Blog Post

How to Humanize Your Organization in the Era of HR Technology

Carol Anderson

Founder, Anderson Performance Partners

Today's HR buzzword: "humanize". More and more I see articles and now even a book about humanizing organizations. It makes sense: With the impact of HR technology, people analytics and social media, it is reasonable to worry that we have lost the ability to relate to each other as human beings.

Many of the HR technology and performance management software tools boast the ability to predict what people will or can do, which is attractive to large organizations that cannot individually engage with every employee. At the same time, one can only generalize the results of research beyond the original group if the variables are identical. With people involved, the variables are rarely identical.

We reduce people to research, science and statistics and stop there. We provide megabytes of people analytics in the form of reports to management, but miss the opportunity to turn the data into the human touch.

Here's the secret: When you dig deep and look at what makes an organization work, it comes down to people and relationships. Talent management technology and social media are tools, nothing more.

In that way, talent management must be a blend of science and art. Science and technology alone won't make things happen in a business environment. The "art" is using science to create dialogue, build relationships and transform human behavior to generate steady progress toward business success.

Here are three things that HR can do to add a little art to the science.

1) Focus on a Main Data Point

First, do your due diligence. What do people analytics reports tell you, and how do the HR reports compare to the business performance? Why are these numbers important to business leaders?

If you don't identify a "why," it's unlikely leaders will pay attention to the numbers. And if they're bombarded with numbers, it's rare they'll take the time to parse through. Instead, develop a strategy and presentation around one core, meaningful data point. By honing in one topic, you can facilitate good dialogue with your analysis, ask for their feedback and make an intentional decision about whether or not action should be taken and, if so, what kind and when.

Two things get in the way of HR-focus dialogue: the busy-ness of leaders and their reluctance to address the human element of data. A good data point connected to the business is worthy of at least 10 minutes discussion and action planning.

2) Encourage Leaders to Engage with Employees

On the busy point: Yes, we are all busy. Crazy busy. Yes, leaders are doing important work listening to and reading your reports and analysis. But what are they doing with that data?

They should be putting that data to good use. You can work with managers to develop a few good questions to ask their team in an effort to improve employee engagement. Instead of "How are you doing?" and "Anything you need?", try "What do you need to improve the performance of your team?" Push them to ask for a thoughtful answer, and then follow up with resources to help the team execute on that need.

HR can hold leaders' hands along the way, and after a few meaningful conversation with their employees, work with managers build a follow-up plan.

3) Discuss the Importance of Relationships

Relationships are how things get done, but we don't talk about it too much. Set the stage by telling your colleagues and peers how important their work is to you, and how much you want to work together.

When coaching leaders, ask about relationships: With whom are they most comfortable? Least comfortable? Help them determine the importance of the relationships that are in need of strengthening, and help them connect with those people.

Talent management teams have a chance to act as a bridge between the science and the art of business. You can show other company leaders how to achieve business progress by turning data into dialogue, and eventually into action. The more you can get folks working and conversing collaboratively, the more value you can add to the business.

Photo: Creative Commons

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