Though it has not got it to fly just yet, the expectation is that one day Amazon will deliver orders direct to your door via drone. Even if it doesn’t come to pass, it demonstrates that what was once considered an impossibility can quickly become an accepted part of everyday life. Thanks to technology, the science fiction of one generation is the way things have always been for the next. Delivery drones or no delivery drones, the one certain thing is change.
In last month’s article my colleague Iain Moffat discussed the rise of technology in HR, and how HR should be the first to embrace new developments. I’m going to take that argument one stage further: I believe the future is all about what technology can bring to HR – and it’s little short of a revolution. What’s more, the future is here right now.
Outside work employees are very familiar with all manner of technology. Social media, apps and online shopping have not only created new industries, but also made people very aware of the huge benefits such technology can bring to their busy lives. Amazon, for example, has become synonymous with making online shopping both enjoyable and intuitive. Employees will increasingly expect that same level of ‘Amazon experience’ in every aspect of their working lives, including in areas led by HR.
The potential benefits are enormous – and not just in terms of streamlining management processes. Technology has the power to transform the relationship between managers and their employees. Technology can fundamentally change the way managers are able to engage with their workforce, and it also has the potential to transform the workforce itself, empowering individuals to take a greater role in developing their own career paths.
Using technology individuals can start to manage their own career paths, and identify the next steps they need to take themselves to improve their performance. Rather than formal quarterly or six monthly assessments, these are ongoing, even real time evaluations. A lot can happen in even a few weeks at work, so being able to react to those changes immediately, without waiting for some arbitrary period of time to pass, means the employee has a greater personal commitment to how they react to and manage those changes. That also means that the manager, as well as the managed can start to focus on the real issues which need to be addressed. With technology to support them, HR managers are freed up from the day to day and can be far more focused on building the deeper conversations they need to have with their people. And those conversations are ongoing and everyday, not just part of a structured and formal management process.
This also allows for a greater focus on how an individual’s own goals fit within the overall business goals of any organisation. The goals I set myself as I build and manage my own career path will impact on those around me, on others in my own team and other groups within the organisation. With greater personal responsibility comes greater engagement. Its not just what the business can do for you, but what you can do for the business – and HR is right at the heart of this development, managing and guiding, but also providing wider strategic feedback to the senior management teams – all supported by the hard data which technology generates.
We have the technology available right now to start allowing HR to achieve these goals. It isn’t, like delivery drones, still a flight of fancy. The tools are available and ready here and now that will enable managers and employees to have far greater focus on the conversations that matter to any business. As we all fight to gain and retain the very best employees, we owe it to our people to ensure that we manage those relationships effectively. Technology, put into the hands of both talent professionals and, most importantly, employees themselves, is essential if we are to win that fight – and keep HR at the heart of what drives any business forward in these ever changing times.