At a time that seems like a defining moment for the HR industry as the function embarks on a tech transformation and adoption journey, Mark Marone, Director - Research and Thought Leadership, Dale Carnegie and Associates and Jordan Wang, Managing Partner, Dale Carnegie New South Wales, Australia share their insights in an exclusive interaction with People Matters.
Co-author of two books on sales strategy, Mark Marone is currently the Director of Research and Thought Leadership at Dale Carnegie Training, North America. Mark leads development of research programs and quality content with expertise in workplace issues such as leadership, employee experience, customer experience, and sales effectiveness.
Jordan Wang, Managing Partner, Dale Carnegie New South Wales, Australia has worked with organizations ranging from startups to global corporations, and is highly passionate about creating scalable business growth, via highly engaged teams and complimenting the unique Dale Carnegie principles and development methodology with data driven strategy and quantifiable ROI for his clients.
Read on to find out what Marone and Wang had to say about AI, its impact on the present workforce, what the future looks like and what leaders need to focus on.
What do you think is the next big thing in HR after HR Analytics and HRTech?
Mark - Companies executing AGILE successfully is going to be the next big HR trend. It’s of course big in software development--has been for years--that’s where it emerged. But for many, it is still just an idea or concept, there is so much room for organizations to truly become agile. Working in autonomous teams, building psychological safety in teams, having the confidence and positivity to consume large data sets, making decisions and driving value for customers, employees and other stakeholders - not many companies are doing it very well because of the traditional hierarchical structure of organizations. The typical corporate mindset needs to change for companies to truly become agile. It is a long road ahead.
Employees feel insecure in implementing AI at their workspaces due to factors including fairness, privacy and security. How can organizations create strategies to build trust, keep employee experience intact and help them feel secure?
Jordan - Leaders need to have a clear vision as to what they want to achieve Organizations need to have purity of intention from the start to the end, irrespective of the task in question. As long as the intention is clear and transparent based on data backed by research, that’s a massive step in the right direction. A lot of organizations cover up their true by creating a temporary distraction for customers/employees and manage to extract personal information/data through facial recognition apps, etc. There needs to be a correlation between intention and outcome, that’s a step in the right direction.
Mark - Leaders need to bring employees into the Machine Learning decision-making process. Rather than those at higher hierarchical levels making a decision on what ought to be and what not ought to be automated, or what should be deployed with Machine Learning, I really think they need to go to the source and understand what employees do everyday and ask them which of your activities do you think ought to be automated. Knowing, understanding and having the trust that they are not going to lose their jobs as a result of implementing AI but that leaders are genuinely interested in their opinions as they build the most efficient and effective Machine Learning application will help employees feel safe and secure.
What can employees do to amplify their potential and become irreplaceable in the era of automation and technology?
Mark - Employees who champion and demonstrate embracing technology are the ones who will become indispensable to the organization. They are the ones who will be relied upon to carry it to other parts of the organization and getting other people aligned with it.
Jordan - I think the nature of roles will change. I agree with what Mark said earlier about the next big thing is to be agile. The nature of jobs will also adapt and change. Here is an opportunity for employees to amplify their creative and innovative aspirations by becoming unshackled by the day to day grind of process based work.
What do you think are the common challenges for startups as well as established organizations while they try to drive any change?
Mark - The biggest challenge as per me is building and maintaining the right culture, one that’s aligned with business environment and the types of business outcomes they are trying to accomplish. A lot of times with startups, they try to emulate the culture of another company that might even be from a different industry, or they may just try to believe they have a certain type of culture and want to hire people on those grounds. Organizations really need to understand their business environment both internally and externally and ensure the culture they create is aligned to that.
Jordan – A lot of companies don’t know where they are going but have high aspirations. If you think about grand visions, that’s great, but they don’t mean anything unless you have actual implementable steps and strategies to make that happen. When you talk about change, it’s easy to sit there and visualize, but a key part of change is to know the first step as clear as the final step.
What should an HR leader’s focus be for 2020?
Mark – Everyone needs to be clear on who our customer is, what kind of value are we delivering to them and what kind of experience are we trying to create for them, it helps to guide everyone’s decisions, like the North star. Once that is done, focus should be on building social intelligence, psychological safety and resilience among employees. Keeping in mind tech transformation and adoption, leaders need to ensure that data and information flows freely throughout the organization and is shared in a timely manner. Encourage teamwork, provide opportunities for the team to come together, give them autonomy to make decisions, move away from hierarchical structure to flat hierarchy. Build on the “Capacity to act” - that’s when organizations create an infrastructure allowing and encouraging teams to engage with each other.
Jordan - What’s the framework? What’s the intention? Answering these questions will determine focus areas. It’s easy to look at best practices and say this is what we should focus on, but at the end of the day it’s about intention. I believe everyone is creative to a certain extent, yet often we are so busy trying to find the right way that we forget to create and innovate what we can, because we are unaware what the intention is. From an HR leader’s point of view, it shouldn’t be about what key skills I need to roll out or what processes I need to implement. It’s important to know what my intention is for the organization, for the team, for the individuals - whether it’s development or tracking monetary outcomes or whatever it is - having that clarity in intention is always going to be step one.