A lot of us in HR are afflicted with a terrible disease. It's called Initiavitis*.
We love the latest ‘bright shiny thing’. The dictionary defines this as ‘something widely appealing or attention-grabbing for its superficial characteristics, but which is usually not useful, substantial or long-lasting’. So we keep starting more and more new initiatives.
Our lack of delivery often comes down to the inability to prioritise. So while new stuff keeps being added, the old stuff keeps being done, overloading the system with more and more initiatives.
* Note: Complications of Initiavitis can set in leading to projectitis, programmitis, let’s-brand-everythingitis and the often fatal flavour-of-the-monthitis.
I remember years ago as a young, high-energy, passionate, committed HR manager (I have a long memory!) working hard to complete a major project. A few weeks before completion, the business carried out a major and unexpected acquisition. Overnight my project was irrelevant. I went to my boss to discuss how I could adjust it to make it relevant to the new world. He took me aside and very clearly told me it was irrelevant. I still pushed: I’d spent months on it, and it had become my baby, part of who I was. My boss had to be even more explicit: “Nick let it go. You did a good job, and everyone knows that. But if you keep pushing something that isn’t relevant to the business you are going to alienate a lot of people, including me. So, let it go.” It was great advice. I went back to my desk, killed it and focused on merger integration work.
In another company, I am doing some work with, extensive research revealed there were 278 HR projects underway globally, regionally and locally.
In many cases, there were duplications of global initiatives being undertaken at a regional and local level. What was most worrying was that many people in HR wouldn’t believe me. Not until I showed them the evidence as no one had done the analysis.
We worked on a clear prioritisation process using the matrix outlined above. Eventually, we narrowed it down to only seven projects that were fully supported by the business, were resourced correctly, effectively implemented and had a measurable business impact. Not only was HR put under less pressure, but the line really appreciated the focus on the ‘vital few’.
What are the HR Tech implications?
HR Tech can provide elegant solutions to business issues, but too often we are dazzled by the allure of some amazing new technology. Many tech providers will trumpet the amazing functionality of their latest products, all the gizmos, reporting tools, etc. The danger is these are the ultimate ‘bright shiny things’. Often literally!
There is a famous saying ‘Timeo Danaos et dona ferentes’, paraphrased into English as “Beware of Greeks bearing gifts’. In the world of HR Tech, be cautious of vendors selling the answer to all of your problems. At conferences and exhibitions, don't wander around their stalls being dazzled and trying to think about how you might apply it in your business. Instead, come with a clear view of the business issue you are trying to fix, and it will be easier to identify the right HR Tech which can help you.
About The Author:
Nick Holley has a unique background that combines experience as an army officer, ten years as a successful futures and foreign exchange broker with Merrill Lynch and sixteen years in senior organisational, leadership and people development roles in large global organisations. In his last two roles Nick was partner in charge of learning for Europe, the Middle East, India and Africa for Arthur Andersen and director of global people development for Vodafone.