last Enterprise 2.0 Forum in Paris, while the successful cases were following one another without any mention of the HR department (except for Danone), Anthony Poncier asked “the question” many people were expecting : “Where are HR people in all these projects ?”. Silence. I can understand that it was not a key issue for our two foreign speakers who were operating in a more liberal and less “socially-touchy” context. But what about the others ?

As far as I can remember, HR seldom take the leadership on enterprise 2.0 projects. I’m talking about leadership,not about being a sleeping member of any task force or any makeshift job without the ambition of becoming the first step of a wider change program. Note that’s not only a french issue : the same question was on many lips at the last Enterprise 2.0 Conference in Boston and was discussed on twitter. Answer : for HR people it’ only  a tech issue that has nothing to do with their job…

I think anybody can understand that

– Enterprise 2.0 implies deep thoughts on work, its nature, it’s attributes…

– it can be leverage to improve both organizational and personal development

– it’s about social skills, leadership, knowledge, expertises, competences

Whether it’s considered as a risk or an opportunity, HR people have things to day and do about that. In the worse case to protect themselves and lock things, in the best case to understand and become a change leader and not appear as the usual spoilsport anymore.

After many discussions with HR people and experts, and even if I don’t think we should generalize too fast :

– when somebody else takes the leadership, they are not very impatient to get HR on board.

– when HR people are asked to take the leadership, they often answer they don’t consider the E2.0 issue as a priority. Let’s be clear : I’m not talking about HR staff lacking motivation or interest, but only pointing at the fact their directors don’t make it a priority while it’s become one at a higher level.

Here’s what the discuscussion I had with some HR experts on twitter looked like

– I can’t believe they are watching the train without trying to jump in. Incredible !

– Without them the train won’t go too far

– Anyway, the train has already left. Without the HR.

– C-Level people put E20 on their agenda. What will they say if the HR department did not anticipate ?

– People and organization development will be assigned to another dept, even an adhoc one, and HR people will be left with only administrative tasks.

– This would be hard

– It’s already happening

-….

I would not want to be alarmist but that’s both a pity and dangerous :

– that’s a pity to see HR people not trying to get involved in such projects because they are both legitimate and indispensable.

– managing such projects without the help of HR people may backfire on the project either because of political vengance (if they were kept appart) or by lack of competences when it comes to make decisions on some sensitive and legal issues.

It would be really be a terrible waste…

What’s surprising is that the “social thing” is taken seriously by HR people…for recruitment and employer brand management. But nothing on internal issues…

I hope HR depts are not crowded with marketing people and did not gave up human capital and organization development to focus on administrative stuff. I don’t even want to think that’s true. But we need evidences…and quickly !

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