Joel Philo, Ph.D., Principal Behavioural Scientist, Infor Talent Science, looks at the extent to which HR is driving digital transformation and highlights the importance of people and culture in driving the best outcomes
When it comes to digital transformation, few would argue that HR plays a pivotal role. But the extent of its role varies substantially across organisations.
In my view, true digital transformation requires an in-depth understanding of the human aspects of the transformation. Organisations need to first understand how technology will impact their culture and take pains to ensure the right culture is nurtured. The likes of Facebook, Amazon, Netflix and Google are not winning in their respective markets without cultivating a strong culture, underpinned by cutting edge people analytics and a clear focus on people.
That’s not to say that HR is using AI and Machine learning to lead the transformation charge. Rather, the best HR departments use machine learning and AI to preserve and guide the culture that creates business success and navigate the complexities and ambiguities of our rapidly transforming global societies and unique localities. Additionally, the best HR departments understand the current and future impact of machine learning and AI on their culture and take steps to properly guide these powerful new technologies, and to nurture the right workforce for transformation.
The employee lifecycle
Every employee within an organisation has a career arc that is referred to as the employee life cycle. Some employees have a very short life cycle, while other employees find opportunities that fulfill their career objectives for the long term. When it comes to transformation, companies not only need to ensure they have right employees, but that they deliver their workforce with growth opportunities, personal development, and upward mobility.
Analytics-led behavioural science provides a method to bridge the gap between the employee’s and the organization’s needs. Through collating a set of specific role-centric behaviours, it is used to recruit, select, onboard, and develop employees in those target positions.
Through behavioural science, employees are able to capitalise on career development and increased job satisfaction by scientifically being matched to the right job and being developed to their full potential. When behavioural science is aligned with the employee life cycle and culture, it can help to support transformation goals.
The seeds of success are planted at the beginning of the employee life cycle. Fit to the job is the first key to the puzzle. Some organizations focus only on “fit” in terms of skills or CV keywords, but those facts only tell a small part of the story. They do not provide deep insight into longevity, culture fit, or productivity potential. The secret ingredient is behavioural fit, which captures the things managers can’t see on paper – behaviours. But through using modern technology, organisations are able to compare an individual’s behavioural preferences to a behavioural benchmark based on actual performance data, and the skills statistically proven to represent success on the job.
Because employee behavioural preferences have already been captured in the selection process, the organization is able to leverage that important data throughout the employee life cycle, beginning with the onboarding process. Once the employee is matched to a position based on best fit, valuable information is available to the manager or management team. This includes preferred learning style, communication style, and other unique insights that support strong communication.
As the employee settles in to the new role, a deeper level of coaching and development can be leveraged through behavioural science. The sophistication of the system provides specific guidance—to executives and field managers—on topics related to the employee being coached. The content is designed to specifically help each individual discover, address, and leverage their strengths while compensating for areas that provide challenges. Practically, the system can identify a behavioral gap, such as low attention to detail, and provide suggestions and coaching tips on how to improve the employee’s ability to compensate for that gap through exercises and tasks designed for that purpose.
Coaching and development activities are designed to improve performance and satisfaction based on actual performance. The behavioural pattern used during the selection process is a behavioural model based on actual performance data, and can be leveraged for training programs. Behavioural science allows customised plans to be quickly developed for each individual regardless their stage in the employee life cycle.
Once behavioural patterns are created for positions across the organisation, that knowledge base can be leveraged in forecasting an employee’s future roles. For example, a line worker may be interested in moving into management. The organisation has the ability to search each management position to find the best fit for the line worker. Then, through technology, the organisation is able to provide a coaching and development plan to grow that line worker in preparation for a future transition into management.
In today’s employment market, employees are looking for future growth opportunities within the organisation from day one. The behavioral information that indicates promotability has already been captured during the selection process, so now the organisation can begin to analyse and grow future leaders. This creates a unique advantage whereby the organisation can improve retention while internally developing future leaders to promote from within the organisation.
The future requires an integration of technology and humanity. It’s the responsibility of HR to understand and maintain this balance, to maximise the potential of both the machines and the people that drive organisational outcomes.
Behavioral science provides a much needed, scalable way for organizations to select the right talent to fit the job. This provides immediate return on investment by increasing satisfaction and productivity on the job, and supporting a strong, focused culture. It also provides the organisation with the insight to refine plans to address talent gaps for future roles.