The intersection between HR strategy and HR technology

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Sleepless Nights in HR Part 1

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I got an e-mail from (actually I get several spams a day) advertising one of their conferences. In this particular one, they posed the question “What keeps you up at night?” Their responses for the most part made me scratch my head:

  1. How do I get a seat at the executive table?
  2. How can I take advantage of technology to get more efficient, effective and innovative?
  3. What can I do to take a dysfunctional team from unproductive to extraordinary?
  4. How can I make employees excited to come to work?
  5. How can I bring humanity back into HR and the rest of my organization? ((Retrieved from e-mail from advertising their “Employers of Excellence National Conference 2006))

I’m hoping that most of us are not wondering how we get seats at the executive table. In fact, most of us should already have seats there. As time has gone on, executives have always expressed “our people are our most important asset.” However, they are only now starting to mean it and understand it. In many cases, not by any of our doing as HR professionals, we were invited to the executive table. The question therefore is not how we get there, but how we stay there. I’ll address this in part 2 of the post.

Given that this is an HR technology site, I’m not going to argue too much about #2. Perhaps I’m just rephrasing at this point, but how one deploys technology to get more efficient, effective and innovative isn’t at the foremost of thoughts in my head. Again, I’m more concerned how technology can help me engage my employee population through the utilization of self service and deployment of talent management technologies. I’m also thinking about how your business intelligence applications can help you achieve strategies. While getting more efficient is not on the top of my list, perhaps being effective and innovative is. Again, I’ll address this further in my next post.

The next one, taking dysfunctional teams and making them productive is a bit odd to me. Perhaps I don’t understand what they are trying to get to, but changing how teams work together is a task highly reliant on the participation of operational managers. I’d actually drop this into’s point number 1 about how do you get to the table and stay there – it’s all about showing the value you can have to the business. However, this is a tactical issue that addresses one of the strategic issues previously mentioned and does not deserve to be on the list as such.

I won’t argue with number 4. making employees excited about going to work is genuinely important. I’d have phrased it as getting employees engaged because engagement means so much more. Not only do employees need to be excited about their work, but also the opportunities it presents them professionally.

The last, briinging humanity back into HR is a tough one for me. I’m one of the firm advocates that the nurturing culture of HR in past years was not the appropriate strategy. This attitude in HR lead many organizations to becoming exception based cultures as every reasonable employee request was accommodated. System implementations were made more complex, and employees had the expectation of getting whatever they wanted. I am however, a firm believer that service excellence should be pursued, but this is actually not on my list of what should be keeping us up at night.

We’ll continue this tomorrow as I tell you what my list is and what I think about addressing the items.

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2 responses to “Sleepless Nights in HR Part 1”

  1. 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 2. The Wrong HR Silos 3. HR Function Commoditization – The Future of HR 4. Hewitt’s Lessons Learned 5. PS vs SAP parts 1, 2 6. Independent Consulting: Perception or Reality? 7.

  2. This is the list of 2006 articles that was most read. Thanks for your readership and I look forward to another year. You can view current (daily) posts at Sleepless Nights in HR parts 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 The Wrong HR Silos HR Function Commoditization – The Future of HR Hewitt’s Lessons Learned PS vs SAP parts 1, 2 Independent Consulting: Perception or Reality? Oracle versus SAP – 2008