Sonntag, 1. Januar 2017

HR should dig deeper - Working on Employee Experience and People Analytics - 5 (+1) Question/s to Tom Haak on expectations on HRM

Everywhere there is a lot of communication about Human Resource Managers and Human Resource Management - but there is less communication with individual HR Managers in person. In these discussions, everything revolves around the current processes and performance of HRM but the HR community increasingly talks about the overall prospective of “HRM” as well. These controversial opinions, often expressed in unusual harsh tones in my view, were an occasion for me to start a series of interviews with customers, partners and insiders of HR Management. Today I talk to Tom Haak contributor of my HR Innovation Day 2016 and well known international HR Expert. I would like to start by thanking him and would ask him to shortly introduce himself, before I start the interview.

Tom Haak - Founder of HR Trend Institute
Tom: I am founder of HR Trend Institute. At the Institute, we detect, follow and encourage trends in the people and organization domain. We are very interested in HR innovations and HR Tech. Our belief is that the impact of HR in organizations can be a lot higher!

Peter: Thank you very much for your brief introduction. What is your position in HR Management or rather where are your links to HR Management?
Tom: I started working in HR in 1982, as a recruiter for a division of Philips Electronics. In my last job, I was the global director HR of Arcadis, a multinational engineering and design company with 27,000 employees. In 2016 I was during six months the interim global director HR for Fugro, another multinational engineering company. So, I have 30+ years’ experience in HRM, mainly in multinational companies. In my view HRM is clearly a profession. I do not want to brag, but I think I have always had an impact in the organizations where I worked. I worked at some great companies, as Philips Electronics, KPMG, Aon and Arcadis, these companies were very people centric, and the role of HRM in these companies is important.

Peter: What is your opinion of the status or standing of HR Managers?
Tom: This varies a lot between organizations, and between countries. Overall the status of HRM has grown during the last decade. In many organizations HR plays an important role. I think HRM is too much associated with the HR department. HRM is not about the HR department, but about how organizations make sure people can contribute and develop their full potential. There are organizations with excellent HR that do not have an HR department.

Peter: In your opinion, why is HR Management so often and to some extent fiercely criticized today?
Tom: Dave Ulrich has done a lot of good work for HR, but his famous model with the four archetypical HR roles has also had a negative effect. All the HR managers want to be a strategic partner, maybe a change-agent, but certainly not an administrative expert. Now many HR managers are neither: not a strategic partner, and not an administrative expert. HR operations is the backbone of HR, and HR operations is undervalued. In my view, we should make a clear distinction, and separate HR operations and HR services from strategic HRM advice. Running HR operations requires different skills and experience than giving creative strategic advice in the people and organization domain. What I see is that many HR teams want to implement the HRM handbook. They want to do to many things at the same time, and this frustrates management who do not see progress. The design skills of HR professionals are often poor. Of course, you should listen very good to your clients, but you should not necessarily implement the solutions your clients come up with. Take talent management. Most managers and supervisory boards say: “Talent management is a high priority”, and then they ask HR to design a talent management program. But HR should dig deeper. What issue is talent management solving? Is there really an issue? What can we learn from the data? Are there more creative solutions that can solve the issue with less effort? It helps if you are embedded in the organization, then you don’t have to ask what the issues are, but you know. HRM is a profession, and we should be able to come up with focused impactful solutions. Data driven and evidence based, not too much relying on our gut-feelings.

Peter: Where do you anticipate specific need for change in performance/service and provision of HR Management?
Tom: As I said, I see a clear distinction between HR Operations and HR Strategy. HR can learn a lot from marketing. With today’s technology, we can learn a lot about the individual wishes and capabilities of the people and use those insights for the benefit of the people and the organization. Not one-size-fits-all, but programs and solutions tailored to individuals and teams. The world has become a lot faster, and HR must become a lot faster as well.

Peter: What will be the focus/topics of HR Management in 10 years?
Tom: In my recent article “10 HR trends for 2017” I mentioned nine trends. Some of them are clearly related to long-term megatrends. Working on the “employee experience” is certainly not a hype. A key question is how we can make sure people who are connected to organizations, and not only the people on the payroll, have a positive experience from beginning to end. The difference between consumers, employees and suppliers become blurring: everybody wants a positive experience.
Working more data-driven and evidence based is also clearly a long-term trend. Unfortunately, still many scientific insights are not applied in the workplace today. With the current technology HR, can create many surprising insights, and with basic and advanced people analytics the impact of HR can increase a lot. The last area I want to mention is man-machine collaboration. Again, with the technology of today, machines can learn fast, and life in organizations can be a lot more pleasant and efficient if people and machines collaborate, and learn from each other.

Some hints: HR with impact
Peter: Now my final question 5+1 (for advice for my alumni and students): What would you advise young HR Managers or students, who seek a career in Human Resources? What should they pay attention to? What is and what will be important?
Tom: Gladly I refer to my articles “12 things to learn if you want a career in HR” and “Trends in capabilities for HR”.  I work with many students and many young HR professionals, and often their basic skills are not up to par. So, my first advice: make sure you master the basic skills. Methodology, statistics, experiment design, presentation techniques and of course language and writing skills. Secondly: learn about design thinking, agile working methods and people analytics. Thirdly: carefully choose the organizations you work for. One obvious aspect: if you choose a growing organization you will generally learn more and progress faster than if you choose a shrinking organization. Also: choose an organization that fits with your values. Finally: be very critical on your bosses, as a good boss early in your career can be a great asset.

Peter: Thank you very much for your contribution. I wish you continued success, many friendly partners and new ideas always. I hope we will see each other again in 2017.


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