Around this time last year at the HR Technology Conference and Expo, I identified six clear trends that would forever impact the way we work, communicate, engage, produce and ultimately impact the bottom line at any company. Those six trends were social, gamification, cloud, mobile, big data and global, and they had emerged as powerful forces of change, whether your company was ready for them or not. 

But what do these buzzword trends have in common? It’s simpler than you think. They’re all centered on the individual employee as the fundamental unit of any organization. Hence, those performing the HR functions are now thrown into the spotlight to make sense of this new world where people come first. Yes, that’s what HR was always about: people. And these trends are defining the future of HR.

So here we are, a year later. Some HR executives have embraced these trends to benefit their companies (see how Marsh embraced social to enable knowledge sharing). Yet many HR folks are still confused and trying to figure out where to get started. Let me help you get past the buzzwords and shed some light on how HR execs can adopt, enable and leverage these trends to evolve their companies into efficient, organic and happy organizations.

Social, collaborative and hyper-connected

Gone are the days of one-to-ones, top-down, hierarchical organizations. You can still keep a copy of your org chart somewhere to help you make sense of levels and seniority, but there is a new reality: Your workforce is now a glob of personal interconnections that are not bound by levels or physical proximity.  Your company looks more like a social graph than an org chart: a dynamic, ever-changing supra-organism that lives off of those connections.

Antiquated HR and IT-rolled out technologies have been replaced by social technologies that allow individuals to work together in similar ways to how they interact outside the company. Social technologies have garnered critical mass and there is no stopping it. Why? Because social enterprise platforms enable the basic human need for communicating and connecting at a personal level and in real time, which is not always possible in the physical world.

In this new reality, the concept of talent management is obsolete.  Forget about formal performance reviews, cumbersome ATSs, expensive learning management systems and even those fancy intranets/knowledge-sharing platforms that seemed like a good idea just a few years ago. 

Your talent cannot be managed anymore, so I urge you to forget about talent management.  Instead, enable real-time peer performance tracking (social performance), allow your workforce to learn and teach each other collaboratively and almost effortlessly (social learning) and engage your employees in finding the best talent and build their own tribes (social recruiting). Don’t forget to empower every individual to collaborate and communicate real time with everyone else in the organization -- including your typically inaccessible management teams -- anytime, anywhere (social enterprise collaboration).

As the head of HR, your job is now to enable social to occur within your organization in an organic and meaningful way. When you do this, you’ll see your workforce engaging in unforced peer-to-peer performance exchanges (not reviews), crowdsourced ideation and problem solving (instead of expert-based), and virtual self-organizing teams (instead of pre-defined).

These “connections” are not limited to your organization. They co-exist in larger social ecosystems. Your employees’ networks are an extended part of your organization.

This social connectedness will force you to pay attention to what’s happening outside of your organization. Your employees’ connections are now potential candidates and your employees leaving the company will become your ambassadors, if transitioned off properly.

What HR executives must watch out for:

Do not try to control the social wave. It will happen whether you want it or not. The reality is your workforce is already spending time outside of your company on LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter. Enable them to collaborate within your company rather than trying to control this groundswell. Trust me, you’ll be the hero.

Also, avoid the mistake of thinking external and internal social networks do not mix. There are some boundaries, but they’re continually getting weaker. Active talent communities are more important than ever to attract and find the best new talent. Similarly, career management and outplacement technology and services can help you make employee transitions a delight – creating social ambassadors who will love you forever.

About Rob Garcia

Rob Garcia is a Silicon Valley product executive who has helped dozens of Fortune 500 companies and startups define and execute digital product strategies. He is a product strategy and marketing consultant to RiseSmart, the leader in next-generation outplacement solutions.  This article was first published on the RiseSmart blog. Follow Rob on Twitter @RobGarciaSJ.

12 October 2012

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