Leadership and Candid Mentorship: Should We Change HR?

Brand New Year, Brand New You? Brand New HR Maybe?

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I often deal with people seeking a new path, or who are at a turn in their careers. There are some interesting elements in the transition process: many, if not most, look for guidance; others are pushed in the process by external "sponsors." Confusing? It can lead to some sad observations.

But rather, today, I would like to talk about two components of transformation in the workplace, and how it occurs.

This time of the year large and small organizations put changes in place: restructuring, streamlining, relocation, optimization. In all cases, people are involved, and in these tough economic times, positions get eliminated. We all understand.
What many do not understand is why so many obsolete people stay where they are.

Transformation is from the Inside Out

Let's define obsolete.
One is obsolete when any or all these three red flags can be spotted:

  • Employee A cannot keep up with technology in general. Let's debunk the first myth: it does not necessarily have to be related to age, even though, by essence, generations Y and Z are ahead of most when it comes to understanding and navigating technology.
  • Manager B cannot keep up with the technological and systemic changes occurring in his/her organization. Although we get frustrated over our computer system being slower than us, it is a good sign! However, when we are frustrated because we cannot understand the system, it's time to worry about technological and professional relevancy.
  • "Specialist" C does not understand the new jargon or current (HR) issues. This can be a challenge for "departments of one" or "independent" workers, or small businesses who have little interactions with larger organizations. It is also observed among those who are entrenched in "administration" or "execution," and who are all too often sidelined without realizing it. We are talking about "cultural relevancy" in HR.
Obsolete people like the status quo. An organization cannot transform itself - despite all restructuring made at a larger, global scale - if inside basic components (people of all ranks) cannot keep up with the trend. Can we spot those people and decide to either work with them or walk them out?

This leads me to the second component of transformation: the manager's role in making it happen.

Transformation Happens through Valid Leadership and or Candid Mentorship.

More than ever with the New Year, people want changes in their lives and careers. Here is a true scenario. This generation Z worker is seeking a change. His constant question: "How can I become a Manager?" So far, so good. The question is valid, the aspiration understandable. Then comes the self-validation : "People think I am one." This organization relentlessly repeats that "perception is reality". Here we are! Reality check: The timeliness and validity of the aspiration are strongly debatable (based on factual observations). However, in any case, one cannot dismiss the quest. Regardless, and unfortunately, the question cannot generate the correct answer if asked to the wrong people. How could that happen?

  • First, the question is asked to a higher ranked team member. The only issue? Titles do not validate internal system knowledge,  much less business knowledge and engagement in this specific case. This young aspirant manager does not know that. He is too inexperienced to even observe such a thing. Consequently, he is hitting a wall. Worse: his question is ill received because it is perceived as inappropriate and premature; but again he is also too oblivious to the environment to know that. It is abysmal lack of observation in general, lack of knowledge and understanding of the organization on the part of this young employee. On the other hand, one wonders how could the higher ranked, "titled" employee have remained so long in this position without negative observations despite raised eyebrows from all informed staff?  Lack of a better alternative? Where did all this start? 
  • Then, for lack of an answer, the question is asked to the manager who - caught by surprise - in turn, struggles with candid feedback. Sounds familiar? The answer is scripted: "You have to do what is required of you and meet all performance expectations." Valid answer, yes. Candid and constructive one? No. It takes some courage to be a leader. Managers can find themselves in uncomfortable situations. The art of leadership is knowing how to navigate those situations with grace and efficacy. What happened to constant feedback, the new form of review? Did it fall on deaf ears on both sides of the spectrum? Also, one cannot always be "the good guy". News does not have to be bad: it just needs to be valid and candid. Managers do not have to give too much or too little information: just weighted ones. Are they ready for that coaching?
  • There is more to the story: Liberalization of Internal Communication. Recognition! Recognition is big these days. We push and push on the subject. The trend is to empower us workers of all ranks, and give us the roles of communicators. Great!! We love it, we share and tell stories...We tell stories...I have seen great video stories in organizations; so well crafted that one is in awe and cannot stop from thinking: "what a great response to the issue at hand!". Those ARE professional products. But unedited stories? I like the idea. The only small issue? That form of internal communication turns into a copycat of personal Facebook posting. There are unexpected consequences of some recognition programs. It can boost ego beyond recognition such as in this case, or can mention social issues that the company would like to keep a dimmed light on: religiously-charged statements, gender-specific beliefs, or other sensitive topics on other occasions. More is not always better.
When a manager is more concerned about saying the "correct" words versus the "right" words, it can become an issue for the organization. Development and transformation require candid assessment and candid feedback as prerequisites. Mentorship is a step upward and implies the ability and willingness of the mentee to process all elements of the feedback. But first and foremost, constructive, objective feedback is crucial. If a manager is more concerned about "popularity" and "political correctness"  versus responsible leadership, it creates a hiccup in the organization's transformation process. In parallel, powerful and well-crafted stories play a strong role in branding and engagement, and the power of communication is sometimes underestimated. In sum, transformation requires valid feedback and candid mentorship via true leadership. 

Should We Change HR?

Here is the situation: This young aspirant manager works very hard to attain a "power look"; he then actually addressed his question to whomever he thought would be appropriately knowledgeable about the organization, and finally turned to whom he assumed would be a good mentor. He did all he thought he should do: he followed the steps by the book. It is an unfortunate situation as he missed it at all three levels: "we cannot judge a book by its cover" .  By the same token, organizational transformation does not happen because it is laid out and redesigned at the corporate level. It happens if and only if the basic components of that needed transformation are molded, fit, and ready. That is the prerequisite for transformation to happen.

The question is: Who is responsible for leading that transformation? HR is not about executing higher decisions and propelling them down the line without taking the pulse. HR is called to understand and act upon business transformation process. Such implies HR inner transformation: embracing the changes in technology, in business and thought processes, and in method delivery and follow-up. Leadership capability gap has been observed in 10 trending areas (Deloitte, 2015) putting HR on the spot with only 31% being ready in terms of human capital pipeline. Does HR tarnish its own image? The translation of business transformation in HR transformation should be about anticipation rather than correction.
Stay tuned for hot 2016 HR issues.

En Synthèse....

Avec la Nouvelle Année, nous aspirons tous au changement. Le changement, c'est bien beau mais cela ne doit pas nous empêcher d'avoir la tête sur les épaules. 

Que l'on soit de la nouvelle generation Z ou Y - fameux Millenials - ou X, ou baby boomers, l'on aspire au changement, ou au nouveau.

Mais les aspirations professionnelles devraient être justifiables et logiques. De même la rétorque des
© AR_HRComatrix_PlateformeRH
supérieurs. En fait, la rétorque se doit d’être mesurée et non seulement correcte. Car autrement comment pourrait-on même penser à mieux?
Si à tous les echelons l'on rencontre quelqu'un qui ne justifie pas sa presence dans la hiérarchie de l'organisation, eh bien, quelque chose ne tourne pas rond, à commencer par le processus de recrutement.

A qui la faute? Qui est responsable de conduire la transformation de l'entreprise via la transformation des employés, des managers, des procédures et compétences?

Temps de porter un peu de lumière. Temps pour une nouvelle plate-forme RH,

Avez-vous vu des employés ou cadres qui répètent constamment: "Je ne comprends rien à ce truc. C'est trop compliqué" quand il s'agit de système internet, électronique ou meme nouvelle structure? Ce n'est même pas question d’âge: c'est question d’être pour ainsi dire "in". Alors s'ils ne sont pas "in" (le système) ils sont "out" n'est ce pas? Qui les a perdus?....ou peut-être, qui les a embauchés et gardés? L'obsolescence de nos jours frappe vite et à tout âge, et tous les systèmes. Même l'Administration décide d'apporter des changements.

Mais si certaines entreprises ont du mal à réussir le changement, à qui la faute? A qui la faute si le jeune postulant, le chef d’équipe, ou le manager ne savent pas ce qu'ils doivent faire à différents niveaux? A qui la faute si les cadres ne comprennent pas l'importance du digital, du coaching, de l’équilibre entre le profit et la compétitivité? A qui la faute si l'importance de la communication interne est méconnue et offerte sans restriction à  tous les employés via storytelling au risque de conduire l'entreprise aux galères? La transformation, eh bien, cela s'acquiert et se gagne.

Le role des RH a évolué et continuera d’évoluer. Mais d'ores et déjà, les RH doivent comprendre que le changement doit venir d'eux-mêmes si la conduite du changement doit être réussie. Une recherche par Deloitte ( 2015) met en exergue le gap entre la capacité des leaders RH et les enjeux des entreprises. Seulement 31% sont prêts pour une relève!
En tous cas les enjeux de l’année 2016 sont cruciaux du point de vue RH. On en a plein les mains. Encore faut-il les discerner. Restez connectés...


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