Platt Perspective on Business and Technology

Innovators, innovation teams and the innovation process 18 – operationalizing a drive for innovative excellence into HR and its ongoing practices and processes 2

Posted in HR and personnel, strategy and planning by Timothy Platt on August 8, 2013

This is my eighteenth installment in a series on innovators and the process of innovation (see HR and Personnel, postings 154 and following for Parts 1-17.)

I have, in recent series installments, been making a case for including Human Resources in the overall strategic process and certainly for its capacity to contribute to the overall collaborative innovative capability of the business that it serves. I started in Part 17 to discuss in detail how HR would play a role in this from its work with personnel and at all levels of the table of organization and in all areas of the business. There are a variety of ways that this activity can be parsed and envisioned, but for purpose of this discussion and this series, I have chosen to map this HR participation to the progression of interactions that this department engages in with employees as they progressively go through the steps of joining and working with an employer.

I began this at the earliest stages of a business’ engagement with its employees, and at the steps of:

• Formulating a job description for a needed position opening,
• First round screening and selection of possible candidates,
• More detailed screening and candidate selection for interviews, and
• The hiring process itself.

I said at the end of that installment that I would continue this step by step examination here, with a focus for this posting on:

• Onboarding and setting a stage for new employees to enter into within-company business networks,
• Performance reviews, and adding a willingness and ability to effectively communicate and work collaboratively with others into the basic performance review template,
• Managing the career advancement process as it exists within the business,
• And I also stated that I plan on discussing training, and management training as well as hands-on skills training as these would be offered through HR.

Once again and as was the case in Part 17, my focus here is on how these activities and functions can be reframed so as to more actively and even proactively bring employees into a collaborative innovative process. And I begin here with onboarding and by offering a basic reference to this step that I included in my HR and Personnel directory: Onboarding New Employees 101 (see postings 119 and following for Parts 1-13.) And I more specifically begin this part of this overall discussion by noting an obvious fact – when it is simply considered in the abstract:

• Even the most carefully designed and built, and resource-rich resources will go unused if people do not find them.

Onboarding as a process, serves to validate and vet a hiring decision and it provides a period in which a new hire can be brought up to speed in their work so that they can be productively effective. A part of that includes connecting them up with available resources that they would need in order to effectively, coordinately work with others. And a significant part of that can mean connecting them into and encouraging them to use collaborative resources that are available to them from the business, whether they are offered online through the intranet and the organization-wide digital information architecture or through face to face and in-person channels.

Making effective use of, and getting involved in business-oriented online groups and discussions that are set up to facilitate creative innovation and improved work performance, should be included as a criterion when evaluating employees in their annual reviews – and certainly when a failure to effectively and consistently connect and be involved is reflected from its outcome, in disconnected work and a failure to more effectively contribute to project and team efforts.

Considering training here for a moment and more specifically manager and team leader training within that, one of the goals for HR in this would be to train managers and team leaders to turn to their in-house online and social media and networking channels to reach out to and connect with their team members. That means posting documents and other digital resources in appropriate group-specific folders where employees who should find and see these resources would be able to do so. This means making effective use of in-house instant chat, Skype and other third party resources that are brought in-house and more. And just as importantly this means actively listening to the conversation between team members and from them as directed to their managers and others. With controls in place for managing information and resource access, this collaborative conversation can also productively be expanded out to include other stakeholders too, and certainly in-house stakeholders for these specific communications and information sharing systems. And these systems can also be used to bring in specialized expertise from the business as a whole for helping with specific in-house tasks, and particularly when the searching and communicating features of company-wide social networking and social media are leveraged, to help find the right people – and their managers for securing buy-in for their participation.

• This same approach can be applied in training employees who would self-assemble into teams to more effectively work together and collaborate too.

Ideally at least, nothing that I write of here should sound at all remarkable. This is not about making dramatic changes, but rather of expanding out the toolset and expanding out who has access to the tools available, for bringing people together collaboratively, and across the day-to-day work pattern barriers that come to functionally divide most organizations – and particularly where there is a potential for disruptively innovative collaboration and innovation, and the creation of new sources of value for the business as a whole.

And that brings me to the third bullet point of today’s topics list that I have more or less bypassed up to here: managing the career advancement process as it exists within the business.

The process and outcomes rethinking and reframing that I write of here, and for both HR and for the business and its teams as a collective whole, all serve to create value and competitive strength when effectively implemented. The true metric for the effectiveness of these systems changes, arises in how they impact upon the business and its overall performance metrics and on its bottom line.

• When HR stops simply processing and storing papers and records for personnel files and expands out its vision and its role to one of actively supporting the business in reaching its performance potential, the business benefits and does better.
• Here, that means both short-term and tactically developing and pursuing processes that promote collaborative innovation, and it means longer-term, strategically helping managers to identify team members who excel at this and who enable others in it, for recognition and advancement.
• Whenever a functional area of a business becomes more actively and proactively involved in creating and sustaining performance excellence, that change is certain to create new competitive value for the business as whole – provided that this newly more active participation is planned and carried out in coordination with the rest of the business as a whole, and that is where overall, executive level strategic planning comes in.

I am going to continue this discussion in a next series installment where I will more explicitly discuss collaborative innovation at the level of executive team and business-wide strategic planning. Meanwhile, you can find this and related postings at HR and Personnel and also at Business Strategy and Operations and at its continuation pages: Business Strategy and Operations – 2 and Business Strategy and Operations – 3.

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