I recently delivered an out-of-town keynote called, “The New Face of the Workforce,” to a group of HR professionals from both large and small companies. Naturally, you would assume I discussed how millennials are influencing the work world. But that’s not the direction I chose to go in. My keynote focused on how both the new normal economy and the advent of technology has changed the way we work.
Because people are sick and tired of looking at the same information, I came armed with hard-hitting data. This data was compiled by studying our own focus groups over 10 years as well as insights from our collaboration with Emory University’s psychology department in Atlanta, GA.
Throughout my keynote, engaged HR professionals shared their appreciation for the scientific approach to the presentation. But I could also see the sticker shock on their faces as they learned just how much lost revenue comes from neglecting the identification, retention, and development of their people. I didn’t blame them; those numbers are not an easy pill to swallow.
It was clear from the enthusiasm represented by the multi-generational audience sitting before me that they had a lot of passion for their craft. I could feel how earnestly they wanted to help further their organization’s growth. They just didn’t know how to break away from traditional practices that senior leaders were married to yet no longer worked.
After the presentation ended and the data had sunk in, I began to answer questions and listen to participants’ unique experiences. The common hardship that kept these HR professionals from implementing new and innovative talent strategies was management. Even though most of them sat closer to the President or Site Leader in their company’s organizational chart, were they really being treated like the executive partners their title demanded?
I was particularly struck by a story a tenured HR participant shared with me. Although she acted as a senior-level professional, her team was still referred to as the “personnel department” by leaders. An image of the golden days popped into my mind, when personnel departments were made up of females who handled administrative tasks versus the organizational developers they could and should be today.
So, if the people that set the strategy for the company still prescribe to an old-fashioned belief system, does it matter where you sit at the table if you never to get to contribute to the culture in a real and tangible way?