Unleash : when HR sees beyond HR

HRTechWorld London Unleash London will take place on march 20th and 21st. A rebranding that’s been announced in Amsterdam in last october/

You may tell me that’s just a marketing rebranding and that’s there no matter here for a blog post. All the more since the HRTech World baseline was “Unleash your people”, there’s no revolution here. I agree but…no. Beyond what may look like cosmetic, I can see a deep and significant change for HR and the rest of the enterprise.

Performance has always been about people

There are a lot of discussions about robots that will steal human jobs but the truth is that when it comes to organizational performance it’s always a matter of people. Intrinsic talent, learning, alignment.

And what’s going to happen in a world with more and more robots and where more and more work will be done by contingent workers and not employees ?

Regarding robots, I’m waiting too see. I’m not sure the wave will be that high or will come as fast as expected…and that it won’t roll back once we measure the impact of what we’ve done. More : since many jobs have been designed for robots and given to humans asked to behave like robots, it may not be a bad thing to have robots taking them back. Regarding contingent workers it’s sure that it will raise de question of employee experience in the extended organization.

But if the question is “will humans still be as important as they are going to be less numeros”, my answer is that the less humans the more important they will be, the less recruitment and talent development mistakes will be acceptable.

HR are the king of out-of-context performance

In this context one can say that HR will become more and more central. Yes…but once again no.

HR are experts in HR. Line managers in business. Performance lies when both meet. As I wrote here, the future of HR is to get closer to business and even to get its hands in, what, as I’ll explore in a future post, is easier said than done. RH deliver diamonds, business people shape them and give them value. The diamond dealer is not a craftsman and, in our case, that’s the problem.

Josh Bersin said in Amsterdam that “HR is the productivity function of the company”. I only agree to some extent : they should be, some would like it, some would hate it, but they are far from being that.

Performance is an HR matter, HR is everybody’s matter.

That matters is neither the talent nor the business but the first in the context of the second. A poorly management talent, forced to follow dysfunctional process is a a wasted one. The best manager who implemented the smartest process will be hindered by low skilled people.

In this equation, HR only hold some levers and if they realize than others are spoiling the potential they put into their hands they have not the power, the legitimacy and even not the knowledge to get their hands in the business and transform it.

In this context, HR have another problem : they’re alone. One can say that performance is a transverse, wide, and talent-related matter but the truth is that those who are in charge of it have less than half of the levers to deal with it.

• HR have nothing to say and no about business processes.

• HR have no marketing culture and don’t talk with marketing.

• HR have a poor data data culture and don’t interact with those who have it.

• To accomplish their mission, HR need to reboot their function, and even to reboot the organisation. If one had made a survey at the end of HRTechWorld Amsterdam, I think that everyone would have agreed on that. But where were the CEOs and other business leaders to share this experience and this awareness moment ? Nowhere.

How to speak HR with the rest of the organization ?

That’s the challenge : make everyone understand that the scope of HR is growing and that everyone’s help is need to make HR move in the 21st century, to help HR having the expected impact while they don’t have the means.

Two years ago I took my President to HRTech. He was aware that these matter were important but had people in charge of it. When he came back to the office he drove deep and real changes and reinvented the function. Before, he knew it was important, after he considered that it was a business challenge.

With a closer look, except a few specialized tracks, the message delivered at HRTech was mostly about culture, business, management : which organization to make the most of talents in today’s world. Talking to HR only is missing half the people that have a stake in it and does not help HR to deliver the message.

Unleash to talk to everybody

That’s what I see behind the naming : the will to talk to everyone with a less apparent HR and tech tag. Of course their will be lots of talks about HR but it’s mostly about the world we live in, the enterprise model to thrive in, talents and ultimately about how they’re managed and tooled.

That’s only the beginning but I like the idea of an HR event that attracts people from the business, from the operations, from the leadership because what’s a stake is a shared issue. That’s the only way to make things change.

This change is both desirable and mandatory.

Earlier this months I made a talk in an HR event, for the HR department of a company. At the end I got questions like : “Should a true HR business partner have his hands in the business”…what led to “should more people in HR come from business lines” and “should HR people do long immersion in business lines ?”. We’re still far from that but when the question comes the answer is less obvious that it used to be.

That’s why I think that Unleash is much more than a rebranding. But it will take time to change mindsets and widen the audience.

Let’s meet in London on March 20th and 21st !

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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