3 Questions HR Answers to Drive Business Success by Dave Ulrich
Recently, NGA HR had the opportunity to take to the stage at HR Congress in Brussels with Dave Ulrich, one of the pioneers of modern HR. The theme of the conference, was 'Designing and building people-centric organizations', and we took this, and content from Dave's latest book, 'Victory Through Organization' to be the basis of our discussion.
The concluding factors from this discussion and the many others we had with global HR professionals at the event;
- A people-first culture is required in the digital economy. Technology, enabling remote and flexible working, makes it easy for people to choose, how, where and who they work for.
- To attract and retain the best talent, you need to make them want to work for you and to have the tools that enable them to achieve. Plenty of research points to employee engagement as the key driver of businesses in the fourth industrial revolution.
- Artificial intelligence and machine learning will replace highly administrative and routine HR tasks, freeing HR professionals to focus on employee engagement.
- The business intelligence that the data produced in digital HR and payroll processes is fundemtal to overall business planning, cementing HR's seat at the boardroom table
What's Next for HR: Your 2018 Tactics Revealed. Watch the video:
A summary of the conversation follows
It presents great food for thought for all organisations, wherever they are on their journey to designing, building and providing a workplace that provides the technology, processes and flexibility to allow people to work effeciently, effectively and profitably in the digital economy.
Of course, we start with a recap and an update of the Ulrich Model, for many organisations, the foundation to their people strategies.
Michael Custers of NGA Human Resources: The Ulrich Model is 20 years old. The workplace and people have changed. How did the Ulrich model come into existence, and how has it evolved?
Dave Ulrich, pionner of modern HR: One of the jobs I have is to go around good companies, like a giant humming bird, and observe. I then try to distill across other companies ideas that could be helpful. In the late 80s early 90s? We asked ourselves: ‘What does HR need to do to be effective?’ From this we came up with the four quadrants, the HR skill sets we need to be effective.
I think at that time and age it was appropriate, but the world has changed. If you go back to 1997 and look at the technology, it was a flip phone from Motorola. The world of HR changed in the same way.
MC: How have you seen the Ulrich model evolve?
DU: I think the fundamental principles are the same.
What are those principles? HR has to create value for the business, and HR it's not about doing HR work. It’s about helping the business work better. The core principles haven't changed, but practices have because of technology and how we live.
MC: In the last 20 years, HR got a seat at the board table. When will we see CEOs being appointed from the ranks of HR?
DU: We already see some of that. We did a study with Korn Ferry Data, looking at 15 dimensions of leadership.
We looked at the top 20% of the CEO performers based on compensation. We then looked at the top 20% heads of HR, Marketing, Technology and of Finance and compared their profiles against the15 dimensions of the best CEOs. We were shocked. The heads of HR had the closest profile.
I think HR people, if they understand Finance, Marketing, Operations and Systems, have every right to be head of the table, but they have to know the Finance and Operations side of the business as well.
MC: In your latest book, 'Victory Through Organization', you declare war on the war on talent. You say it’s time to challenge the idea.
DU: Here is what we find. Great talent can help a company win 15 to 20% of the time. Great team work helps it win almost all the time.
In the World Cup, it’s not about having great individual talent. There was a semi-final game between Brazil and Germany and in a four-minute period, Germany scored five goals. It was the most incredible teamwork. The German team played so brilliantly together.
The war for talent has been going on for a long time, but top talent alone does not create long-term sustainable success. Organizations do.
MC: If you speak about organization, on what level are you looking? Are you looking at the team level, the department level, the entire business?
DU: Last July, I was in the US on the beach. There was a mother, two young boys and her mother. The two boys got into the water and they got caught in a riptide. The water was pulling these two boys out, and they were scared. The mother saw it and she jumped in, into the riptide. The grandmother saw it and she jumped in so now you have four people in a riptide drifting away. Within two minutes, 85 people on the beach joined arms and formed a human chain.
What a cool story? When I saw that I thought, that is the organization of the future. We're currently writing a book about how organizations of the future can build these teams, teams that go after opportunities with speed, agility and customer focus.
So, to your question, yes, there is a team, yes, there is an integration of divisions and of ways you organize a team. And, you need an eco-system, a system that makes things stronger than the individual parts. Market-oriented eco-systems will be the organization of the future.
MC: You speak about three elements that need to be aligned: culture, capability, management action. What is your advice for HR leaders?
DU: As the head of HR for a plant there are three questions to ask, given what we're trying to do as a business.
3 Questions HR Answers to Drive Overall Business Success
Do we have the right talent, and do we have good people?
Do we have the right organizational culture, capabilities and team?
Do we have the right leadership to integrate the above?
HR professionals must always think, "I contribute three valueable pieces of business value."
MU: Employee experience: is it a fundamental organizing principle for HR, or is it a fad?
DU: Employee experience is a concept that has been around for 50 years.
- The first level of employee experience is: Do you show up to work on time?
- The second level is: Do you have a voice? Do you make an impact?
I think where we are going with the employee experience is to a third level:
- Do you find meaningful experiences from the work that you do?
When you have a meaningful experience from the work that you your commitment increases, your productivity is off the charts. This is not based on activity. It’s not based on experience. It’s based on meaning. Personal meaning shifts over time and we need to help people discover how they can get meaning from the work that they do. This is where I think employee experience should head.
Practical information to kick-start your own Employee Experience culture
Watch the videos: What's Next for HR: Your 2018 Tactics Revealed
Learn more on how Digital is transforming Human Resources today and why it is defining the Employee Experience of tomorrow.
Investing in Employee Engagement strategies will bring overall and long-term business success.