Connecting an (HR) Disconnect

Can HR become aligned, or is it destined to struggle to “find itself” and thus the rest of the organization? A former colleague of mine puts forth her hypothesis!!

Connecting an (HR) Disconnect:  by Carol Anderson, Anderson Consultants

Posted on December 5, 2012

Back in the 1980s, I thought HR was disconnected. At that time, I was starting out in compensation, writing job descriptions (yippee). This was back in the days of point-factor evaluation plans where details of what the job did, what/who it was responsible for and how it influenced in the organization determined the salary grade and pay level.  Job descriptions were pretty standard, and a quick look at shrm.org says they haven’t changed much….identification data, general purpose, duties, tasks, functions, qualifications/KSAs, special requirements, ADA information.

I didn’t quite “get” the purpose of job descriptions back then (it may have been because I really didn’t like to write them). But it seemed that they were written, graded and stuffed in a drawer never to be looked at again until someone wanted the job upgraded.

After I became a hiring manager, the recruiter sat with me to create a “hiring profile”. As I described what I was looking for, it struck me that pretty much nothing I told her was reflected on the job description for the position. That seemed odd to me, but she explained that job descriptions record “jobs”, while her profile process reflected the actual “position.”

Okay, intellectually I get the difference. But I had this nagging feeling that there should be a connection somewhere. After all, aren’t we talking about the same people – those who are hired who then fill the jobs that were described?
Here we are many years later, and it feels as if there is still an opportunity to connect the various information needed for the “job”…the side of the equation that represents what the organization wants the employee to do and be. And with the knowledge work in most organizations today, we can’t afford to put people into a neat box by telling them exactly what to do.

To complicate it more, we add yet another set of criteria in the performance appraisal. Now, the employee was hired to one set of criteria, doing the job of another, and held accountable for a third. It’s enough to confuse even the most diligent employees. Learning and development may add yet another layer as they design learning objectives for training programs.

So how do we connect the disconnect? I think that there is an opportunity to collaboratively (meaning all areas of HR) come together to define the job side of the equation. Recruiting, compensation, performance management and learning should work from the same model – a model based upon a set of competencies that are shared.

I question the need for recording job duties at all. When jobs were scientifically graded based upon a point-factor process, that information formed the basis for the grade. Today though, compensation departments rarely have the staff to support effective point-factor analysis, and typically use a “General Purpose” statement to match the job to the market job. Additionally, comp staff usually work to make job descriptions more and more generic, so the duty statements become less and less relevant.

Investing time in creating effective core and functional competency models can be the linchpin that will allow all of the various HR areas to work from the same starting point. Getting all the parties in the same room to define what the job data will be used for, and then looking at commonalities can lead to a very integrated process that will make sense to the end user – the employee. After building a good competency model, based upon the organization’s business, operations and strategy, each HR discipline can use.

Let’s play that out using “Builds relationships” as a core competency.

  • Talent acquisition focuses on assessing the candidate’s experience in collaborative planning and execution and experience in working within a team environment.
  • Compensation needs to differentiate between two levels of the same job, so defines the higher level in terms of the criticality or complexity of building relationships.
  • The performance management process identifies “building relationships” as a critical success factor for those in the role,
  • And the learning and development team builds curriculum at an employee and leadership level on team, collaboration and communication.

The employee sees a consistent and holistic picture of how they are expected to behave and develop as a member of the organization. The leader coaches to help the employee build the skill, using practical examples of relationship building as it relates to the projects and processes in which the employee participates.

Can it work that way.  It absolutely can, but takes strong alignment on the part of the HR stakeholders to the ultimate vision – creating a unified road map for the end user – the employee.

9 Ways HR & Recruiting Technology Will Evolve in Next 4 Years

9 Ways HR & Recruiting Technology Will Evolve in Next 4 Years

123RF Stock Photo

Soon enough, we’ll have an idea of what the next four years at the White House will look like.

But technology is a bit harder to predict — and four years can have a dramatic difference in the products and services available for recruiters, HR professionals, and employers.

How will HR and recruiting technology evolve over the next four years?

1. Millennials will dictate evolution in HR Tech

Most of the 10 million Millennials entering the job market during the next three years will expect a far better candidate experience than today’s. This more-demanding “customer” of human resources dictates that HR technology be upgraded to initiate timely candidate interaction and utilize social media as a communication tool. Essentially, rather than the cold shoulder being given candidates now, evolving HR tools will deliver a digital handshake and a virtual smile.

Mark Babbitt, YouTern

2. Embrace social media, digital technology, online video hiring

With more and more applicants spending increasing amounts of their online time using social media, HR technology will find new ways to use the social space to find great candidates. Social media will be used to find a larger and more connected talent pool of candidates for companies looking for particular skill sets. While online video will be embraced as a better way to get to know these tech-savvy candidates faster and more personally than the traditional phone screens.

Josh Tolan, Spark Hire

3. Video & crowdsourcing will impact HR technologies

Because HR is always looking to lower hiring costs, HR technology trends will shift toward techniques that not only work, but also save money. Two dirt cheap techniques that are kicking up the recruitment space are the use of video and crowdsourcing in the recruitment sphere. Video allows employers to explain a lot of information to job seekers in a more engaging format that can also promote their brand. Crowdsourcing is basically a ton of free help in creating and promoting a job. Stay tuned.

Rob Kelly, Ongig

4. A shift toward social performance

The talent management industry isn’t currently keeping up with the demands of employees who want user-friendly performance management platforms. Social Performance is slowly seeing adoption across the workforce, and this will continue in the next three years since it’s easy to use and deploy–not only HR, but for every leader and manager–in order to drive autonomy and results. It’s also ideal in meeting the need for HR processes to be continuous, and allows for more informal feedback in real-time.

Morgan Norman, WorkSimple

5. Force HR to grow to a highly strategic organization

HR Technology is making our lives as HR practitioners much more efficient — even in spite of the huge learning curve that most professionals face in adapting to new technology. As HR Tech continues to collect and display metrics, more and more businesses will be able to make strategic business decisions as a result of these findings — not just from C-Level conversations that leave HR out.

Joey Price, Jumpstart:HR

6. Social capabilities integrated into the platforms

When a candidate applies for a position, a HR manager or hiring manager will see the application and their social profiles as an integrated aspect of their application. For example, it will show what company the candidate worked at, the recommendations they received while at that position from his or her LinkedIn profile, recent tweets, and Facebook wall posts.

Sudy Bharadwaj, Jackalope Jobs

7. More advancements in technology, but focus on people will prevail

Technology has an important place in recruiting, but it cannot entirely replace human interaction. Technology will continue to enable quick and cost-effective recruiting through applicant tracking, screening, evaluating, and communicating. Smart hiring managers will use technology to their benefit, but recognize the need for in-person meetings and phone calls to discover who the candidate behind the computer is.

Michele St. Laurent, Insight Performance

8. Technology determining fit will Be critical

The ubiquity of a professional persona and the amount of structured and unstructured data surrounding it has created a massive problem determining signal from noise. The ability to create intelligent applications that leverage these data to quickly determine intent and fit will be critical to the success of any new recruiting technologies, otherwise there can only be incremental improvement to legacy systems.

Michael A. Morell, Riviera Partners

9. Employer value proposition, branding will be real recruiting difference

It will become much more like CRM and less tailored to the application of active job seekers. Employer value proposition and branding will be the real difference makers and the technology will evolve to support this. It will enable talent acquisition leaders to engage with a community of talent via multiple channels.

Larry Jacobson, Vistaprint

New Study: The Top 10 Best Practices of High-Impact HR Organizations

New Study: The Top 10 Best Practices of High-Impact HR Organizations

fast-company-issue-97

Few magazine articles have had such a monumental impact on an entire profession the way that Fast Company’s Why We Hate HR” did on the world of Human Resources after it was published back in 2005.

Not only was it discussed, debated, and argued about about ad infinitum(and still is, some would say), but it articulated the notion that strategic, high-value HR executives should have a “seat at the table” with an organization’s other high level leaders, but, that this was simply a pipe dream for many in HR.

Many think that the “seat at the table” debate has been debated to death, but it is back in a new research study by Bersin & Associates of The Top Best Practices for the High-Impact HR Organization. In the Executive Summary (and you can get a copy here), Bersin principal analyst Stacey Harris references the article and writes:

Though controversial and full of assertions that were hard to face, the article summed up important frustrations that were common among HR professionals at the time. Many were forced to acknowledge its validity, to pause and to wonder, “Okay. But where does HR go from here?”

In the years since, HR leaders have fought an uphill battle to change the profession. Today, smart companies do have a place at the table for HR. The challenge for HR now is in living up to the high expectations that come with the seat – expectations of high impact. It is not easy…

With this new report, we tie together past research in the areas of talent and learning, and brand new research on the strategic elements of HR we have found that hold the greatest challenges for the function today.”

HR organizations lack the skills to succeed

The bottom line to the new Bersin research is pretty simple: it shows that many HR organizations still lack the skills they need to succeed in 2011. The study, which included surveys and interviews with more than 720 global organizations, found that overall spending levels, organization structure, and team size have far less impact on business performance than the skills of the HR professionals themselves.

“This research clearly shows that the days of bloated HR organizations focused on administrative tasks are over,” said Josh Bersin, chief executive officer and president of Bersin & Associates. “Lean, technology-enabled, well-trained HR teams are able to take advantage of modern talent practices and partner with business leaders to drive impact.”

The research also makes the case that the decades-old “HR generalist” model is no longer effective unless the HR generalists are highly trained and connected to senior business leaders. That sounds like a contradiction to me, but the study also points out that the key HR competencies that drive results today are familiarity with integrated talent management, understanding of workforce planning, and comfort with social networking and HR technology.

Top 10 HR Best Practices

What I found most compelling in the survey was the list of the Top 10 HR Best Practices that produced the highest impact ratings out of all of the 140 HR practices and features that Bersin evaluated. See if you agree that this is a list that makes a lot of sense:

  1. Structured governance and business case development (HR impact opportunity — 39%). From Bersin:“Building a business case requires a clear understanding of the business or businesses that HR serves, as well as working relationships with all business leaders. HR can achieve both by involving business leaders in the planning processes and governance. This involvement also helps to ensure business alignment and, as a result of that alignment, business buy-in and support.”
  2. Developing advanced workforce planning capabilities (HR impact opportunity — 28%). From Bersin: “High-impact HR organizations incorporate sophisticated forecasting and workforce analytics into their processes. This enables them to translate company-wide talent, business data and external workforce segment data into workable insights that they can use and share with business leaders.”
  3. Implementing the “right” HR philosophies (HR impact opportunity — 27%). From Bersin: “High-impact HR organizations tend to commit themselves to creating work environments that enable employees to thrive both as individuals and as contributors to business success. They strive to create positive employee environments, and clearly communicate these expectations in the HR philosophy and mission. The most effective philosophies focus on fostering innovation and collaboration, or creating the best place to work, while the least effective philosophies focus narrowly on efficiency or cost-cutting efforts.”
  4. Reducing administrative work for HR business partners (HR impact opportunity — 25%). From Bersin: “Many HR functions have a role that is a liaison between the HR function and business leaders. The specifics of this role vary widely. High-impact HR organizations use it to advise senior business leaders, focusing on decision support, workforce planning, leadership development and executive coaching. By enlisting the right person, HR can improve its credibility across the enterprise, improve working relationships with business leaders, cultivate mutual understanding and gain influence. When this role is implemented poorly, with more focus on administrative duties and taking orders, our research found that it can actually reduce an HR function’s ability to work effectively and efficiently.”
  5. Implementing flexible HR organization design (HR impact opportunity — 20%). From Bersin: “High-impact HR organizations are flexible and agile. Like earthquake- proof buildings, they are structured to allow adaptive movement if the ground shifts. No overall HR structural model (centralized, decentralized or a combination of the two) in itself emerged as a predictor of HR success. But certain structural features do lend themselves to areas of excellence. One feature that we found to be universally valuable was flexibility. Fancy organization charts and designs are fine – provided that you also have a culture which recognizes the need to adapt structurally when business needs and challenges change, as well as an HR staff that is capable of making those changes.”
  6. Improving employee-facing HR systems (HR impact opportunity — 19%). From Bersin: “The most significant contributions to the overall effectiveness of an HR function come from community-building and self-service elements. Knowledge-sharing portals, web-based recruitment tools and management dashboards let various HR stakeholders and clients find what they need when they need it. HR functions with user-friendly client systems are regarded as twice as effective and efficient as functions that do not invest in this advantage.”
  7. Measuring both HR operational and business metrics (HR impact opportunity — 19%). From Bersin: “Measurement strategies in high-impact HR organizations have evolved to ensure efficiency, effectiveness and business alignment. Such strategies incorporate both operational measures by which to manage the HR function and strategic people measures to support crucial business decisions.”
  8. Developing internal HR skills (HR impact opportunity — 13%). From Bersin: “As they focus on programs to develop employees company-wide, HR organizations often neglect the development of their own team members. This is a mistake. The world of HR solutions is constantly changing. High-impact HR organizations must invest the time and money needed to ensure team members’ competence grows in such disciplines as change management and relationship management. Efforts must also focus on developing team members’ business acumen, industry knowledge and command of current best practices in all areas of talent management, as well as the use of social networking tools and other HR technology.”
  9. Improving line manager capabilities (HR impact opportunity — 10%). From Bersin: “A common pitfall for many HR functions is the attempt to meet the needs of every stakeholder directly, thereby spreading limited HR resources very thinly. High-impact HR functions have prioritized the focus of their HR resources on building the capabilities of their line managers. This decision allows them to work in partnership with their line managers, versus trying to work around line managers who may be incompetent or ill-prepared.
  10. Outsourcing HR services strategically (HR impact opportunity — 10%). From Bersin: “High-impact HR organizations use outsourcing to enable their internal teams to focus on things that cannot be outsourced, such as building business relationships and developing custom solutions for business managers. These organizations outsource areas that can be improved through economies of scale, or which require global coordination and expertise. What an organization outsources often depends on its level of maturity.”

Seat at the table = high expectations

The research study comes out of Bersin & Associates’ new HR Practice, which was recently launched, the company says, to “address long-standing requests from HR professionals to help them build their skills, and prioritize and align their HR strategies with the business to deliver the greatest return.”

“The challenge for HR professionals today is living up to the high expectations that come with a seat at the table — expectations to drive business results through people and culture,” said Bersin’s Harris. “Our new HR Practice and this particular body of research reveal the keys to driving impact. We are also addressing long-standing requests by our Bersin & Associates members to help them prioritize and align their HR strategies with the business to deliver the greatest return.”

I’m not sure how the HR Practice will go for Bersin, but if it performs like other parts of the Bersin organization, it should give all the other HR consultants a good run for their money.

In fact, just this list of the Top 10 best HR Practices is a great start because it clearly gets to the heart of what HR needs to be doing to add value to an organization. And if you have spent much time around HR, you know that just about everyone needs to focus a lot more on that.

John Hollon is Vice President for Editorial of john, and follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/johnhollon