Article: Building a culture of responsible autonomy

Culture

Building a culture of responsible autonomy

While organizations will continue to focus on their 'core' business and talent, employees will look for flexibility and personalization. It's time HR's priorities are aligned to these expectations so that we can create maximum value for business.
Building a culture of responsible autonomy

Only a few years ago, the idea of staying at a complete stranger’s apartment on a holiday or hopping into a random driver’s car for a ride home was outlandish. But user-friendly applications like Airbnb and Uber offered consumers the freedom and choice to choose how they lived or traveled. Today, people are willing to break the ‘norm’, thanks to organizations shaping how the world operates. A lot of these changes hinge on how HR has allowed employees to move into an ‘autonomous’ mode, putting a larger focus on ‘responsibility’ and ‘accountability’ as well.

Organizations will continue to focus on their ‘core’ business and talent, while employees will look for flexibility and personalization. HR’s priorities should be aligned to these expectations so that we can create maximum value for business.

Know your customer (KYC)

It is important that HR knows its customer – internal and external stakeholders. You could begin by understanding business strategy and aligning your best talent for business verticals. For example, if you work for an IT organization, you must align your best programmer or leader to “critical” business functions; also assign top recruiters on your team to hire for that function. Go the extra mile, by allowing top programmers with multi-functional skills to be cross-deployed into other teams requiring their expertise during lean periods. HR’s leading priorities would therefore be talent attraction and talent calibration. 

With diversity come myriad expectations Ð what works for one does not work for the other. So, flexibility is one of the key roles HR should be playing to build initiatives and programs that drive behavior desired by employees

Diversity of choice

To attract, retain and grow the best, realize that the workplace of today is far more diverse than just a decade ago. With diversity come myriad expectations – what works for one does not work for the other. So, flexibility is one of the key roles HR should be playing to build initiatives and programs that drive behavior desired by employees.

  • Speed onboarding – What if you inform the employee upfront that she has the option to “opt-out” from the company with severance within the first 120 days of employment if she thinks your company is not the right place for them?  Or what if the managers can do the same if they thought the employee is not good enough? The transparency apparatus at HR is tested when it comes to aspects like these. Pushing the needle on this would go a long way in fostering a culture of flexibility and high-performance. 
  • Continuous dialogue – Well, you might have done a good job of keeping an engaged employee beyond 120 days. But with ever-changing goals and shorter sprint cycles, does it make sense today to have annual goals? No. Instead, the focus should be a continuous dialogue between managers and their team members.  A manager’s role is one of an enabler and someone who can help the employee find a solution. Allow them to decide the path they want to tread toward an outcome which both have agreed on.
  • Jungle Gym – I routinely see employees wanting different experiences. Two years is an average timeframe they are willing to give a role.  The experiences they desire need not necessarily add ‘depth’ to what they want to do but which gives them broader learning avenues.  So, the conventional norm of a career progression no longer works. Promotion is not everything. Think of an employee’s career as a “jungle gym” where they get to work-out differently every day. HR should focus on building their muscle in this area and shed the fat of stereotypical thinking.   
  • Benefits potpourri – If you are 25 years old, you may value your CrossFit membership more than a medical insurance coverage for five lakhs. If I am a parent with a little child, I would rather utilize child care benefit given a choice. Welcome to the world of personalization. Can we do this for our staff? Yes, of course. Focus on getting the maximum buck for the investment your organization makes in its benefits suite.

Whether it is about creating best-in-class recruitment practices that would attract the smartest talent or it is about having innovative talent solutions to grow and retain talent, HR has the ultimate responsibility of helping build a culture and framework of what I call ‘Responsible Autonomy’

Data analytics

What gets measured gets done – simple. There is so much information available that is of relevance except that it isn’t always organized and contextualized.  Building an analytics team in your HR organization is a worthy investment. Leverage AI to draw meaningful insights to be able to have talent conversations with leadership.  For instance, employee sentiment analysis based on their Twitter activity or Glassdoor insights would be valuable in designing people strategies based on what matters most.

Whether it is about creating best-in-class recruitment practices that would attract the smartest talent or it is about having innovative talent solutions to grow and retain talent, HR has the ultimate responsibility of helping build a culture and framework of what I call “Responsible Autonomy” – one in which employees have the autonomy to drive their career while feeling responsible to effect meaningful business outcomes. 

Topics: Culture

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