A Roadside Guide to Innovation for Human Resources Practitioners
Let’s face it, the ability to offer many choices to meet as many individual needs as possible, whatever the situation, is a popular notion. This applies to more than just the shampoo section of your corner drugstore.
There is something special that comes from knowing someone cares enough to provide a choice that is made to fit your particular need. It builds confidence, strengthens relationships, and promises better results.
Bringing more choices to the way a workforce can be managed is therefore important. It calls for innovative practices that can bring the work of human resources practitioners to a very different place. To human resources practitioners, innovation often means:
- inventing new processes to find, hire, keep, train and promote employees;
- filling the “tool box” with solutions that will make processes faster, easier, cheaper, lighter, smarter, simpler, and produce glowing results;
- applying processes to make them less intrusive, more intuitive, modern, and inviting.
Finding ways to bring innovation to a practice built on tectonic plates of “fairness”, “merit” and “equity” is not for the faint of heart. Modernizing a human resources management regime in the face of such massive commitments offers a unique set of challenges, such as:
- All innovative processes must live within a host of regulations, collective agreements, precedents, laws and directives – and more are added each year.
- New processes must feature “fail safe” mechanisms that make it easy to follow rules and know when things go wrong.
- Leaders must agree on new innovative processes in human resources management as they are often called upon to explain them.
- Employees, unions, internal staff functions (finance, information technology) and regulatory agencies need to be consulted to verify that the innovation can be done and is compliant;
- All who will be affected need to be well informed of the benefit of the innovation to best create a will to put it in place.
When all is said and done, creating a process for innovation remains of great interest to the adventurous brave hearts from our human resources communities – especially those who have peered into the eyes of resistance and brought cloud capped goals down to their knees.
Here is a roadside guide to creating innovation in human resources:
Phase I: At the Executive Table
- Investigate: Find what drives innovation and what doesn’t in your organization.
- Explore: List what can be done to strengthen that which promotes innovation and weaken what doesn’t.
- Engage: Tell your leadership team what will make it easier to innovate within your organization.
- Promote: Find a leader who will champion innovative practices in your organization.
- Sustain: Create a team of leaders who will evaluate and oversee the innovative practices and the results that spin out.
Phase II: At the HR Workbench
Understand: Go over the strategic goals of your organization to identify why you need to innovate.
- Link: Choose areas that you would like to work on that will contribute most to the achievement of your organization’s strategic goals.
- Plan: Identify resources, competencies, boundaries, information, accountabilities, and time needed to work on selected items.
- Organize: Develop terms of reference for your innovation team(s).
- Report: Identify how you will know if the team(s) is doing well.
- Equip: Set up, coach and train team members to achieve their mandate.
- Motivate: Reward and recognize teams and members.
- Implement: Arrange smooth hand off and transfer of knowledge from innovation team(s) to implementation team(s).
This post was inspired by Innovative Intelligence, a book written by David S. Weiss and Claude Legrand, and purchased at the annual Human Resources Association Conference held in Toronto in February, 2011.