Over the past few years, we’ve seen many HR departments switch their focus from annual performance reviews to real-time feedback, with companies like Adobe & Deloitte being the trend setters. This marked a change in the way performance management was traditionally viewed, and opened the floor to more questions around people practices. In particular, how can we better support individuals in their careers, and change the focus from company first to people first?
Shifting towards People Enablement
Following this, a new trend emerged whereby companies and HR departments are shifting towards a more holistic People Enablement approach. According to Deloitte’s latest human capital report, companies are shifting from careers to experiences: instead of a steady progression along a role-based pathway, leading organizations are shifting toward a model that empowers individuals to acquire valuable experiences, explore new roles, and continually reinvent themselves. This was slated as the #4 top HR trend of 2018.
Heather Hanson, founder of Untethered Consulting and author of “The Evolved Executive” says “I think it is rightfully on the top of the HR trends for 2018. I imagine it will likely be on most CEOs top 5 list within a few years as well.”
Today’s workers have different needs
With an ever growing millennial workforce, companies can no longer ignore that the contemporary workforce expect to find purpose in their jobs, and feel engaged at all times. With the attention shifting from HR to individuals themselves, there’s the expectation that they will be more proactive when it comes to their careers, for example by asking for feedback themselves rather than waiting for the official performance review.
Considering the increasing importance of this trend, we reached out to 4 HR & Leadership professionals for their opinion. Why is this happening? And more importantly, why does it matter? Here’s what they had to say:
“ Since the industrial revolution the collective way of relating to employees has been in a parent-child dynamic. As we're seeing, this isn't sufficient for the complexity and speed of change in the world today. This means rethinking what leadership is and a lot of unlearning! Gary Hamel says "be revolutionary in intent, but evolutionary in the doing" and that we must "go to the users" - in other words, involve people. For example, create a platform for employees to propose some "hacks" and peer review them before running some low-cost experiments. Let's roll up change instead of a top-down rollout." says Lisa Gill, a trainer and coach with Tuff Leadership training.
This confirms that the traditional leadership model needs to be reviewed, to see if it’s really suited to contemporary ways of working. It further hints that people at all levels of the organization need to be much more involved in the business, rather than being viewed as cogs in the wheel.
Advice for HR professionals
“People enablement isn’t a one off project, it’s a strategy. This is the perfect opportunity for HR managers and leaders to play a more strategic role within their organizations.” says Drashti Patel, head of Brand at Impraise.
If we want the support of HR departments in implementing these changes, it won’t happen overnight but it’s certainly possible. Lara Plaxton, head of HR at FDM Group said: “Don’t panic or rush into something. Take the time to change your own mindset first, and then other people’s”. By taking the time to think things through, you will be better prepared when the time comes.
To change your mindset, start by observing the trends around you and look at what the best practices are. Who is disrupting the industry and what are they doing that you admire? You might also want to work with an executive coach who can help you prepare for the change.
As you prepare to make a change, Helen Amery, founder of Wild Fig Solutions says: “Undertake a strategic review of people practices : performance and development reviews, succession planning, learning & development, rewards, recognition – is it only upwards moves that receive focus and recognition?”.
Indeed, while outsiders may be observing and analyzing the trends, the change has to start from within. In order for that to happen successfully, HR managers and departments need to be ready to embrace it, and believe in its importance.
As the industry shifts towards People Enablement, the responsibility doesn’t lie only on HR. The implications of this change are such that senior leaders, managers, and individuals themselves need to be prepared for this new way of working and thinking about careers. But the opportunity for HR is to lead the change.
Further areas of development for HR leaders to explore as companies make the shift towards People Enablement are leader development & growth culture.
“We need leaders who understand what it means to create an environment where individuals can explore and reinvent themselves. More importantly, leaders need to reinvent themselves at the same time.” says Heather Hanson. Indeed, part of today’s leaders are still from previous generations where work was viewed very differently. People sought a job for life, and weren’t actively seeking purpose or meaning in their jobs. In this environment, a top down work culture was not uncommon and worked well. However today’s outlook is completely different. If leaders want to adapt, they have to unlearn a lot of how they’ve functioned over the years and try new methods that will likely be a bit uncomfortable to start with.
Heather Hanson adds “I’d urge HR managers to take a good look at their current culture and determine how compatible it is with a culture that enables others.”
And while leaders should most definitely set the example, People Enablement needs to be embraced on all levels. Individuals themselves should seek change and workplaces that offer them a different way of looking at their careers. As Lara Plaxton says, “you need a diverse group of people for true People Enablement”: companies should be aware of the champions they may already have in their midst.