Change LACE

Our industry is changing. And so must we.

Denial is not a river in Egypt. HR is changing almost beyond recognition. If we don’t move with the times, we’ll cease to be relevant and impactful. Here are my thoughts on why professional evolution is a must for us all.

Just last week it dawned on me that my two youngest children (Alex and Eve – the A and E in LACE), have never had the joy of a Saturday evening Blockbuster browsing session, walking the aisles, searching for a film and buying toffee popcorn to feast on. Alex and Eve have grown up in an age when TV can be counted on to deliver countless movies miraculously, on demand.

Our industry’s been transformed by tech

Times change. It’s been the same story in the HR world too. When I first started out in the industry, Excel was the most advanced tool we had. No one could envision a future in which HR roles weren’t firmly generalist.

Enter HR tech. We’ve seen Dave Ulrich’s model transform our terrain. We’ve seen the arrival of shared services, HR by telephone, self service, and self service 2.0 – in the form of mobile-first platforms. In just the last five years alone, the concept of delivering HR services via kiosk has become totally and utterly outmoded. We’ve entered an age of cloud computing and workforce analytics. And there’s plenty more to come.  

New thinking has reshaped our world

Those are just the practical, operational changes we’ve witnessed. If we look at the new (some would argue now old) talent revolutions to have hit us in the last five years, the pace of change is astounding.

Think of David Rock and his cult of neuroscience. Or Dan Gilbert and the happiness at work revolution. And let’s not forget Adam Grant and the faith of reciprocity. Consider the slow decline of performance management and the emergence of balanced feedback and continuous strength-based coaching. Feels like a high-speed movie montage, doesn’t it?

Stepping back and looking at the big picture in all its glory, truly elemental shifts have occurred too. Digital employees, generational working, borderless companies, heuristic organisations… The list goes on.

We HR professionals must change too

It’s no wonder increasing numbers of HR professionals are seeking coaching, training and development. Being an HR professional and, in particular, an HR business partner has never been more exciting, fascinating, fulfilling or, quite frankly, scary.

Today, we need a change skillset that’s deep and broad. From interpreting analytics to coaching on wellness and organisational design, ours it’s a vast and varied job description. We need to ask ourselves: are we ready to address this new world? Can we keep up with an increasingly well informed management team? Can we lead them successfully through change?

Evolve or die

This period of rapid change will not be a short renaissance. It’s ‘all systems go’ from here. The will and pressure to move forwards no longer lies solely in the hands of HR. There’ll be a growing call from management for more – sooner, faster, and with more insight.

The choice is yours. Do you face the fear, rip up the old paradigms and reskill for the new? Or do you allow yourself to be subsumed into business operations and satisfy yourself with a lesser role?

Change isn’t coming to our profession. It’s here, and denial won’t save you. Be brave. Be bold. Be ready to grow. Embrace the challenge. It’s going to be a thrilling ride.

Aaron Alburey FCIPD, Member of the HR Guild, father to the L, A, C, and E (Lauren, Alex, Caleb and Eve) in LACE Partners and bouldering enthusiast

Further reading

Managing change vs managing adoption – hot tip: they aren’t mutually exclusive

HR technology adoption – it’s not just ‘plug and play’