Find out the key takeaways from this yearâs top sessions.
By Marta Chmielowicz
This yearâs HRO Today Forum was jam-packed full of bestÂ practices, engaging conversations, and valuable insights thatÂ will continue to deliver in the coming year. Here are someÂ highlights from a few of the standout sessions:
Help Them Grow or Watch Them Go: Career ConversationsÂ Employees Want
Career opportunities are the number one reason people joinÂ organizationsâand the number one reason they leave. InÂ her session, Beverly Kaye, founder and chairwoman of CareerÂ Systems International, explained that organizations that wishÂ to prevent their employees from looking elsewhere in todayâsÂ competitive talent market need to focus on one thing: helpingÂ them grow.
But growth cannot happen without short, consistent,Â intentional career conversations that are relevant toÂ employeesâ day-to-day work routines. By taking advantage ofÂ daily opportunities to be curious and ask questions, managersÂ can encourage their employees to reflect on their goals andÂ experiences. They can show employees that they are investedÂ and willing to guide them in their career journeyâand thatÂ this journey doesnât have to be linear. Moving âonward andÂ upwardâ is quickly replacing moving âforward and toward,âÂ and it is the job of the manager to encourage employees toÂ set goals and find their own path to growth.
For truly meaningful career conversations, Kaye recommendsÂ that managers ask a combination of questions that requireÂ both hindsight and foresight. Hindsight questions may askÂ employees to reflect on their skills, interests, and blind spots,Â while foresight questions inspire reflection about industryÂ disruption and future business changes. Armed with theseÂ insights, employees can begin to develop a viable careerÂ plan that managers can help them execute by providing theÂ necessary learning opportunities.
Conversations about careers are all about sparking reflection,Â says Kaye. They can help employees discover what theyâreÂ good at, what they like doing, and what they donât likeÂ doing. They may even be about committing to a small step.Â But no matter the result, as long as there is authenticity andÂ true curiosity in the exchange, organizations will find thatÂ employees will want to stay.
Moderated by Roger Gaston, executive vice president of HRÂ at Gates Corporation, five leading HR executives took theÂ stage for a dynamic panel discussion about todayâs hottestÂ HR topics. Faced with questions ranging from the rise ofÂ artificial intelligence (AI) to talent and skills shortages, theseÂ professionals discussed the tactics they use to drive strategyÂ and growth at their organizations. Following are some of theirÂ key insights:
Gaston: How are you using AI and howâs it affecting the wayÂ you look at and measure your workforce?
Max Langenkamp, vice president of HR, Cintas: AI will be theÂ equalizer. We will need to find that effi ciency and that valueÂ through technology. Today, we use it for training, to speedÂ up our onboarding process, and other things that are takingÂ work away from HR business partners, but so far, itâs only on aÂ small scale. Once we explode it in our department, it will saveÂ us wages as well as efficiency.
Gaston: Do you use gig workers and how is this impactingÂ your workplace?
Julie Fletcher, chief talent officer, AMN Healthcare: The gigÂ economy forms our core businessâwe provide contingentÂ workers and interim leaders to our clients. We definitely seeÂ a rise in contingent labor coming and going, and a lot of âtryÂ before you buy.â Our culture is extremely intense and itâs notÂ the culture for everybody so I see the benefits of coming andÂ going, but sometimes this is challenging. Our number one CEOÂ goal in the organization is talent and retention, so I do worryÂ that with the organization growing rapidly, you need peopleÂ to stay and be hands-on.
Gaston: As a CHRO, what role do you play in yourÂ organizationâs planning process and strategic development ofÂ corporate objectives, as well as execution?
Christine Escklisen, chief human capital officer, Piper Jaffrey:Â Iâm involved in ongoing discussions about the appropriateÂ strategic direction of the company as well as how to executeÂ it. You have to be the voice of reason about whatâs possible.Â One of the biggest roles I play is helping to develop peopleÂ effectively and talent planning.
Gaston: As you look into the future, what is one trend thatÂ youâre excited about and one trend that really scares you?
Kevin Silva, executive vice president and CHRO, VoyaÂ Financial: Companies that understand and capitalize onÂ diversity are the ones that are going to win. Itâs now the normÂ and itâs no longer appropriate to aspire to diversity. CreatingÂ the environment where diversity will thrive will win. Being aÂ values-based organization is also importantâitâs HRâs role toÂ be the change and model the change that you want in otherÂ executives.
Gaston: Have you done anything around agile and how has itÂ affected your internal practices?
Cindy Fiedelman, CHRO, Digital Realty: There are a lot ofÂ groups across the company that are working in a more project-orientedÂ environment. From a talent acquisition standpoint,Â weâve tried to adjust our performance management systemÂ so that thereâs flexibility and fluidity so that people can adjustÂ goals and get real-time feedback.
One-on-One Interview with Andrea Ledford
At NCR Corporation, Andrea Ledford, CHRO and executive vice president of the chief administration office, works to facilitate anÂ âiNCRedible cultureâ where employees take charge of theirÂ own engagement and success. For Ledford, reinventing theÂ organizationâs culture was key to the execution of NCRâsÂ corporate strategy and essential to embedding the strategyÂ into the minds of each employee.
By encouraging employees to help develop a corporateÂ culture that is defined by their own values, NCR has succeededÂ in making sure that every employee is committed to livingÂ those values both in and out of the workplace. The valuesÂ are integrated and reinforced in every interaction withÂ employees, from the onboarding process to moments ofÂ recognition and daily calls to action.
This all contributes to what Ledford calls a âwe, me, usâ modelÂ of engagement. At NCR, the individual (the âmeâ) makes theÂ decision to work hard for the benefi t of the team (the âweâ)Â and the collective community (the âusâ). Teams celebrateÂ victories and confront failures together, reducing fear aroundÂ failure and making room for innovation, says Ledford.
As a result of this approach, every individual at NCR ownsÂ their own engagementâit is not the responsibility ofÂ managers or the HR department. This level of independenceÂ and dedication to three valuesâdedication, performance,Â and integrityâhas helped employee engagement at NCRÂ increase significantly, with 82 percent participation in theÂ engagement survey.
HR Goes Agile
Peter Cappelli, director of the Center of Human ResourcesÂ at The Wharton School, believes that âagileâ is the next bigÂ thing in business. The key driver of business success is ideas,Â and agile is a way of managing projects that allows teams toÂ execute on new ideas without being restricted by rigid plansÂ and processes.
Originally emerging from the IT world, agile is now becomingÂ a top priority for CEOs that require innovation quickly. In aÂ typical workplace, project managers must explain their endÂ product and demonstrate a return on investment before aÂ project can even begin, but agile circumvents this, givingÂ teams the power to solve a problem organically based onÂ prototyping and continuous feedback.
In this type of work model, the function of HR changes. HRÂ professionals in agile businesses are relied on to ensure thatÂ teams get the help they need when they need it; they mustÂ learn to anticipate skill gaps in advance and provide the rightÂ learning modules quickly to fill those gaps. Because teams,Â rather than individuals, are the primary production unit, HRÂ will need to understand how to empower and engage teamsÂ and adapt their compensation and recruiting functions toÂ match. Just as agile is creating a new model of business, it willÂ also create the future model of HR.
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