“The greatest danger in times of turbulence is not the turbulence – it is to act with yesterday’s logic.” – Peter Drucker
Being in an uncertain socio-economic scenario is making organizations to learn, unlearn, rethink every decision, and every move. It has become critical for CHROs and HR Managers to understand the major shifts happening around them and the newer approaches needed to maintain their organizations’ smooth functioning.
Take, for example, Bank of America. As a response to the current situation, it is temporarily converting over 3,000 of its positions to cater to a big surge in inbound calls from consumers and small business customers. Similarly, employees in apparel companies are now producing surgical masks and gowns, while employees in automobile companies are producing ventilators because of a big drop in the consumer demand for passenger cars.
One impact of such major shifts in the work environment reflects on employee skills. It is difficult even to imagine that the skills we have honed throughout our careers will be reinvented. The skills relevant until recently may not be relevant in the coming days/years. To our surprise, the skills that we never considered could be useful may become essential.
From the human resource management perspective, what is critical right now?
The future of business looks remarkably different, making us redefine employee roles. As HR Managers, it is important to understand critical roles and how they will remain viable in the long run.
HR Managers and thought leaders say that the organizations need to look at three critical aspects –
- Employees in critical strategic roles,
- Employees with critical skills and
- Employees in a critical workflow process.
It is essential to understand what “critical” means, concerning present situations, and then separate the definitions and meanings of “roles” and “skill”. Why? Because when you look at critical skills and critical roles separately, rather than focusing on one, you are helping employees to widen their horizons and increase their work potential. This will only create more opportunities for both employees and employers to expand operations. For example, right now, and roles that require technical skills, customer skills, analytics skills, and strategic skills would be the frontrunners for the days to come. Therefore there will be more opportunities in leadership, consulting, pre and post-sales, and tech-based roles.
How does redefining critical roles help HR Managers and employees?
Before the COVID-19 crisis, organizations focused only on streamlining roles and workflows to boost productivity and organizational efficiency. Now the dynamics have changed and there is more need for resilience of systems than efficiency. While efficiency was and will remain vital, it cannot be achieved without sustainability. And that comes from spreading your net wider by upgrading skills, increasing flexibility, and thus making your workforce more agile.
One of the best ways to ensure critical skill development is to encourage and increase cross-functional knowledge by training and developing the existing workforce. For example,
- Suppose your sales team was only responsible for revenues. In that case, it is now time for them also to understand how marketing and advertising works, and probably also get a basic download of the manufacturing/sourcing process.
- Similarly, managers who mostly supervised tasks can now engage in long-term business strategies and growth ideas. This gives them the complete picture of all ends of the business, and in the future, when traditional servicing takes a backseat, they can exploit their new skills to manage marketing, supply chain, etc.
Before redefining critical roles, how can HR Managers identify the criticality of roles and skills?
It allstarts with talking to business leaders, employees, and human resources planners. They may or may not know what exactly is needed right now and what could be critical in the future. Analyzing the data you gather from them would help you identify the skill gaps in the current roles and the corresponding skills needed to perform a particular role. Also capture relevant data on how the market is shifting and jot them down against the employees’ roles, thus developing intelligence on what you need. The best way to do this is to harness the power of advanced technology like automation, machine learning, data analytics, etc. It helps gather, analyze, and arrive at scientifically driven results. There are advanced online assessment tools that may help you find talent gaps.
Once you find the talent gaps, you will know which employee roles are aligned with market needs, and those that aren’t aligned need to be upgraded. This also has a long-term effect on employee motivation, making them stay longer and boost their performance.
The shelf life of every business process and operational model is getting shorter with the changing world order. As an HR Manager, you need to be abreast of the same. Instead of predicting things, this is a time to respond to the changes, by quickly course-correcting whenever needed.
Have we missed anything? Tell us how you are redefining your organization’s roles to remain lean, agile, and innovative during these times? Are you able to align it with the organizational objectives? Can you maintain the same approach in the long run? Share your thoughts and experience.