For years now, we have talked about the HR function and speculated how it may change going forward. Talent acquisition (TA) is a good example of an area of HR that will likely change a lot going forward because it has several tedious and repeatable (automate-able) work steps. If the primary role of TA is to meet headcount objectives, then the time-consuming aspects of TA could be automated or outsourced. Our research indicates that about 25% of HR’s existing functions could be performed by automation (machine learning, etc.) by 2023. (TA represents about 40% of the automation opportunity.)
The Elephant in the room is that change is coming to HR and the function must reinvent itself to stay relevant.
The good news that HR is fully capable of transforming into a strategic business function. The rabbit hole is also in the room. HR can be the function that delivers increase business performance from the organization’s use of talent. Instead of just being a service to the BU’s, HR can also be responsible for optimizing the talent to achieve the revenue forecast. Why HR? Like Finance, HR is cross functional and is the only function where the hiring, developing, and retaining talent are core responsibilities.
In order to own the business performance from use of talent, HR needs new capabilities that are relatively easy to develop. First is understanding and managing the use of talent. To do so, HR needs to know (with data) what the talent is doing (the work) and how the work aligns with workers’ talent capabilities. For example, our research shows that top talent on average is only doing 30% top talent work. So, the first step for HR should be to help the BUs increase top talent work per top talent worker from 30% to 50%. The result is an increase in value creation and most likely a reduction is new headcount needed.
Secondly, HR needs to be able to establish and support value-based objectives inside the BUs. Like Finance uses budgets to control costs and minimize waste of financial resources, HR could use new tools and data to create talent “budgets” to ensure that talent is used efficiently. Current HR tools such as assessments, pulse-surveys, OKRs, and performance reviews focus on individual employees and their engagement. While important, there is no hard correlation between actual value produced and worker engagement. In order to drive workforce margin contribution, HR needs to establish objectives and provide services to the BUs that measure and correlate the use of talent with margin contribution to the company.
CollabWorks provides important capabilities needed to HR to become a strategic business function.
Our focus at DisruptHR SF is to present new ideas, innovation, and thought leadership that will help HR leaders transform HR into a strategic business function. We need your support and talent as executives, thought leaders, and innovators! Please apply to be a speaker. And please join our DisruptHR SF community and participate at our October 15 event.
Fred Wilson is an iconic venture capitalist at New York City-based Union Square Ventures (https://www.usv.com/about/fred-wilson). Union Square’s investments include Coinbase, Etsy, Flurry, Indeed, LendingClub, MongoDB, Tacoda, Tumblr, Twilio, Twitter, Zynga, and the list goes on.
In a recent post Fred exhorts companies “to have performance oriented cultures where there are frequent checkins between managers and team members, with feedback going both ways, and where non-performance results in changes. These changes could be restructuring of teams, changes in management, or departures of employees. Companies that do not actively manage performance are likely to have lower morale and toxic issues like resting and vesting” (1). Though Fred’s post was responding to a question about “golden handcuffs”, his response addresses the more significant topic of culture and accountability.
FrameWork is a simple-to-use tool that algorithmically determines the most valuable work performed by your team members. For instance, FrameWork identifies tasks that may have been relevant when your product was first released but are irrelevant now. FrameWork’s elegant mathematics are industry agnostic and work as well for the CEO and line worker of a Fortune 200 semiconductor manufacturer as the CEO and line worker of an SMB plating company.
As your team updates FrameWork, the tool continually identifies the work of greatest value encouraging the next cycle of innovative initiatives with a concomitant increase of discussions between manager and the team. Inherently, engagement increases within the team and throughout the layers of the enterprise. The value of FrameWork is observed in this virtuous cycle of employee engagement, productivity, and personal achievement.
High performance/high valuation Silicon Valley companies such as Google and Pinterest have internally and independently developed dashboards similar to FrameWork. FrameWork is the commercially-available tool that facilitates performance oriented cultures.
The Harvard Business Review published, “What to Do if Your Team is Too Busy to Take On New Work” (1), an article written by Pinterest’s Global Head of Customer Operations, Dutta Satadip. Dutta laments the annual business planning cycle where every manager pleads for additional resources without analytical justification. Dutta proposes a data-driven three-step process where each person describes their key activities, the amount of weekly time allocated to these activities, and other activities that are outside the sphere of core job functions. The resulting activity allocation map presents opportunities for management to reduce/eliminate less productive workload through things such as strategic planning as well as other management resources, thus increasing productivity. A business with increased productivity and positive output will have a better chance at thriving within their sector and going on to have many years building and adapting their company as time changes.
Dutta’s article describes how his teams discovered legacy processes that were now redundant and customer-protocols that required significant employee interaction when easily implemented automation tools would have reduced if not eliminated employee contact. This exercise allowed Dutta’s team to do more with less and achieve the scale necessary to meet customer needs and investor expectations.
What Dutta internally did at Pinterest and Google emulates one of the tools in CollabWork’s FrameWork Application. FrameWork’s patented algorithms objectively rank an employee’s tasks by value while Dutta’s managers utilized both objective and subjective assessments. FrameWork’s determination of the most valuable work gives employees a head-start in meeting their goals and increases their engagement, satisfaction, and professional growth.
Gartner is questioning current management models and wondering if they are still useful. This is great and well overdue. An example is “what is work?” We believe more than ever that the what, why, and how we work either is or has changed, or wants to change and is being held back by traditional thinking.
Seven years ago, we observed “the cloud” and ask ourselves how this will impact the way we work. We started with a clean “napkin” and with a lot of help and support we have reinvented the way we think about work. We started by observing people working and asked, “what is the value of the work?”. To clarify what is work, we boiled it down to a simple model. We considered a provider and consumer of work. We call this work a service. Dentists provide a service. On-demand software developers provide a service. In fact, we believe all work from the CEO to the janitor can be described as a service. Thus, a so-called job produces no work or value. The human “in the job” represents one full-time equivalent (FTE) and typically provides several services. The value of each service is attributed by the customer/consumer. The service provider (worker) manages his or her customer’s experience.
Managing is no longer about distributing work to workers in jobs. Managing is about setting priorities and desired outcomes of their service providers such that their customers attribute the most value.
Patty McCord (https://www.linkedin.com/in/pattymccord/) is a Silicon Valley human resources veteran who worked for iconic Valley startups such as Seagate, Sun Microsystems, Borland, Pure Atria and, most famously, Netflix. Joining Netflix within a year of its founding, Patty assisted CEO and Co-founder Reed Hastings to create a culture of accountability, performance, and success that is documented in Patty’s HR “tome”, Powerful (1). In Chapter 8, Patty eviscerates the annual review as too rigid, time-consuming, costly, and tardy. It demoralizes and penalizes workers for issues that happened months before the annual review, issues that should have been remediated at the time of occurrence. As a consultant after departing Netflix in 2012, Patty’s favorite question about the annual review process is, “Do you have any proof of the value of the review process to your business?” She concludes her musing noting that vanguard companies have “accelerated” the annual review process with GE at the margin, essentially providing real-time feedback to its employees.
FrameWork is the platform of continuous worker/manager input and worker/manager feedback. Think of Framework as a continuous feedback loop. When your subordinates or you and your manager jointly make changes to any process or protocol (engineering, finance, IT, marketing, product management, project management, sales, support, etc), Framework algorithmically measures the value of this new work to ensure it’s higher than your previous process. Timely discussions about outcomes are referenced to the actual work performed and the use of your talent or the talent of each member of your team. The incremental time burden on each worker and manager to input their feedback into Framework is measured in minutes on a desktop or mobile app. FrameWork’s elegant design allows you to control the frequency of the feedback loop. Reviews can be scheduled or initiated by either the employee or the manager any time there is a need to communicate: daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly. Your choice.
FrameWork is objective, eliminating memory biases that inherently distort an annual review such as confirmation bias, recency bias, illusory correlation, leveling/sharpening, and mood congruent memory bias. FrameWork avoids loss of productivity due to annual review anxiety imposed on the preparer and recipient. FrameWork’s design increases productivity and engagement for employees and profit margin for the enterprise.