When you think about the work you do in HR, it’s not always easy to think of the higher sense of purpose it brings or the value it imparts to the world. Yet, when given the chance to explore the vision you want for your profession, it’s definitely higher-purpose time.
After I was invited to write Transformational HR: How Human Resources Can Create Valkue and Impact Business Strategy (Kogan Page, 2017), I struggled with where to start. Ours is a profession that—let’s face it—is the butt of many corporate jokes. A profession that means well but is often misinterpreted. A vocation that can feel darned thankless and exhausting just trying to keep up.
So the story is about challenges but, more so, about opportunities.
We see work all around us in a state of deflation. Stagnant wages, gig working, technological displacement and increasingly damaging health-related side effects.
Can HR leaders emerge as workplace heroes? They can, but only if they transform themselves and their organizations.
Using the past, the present and the possible future, I set out to create belief and confidence among beleaguered professionals who can’t quite see what they can do to create an HR metamorphosis for a transforming world of work.
I’ve called into play the best elements of the digital workplace evolution and shown how HR can reinvent itself just like the IT industry did over the past 15 years. My research is based on case studies of companies that have transformed their approaches to work—from the Eudaimonia approach at Widen in Wisconsin, to the “Joy Factory” at Menlo Innovations in Michigan, the self-organized inclusivity at Nearsoft in the U.S. and Mexico, the entrepreneurial spirit of Competo in Slovenia, and the transformative impact of HR at fashion retailer River Island in the U.K.
In distilling transformative qualities, I’ve explored three elements to help HR practitioners transform and be transformative.
Transformational HR is about me, we and it (it being HR). All transformation programs involve narratives, plans, charts, events.
I’ve developed six states of Knowing. The first state gets at what you know about yourself and how that impacts the transformation that you want or that you are a part of. Other states of Knowing cover:
My book provides guidance on testing your Knowing Quotient (KQ) and understanding your
Transformational Quotient (TQ).
Once you’ve mastered this, the book invites you to think about how you do your work. This is the meso-level transformation across HR: a mid-level shift to be better, together.
Next, transformation moves into the macro areas that make up the strategic sensibilities of:
Application of science and stewarding a just organization.
For HR to succeed, it must find its confidence, competence and creativity. HR might just be the surprise MVP in the game of business. As I quoted Vince Lombardi in the book, “The measure of who we are, is what we do, with what we have.”