What have been the changes in HR in the recent years?
As I started thinking through this question, several topics and themes emerged that I considered as what will evolve of the HR agenda. In doing so, I wanted to be pragmatic and in some ways define what a world-class HR organization should be doing in order to support their business. I have worked backwards from the business in thinking through some of these key topics for HR next year. Most of my thoughts below are simple to understand, yet difficult to conceive and execute.
Enable growth via people
As soon as I started thinking of the 2018 agenda, the first thing that came to my mind was about how to enable growth. It boiled down to how HR can support the growth of the organization through people and scaling through sustainable HR practices. This theme then manifests itself to the next adjacent area and that is about how we can help employees do meaningful work. This can be done by removing barriers, fixing defects, and enabling self-service.
Applying to, working at, and leaving Amazon or any other organization should be frustration-free experiences. By this I mean that one of our key agendas will be how we are removing any barrier that gets between the employees and their ability to do meaningful work. And expanding that to candidates, we need to do a similar thing for an awesome candidate experience — by removing every barrier, enabling recruiting systems and technology. This also includes how quickly we can turn around feedback to candidates and not make them waiting for decisions.
Science & experimentation
Secondly, I think 2018 will demand of us at Amazon to be the most scientific HR organization in the world. We want to see ourselves forming hypotheses about the best talent acquisition, talent retention, and talent development techniques, and then set out to prove or disprove them with experiments and careful data collection. In many ways, Amazon is reinventing the science of management by way of working customer backwards and we at HR have to take a scientific approach to helping sustainably grow the company.
Make thoughtful exceptions
No process or policy can be so well designed as to properly cover every situation. When common sense is at odds with policies or practices, we should be able to make high-judgment exceptions. This is my third important agenda for 2018. How can we as HR leaders ensure that “the process does not become the thing”? We have to teach people how to make high judgment exceptions.
Work backward from the customer
This is my fourth agenda. As we develop new programs and services, we work backwards from the employee and candidate, and understand that our work has a direct impact on customers. My agenda here is to ensure that we prioritize work that results in measurable impact for our customers, not just putting together an HR process.
Manage HR as a business
In order to accomplish this agenda, we must scale faster through technology and simplified processes rather than through HR headcount growth. We should be able to rigorously audit ourselves to disrupt and reinvent HR industry standards.
Finally, and this is not an agenda but a clear desire. I favor straightforward, two-way communication. When we talk about our work, we should be able to use plain language and specific examples over-generalizations and corporate speak.