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Sins in HR - Transformation & Projects

"Change is the new normal", HR as a function and its leaders can't escape changes, in fact, they should lead changes in HR and in the broader organisation. To cope with the requirements- you may be required to

· Set-up/add to/move HR shared services teams,

· Set-up/updated Employee Self Service/Manager Self Service portals,

· Make large impact policy changes

· Participate in large organisational transformations

Leading and learning from such projects - have led me to summarise the “sins” in HR - Transformation & Projects


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1. Treating higher skilled job transitions, same as transactional transactions:

Not all jobs in HR are completely SOP or rule-based, e.g. Recruitment/ Talent acquisition and when transitioning them - from insource to outsource, onshore to offshore- they need to be treated separately, different transition and handover plans are required. Along with the traditional methods of knowledge transfer (e.g. classroom training)- live shadowing becomes important. It is also necessary to attach recruiter to recruiter - old to new, to gain tacit knowledge. 1-2-1 handover sessions between 2 recruiters, hiring leaders may also not be ignored.


2. Ignoring change management, even more importantly employee feedback in the design:

You can implement the best of the breed tools or policies however, if the adoption is low, you would have failed. Managing change to ensure acceptability of change is important. One of the ways to ensure higher acceptance is the inclusion of users in the design of the solution.


3. Using internal HR language for policy intranets, employee/ manager self-service portals: Many early (I am sure even now) HR ESS/MSS portal creation have a failed or have needed change. The reason being the existing HR form was converted into a digital form, the form that was earlier 90% times being filled by HR personnel has been digitised and employee/leader is expected to fill it. Same for the policy which was available with HR and to share with the employee with specific interpretation has now been uploaded on to intranet in the same HR/legal language. Best practice would be writing the actual text on the intranet, in more regular language- with the policy attached.


4. Doing too frequent organisation changes (structure and/or model):

It takes several years for organisational models to percolate, be understood - at least a couple of years for organisation structure to settle. Too frequent changes are a waste of energy, create ambiguity and a high sense of insecurity – all of which don’t help productivity.



5. Undermining the importance of HR spending time to understand business:

My belief is in many organisations HR has moved on to be partner, enabler function (Finance still needs to catch up) still, HR's knowledge of the business can be further improved. A suggestion would be the rotation of team leaders. An operations team manager in HR would bring in a fresh operational perspective and would take back understanding of intricacies of HR work and vice versa for an HR manager in an operations role, where feasible. At the end, it’s the general business conditions which drive things and not vice-versa.


6. Drafting and marketing EVPs (employee value propositions) and then forgetting about them:

A good HR person would draft EVPs and work to ensure that they continue to be true, well past the start of the company stage. It is necessary to review the EVPs continuously and bring them up for consideration for each policy change. As the employee profile changes, a change in EVP would be warranted. What one has seen that the change would be made in various areas, such as sourcing strategies, without the change in the actual document, which reduces the usability of EVPs for other changes.


7. Deciding metrics only based on feasibility rather than balancing with desirability:

Many times metrics are decided based on feasibility - how long would it take us (HR) to do this, given a certain volume and certain staff strength, rather than what’s the right balance between what the employee wants and we can deliver. E.g. do we need the same hiring cycle time metric for all types of roles? Do averages matter to the hiring leader who had to interview 5 candidates to hire an entry-level employee.


8. Deciding projects value/benefit solely based on cost metrics (viability):

Many HR projects have impacts which are not measurable -at least not cost wise, doesn't mean they shouldn't be done. HR projects measured against core revenue project isn't OK and create onus on the leaders to make sure they are fully endorsed.


9. Adopting an inside out approach (we know what employees want), rather than outside in (let's empathise and understand what they need and how):

Yes, HR personnel are also employees, however, they have inside knowledge of policies, processes, jargons - so doesn't make them the best user testers/feedback providers.


The above "sins" relate to several areas - such as project management, change management, design thinking, - areas which are dear to me and are limiting my view, and I am sure to have missed some. Do point them out.

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