The markets and its behaviour have changed because society and the behaviour of people have changed. This is the unquestionable reality why the majority of companies today face the challenge of reconstructing their value proposition in their respective industries and sectors of activity. Reinvent or teeter… risk or surrender… innovate or… just vanish.
This scenario is not about trends, but survival. We have entered into the era of re-invention, re-definition and re-construction and in such circumstances the capacity for re-generation inevitably involves placing the spotlight onto people.
Such a statement does not uphold a romantic vision of the return to humanism….not even in an attempt to defend the fundamental—yet almost always questioned—role of the HR function. It is vital to focus on the individuals and their abilities because people are the driving force of re-action, for defining, inventing, constructing and generating a new reality, no less.
HR professionals take on a key role in this context: if the capacity for re-generation is shouldered by people themselves, then people management must take on another dimension—a dimension that looks markedly different from what it has been so far.
Let’s leave rhetoric and demagoguery aside, the way the HR function has been intended and understood so far can hardly become a catalyst for re-action at the service of the organization. The need for self-criticism becomes compelling for resetting its own value proposition to ultimately re-direct the function to focus on the capacity for re-action through people.
A self-critical process is called for that allows us to define a new set of responsibilities for the HR function. Beyond fads and trends, value generation from the people area to the business passes through the development, with firm conviction, of the following lines of action:
- Lead digitization
There will be no value generation without digitization. The behaviour of people develops independently of time and space. Technology thus becomes the catalyst in this new way of behaving and relating. If the field of people management intends to positively influence business, it will not be enough to be merely an actor. Instead it must become the leader of the digitization process in the organization.
- Promote knowledge and generational diversity
In the longest living societies, the ability for at least three generations to live together within the same organizational context (Baby Boomers, Generation X and Millennials) is already a reality. In a highly globalized environment the cultural mix is by now a reality in our companies. The organizational complexity must be offset with diversity, and in this context, a people manager must become a generational integrator and a knowledge catalyst embedded in every corner of the organization.
- Develop talent connectivity
It isn’t enough to just identify it or even to retain it. The new dimension in talent management involves connection. One of the main tasks of a people manager must be to build talent communities and platforms, in which professionals express themselves freely, identify one another and make connections that impact business.
- Promote transformational leadership
To lead is to transform and change in a setting like today’s; transformation generates value. Transformation calls for a leadership style that does not conform to the prevailing status quo. HR should activate mechanisms and processes that promote the development of a leadership style that manages the organization from, for and towards change.
- Set free and practice intelligent disobedience
HR should stop penalizing divergent thinking and understand the richness that a non-conformist, irreverent and anti-establishment attitude harbours. It should identify skills traditionally stigmatized as intelligent disobedience and create spaces where this comes forth to generate value.
- Promote knowledge over the net
There is an imperative need to identify the knowledge lodged within the organization and to define mechanisms for its dissemination through the existing formal and informal networks. One of the essential functions of the people management area is to promote knowledge exchange using social technology and virtual communities. The ability to generate value is directly proportional to the ability to promote the knowledge management over the net.
- Reclaim the role of emotional management
Within a context in which business reaction will occur through people, HR must recover the importance of emotional intelligence as one of the main mechanisms for exerting leadership. One of the priorities of HR will be to re-educate the organization on the importance of emotional management as the main mechanism for transforming emotions into action, and in turn, into results.
- Promote branding as a fundamental practice
The brand and its management must cease to be understood as a “marketese” issue. Interactions with external talent, transmission of cultural values and communication processes to the community are developed through branding. From this angle, HR professionals must build all the necessary initiatives so that the brand is a vehicle at the service of the new value proposition, and thus they become key brand ambassadors.
- Establish a culture of conversation
The HR function should abandon its role as "internal communication manager" to become a conversation architect. When HR is aware of the knowledge held among the professionals within the organization, shows leadership over the social technology processes, and acts as the main driver of transformational leadership, then it will become a true generator of the culture of conversation —a vital culture model in the knowledge economy.
- Promote integration over exclusion
We live in an era of integration and inclusion—not exclusion. The people function is called to encourage hybridization and integration processes for options and alternatives... It will become an area that leads the marriage of new concepts and innovates through inclusion and integration. In an increasingly complex world, whatever is excluded detracts value. In contrast, whatever is integrated increases value. If HR professionals wish to take on a leading role in our business reality, they must promote integration processes within the organization.
Re-build to lead re-action, remake to promote re-construction—a statement that hides much more than a just a play on words...
An exercise in self-criticism must start as soon as possible to allow HR professionals to make progress in the creation of a new paradigm within people management. A new model that flees from fads and trends, and above all, takes on a key role accompanying the business in this time of change.
Working towards this direction is not even an option; it is the only possible alternative for the HR function to lead its own evolution, practice self-criticism, and develop a new paradigm that allows for value generation in an organization that now literally inhabits a world under construction.