- CEO’s Weekly Newsletter
- 18 Jan 2021
Activities and analysis requests picked up significantly in week1 for us, and we are very thankful for that. We received several positive emails for our last week’s email around what will occupy the minds of HR and TA trends and practices for 2021. But many leaders asked what HR can do that is truly disruptive and innovative in elevating the organizations they serve. We have identified a few areas that can be highly innovative to implement.
To understand this question, we went back to the history books and studied some of the work done by British Historian Arnold Toynbee. Toynbee, in his work on the study of history, examines why civilizations fail. Toynbee wrote that Nomadic civilization failed because of energies consumed in providing pasture for herds. He wrote that the Polynesians failed because they responded to the challenge of the sea with no instrument better than a canoe.
When facing disruptive times, it is therefore important to develop new tools and, more importantly, truly make sure that the workforce is not lost in tactical things. Human Resources can play a significant role in ensuring this across the functions of Reskilling, Talent Acquisition, Strategic Workforce Planning, and Performance Science (notice that I have consciously dropped the word Management). In this email, we have focused more on Performance Science in the Digital Age and Talent Acquisition.
We have come a long way in improving performance management, and many organizations are beginning to use multiple data sets. Today, it is common to look at omnichannel stats in measuring a, say, call center agent’s performance. Many things about performance as a science is still not understood well. A very recent failure of IBM Watson in healthcare is a great example that codified rules do not work in complex problems such as cancer care. The fact that experience in the job is a necessary prerequisite for higher performance is also disputed. A recent HBR article described that of the CEOs over 20 years, who ran two companies in a row, 70% performed better in their first stint, measured by shareholder returns. This does not negate experience as it is – it just shows that jobs are complex, and us seeking to understand through a single framework may not work all the time.
To facilitate your thinking, Draup theorizes that jobs can be classified in three different ways. All enterprises have these three types of jobs
Jobs that are extremely rules-driven. These jobs follow a particular set of processes and operate in very close boundaries. You can compare these to a chess game (tactically). This is why the deep blue of IBM automated the Chess Games. In enterprises, the jobs around Data Entry, Ter1 Call Center Jobs, Warehouse Inventory, AP/AR processing, and many similar jobs are on these lines. Easily automated and over time these jobs will disappear
Here, the rules are defined, but they operate in a broader ecosystem. Similar to Driving and why companies like Uber gave up automating Driving. (recently they abandoned). This does not mean that autonomous Driving is not feasible, but they take a lot out of you to get it done. Many jobs like DevOps, Quality Testing, Bank Teller jobs, Financial Auditors, Survey Specialists, Database Administrators all fall under this category. There are rules, but they need to be applied across several emerging/changing conditions. As a result, human intervention and performance will always thump machine
This is equivalent to the scenarios where AI tried to predict the Flu-like in Google Flu and failed. Human judgment always triumphs the machine. Several jobs like Engineers, Software Architect, Financial Advisors, Organizational Psychologists, All forms of Research, Technical Support and advanced customer support, UI design, Creative Marketing, Sales all fall under this category
- Companies should try and design different mechanisms for different types of jobs.
- The 10,000 hours rule for skilling will not be relevant in Cognitive Jobs, for example. Erik Dane, a professor from Rice University, showed that very experienced accountants did a poor job when a new tax law is introduced – a phenomenon referred to as cognitive entrenchment.
- Viewing jobs this way will help organizations transform performance management into performance science
The following are the disruptive aspects TA can adopt in 2021. Draup can help in both these areas. Please reach out to us as you embark on the journey
Resource Inventory: In the previous mail, we emphasized that having an inventory of people is very important. This can almost change TA into a sophisticated science-driven shop. Say, for example, you are hiring a UI designer. It is important to know who is the best UI designer in the world. (when buying a car, we know that – regardless of the car we buy). If you are a Recruiter hiring a UX designer, the name Gleb Kuznetsov should be very familiar to you. Having experience working as a senior at Nokia, today, Gleb Kuznetsov is the chief design officer at Brain Technologies Inc., a company that works on AI. It is clear to see he has a futuristic point of view, and he projects it on his UI designs. This does not mean you may hire Gleb, but you can understand a top UI Designer’s principles and qualities. Draup will be helping you in this manner in 2021. We plan to have all these profiles identified by Job Function
Queue Characteristics: Queue characteristics are very different across different recruiter tasks. Our small longitudinal study across five recruiters in a large tech company recently showed that Recruiters who spend time understanding the domain and the latest developments around that (even if they do not directly talk about those) had tangible improvement in recruitment success. Recruiters should have an inhouse statistician to understand queue characteristics and run various experiments like this to unearth optimal workflow and queue characteristics