Archive for April, 2005
Regina Miller wrote a great piece on the ‘Value Added Attitude’ of HR and the fact that this is a subject that Regina “could blog on for hours on this topic, but will stop here. I will come back to this again and again.” Anyway, the three tips follow;
Tip 1: Now this is not new stuff…this is the baseline and if you are not operating from this perspective and strategic framework, you are way behind.
Tip 2: If you don’t see one of HR’s main responsibilities in the business as the facilitators of strategy alignment, strategy deployment and strategy execution, then you are in the wrong job.
Tip 3: So, if you are feeling like your HR group doesn’t have the right “attitude”, then you need to ask yourself what has to be done to get it? Make sure you are working on the right things so the organization has the capabilities to execute on the strategy. Make sure you deliver what you say you will. Make sure all that you do is connected, integrated and relevant to the business.
I guess we’ll both be writing for some time to come…
On Tuesday, I had the pleasure of meeting Tim Watmuff and sharing a chat over coffee (Tim’s looking to move to the South West in a senior HR role, so if anyone can help, please get in touch). We spoke about a variety of different things but the key theme was that of culture, change and working internationally.
The one thing that struck me during the conversation was the contrast in cultural and commercial outlook and how a company’s values have such a bearing on performance. Tim’s had a fair amount of experience with Japanese firms and he introduced me to the ideal of Nemawashi. The definition below is from Michael Phillips.
The process of making changes in Japan, a truly cooperative-self examining culture, is called nemawashi. The word refers to a tree transplanting. The tree is dug to the roots, wrapped and left in place. It is then taken out of the hole and left in place near the hole. A week or more later it is moved to the new site and placed next to the hole, where it waits again until it is put in the hole.
I think this bottom-up or covert approach offers a superb complement to the often relied upon top-down or overt styles of leadership that are practiced and preached so frequently on these shores. Perhaps there is an ideal balance between them both?
HCM has to show a direct causal connection between effective HR strategy and bottom-line business performance, but because HR is failing miserably to take up this challenge, when push comes to shove – such as the advent of OFRs – no-one will give it house room.
If we take Paul at his word, I wonder if there are any good examples, case studies or HCM champions that people would recognise or have been ‘outed’?! Quoting directly again from the article;
Randal Tajer, a senior HR executive at financial services firm UBS, said most reporting on staff-related issues does not really inform investors and reflects badly on HR. “There’s lots of ‘data’ out there, but no ‘information’,” he said. “HR wants the respect of a discipline, but not the discipline of a discipline.”
These comments remind me of the apparent paradox that we featured recently in the post “The Strategic Perceptions of HR“. The fact remains that HCM would appear to be caught between a rock and a hard place when it comes to adding value and being seen as strategic rather than operational. Alternatively, perhaps HR needs to improve on its ability to sell itself internally?
There are more rumblings about the Accounting for People (AfP) taskforce. In an article entitled “Taskforce members ignore own advice on people data” we learn that;
…close inspection of their [BP, Compass Group and ITV] most recent annual reports reveals that some only pay lip service to their staff in their main documentation, with as little as two paragraphs on “employment” in the case of ITV. BP has just one paragraph on “human potential” in its report, although there is quantitative data on staff employee issues. Compass includes only five paragraphs on staff in its 105-page annual report.
I happen to believe that AfP is a hard internal sale and as a consequence of this, the take up is slow or non-existent. On a positive note however, one might conclude that some reporting is better than none and the first step is always the hardest.
I was reading this note on the UK-HRD mailing list and couldn’t help be tickled by the author
Nothing personal – this happens every couple of days – someone puts up a posting asking for an instrument, exercise, whatever, which will presumably have some kind of effect on people’s careers and life chances and then adds the coda that it should preferably be free or low-cost.
I’m reminded of John Glenn, the astronaut, who when asked about his feelings on being punted into outer space said that he couldn’t help but think that all the millions of components were purchased from the lowest bidder.
The ability to connect innovation, or the lack of it, directly to people within an organisation is key to ensuring that such innovation is delivered. While lots of people (Dave Pollard and Mark Madsen for example) are looking at disruptive innovation, we haven’t seen much that attempts to link the innovation process directly to individuals.
We’ve been working closely with Allan Engelhardt at Cybaea and have been exploring the impacts of innovation, collaboration and related themes. We’ve recently published a joint article called “Actions for Enterprise Collaboration”. Feel free to read the text online, or register and download it as a pdf. As a summary, I’ve added some extracts from the article below.
The business literature has recently been focusing on managing the direction of innovation, especially through the works of Clayton Christensen. However, if innovation is a car, then Mr. Christensen provides the GPS satellite navigation system to tell you how to steer to where you want to go, but gives little insight into how to start the engine.
Companies need to innovate relentlessly to even stand still in an increasingly global and competitive economy. No longer is it sufficient to deliver incremental improvements at a leisurely pace. Instead disruptive innovations of the type that fundamentally alters markets and business processes must be sought out and delivered regularly and predictably. Disruptive innovation must become a core business process.
However, substantial innovation happens in the organizational white space between departments and functional units. The activities in these spaces are almost per definition unmeasured and unmanaged, and therefore not repeatable.
[In order to link individuals, organizational white space and the innovation process directly] 4G first looks at the quality and specific dynamics of relationships and culture within the group. In particular, it is possible to not only see how existing relationships manifest themselves but also to predict the outcome of new relationships should roles and responsibilities change, or people’s work bring them into contact with new people. 4G also offers insights into different cultures and again, these can be modelled, predicted, and referenced against optimal conditions [for innovation].
The ongoing debate about encouraging companies to report on their human capital management practices seems to have been dealt another blow. This article outlines some of the recent developments.
The draft Reporting Standard for operating and financial reviews (OFRs) currently being consulted upon by the Accounting Standards Board (ASB) are missing the opportunity to improve UK productivity and competitiveness according to the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD).
Angela Baron, CIPD Organisation and Resourcing Adviser commented: “The ASB have failed to reflect the Secretary of State’s intention to embed in law the concept of Enlightened Shareholder Value. We are disappointed that the issue of employees and their relevance to long-term performance has been allowed to slip so far down the list of factors that are deemed relevant to operational and financial reporting.
We have a wide range of research that supports our conclusion that significant business gains are to be made if organisations collect, analyse and act on all information available and relevant to their long term performance. This means considering the contribution and value of human capital in a thorough and systematic way, and in equal measure with other forms of capital.”
There can be no doubt that in principle, such reporting and information is fundamentally good. However, the question that needs to be asked and ultimatley answered is why are the supporters of these moves struggling to deliver?
In my mind, there are many reasons for these problems but perhaps the most important is the inability to create a best practice approach or something that can be modelled and replicated which equally delivers internal value for the HR sponsors and other senior decision makers. I continue to look for something to represent this, but with little success to date.
There is some more positive feedback on the Commercial Added Value HR Association. Jerry Hayter at Xecutive Search further endorses the position adopted by Neil Griffin in his letter (see the bottom of the page).
It is very sad to see the CIPD doesn’t seem to engage with the most senior, and most influential people in the profession. It’s even sadder to see that the headlines in the personnel media are still full of features bemoaning that HR isn’t aligned to business goals.
I remember reading something very similar in the personnel press when I joined the profession 15 years ago. We should ask ourselves: why hasn’t the profession yet made enough impact on business under the sole stewardship of the CIPD after so long?
Not to make the CIPD a target, but I think these sentiments are very well made and echo many comments we hear in conversations with our own clients.