Can HR Change? @ChinaGorman at #TSSDublin

I’m at the Talent Strategy Summit in Dublin, hosted by KellyOCG. My friend China Gorman is leading the opening keynote entitled “HR as Early Adopters Of Change?”
HR is seen as a defensive function in organisations, responsible for ensuring compliance in organisations. In the US people go to jail now for breaking corporate law, so fear prevails. The opening slide says:

“Change is not death. Fear of change is death.”

Gorman quotes Steve Jobs “There is always change and improvement. This is life in the technology game.”

The same is true in HR. Globalisation is impacting on everything even for domestic organisations. Gorman asks the question “Is early adoption against HR’s nature?” to answer this we have to look at how HR has evolved.
The evolution of HR:

  • Started as personnel
  • Time and attendance control
  • Admin tasks
  • Regulatory control
  • Evolved to Human Resource Management
  • Behavioural theories shift the focus
  • Technology begins to be leveraged
  • Repetitive functions outsourced
  • Now In The Talent Management Phase
  • Focus on strategy
  • Thinking and leading

You can tell where a company is at by what they call the human resources function. There are still plenty of Personnel depts about, and that says a lot about the organisation.
Critical to the success of change is getting the early adopters on board and become the cheerleaders.
The early majority follow the champions but are willing to try new things.The middle adopters accept change and go along with it as the change becomes adopted.
The laggards need to be forced.
HR tends to live in the late majority. HR is not known for coming to the table with new ideas. It is interesting to note that the function of HR is fragmenting, between talent acquisition, learning and development etc. There has to be a reason for that. the is that the HR team are being asked not to be strategic, and individuals are trying to position themselves away from the perception of HR as the old Personnel dept. I think this an interesting point for brand HR. Early adoption is against HR’s nature, and personnel, but probably not the talent management . There is potential to change, depending where you see the role of HR.
This was an inspiring presentation, and a good indicator of who HR people are in the organisation. Perhaps change in HR will only come by shifting the perception of self. Are you ready for the change?