Change is inescapable. In life, at work, change is the only constant. Yet, many are fearful of change and await it with dread.

 

As change brings on new challenges to overcome and undiscovered horizons to discover, it is true that change is not easy to embrace. Yet, there is no growth and therefore no improvement without change. The challenges that accompany it are part of the package and are what makes accepting change so rewarding.

Human Resources is the art of working with humans for the benefit of humans. And since we know change is the only constant when it comes to humanity, working in HR requires cultivating the Art of overcoming challenges head on in order to guide the way towards positive change.

This may be quite a philosophical way to start, yet it is important to comprehend the above in order to fully appreciate the sense of urgency that was ablaze at last week’s HRCoreLab event in Barcelona. Teneo’s annual event saw more than 380 international HR professionals gather together to discuss the newest trends, challenges and movements in the world of HR.

 

“Human Resources is the art of working with humans for the benefit of humans.”

 

With a number of converging issues which are driving the need for change and as technology continues to advance at an unprecedented rate, HR’s role in the workplace is becoming more and more one of leadership. The H(uman) (fi)R(e) fighters, as they were so wittily coined, are expected to drive change and put out the fires (overcome the challenges) all while pushing their workplaces to adapt to ongoing innovations, just as fast as the individuals they harbour.

The world of work is undergoing an unprecedented revolution. The who, what and why of the workplace is changing forever and nobody wants to be left behind.

It is the void between individuals, businesses and technology that is creating a unique opportunity for HR to engage with leaders and organisations in order to adapt and prove its relevance. HR has a key role to play in designing “Agile companies” and leading in adopting new ways of working.

Companies are building organisations of the future and continuous learning is critical for business success. It’s therefore imperative that we understand that it is also our responsibility to shape and challenge the creation of the Future of Work.

 

Our Global Head of Market Development, Jacques Reynaud, had the privilege of attending the HRCoreLab. Here are his takeaways:

 

Agility is the Future of HR

Agility is a trending term in the HR world. But what does it mean exactly? What does it refer to? In our experience, being “Agile” in the HR sphere refers to

HR’s capability to respond more quickly and effectively to changing employee expectations, workplace disruptions and business requirements.

 

In today’s ever changing work environment, agility has two meanings. The first is the traditional dictionary definition of “the ability to be quick and graceful.” The second is derived from agile project management.

Agility comes from the division of larger tasks into short phases of work in order to make them more approachable. Agility also comes from conducting frequent assessments and adapting original plans to changing environments. Agility refers to flexibility and empathy in the workplace.

Human resources needs to practice both kinds of agility in order to lead successful change management and here are several initiatives that you can put in place today.

 

1. Removing and reducing bureaucracy

Let’s face it, sometimes HR has been characterised as the “no” department by creating too many policies. This doesn’t necessarily come from their “want” to create a policy, but because someone somewhere said “We need a policy.” To become more agile, HR needs to adopt the role of educator, always asking the question, “Do we really need a policy?” or can we act faster?

Being an agile organisation isn’t necessarily about having fewer policies. It’s about having smarter policies. Ones that are easy to communicate, easy to remember and easy to share with others. In order for smarter policies to be successful, managers must also be given the training and tools to hold employees accountable for demonstrating the company’s values.

Agility is a team sport and should be considered as such.

 

2. Managing change

This is the big one. Managing change. What does this means? How does one “manage” change?

We all know the business world is changing, yet many organisations do not embrace change (as referred to above). “Managing change” refers to taking the lead and pushing to change outdated activities.

This doesn’t necessarily refer to eliminating old policies and procedures. It means looking towards the future and embracing new and improved formulas. It means raising people up to take responsibility of the change. It means taking the time to make everyone understand the benefits of the change and how this will affect them. It means being empathetic to all situations and taking the time to speak people’s language to train them efficiently.

For instance, there’s a trending topic at the moment about revolutionising annual performance reviews. Many organisations do not comprehend why we should shake things up. They do not foresee the benefits of more regular feedback. What needs to be understood and communicated is that organisations don’t have to eliminate the performance evaluation, but they do need to make sure that it aligns with the needs of today’s workforce.

 

“Managing change refers to taking the lead and pushing to change outdated activities.”

 

If we use the performance evaluation example, an option that is being introduced to complement the existing annual review are pulse surveys. These are short online surveys that can be conducted regularly to gauge employee opinions and satisfaction. The key to adding pulse surveys successfully is teaching employees at every level of the organisation to deliver effective feedback. Because good feedback leads to good organisational change.

Another example is quarterly sit downs. These resemble the annual review but break it down in smaller, more digestible chunks, making it easier for team members to share relevant, fresh feedback on challenges they may be having. This makes it a lot easier for managers to communicate to HR quickly, giving the organisation the chance to make effective change before it is too late. This of course leads to more employee engagement (they feel heard) and also helps make the organisation more “agile”.

 

3. Using feedback to take action

With social listening, sentiment analysis, pulse surveys and analytics, it becomes much easier to surface issues in real time that may have an adverse impact on your organisation.

Companies have the ability to use the principles of agile project management to adjust programs based on regular feedback.. One last thing about employee feedback, the worst thing that organisations can do is ask employees for their insights then do nothing with them. It’s important for organisations to be transparent in their intentions.

It’s perfectly acceptable to tell employees that the timing isn’t right for a project or the budget doesn’t permit implementation of an idea. Employees understand. What they don’t understand is the absence of a reply. HR needs to make sure managers are trained to provide constructive comments and be effective change champions.

 

4. Embracing diversity for a more agile workforce

More than ever, as technology becomes more prevalent in all workplaces and as organisations become more inclusive, it is important to recognise the strength that comes from embracing cross-skilled talents within the HR population.

Digital gurus, project managers, neuroscientists, data analysts or engineers are now all part of the HR environment and are able to bring new ideas and fresh input to the table. This keeps the organisation on its toes and also leads to more empathy due to skills being shared.

By having multi-disciplinary talents within the organisation, this makes project collaboration and management much more agile as tasks can be shared more evenly. The kaleidoscope of skills permit a team to bounce ideas faster and more easily making the organisation more agile.

 

All in all, the human resources function has always been known as a change agent. So this is an organisational initiative that we’re accustomed to having a role. The challenge is that HR needs to embrace and use change management skills to take the organisation in a new direction. Instead of leading the change initiative, we need to educate the workforce on how they need to create and manage more frequent change.

 

As an ambassador for embracing change, Polyglot Group was immensely proud to sponsor the 6th edition of the HRCoreLab. Offering three days’ worth of debates and discussions, 47 speakers and many coffees later, this resourceful event revitalised our knowledge about tomorrow’s trends for today. We cannot wait to see what new ideas will be embraced in order to continue making the workplace a more uniting, welcoming, agile and disruptive community.

Manon

About the Author:

Manon is Polyglot Group's Global Head of Marketing. Not only is Manon deeply passionate about her work, she is a diversity, empathy and equality advocate.
Read more about Manon Bot.