It’s time to put the Human back into HR

Putting the Human back into HRA look at the events of 2016 show how people no longer trust the established way of doing things. The 2008 crash marks the watershed that exposed the big institutions, not as the great creators of social wealth, but as divisive – serving themselves and their elite.  Many have lost sight of their original purpose, putting technology between them and their human stakeholders. Eight years on, there is neither penitence nor meaningful reform.  It is alarming, but perhaps not surprising that in a recent ILM survey over half of those surveyed were planning to leave their employer unless leadership improves.  They neither trust nor feel inspired by their leaders. An earlier CMI survey revealed that 80% of middle managers believe staff do not fully trust senior leadership.

We are losing faith in the Government to deliver promised social equality. Yet we are surprised when the disempowered are abandoning rational concern for consequences and vote to change the rules of the game.  Think Brexit, think Trump

The trouble is that this new game has unpredictable rules.

But two things are certain. Firstly, as the more socially minded Generation Y exert increasing influence both as consumers and workers, the winners of this new game will be those that engage the swelling millennial ranks by ‘doing the right thing.’

And secondly,technology is still not very good at unpredictability.  It works best when it knows the rules.

So we still need the human…

But humans tied down by rules that disengage the creative and problem-solving sides of their brains are no better. They are neither motivated nor generating the best possible return for their employers.  And humans that are forced to behave like machines, but are less predictable, are more risky and so need to be replaced.  So the vicious cycle continues, further eroding trust with each successive iteration

We are in the ridiculous situation where we are replacing human resources that we are not using effectively by machine resources that are less fit for purpose.

How crazy is that?  Sounds incredible, how can that possibly be right?

Well a Harvard Business Review article in September reached the same conclusion.  Big data is getting in the way of innovation.  Yes you did read that right.  We would rather crunch numbers than take the trouble to understand the human motivation to adopt new products and services.  No wonder 94% 0f executives express dissatisfaction with their organisation’s ability to innovate.

…which means we need people skills.

It is curious that we accept that it takes practice to be an accountant.  It takes practice to be a good marketeer.  It takes practice to be a good designer or engineer.  Yet we expect our inspirational leaders to just pick it up from a book or a course or e-learning.  All of these have their place in the L&D tool box, but mastery comes from practice.  We cannot master people skills without engaging people and that seems to be something that scares the hell out of many leaders.  It is far too easy to direct by email rather than properly engage human to human. According to the ILM survey, the top thing companies surveyed would like to change is to get leaders back on the shop floor.

So what is stopping them?

Is it time?  Well surely that could be fixed with better delegation – a skill that many managers admit to lacking.

Is it ego? A fascinating book zero degrees of empathy shows how ego gets in the way of empathy.  Surely these are not the type of behaviours we value in inspirational leaders?

I think the answer is confidence.  Which is why we have developed a program that gives aspiring executives a safe place to practice their people skills.  We call it the agile leadership program and you can find out more about it here.

The agile leadership program

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