In the season of US politics and both the Republican and Democratic National Conventions over the past few weeks, I have heard this question over and over again. While it makes me think a ton about my own personal situation, it also has me thinking about the relevance of the question to our customers and other HR/HCM functions around the world. I thought I would try to frame the question a bit for you as it relates to organizations and their HR function today.
- Measurement – Do you even have a way to answer this question? Many HR organizations worldwide operate in a reactive vs. a planned, proactive mode. Without a set outcome-based strategy, whether at the broad HR level or at the HR/Workforce/HR Technology level, we really don’t have a good way to know where we are going. What is the impact of this? The impact is that when we are asked a question like this it becomes impossible to answer it with any meaningful information. Where were we as an organization 4 years ago? Where were we trying to go? What held us back? What was our impact? What were our wins? Where did we make sacrifices? What was our impact on the business as a whole?
- Governance – Just as we look at how our “state of the union” is in the United States with such factors as jobs, stock market, overall economic mood, foreign policy, etc; we must look at our “governance” of the function and ask how we have done. Over the last 4 years, have we made progress in how we make decisions? Have we made progress in who manages our overall HR/Workforce technology direction and spend? Have we made progress in making holistic vs. silo based decisions? Do our leaders understand our challenges? Do our peers in HR and IT understand our joint goals and direction? Do we have global definitions of what our data means? Is our data stored in a way where we can access it and provide it to consumers?
- Technology – The technology world has changed massively in the last 4 years. Technology such as “email” is now a minority form of communication vs. collaboration tools. Organizations of all shapes and sizes on a global basis have made massive leaps to the public cloud for everything from data storage to our most important transactions. Mobile devices are now used more than PC’s as the majority of way work gets done and the way people communicate. How have you done? Have you studied the public cloud? When are you transitioning to the public cloud? When are you deploying mobile capabilities in your organization? When are you going to harness collaborative technology to bring the workforce together? Are you better off today with your use of technology than you were four years ago?
- Processes To Match Today’s Business – How work gets done and how organizations work together continues to change at “breakneck” pace. Reporting structures are rapidly becoming a thing of the past as the world moves to the power of a “network” vs the power of a “function”. The yearly performance review process is basically dead and worthless. The yearly alignment exercise with where the business is going is hardly fast enough to keep up with todays speed of change. Any process that is more focused and seen as having benefit to the HR function vs the business is less likely to be complied with today. Have you looked at your processes that have been effected by todays pace of change in the world? Have you made changes to your processes to make them all workforce centric? Are you leveraging the workforce to design future processes today vs. developing them in a vacuum?
This is a “very” short list but a starting point to a very important question. Let me ask it again, “are you better off as a function today than you were 4 years ago?” Take time as we enter the 4th quarter of the game to ask this question and as you plan for 2013 realize that the only way to be “better off” is for you to take control, create a strategy, execute a plan and create a measurable way to show how and why you continue to improve and be “better off”.
This argument in the world of politics will probably drive me nuts in the next few months as U.S. politicians try to take claim to however we answer the question. For our sake, lets take control and realize that unlike most things politics, we do control our destiny and can make things better each and every day.
Another infusion of knowledge…