In 1998 HR Guru Dave Ulrich wrote an article in Harvard Business Review that guided Human Resource transformation for rest of the decade. The idea he mooted was to separate out operational activities and manage them separately while HR focuses on change, strategy and business partnership. As a result, global companies spent their time identifying operational HR activities and moving them to a centralized Shared Services Centre…. Click to read on
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I was watching the famous movie Bahubali recently and was wondering where the Queen Sivagami went wrong; apparently she follows the rules of the land, which of course are framed very carefully but is left ineffective in doing true justice. Was it just the deceit by her son or something more at play? Also Bahubali seemed not too keen on going by the book but is actually doing justice and the right thing all the time. Is it just the movie or did he get something right?
I pondered over it and stumbled on my all time favourite, Krishna; difference in the way Ram and Krishna conducted their lives is perhaps the difference between the Queen Sivagami and Bahubali. While Ram followed all the rules, well almost, Krishna flaunted many. Ram was from a generation where society made rules and people stride to abide by them. Things worked back then. But later as human mind evolved and some started taking advantage of man’s predictability created by the templatised way of life; things stopped working.
For instance would you cross the road in India just looking at right for first half of the road and then left during second half just because if everyone followed the rules that would work? no right… same way is for life. People flaunt rules, some for their own benefit while others for society’s but flaunting rules has become the way of life. Expecting everyone to follow rules doesn’t work. Then what would work? Krishna paved the path by saying one should follow values and not rules. Values are more important than rules. Values create rules and therefore values are more fundamental then rules. While rules can be bent and one can get confused values are quite straight forward and intrinsic.
Does this have relevance to how corporate world functions? I think yes!
During last century companies would formulate policies and rules and distributed it among staff (put it in notice board) expecting them to follow. In low cognitive environment this worked quite well. For instance in a manufacturing company where people are repeatedly doing a particular function and only top management is paving the way; doing the High cognitive role.. system worked.
In this century repeated task are being done by robots or outsourced. Companies are left with only High Cognitive work with highly specialised staff and in this environment HR cannot expect that rules distributed through self help portal will ensure compliance from stuff. More engagement, more education is required. More value driven; culture driven engagement can only yield compliance from staff. This trend is very visible today among corporate in the west.
In conclusion, if you observe that your employees are not complying to something that is desirable then rather than creating a new policy or rule try identifying values that are not being met. If no values are being flaunted then perhaps you are on the wrong side and if any values are being flaunted then bring it up to your stuff very passionately.
Uberization is a metaphor for phenomena where mobile technologies are leveraged to connect a buyer and a seller by creating a digital marketplace for services; eliminating the traditional middlemen, who could be playing the role of an aggregator or capital provider or logistics/infrastructure provider etc.
HR has been playing the role of representing talent to business and business to talent. In doing so, they also play several of the administrative roles that ensure compliance as per agreements and policies. However this role of playing the middlemen between business and talent will eventually shrink and HR will need to reinvent itself for the new role it needs to play in an and being threatened by Uberization of HR.
Talent Acquisition: Responsibility of staffing a company always resided with the HR. However Uberization is changing the story by connecting talent to business directly and turning HR only into only ‘paper shifters’, a role that is rather outsourced. Its not just LinkedIn; but I was involved in brainstorming of an Uberized tool targeting staffing companies where business can directly connect with talent and finish contracting directly – short circuiting HR and the staffing company both!
Talent Administration: Payroll and workforce administration are heavy weights in Talent Admin. Both these functions are experiencing heavy automation resulting in reduction of HR and Uberization is only making the pace faster! Mobile GPS based attendance and wearable devices are latest in attendance tracking for mines and infrastructure that is making the process more seamless and automatic thereby connecting the Business with Talent short-circuiting HR. Mobile based ESS\MSS and Natural Language processing based helpdesk are connecting Information to Talent directly reducing administration tasks in HR
Talent Development: Learning has already seen glimpses of Uberization where Talent is directly connecting with content. MOOCs, Social platforms and corporate wiki are leading the way reducing learning organization to only compliance certification department. Performance management has been down away with in most companies for more continuous feedback; short-circuiting HR.
Now that the trends are clearly showing that Uberization taking over the role of the middlemen, what will HR do? They don’t need to represent talent with Business because business is directly connected with Talent. The answer lies in the question – HR needs to be Business. It could mean further thinning of HR but that is with every function in the company as Uberization pushes the productivity frontier. You may question, so who would represent Talent? Balance of power has switched considerably in favour of Talent and will continue to do so. Thus Talent will present itself!
I was in a marketing class when I had a transformative experience; we were introduced to a new idea that jolted a deep rooted faith. It unfolded like this; we were discussing “what is Value Add?” and several of us spoke about our understanding but the final conclusion was that “Value Addition” is activities for which client is willing to pay. And it had a very important corollary, Non-Value Adding activities are those activities for which client is NOT willing to pay.
My earlier philosophy was that a company must do what it believes is required– irrespective of whether the client is willing to pay for it or not. I believed that cost of such activities for which client is not willing to pay for should be added on top of the cost of activities for which the client is willing to pay for. However after paradigm shift, I started believing that non value added activates should be at best be eliminated!
Steve Jobs once famously quoted “When you’re a carpenter making a beautiful chest of drawers, you’re not going to use a piece of plywood on the back, even though it faces the wall and nobody will ever see it. You’ll know it’s there, so you’re going to use a beautiful piece of wood on the back. For you to sleep well at night, the aesthetic, the quality, has to be carried all the way through.” But this quote didn’t have any meaning for me.
A few days back, I was at a very famous 5 star hotel for my holidays. My family and I were awestruck at the beauty of the hotel – the architecture was phenomenal. On the last night of our stay, we invited our relatives for dinner and we were thoroughly impressed by the hospitality and comforts. After a sumptuous dinner; my wife and I walked our guests to their bike. We had a good walk until we reached the basement – When we reached the car park we realised it was a different world! It was at best shabby. Then we walked to the bike parking and the situation worsened – it had instructions all around – parking at owner’s risk, don’t leave helmet on the bike etc… We felt bad that such a beautiful hotel had such a bad basement. It was dirty, no paint … plain ugly! It hit us more badly when we realised this parking was mainly for the employees who took such good care of us! It also made our guests go to a place so bad before they could get to the restaurant.
I felt why did the hotel leave the place so bad? I stumbled upon the fact that normally clients never get to this place! We never had before! We left our cars to chauffers for parking!
What do MOST clients pay for? Food, beautiful rooms and corridors, hospitality… Those are all top class! Who cares about comfort of the employees and their parking? So it becomes a “Non-Value Adding” activity and cost.