SBCo August Newsletter: HR Disruption Now
Our colleague and friend Jim Finkelstein, Founder of FutureSense, has been stirring up provocative conversations around HR for decades. He published his first “disruptive” article in 1984 and hasn’t taken his foot off the gas pedal yet! We featured Jim in our November 2011 newsletter, “Making Sense of the New Cogenerational Workplace™” and wanted to revisit with him to get his views on where HR is now and where it’s heading.
In 2011 Jim opened our eyes to the gaps in talent development and workforce planning. Since then, Jim has worked with clients, published articles, run seminars, given speeches and spoken to HR leaders on this change. When we sat down with him recently, he passionately reinforced the mission critical need to disrupt the way Human Resources operate.
SB: Our last newsletter with you was all about workforce planning. Where do you see that heading?
Jim Finkelstein: First and foremost, we need to start planning for our workforce ten years from now, not 1, 3, or 5 years from now. Skill sets required in the future are increasing at an exponential rate and the talent able to meet those skill sets are diminishing virtually the same rate. This makes it critical to develop specific talent pipelines. The companies that figure this out will win the war for talent.
The second part is that savvy HR leaders will analyze their need for “human” capital versus “mechanism or automated” capital.
"The reality is that from wine to healthcare,
industries are developing technology that will
eliminate the need for people."
Let’s help operations build mechanism capital if that is what the business requires so that HR is relevant to the business. It will no longer be that “people are most important asset.” We have been destroying that myth for eons as demonstrated by our ability to do ritualistic bloodletting (aka layoffs and reorganizations) any time we are in a financial pinch. Let’s become resource managers – of both people and automated processes – and thus become more relevant to the business enterprise as it changes dramatically in the next 10 years.
SB: That makes sense for many, but if someone is in a human capital driven industry, what can they do to stay ahead of the curve?
JF: If your organization is human capital focused (i.e. staffing, professional services etc.) then you MUST invest in education models to train workers. Larger organizations can build out their own vocational training centers targeting high school graduates. The innovators will build vocational education centers on their campuses because they understand that talent development begins here. I predict a decrease in college graduates and an increase in vocationally trained employees.
As it stands now, college education has limits in preparing individuals with the right skills for the future. In many cases, they are providing the education that should have occurred in our public school systems but that is woefully lacking. And, the burden that the college grads face today to pay off their debts will become a call for action in the educational community to transform how (and when) we educate our future workforce more efficiently and effectively.
SB: Your sweet spot is reward and motivation. What does that future look like?
JF: We will see a shift from employees being “owned” by one organization to individuals being their own entities; a contractor model built on cash based rewards. Employees will be rewarded by results, not by performance (as we define it today). We are stuck in a culture that “rewards” for people being loyal, and punctual, as well as for completing a predetermined list of activities. Our performance management systems and merit reward programs are broken. Organizations spend billions of dollars wasting time differentiating amongst shades of grey. Either people have successfully delivered the results expected or they haven’t.
SB: What is next for HR?
JF: Disruption is here. The conversations are changing – enlightened leaders of the people functions see that line management will be accountable for attracting, engaging and rewarding talent. Let’s focus on how to shift to that eventuality. You will see more CHRO’s come from operations, finance, or the marketing/sales side of the business.
Our Big Takeaway
The futurists say, “people will come together not in rigid organizations where roles are assigned but in forms where roles evolve to fit the needs of a community.” This clearly conjures up a new image for us as we think about scarcity of talent and work. It could not be a more exciting time to help businesses let go of legacy thinking and grab for reinventing our work.
HRSF 20th Anniversary Conference
Our dear friend and colleague, Edie Goldberg will be leading the 20th anniversary HRSF meeting with John Boudreau and Ian Ziskin October 14th. John Boudreau and Ian Ziskin’s research will cover globalization, sustainability, social, mass customization, gamification and more. While they will share future directions for HR, HRSF will also have two panels of well-respected HR leaders to learn how they are getting in front of these issues. You can learn more about this here.