5 HR mindsets for the future (and right now)

1) Adaptability – HR has been built on creating fixed structure and immobility. That’s where we used to add value, but no more. The frustration that we hear in a lot of organisations is that the world is demanding more flexibility and yet the profession is slow to catch up. We need to be more adaptable, able to turn our hands to anything and make decisions based on the immediate circumstances that face us, to help our businesses move forward.

2) Tech Savvy – I can’t repeat this too many times; if you don’t understand technology then you’re going to find yourself obsolete pretty damn quickly. It isn’t a case of being an expert, although having some coding experience in your team is never going to hurt. Our experience as human beings is increasingly influenced by technology, so if you want to be in HR you need to understand that experience.

3) Commerciality – Before I lose you….I’m not talking about the stupid linear relationship that most people draw when they talk about HR and commercial reality. I’m talking about the big global issues that you need to understand to help your organisation navigate the next ten or twenty years. Demographics, pension legislation, immigration and emigration, skills and education. Changes in FX rates, inflation and interest rates. You’re on top of them right?

4) Creativity – If we are going to adaptable, tech savvy and commercial then we sure as hell need to be creative too. We too often look down our noses at creativity and view pragmatism as the holy grail of HR. Remind me the last time you went to a party and talked to your friends or family about this amazing piece of pragmatism. Then ask yourself the same question about creativity. It matters.

5) Connectivity – Our ability to see inter connections, relationships, to look inside and out and see how things relate, to understand the impact of one element of practice on another is critical. Our ability to think systematically and understand that neither our organisations nor our practice can operate in isolation. We need to be the organisational glue, not the institutional porridge.

Information is energy, not power

How does your organisation treat information? I mean proper information, the stuff that makes a difference.

The organisational response to feedback about their information flow is normally one of two things, to instigate more formal information sharing platforms, to berate management for not cascading the content of the already existing platforms.

Meanwhile, the real information flow in the organisation doesn’t change. Because it isn’t a process, it’s culture.

We all know the phrase, “knowledge is power” but the reality is that in far too many of our organisations information is being used as such by a large proportion of our people.

It strikes me the leader’s job is to use information as energy and not as power. We are there to disseminate the appropriate information at the right time to aid performance but also to retain information, to shield people if that information would hinder performance.

And that’s a fine balance.

I don’t buy the idea that total absolute information flow is the organisational gold standard. The demands to know everything is a simple means of recognising that information is seen as power within your business.

We all know that organisations produce ridiculous amounts of data and also, particularly in these fluid times, the agenda can change repeatedly. Sometimes it just isn’t helpful to know.

Culturally advanced organisations know when to share and when not to share. Likewise, people in culturally advanced organisations recognise what they need to know and what they don’t.

And that’s where we need to aim.

Ten reasons we don’t care about candidate experience

We love talking about candidate experience. I hear time and time again how important it is, yet the reality is that most of us are pretty dreadful at it regardless of whether we are HR or recruitment professionals.

The fact is that most recruiters don’t care about candidate experience, and here’s why:

1) We build dodgy website experiences – Most online application processes make getting in to Berghain look like a piece of cake. At a recent event I was at a roundtable of recruiters roundly condemned every single major ATS. And yes, whilst we can be a whiny bunch, there’s some truth in it. If these were e-commerce sites, we’d be losing money.

2) We don’t have time to give feedback – This is probably the defining question that sets out where you are on candidate experience. People tell me they just don’t have time, and I’ve got sympathy with that. But then don’t say you care about candidate experience, because you don’t.

3) We create mystery processes – Would you order something without a delivery time? Enter a competition without any rules? Our single-minded focus on making sure people don’t know how to get a job with us is something to behold. I mean, if people knew, they might hold us to account? And we’re too busy making sure they have a good experience to deal with that.

4) We don’t understand our own biases – I’ve heard too many recruiters….I could actually stop the sentence there and it would be enough…but let’s indulge…I’ve heard too many recruiters say, “I would never consider someone who xxxxx”. Bias? Who knows, but the chance is yes, absolutely. Get yourself here. Now.

5) We allow indefensible criteria – “The manager wants to only see people who can hold eleven marshmallows in their mouth and still hum the national anthem. Apparently the last two job holders could do that and they were both top performers”.

6) We value operational efficiency over optimal pathway – Every process redesign I have ever seen in recruitment has been to make things easier for the recruiter and the line manager. Not once have I seen people take on more work to make the candidate’s life easier. Not once.

7) We want to separate recruitment out from the employee cycle – Centres of excellence, outsourced solutions, service centres. Can you imagine setting up your business so that you sold a product without actually being aware of the quality of the build, design and the delivery times? No, me neither so how can we give candidates a great experience if we don’t know what’s going to happen when they’re hired?

8) We STILL use social media to sell – Even the companies lauded for using social media well are way, way, way behind the customer service functions of most businesses. Candidate experience? Don’t ask us questions and we won’t need to respond. See our FAQ and in the meantime, click this link. Thanks.

9) We work office hours – People enter the recruitment process when they’re not at work. For example, we’ve been using the awesome HireVue technology now for nearly three years. Our data shows that over 50% of people use the system outside of 9-5 and the most popular day is…..Sunday. We know this as a profession, but want to speak to a recruiter out of hours? We’re in the pub. But, don’t let that worry you, just enjoy the experience.

10) We serve the business not the candidate – I’m not saying this is wrong, it’s a thing, it just is. Every time we will put a line manager before a candidate because simply we care more about their experience. I know. I’m not wrong.

Don’t believe me? The REC have just launched the results of their research in to candidate experience, you can get it here.  And whilst you’re at it, join up to the Good Recruitment Campaign here.

Let’s stop talking the talk.

The 5 future trends that HR needs to embrace

Technology is getting smaller

As a child of the 70s and 80s, I know all about BIG technology. Seriously, guys these days don’t know they’re born. I had to wear a back pack for the batteries to support my first Walkman (yeah, I know…..what’s one of those?) and that’s before I talk about my first mobile phone…..which was great. As long as you were within three minutes of a charger.  Not forgetting that it used to take a small army to return the TV to Radio Rentals when you wanted to upgrade to push button technology.

But here is the thing. Whilst hardware has got smaller, so has software. Smaller and a hell of a lot more powerful. There is a platform or solution for almost every single thing you do within the HR department. Hell, thinking about it there is probably even an app that mopes about having a seat at the table too. We should be engaging with this new small technology, seeing where it fits into our business, deploying it effortlessly and through it creating a better employee experience.

Employees are getting pickier

Which brings me on to the next point. Things are picking up out there and people are starting to think about whether they really want to spend another five, ten years dealing with the same rubbish that they’ve had to put up with since 2008. Just being big is no longer going to cut it, just being the market leader is cute, but doesn’t get you a cigar. What is it that you have that makes it a different experience for employees?

You can’t guarantee a job for life, or a gold-plated pension scheme. You probably can’t even promise decent career progression because you’ve been so busy flattening your organisational structures to take out management layers and cost. So what do you have to offer? What is it that makes you REALLY different? Why on earth should anyone work for you?

Talent is getting broader

Fortunately for you, talent pools are getting bigger. You just haven’t worked it out yet. But that’s ok, that’s what I’m here for. You can thank me later. So here’s the thing, the “war for talent” has never really been about talent, that’s just the label they put on it to scare your CEO. It was a war for qualifications and in some way skills. But that’s all about to change, because qualifications are going to become more or less obsolete.

Why? Because the things that you learn at school, at college, at university are great, but they’re going to be irrelevant to the workplace almost as soon as you graduate. Instead what you need to be looking for are the adaptable, self-learning, flexible, curious people who won’t come in to your business expecting everything to be like it was at business school. Because they never went. And these people, are everywhere, you just need to open your eyes and look differently.

Culture is becoming realer

Which brings us on to culture, or, “how things happen around here”. Because you know what? It really makes a difference. I’m not talking about trying to be Zappos or Google. You’ve got more chance of waking up alongside your secret crush of choice. Which is exactly the point. We’re all different, we like different things, we have different looks and we want different outcomes. And so do our organisations.

Being real and open about who you are as a business, accepting your lumps, bumps and blemishes, but being proud of your good bits (no matter how soft a focus is needed) is going to deliver a better performance.  Identifying who you are, getting your senior team comfortable with that and dropping the pretence of being something you’re not. Enough of the authentic leadership babble, we need to start talking about authentic business.

Reward is getting harder

Well, there had to be something that was a bit of a suck in the top five. And this is it. Because the way in which we pay individuals has been pretty static for the last fifty years. The way in which we structure reward is archaic and no longer fit for purpose. I’m not just talking about the cash that you take home to pay the bills and buy the monthly takeaway, I’m talking about the entire reward and compensation framework.

When you look at new entrants to your market, they’re offering entirely different compensation terms. And if you want to compete with these guys for the best people, then you’re going to have to think about how you pay and reward. People aren’t interested in a job for life, the benefits that you offer were drawn up by a 50-year-old white guy, some time in the 80s because they frankly just don’t cut it. Don’t believe me? Take a look at the “what we offer” of most corporate websites and then tell me how inspired you are. Then think about change.