The New Super Hero Team – Business, IT, and HR
The ongoing disconnect between business, HR, and IT is legendary and many managers and even some executives may believe this thrilling threesome has nothing in common. Business can no longer operate without good talent management and HR can no longer be effective without IT. Why do these three bickering siblings need to get along for a more successful future?
The Business of Business
America, unlike many believe, was not founded for political or religious reasons. When Queen Elizabeth I of England sent people to explore the New World, it was in pursuit of riches. Business helped grow those riches for England and America. Business has spawned many other heroes in the building of America. The United States is still one of the few places on the planet where anyone can build their own empire. One might say that business is the hero that built America.
The business of business is all about another hero, its people. There will be no numbers to crunch, no products to sell, and no services to deliver without people. While there are giant heroes in America’s past, these are the everyday heroes who continue to build organizations. Boards and CEOs are staying awake at night worrying about recruiting and hiring good talent. This is particularly troublesome for organizations that are not “born digital.” Many an article has been written about the need for in depth recruiting, good hiring processes, and fitting the right people to the right job. Oftentimes, an organization will get all that right, but fall short once their valuable heroes are on board.
Changes in the needs of the workforce have come a long way from child labor, working in unsafe conditions, and abuse. The workforce continues to change, and people today need different requirements for recognition, communication, engagement, and motivation. A more individual approach is necessary to address these needs and ensure that every worker realizes his or her hero value. The other side of this coin is that organizations need talent that can adapt, be agile, and embrace changes brought about by the market, the economy, customer demands, and of course, technology.
IT is It
Years ago, I remember the sales department arguing that nothing would happen in business without them. They thought they were the business hero. HR would argue that if it wasn’t for them, there wouldn’t even be any jobs because there would be no one to fill them. They thought they were the business hero. Today, IT may very well be the hero because neither sales or HR can function efficiently without IT. Technology touches every part of our lives and IT has gone from being “those nerds in IT” to being recognized for making valuable contributions to business success, customer service, and yes, even making life easier for HR. Indeed, technology touches every part of business today and plays a significant role in keeping every department operating smoothly and every organization competitive. That’s a heroic feat if ever I heard one.
While everyone is smart to keep abreast of trends, IT must do it on steroids. While change is rampant, changes in technology come at a blinding speed. Technology not only changes how we work, but the jobs we do as well. Many of the jobs available today were not around just a few years ago and many jobs, some of which we can’t even imagine, are waiting in the wings.
HR The Caped Crusader
Having been in HR, I can appreciate the heroic efforts it takes to crusade for walking a fine line between the dictates of business and keeping up morale; between dishing out discipline and building a friendly culture; between building diversity and being fair to everyone. Any manager who has made a mess of some law, or been accused of harassment, or who forgot to dot an i and cross a t on a new policy and has had HR swoop in, bail them out and, magically make all the distress go away will call HR a hero. Well, at least for that incident. However, HR must now enfold business and IT under its collaborative cape as “friendlies.”
Long ago and far away when I wanted to change jobs, a neighbor friend of mine suggested I come to work at her company. I was worried because at the time, I only had high school and had never done any secretarial work. My neighbor replied, “Look, just go to Personnel (as HR was called then), dress pretty and act real sweet.” I did, he fell for it, and bam!, I was hired into a secretarial pool for engineers. HR, you’ve come a long way baby and, thank goodness, so have I.
Now HR must become a business partner. It’s not enough to know the organization sells stuff and money comes in and everyone gets paid. Now HR must understand business strategy, marketing, sales, and profit margins. Now HR must understand a lot of technology and partner with IT to operate efficiently, attract hero talent, and use technology to help the business grow and prosper. Technology is changing every aspect of business including HR. The way jobs are posted, the way people apply, and employee development are different because of technology.
Stay in Your Own Lane
Recently I was at an international conference and the audience had the opportunity to ask a panel of executives questions. I asked what their thoughts were on the CEO, the CHRO, and the CFO becoming business partners. I was told that everyone should stay in their own lane. That is not the path of business heroes as team members who might not have thought about being collaborative in the past, must change their thinking pattern, become collaborative, solve problems together, as should business, HR, and IT. The future promises to form many more super hero teams never before seen.
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