Friday, 9 November 2007

Unlocking the DNA of the Adaptable Workforce / 2

Building the adaptable workforce also requires the ability to identify the location of experts, and to encourage collaboration between people to innovate, share knowledge and solve problems. Interestingly, organisational reasons (silos, lack of priority etc) are seen by IBM as much more important barriers to effective collaboration than difficulties with technology

And as well as focusing broadly on the entire workforce, adaptability requires the use of talent management with a greater emphasis on segmenting and targeting talent throughout the entire employee lifecycle (ie my vs Peter Cheese's definition of talent). To do this effectively, organisations need to become more innovative in the ways they attract, motivate and develop employees.

Focus is also required on what in many organisations is a leadership gap. In fact, an inability to develop future leaders was cited as a critical issue by over 75% of IBM’s survey respondents. However, developed leaders need to be given challenging roles that allow them to apply their new skills if they are not to be lost to competitors (echoing the finding in Watson Wyatt’s Human Capital Index that development can have a negative impact on business performance unless it is put to good use).

IBM also believe that managing this kind of talent market requires a structured, analytical approach: “A more data-driven, fact-based method to hire, pay and reward top performers”.

“If the workforce is truly to be valued as an asset, much like financial capital or brand equity, the entire C-suite, not just HR, will need more robust and accessible information about current and future talent needs, employee productivity and resource availability.

No matter how much respect the C-suite may have for the CHRO, until the HR organisation has access to workforce data and information with the same level of timliness, consistency and validity as the financial or operational data available to the CFO or the COO, its insights will not hold the same weight.”


This argument doesn’t work for me. Human capital may be just as important as financial or brand capital. But this doesn’t mean that human capital is like financial or brand capital, ie should be treated in just the same way as them. Management of financial management involves cause and effect relationships. Management of human capital requires an understanding of
complexity.

Again, I’m not against measurement and analytics, but I think these need to be conducted very strategically, and often qualitatively. And I simply don’t believe that more or even better measurement is the difference that will make the difference in HR’s strategic impact. The magic is in truly developing an adaptable workforce (or whatever you decided is going to be your organisational capability, perhaps even something that will make you seem a bit strange?), and using measurement as an enabler to this.