So here’s the game plan for HR:
- Get educated! The books are there. The exemplars are there. The studies showing the ongoing declines are publicly available. The firms who are succeeding are known. The ship you are on is sinking. Find out why. Learn what it takes to change.
- Circulate the books to the C-suite: You don’t have to make the arguments yourself. Simply pass around the books that make the case for you.
- Change your name! I often ask HR people why they accept a name like Human Resources which implies that people are things to be exploited, rather than a name that endorses that people are actually people. They usually reply that the name doesn’t really matter if they do the right thing. My response is: if the Finance Department was called the Fraud Department, would that help or hinder their work? Having a name that says the opposite of the meaning of the function is an impediment that has to be removed.
- Develop a game plan! Be able to answer these questions, even if the C-Suite can’t: Who is your company’s core customer? Have you talked to one lately? Do you know what challenges they face? Who is the competition? What do they do well and not well? And most important, who are we? What is a realistic assessment of what we do well and not so well vis a vis the customer and the competition?
- Find champions: You are not going to do this alone. You are helping foment a necessary revolution. You need collaborators. They exist! In any large organization, there always enterprising managers who have seen the future and are already making it happen, even though they may be currently seen as rebels and troublemakers who don’t accept the current dispiriting culture. They are waiting to hear from you!
- Find pilot projects: Look around the organization. Look for managers who are already practicing Scrum and Agile in the IT department. Look for managers practicing Lean. Look for any managers who are using the Net Promoter Score. These are your potential pilot projects which will show the way forward.
- Get your ammunition ready: In any organization, for most of the time, the possibility of a fundamental discussion about how the organization is run is simply not possible. For most of the time, the door is closed. But every so often, particularly in firms that are struggling, the door opens briefly: the C-suite becomes so desperate with being on a failing track that the possibility of raising fundamental issues becomes possible, even briefly. Be ready then with your arguments: