Thursday, 14 June 2012

#ECTalent - Repositoning HR

This is the session I've been most looking forward to.

If talent management is going to shift, given our business challenges, and the move to next gen leadership etc, then HR is going to have to change too (my words).

Let's see what the panel have to say. And we've got:

- James Cullens at Hays (one of the many HR people I've trained on social media)
- Khurshed Dehnugara at Relume
- Budaraju Sudhakar at Tata Chemicals
- Lesley Wilkinson at Citi.

Lesley talked about Citi's increasing focus on diversity to match their customers and support innovation, and how this is then enabled through their recruitment etc. Another aspect is offering people something to connect to - so Citi focus on people and community as well as shareholder value.

Hays are emphasising the digital skills discussed by Unilever and PepsiCo already. And they're trying to respond to the changing expectations of the next gen talent who think about careers in a very different way to how James did when he started his career. We need to be clearer about what companies offer and what value an individual can get from this for their career.

Khurshed is trying to make their clients' environment more exciting for next gen talent ("what we find scary they find exciting"). If we don't do this they'll leave quickly (or else well find that "the seat's still warm but the brain's not there"). Next gen can do an awful lot but our over-controlling environments constrain them from performing [I'd suggest this applies to all generations actually]. Our talent processes aren't supporting this - we need more disturbance in the system. It needs to be more real day-to-day - not everything can be fit into a 9 box grid! [Hurrah!]

Budaraju suggested the average tenure in India is rapidly coming down. The average age of CEOs is coming down too. Something about Indian culture too - I missed this. We need to help people manage their insecurity. We tend to focus too much on closure and not enough on the process of closure. This is about values of trust and respect. Tata are training their people on human relations through 'human process labs'.

Although this was a great session, I thought much of it got stuck in the prevailing thinking about 'business-oriented HR', with eg James stressing the need for HR to understand the business very deeply eg new business models etc. [Yes - but we need deeper skills in psychology, sociology and anthropology etc too] and Budaraju emphasising the need for HR people to work outside of HR.

Eg Khurshed noted that next gen talent are desperate for something more human. Well they're not going to get this if HR turns its back on this need!

It's one reason I'm not generally a fan of appointing CHROs from outside of HR (as per Doug Baillie). But that only applies if HR remain people focused - not 'business person first, HR second'.

And why I'd like to see more companies implementing human process labs (I'm not actually sure what these are but they sound more like how I believe how HR needs to reposition itself than anything else I've heard at the Summit so far!)

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