Evolving technology is not only changing the way employees work, it is also changing what is expected from organisational leadership, especially during times of transformation. And today's leaders are rising to the occasion by evolving their leadership styles to suit today’s dynamic and sometimes complex times.
At Asia’s largest work tech conference, TechHR 2023, in an insightful Fireside Chat on Tech-empowered HR Leadership: Navigating Complexity with Simplicity, HROne’s Founder Karan Jain spoke with Amit Malik, President WadzPay Japan Asia Pacific & Australia, about the changing approach to leadership, the principle of systems and much more.
Focusing on the ‘why’ of transformation
When embarking on an HR transformation journey of any scale, there needs to be clarity of purpose. And this clarity needs to be in place before moving toward adopting technology. Focusing on this a little more, Jain, founder of HROne, which aims to empower HRs to achieve more, sought insights from Malik on the ‘Start With Why’ approach to HR transformation.
They spoke about how most organisations begin with a clear 'why,' but somewhere along the journey become overly preoccupied with the 'how' and 'what' aspects, losing sight of our original purpose. During a transformation journey, it is crucial to remember why that journey began – the 'how' and 'what' should never overshadow the essence of the organisation's 'why”. Since a transformation brings with itself so many, all-encompassing changes if there is clarity on the ‘why,’ it acts as an essential anchor during the journey.
Principle of systems
Continuing the discussion and transitioning to the processing, analysing, and optimising of current processes in preparation for upcoming automation, Malik emphasised the significance of embracing the principle of systems.
The principle of systems, often referred to as ‘Systems Theory’ or ‘Systems Thinking’, is a conceptual framework and approach that focuses on understanding and analysing the interactions, relationships, and dynamics within complex systems.
“First, you identify what process/es you want to focus on. Then you just map those processes out, end-to-end, and break it down into every touch point. The next step is to get the right stakeholders for every touch point,” Malik said, adding that while analysing processes, it is more important to focus on what isn’t working as opposed to trying to improve what is working in the first place.
Efficiency or effectiveness?
Jain and Malik also discussed the focal points of an HR transformation journey. “When you focus on both efficiency and effectiveness, rest assured you are on the right path,” Malik commented.
An important tip shared during the insightful discussion was to get the right people and right teams on board at the right time during an HR transformation journey. “Let's say you are implementing an HRMS – get the people managers as early as possible. This is so that they can give you positive, constructive feedback at the right time as opposed to you telling them later what they should do.”
“Whenever doing any transformation, it is important to consider every stakeholder and their needs right at the start. Also, if you are failing, it is important to fail fast and cut your losses,” Jain summarised.
‘Communicate, communicate, communicate’
While change is inarguably the only constant, leaders frequently find themselves dealing with a workforce that is perhaps well set in their ways and is resistant to any kind of change or transformation. How can such a problem be dealt with effectively?
Malik shared important action points that can help get all stakeholders on the same page during a phase of transformation in the organisation:
Building ownership at the beginning
Focusing on execution
Having a feedback channel in place
Agility to action on feedback
Sharing organisation-oriented success stories
Recognise and appreciate early adopters of change
Words of wisdom
Towards the end of the insightful session, Jain inquired about a guiding principle that can be instrumental for the CXOs currently situated at the intersection of technology and HR.
“I would suggest two things: Focus on the user and balance automation with the human touch. I think it's our responsibility as HR leaders to not only create that balance but also advocate for that balance fearlessly with courage and conviction,” Malik signed off.