Perry Timms is a renowned blogger and global speaker on HR transformation and the important role of HR professionals. Perry's first book, Transformational HR, was an Amazon.com Top 30 HR seller shortly after its release and made Book Authority’s Top 100 Strategy books of all time. Perry's second book, The Energized Workplace, has just been released in August 2020 and has already garnered critical acclaim.
In our latest podcast, Timms discusses why a transformation of the HR industry is a matter of urgency. He explains that the COVID19 pandemic has proved to be a catalyst for organisations to change their structure, processes and approach to people management.
How COVID19 has impacted HR
The impact of COVID19 on HR transformation cannot be overstated! In fact, as Perry Timms discusses in our latest podcast, the start of lockdown in March 2020 signalled a sudden and seismic shift for nearly all industries.
In the world of HR, this shift created a divide between those businesses who were set up to respond to changing work conditions...and those who were not.
He explains that businesses had to act quickly and respond to the lockdown without warning. Those who were agile, people focused and technologically equipped to facilitate remote working fared best.
Within his role as an HR transformation specialist, Terry faced the challenge of getting to grips with new processes, terminology and challenges in the HR space. At the same time, he needed to reassure clients that he could lead them through these unprecedented and uncertain times.
The main challenges for businesses from an HR perspective included:
- The need to react quickly to the lockdown measures, including moving employees to remote working, almost overnight
- Keeping people safe and adjusting processes and policies to respond to the COVID19 threat and health risks
- Becoming more connected through technology, especially for CEOs to provide reassurance and visibility to their staff across multiple locations
- Disputes between colleagues and consistency of policies around flexible working and time off for parenting, caring and recovering from illness
The role of HR transformation
Perry explains in the podcast that despite the challenges, the COVID19 pandemic has also signalled a time for change to the HR industry. He says that more than ever before, HR professionals need to work closely with CEOs and decision makers to ensure their strategy, roadmaps and policies are focused on people, as well as profit.
“The HR industry has no choice but to transform to a more responsive, creative, inclusive and agile approach”
Perry discusses the critical role of CEOs in supporting staff through the COVID19 challenges, For example, he says that business leaders need to be visible and connected to staff. They should provide regular updates on any measures they’re taking to protect and support their teams. In addition, they need to listen and really hear about their employees’ concerns, challenges and day-to-day obstacles.
This is where the role of HR transformation really comes to the fore. HR leaders need to guide CEOs and senior leaders through a mindset change to help them see the value of creating a supportive and flexible company culture that extends beyond the COVID19 pandemic.
Where to begin?
One of the questions we ask Perry within the podcast is where to begin with the process of HR transformation. For HR professionals and company leaders who want to kickstart their HR transformation process, it can be difficult to know what to do first.
Perry explains the steps that he takes when guiding business leaders through the process.
1. Assess the current landscape
When working with a client to help them begin their HR transformation process, Perry says it’s vital that he gains visibility of where the business is at right now. What projects are in progress, what processes are in place and what needs to be achieved?
2. Identify the silos
The next step is to understand who is working on what. Often, he says, it becomes clear very quickly that lots of individuals are working independently on various aspects of a project. There can be little cohesion or collaboration and he may even hear varying versions of the story in terms of the goal and progress against what needs to be done.
3. Where can you add value?
Perry moves on to talk about adding value. He says that once an HR professional understands the current landscape and how the teams work together, and independently, he can begin to identify ways of helping business leaders add value to their existing ways of working.
4. What needs to stop?
He also suggests that it’s important to pinpoint any projects, practices or processes that aren’t working. These need to stop if they’re not adding value.
5. Identify what’s lying around
Is there anything ‘lying around’ that can be used? This part of the process is about building on what’s working and reinventing any practices rather than scrapping them altogether.
6. Change your thinking
It’s vital, Perry explains, to change our thinking as HR professionals and business leaders to a more user based approach. Design thinking, personalised user journeys and the creation of a customer focused culture is critical to the success of HR transformation.
Perry believes that HR professionals need to take a front-foot approach to helping organisations cope with change. This means providing staff with the skills and confidence to anticipate, manage and succeed through change.
“As a result of COVID19, HR has been thrust into crisis and incident management”
The industry needs to adapt - quickly - in order to overcome the challenges, but also to create opportunities to work better and smarter in the long-term.
He suggests that it’s time to reinvent HR and rethink how businesses recruit, skill, deploy, reward and engage their teams.
Perry discusses an example of a company that changed its approach to recruitment. Instead of focusing on CVs showing specific experience in a particular role, the company instead looked for individuals who had a passion for, and demonstrable experience of, customer focused roles. Similarly, they needed to be able to articulate how and why a customer focused approach is valuable. These became the criteria for recruitment and resulted in a workforce of successful, customer focused teams.
Practical versus humanist
In the podcast, Perry discusses the role of HR professionals and how the industry needs to adapt to a more human-centric world.
He talks about the balance of HR in a ‘practical’ versus ‘humanist’ capacity. This refers to the fact that while the function of HR will always centre somewhat on policies, procedures and processes that deal with the day-to-day functions of people management, something else is at play. More than ever, HR transformation needs to have a humanist element - businesses need to make a shift to become more caring, supportive and flexible to workers’ needs. And they will continue to rely on HR professionals to help guide them through that mindset, cultural and structural shift.
It’s an exciting time for the HR world and the role of HR transformation has never been more pivotal!
Listen to the podcast to hear the full story and learn about Perry’s innovative and creative approach to HR transformation.
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