The past year has been a wild ride for those of us who work in HR. We’ve had challenges to protect the safety of essential workers, support a remote workforce, re-establish and reinvent our diversity and inclusion initiatives, and push the limits in change management as we try to drag entire teams of people globally through a crisis none of us has seen before. As HR leaders, of course we want to be able to predict the future, see the trends coming, and understand what we should prepare for in the coming decade. In short, it’s been a lot to unpack.
Episode 278: Strategic HCM, Change Management and Trends in HR with Jon Ingham (@JonIngham)
I spoke to Jon Ingham, consultant, trainer, speaker and writer focusing on strategic and innovative management. His experience includes 30 years in engineering, IT, change management and HR (including as an HR / OD Director). Currently, Jon is delivering and facilitating learning through Strategic HR Academy. Because he has such a great strategic perspective across HR specialties,
Jon’s background in strategic HCM and organizational effectiveness is what I like to call “broad but focused,” meaning that he has done a lot of deep work in a lot of different areas of HR. I asked him what HR leaders should be focusing on to prepare our workforce for the coming year. “Everything has changed and it’s always a struggle in HR to focus on specific parts. A core part of making HR more strategic is about prioritizing what really makes a difference. In terms of HR process areas, organization design is an opportunity to make an impact. All of the trends that were taking place have accelerated.”“Differentiation is good. If an organization thinks it can succeed better by doing something differently, that’s a positive.” - @JonIngham #ChangeManagement #WorkologyPodcast Click To Tweet
Focusing on the entire organization, with things like remote and asynchronous work at its center, our back to normal looks more like a hybrid of in-office and virtual work. “There is so much we need to plan for without really understanding what the future brings, HR is at the metaphorical table so we are part of the conversation around the future of our own businesses. Planning for different scenarios is useful and I encourage organizations to do that, but when we had the global financial crisis for example, we made a lot of assumptions about how things were going to be different and it wasn’t. However, I do think we have a hybrid future and have to consider whether or not the organization wants people back in office and whether or not the employees want to come back. Organizations need to work together with their people and decide what the new office is going to be.”
What 2020 Taught Us About Change Management
Jon said that because the changes around the pandemic forced us to be more agile. “I think part of the task for HR is that we do keep that approach as we move through and beyond the pandemic. The need for great people centricity is another area we should carry forward. Before the pandemic there was a growing understanding that the traditional ways of doing change weren’t working, but everyone had to adapt.”
Accepting that there will be resistance and working to make sure you’re prepared to work around it – in the same way we do scenario planning in crisis management – and communicating with full transparency with our employees about the benefits of a specific change is always at the heart of change management. Jon said that “while employee experience is critical, employees don’t always know what they’d like or what they need, so it’s up to HR to bring them insights. Employees should also know that they have a role in deciding what the future of their organization looks like.”
Jon founded Strategic HR Academy last year. His experience as HR director and consultant over the past two decades came together in the early days of the pandemic when he was consulting via Zoom. “It wasn’t as good as face to face used to be, but we live in a digital world and a lot of organizations are moving their learning academies online. When we do get people together, we should be focusing on the most valuable things – the collaboration, the social learning – rather than have someone passively listening. I’ve been thinking about doing something like my academy for a couple of years…with lockdown, the decision was made for me.”
“The digital academy is a platform for all of the different learning sessions I’ve been running for the past 10 years, very much focused on strategic HR. Everything we do in HR involves organizational design and this is the area of HR that has still yet to be fundamentally transformed; this is where strategic HR comes in but it’s difficult to actually apply it.”
With such a large share of the U.S. workforce impacted by COVID in the past year, HR and company leaders have to focus on planning for what we have yet to experience, creating crisis response scenarios, and finding our way through new territory without a map. Our people are always going to be central to any future planning and we have to think about how the rapid changes in the past year have impacted them, as well as how we can help them move forward. I really appreciate Jon’s expertise and advice!
Listen to the entire podcast to hear Jon’s thoughts on how HR leadership is changing, the tools we need as current and future HR leaders, and more about his Strategic HR Academy.
Connect with Jon Ingham.
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