Stop Managing to the Exception

As a function, we have the history and habit of managing to the exception and not the norm. We spend millions of dollars customizing technology because we believe our way is the only way, and vendor-delivered technology won’t work for our special workforce.

We manage to the 0.01 percent of the organization who might abuse a process or technology versus the 99.99 percent who will use that same process or technology to become more productive.

We listen to one person in the organization say something like, “our workforce doesn’t have access to a computer, and therefore this will never work.” These are behaviors that we are all guilty of, and for today’s world of HR and talent management technology to be successful, we must turn these habits on their heads.

Let’s start at the top. Organizations today should only customize technology if they can make the case, the true case, that it will drive some sort of business value. This means you will be able to show a tangible revenue, profit and customer satisfaction link by spending money to make your technology unique.

Most organizations today customize technology because they have always conducted a process a certain way and feel that it must continue. We have learned over the decades that when it comes to talent process, it is time to reimagine creating our future. That starts by choosing and leveraging delivered technology and using the data and output in unique ways to drive competitive advantage.

I hear on a weekly basis that social processes and technology, what I like to classify as communication, will never work in our organization. Well guess what, it already is, and the sooner you realize that the better.

There will always be individuals who abuse things given to them. We must trust our workforce to use and consume process and technology versus blocking communication and advancement of the culture based on a few who might abuse them. This doesn’t mean there are no rules and consequences for bad behavior, but don’t penalize the whole organization because a few might abuse the system early on.

Finally, it is important to know your workforce has access to technology. For the first time in our lives, not only do they have access to technology, they have access to better technology at home than they do at work. While this is a shock and awe kind of statement to many, it is reality.

Now, there are people out there reading this saying “what about the so and so manufacturing plant where people don’t use technology?” While I acknowledge that the technological background of some workers is different, most have the capability and capacity to consume information using technology compared to the few who might not.

If we in HR and talent continue to develop processes and technology deployment that focus on the few versus the most, we will never advance our function to its true strategic capacity.

Some will call this a rant on our past, and others will read this and pass it along as the kick in the pants that our industry needs to move forward. Whatever your position, the most important thing to remember is that while we continue to do things like we have in the past, the rest of the world does not.

The longer our excuses and past behaviors drive our future actions, the further we as a profession move from being considered innovative or on the leading edge.

If your HR and talent management process and technology is not in a state of perpetual beta, you are missing the boat, and the end result of that will have a negative impact on your organization’s ability to compete for talent today and into the future. The time is now, so let’s not waste another generation of opportunity.