HR Tech and Leadership: What Matters?

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Author: Juhi King | Source: HCI | Published: July 20, 2015

In the past few years, the HR technology world has evolved from being a system of record to a system for talent management. These systems now present organizations with an opportunity to learn about their talent beyond just names, addresses and phone numbers. From recruitment systems that tap into people-data consolidators like LinkedIn, to enterprise social networks that enable people to connect in meaningful ways, now there are so many ways to really know your people. So have we really come far? Even without these systems, we still had that opportunity, via simple and meaningful conversations.

Achieving  great outcomes still requires great people. Like every ship needs steering to reach its destination, people need to be led to achieve great things. I have been implementing HR technology for a few years now, and one thing that experience has taught me is behind every successful HR system is a great leader who knows how to steer the ship.

So here's my answer: Leadership Matters.

Fortunately, technology now presents leaders with the opportunity to assess their leadership and talent decisions. That's right--I am not talking about measuring your talent, although that is an important step. It is actually more important to measure leadership capability in managing talent. Okay, as I write this, my head is spinning. This goes beyond every goal of every system implementation I have done in the past few years. So bear with me, there is method to my madness.

For as long as I can remember, people have been led. The leaders were hired because they would steer the ship in the direction that would lead to the organizational destination. After all those years of theories on management and leadership, we know that there are many ingredients to successfully lead people. So to measure if the organization is heading in the right direction, shouldn't we be measuring those ingredients? And shouldn't HR technology then be an enabler of this? I'm talking about measuring the following ingredients:

  1. Purpose and value: do your people feel valued? Do your people feel they're realizing their passions and purpose? If they don't, pack your leaders' bags. No, an anonymous 360º feedback will not tell you this. You need to enable your performance conversations to include this as a primary KPI.
  2. Employee motivation: are your leaders motivating your employees? This can be reflected in so many ways, including happiness, eagerness to be at work, excitement to make a difference, dedication to work as part of an awesome team. And no, these are not measured by Performance Management systems! These need to be constantly measured and checked. Enterprise collaboration platforms could be a starting point for these conversations.
  3. Inspiration:  are your leaders inspiring their teams? Do your employees feel like their leaders bring out the best in them? Will employees vote for their manager or leader to get a promotion or pay rise? Do your employees feel their leader brings out the best in them?

Now, don't get me wrong, there are a lot of great technologies out there that are now enabling organizations to ask the right questions and measure the responses. However, it is paramount to remember for organizations to ask the right questions to steer their leaders in the right direction and measure the leaders on the answers.