Why HR leaders of the future need ‘the ability to inspire’
Business design and transformation—topics that are driving discussions in today’s rapidly changing world of HR—have been at the heart of Mimi Brooks’ career. The former AT&T executive founded management consultancy Logical Design Solutions more than 30 years ago to support technology-driven business and people innovation. The firm has become a partner to many Fortune 500 companies and helped organizations stay on the leading edge of the many talent and tech transformations over the last three decades.
Brooks will bring that experience to her keynote address at the upcoming Spring HR Technology Conference, a free, virtual event March 16-19. Before her March 17 discussion on the high-performance organizations of tomorrow, Brooks shared observations with HRE on the leadership and technology it will take to get there.
HRE: What are a few of the skills leaders will need to succeed in the organizations of tomorrow? And how can HR be working to develop those skills today?
Brooks: Leaders must learn the skills necessary to inspire the workforce to live in the midst of a global pandemic by empowering individuals and teams to embrace growth mindsets. This means displaying qualities like emotional intelligence and empathy by being adaptable and open to change in the most trying conditions. We see a need for systems thinking in a highly interdependent business model, the ability to inspire innovation and navigate continual change, and the commitment to effectively communicate and collaborate with other leaders and their teams—across business units and departments—to bust siloes and hierarchies.
HR can help develop these leadership skills by developing a formal training program for senior managers targeted towards motivating workers to thrive on challenge and accept failure as a springboard for growth. Also, by promoting knowledge sharing across teams and working closely with leadership to understand the challenges of engaging the workforce in today’s business environment, HR can better understand the opportunity to embed necessary leadership skills in core processes like appraisals and reviews.
HRE: What are a few of the most promising uses for HR technology you’ve seen emerge in the past few months?
Brooks: Not surprisingly, virtual and remote work tools are flourishing during this pandemic era. This is leading to an expanding HR focus on powerful workforce management tools. The exponential growth of artificial intelligence in the workplace is also having a profound impact on HR. Using powerful AI algorithms to screen and match prospects is saving recruiters time as well as improving the quality of hire. The latest releases of human capital management software are also providing ever-more sophisticated analytics and advanced self-service capabilities like chatbots that provide remote workers with a non-threatening way of asking questions and obtaining solutions without the need to engage their superiors. Also, the recent acquisition by Workday of the continuous “listening” platform, Peakon, for example, suggests a trend toward blending employee engagement with day-to-day operations, as we are seeing much more of a focus on worker wellbeing and mental health. Capabilities that help leaders discover and respond to employee needs and feelings of belonging are especially important now, given the increasingly distributed and remote nature of the workforce.
HRE: After the pandemic subsides, what do you think will be one or two of the most impactful, lasting changes to the world of work?
Brooks: I’m optimistic that we will continue the momentum accelerated by the pandemic to prioritize Environmental, Social and Governance at work, which has found its tipping point and real change is happening.
Similarly, the pandemic has accelerated AI and we’re on the cusp of the human-machine revolution that will ultimately free workers to focus on more meaningful, safer and more satisfying human work.