Thought Experiment presents a series of discussions with regional managers, entrepreneurs and academics that aim at developing ideas that will determine future challenges and trends.
In 2015, Thought Experiment “The Future of Human Resource Development” was focused on identifying the role of education in individual’s intellectual and creative growth. We would like to thank academics that took part in Thought Experiment 2015, and would especially like to thank HR experts who participated this year:
- Željko Antolić, Ericsson Nikola Tesla
- Ana Đidara, DOK-ING
- Breda Ivanović, PricewaterhouseCoopers
- Jasna Justinić Pakrac, Zagrebačka banka
- Hrvojka Kutle, NovaTV
- Tihana Malenica Bilandžija, HEP
- Maja Mudrovčić, RWE
- Iva Penezić, Intesa Sanpaolo Card
- Željka Pleše, PIK Vrbovec
- Ana Zovko, Hrvatski Telekom
- Alan Žunić, Billa (Rewe Group)
Companies increasingly understand that selection and development of employees is paramount for their success. The more companies recognize the importance of human capital, the more strategic is the role of HR in overcoming silos and achieving an optimum fit between individuals and their role in the company. With a more strategic role, and optimum being not at a level of an individual but in the fit between an individual and his/her role, HR departments increasingly need to rely on data-based decision-making that enables them to:
a) Identify groups/clusters of employees that are likely to respond similarly to HR’s activities;
b) Identify motivation and evaluation methods that lead to desired outcomes, to balance between quantity of indicators and their quality/importance.
With this notion in mind, companies increasingly collect data on their employees and their performance. However, data should not be collected for the sake of collecting data, but for using it. Therefore, HR managers increasingly need to learn how to collect and analyze data, combining subjective and objective indicators. They need to evaluate each piece of information (e.g. each tracked KPI) whether it is measured properly, and whether the value it delivers is greater than the cost of collecting that data. Furthermore, HR managers need to be able to analyze the data to identify the effectiveness of HR department’s efforts, and the value of each individual’s performance for the company. Such knowledge would enable HR departments to show accountability, and enhance the HR manager’s importance for data-driven strategic decision-making.
HR departments play an important role for company’s future through the employment and development of human capital in the company. As each individual has his/her maximum intellectual and creative potential, employment process actually results in defining the maximum a company can get from an individual. Therefore, the firm needs to invest in ensuring that employment processes result in an optimal choice for the company. Increasingly, in the final rounds of employment process, top companies implement educational programs within their employment processes in order to better identify each individual’s capabilities and capacity – especially with regards to the individual’s problem-solving capability (for knowledge workers) and skills (for more operative workers).
In developing company’s human capital, HR departments have a role of pushing individuals outside their comfort zones, and exposing them to new mindsets, knowledge and skills. It is a human inherent trait to resist change, therefore HR departments are responsible to develop each individual to be ready to respond, and even create the change. In selecting educational programs to develop employees, it is not just about the program, or about the employee – selecting optimal educational program for an individual depends on achieving the fit between an individual and the role he/she is expected to perform in the future (strategic vs. operational), the nature of firm’s activities in which the individual will be involved (exploration vs. exploitation), and the nature of educational program (mindset, knowledge, skills focused). Based on discussions with HR managers and academics, a chart was developed as a guidance – since not all programs are good for everyone and in all contexts. Choosing the right program ensures both – an individual’s satisfaction, and positive impact on firm’s performance.
Mindset-development learning programs present the most complex educational programs which challenge participant’s decision-making and problem-solving capacity. These programs focus primarily on learning how to learn and make better decisions. As such programs are the most complex, they require lecturer’s deep understanding of underlying principles driving different outcomes – knowledge that is created in world’s leading academic research. Therefore, such programs are best delivered by top academics, deeply involved in research, who are able to discuss conceptual abstractions of decision-making and industry/firm dogmas. Ideal participants of such programs are those for which a company expects to take a more strategic decision-making role, and who are expected to create new value in exploration-focused activities of the firm (e.g. innovation, opening new markets, delivering points of competitive differentiation, etc.).
Knowledge-development learning programs provide participants with knowledge of certain areas important for employee performance of his/her activities. These programs are generally divided into areas of specialization (e.g. marketing, finance, computer engineering, etc.) and are generally first delivered in formal educational programs (e.g. universities). After acquiring general knowledge in the field of one’s specialization, these programs expose individuals to the up-to-date knowledge and ideas in each field and newly developing fields and sub-specializations. The more novel the field and the content, the more it is important that lecturer has deep understanding of research and new frameworks and models being discovered in the field. Along with the lectures, this type of learning could (and should) be supplemented with individual’s self-learning using available on-line/off-line resources. Ideal participant of such programs is the one who is a key support for strategic-exploration activities or is a leader for operational-exploitation focused teams.
Skills-development learning programs provide participants with skillset required to perform their job. These programs primarily transfer routines to perform certain tasks, and are thus very firm and job specific. Therefore, these programs should be primarily organized internally by the company (to transfer skills that are routinized in the company) or by organizations that provide highly product-specific skills for using their product/service (e.g. Cisco certificate, etc). Such programs result in an individual being able to perform certain tasks in a pre-defined manner. These programs are optimal for individuals who have more operational jobs for which optimal job inputs and outputs can be defined.
Since HR is the only function which balances between value creation for a company, and value creation for each individual, i.e. “Human Capital Value Development”, it has an important role for the society as a whole. HR’s role is that much harder as a result of needing to achieve a fit between multiple stakeholders and activities – thus requiring HR to develop highly data-analytic and strategic abilities enabling them to make the optimal choices.