In my last article I touched upon how automation has cost many IT Managers their job and as HR fraternity, are we going to face similar path?
HR fraternity claims that we as a function have evolved from Personal Management/Admin in 1990 to business partner. However, I feel there is not much difference over and above some sophistication of tools. We are still working like machines and HR Toolification has taken a center stage.
We keep hearing that HR is only a cost center and does not add value to the bottom line and hence not getting the desired respect in the fast changing business landscape. To some extent the way we are functioning this statement may not be 100% wrong. We are spending most of our time in doing transactional jobs for which human interface is not a prerequisite and can be done away with automation and leverage of robotics.
So what are we not doing right? Most of the people focus on what we should start doing, my personal view is it is important to first know what we should stop doing.
The first and foremost thing we should stop doing is that we should stop sitting in front of our systems for more than 2-3 hours in a day. So what should we be doing for rest of our time? We should connect with people, business leaders, ops team, to be precise - all levels and understand what is the opportunity for improvement or development at various levels to make them self sufficient and effective for the role they are in.
The biggest mistake we do is promote people for their operational excellence and give them people handling role without analyzing whether they are competent enough or trained enough and that is how we end up spending our entire day in escalations and grievance handling. Essentially by not doing our jobs right we are creating a defunct system which goes in a vicious circle and many people’s career is put at stake due to poor team handling skills of most of the middle management people. This should be our prime focus area..
When I see business HR folks surrounded by employees through the day asking query after query which is more of information about system, procedure, policy etc, i really feel sad. It has become imperative that we create automated help-desk, repositories to address basic queries and escalations which will increase your bandwidth significantly. There are companies who have built platforms to do this job, outsource if this is not your core as it is their core.
Another key transactional part of HR is maintenance of database, reports, dashboards and other reporting tools. One of my colleagues in business HR role asked me, "Raj am I a MIS person or a business HR"?. I asked why she thought so. She shared that in a day she had to send multiple reports to different stake holders which would involve punching in data, analyzing it, making reports and power points which would consume almost 1/2 of her day. Unfortunately this is true for most of the HR people in this role. I see lack of exposure to digitization and analytic also plays its role in making HR people do what they do.
If we really want to make the difference this cannot be few people’s effort however the mindset of leadership needs to change and they must look at how we can create that differentiation.
In my next article I will touch upon what exactly is our core job and how can we contribute to to the bottom line and effectiveness of the organization.
Watch out the space.