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Is the Web a friend to HR?

first_imgRelated posts:No related photos. Howwill the Internet and the new generation of HR leaders who are pioneering e-HRalter the role of the profession? And will these changes benefit the professionor signal its demise? Personnel Today teamed up with KnowledgePool to debatethe issue. By Phil BoucherOnething is certain about the impact of the Internet on HR – the profession cannotafford to ignore it. Like previous technological revolutions, from the printingpress to the spinning jenny to the telephone, the Internet is changing the worldand there is no turning back. Thereis a sense, though, that HR people have been slower to jump on the bandwagonthan those in other professions. One reason is that nobody is yet sure whetherthe Web is a friend or a foe to HR.Itsbiggest impact so far has been on recruitment with the explosion of online jobsites, but the long-term impact of the Web could be much more profound andarguably even endanger the survival of in-house HR altogether. Amongthe threats to the HR profession presented by e-HR is the prospect that mosttasks could be turned into online transactions between employees and thecompany intranet. HRdepartments will be pared down to a bare minimum, or outsourced altogether. Thefew survivors will find that their traditional skills in people management andspecialist knowledge in areas such as employment law have become obsolete whenline managers can gain access to the same services online. Butfor each threat to HR posed by the Web there is an opportunity. The shift to HRon the intranet will relieve practitioners of much of the administrative“grunge” that still makes up too big a proportion of HR work. Outsourcingpresents opportunities for those pioneers who want to move out of themainstream into HR consultancy work in cutting-edge organisations.Soexactly how will the role of HR change? And what do HR professionals have to doto gear themselves up for the Internet age? Tofind out, Personnel Today teamed up with e-learning specialist KnowledgePool toorganise a roundtable debate on the issue. We invited some of the youngergeneration of web-savvy HR professionals, as well as more seasoned HRpractitioners and experts in the field to debate what impact the Internet willhave on HR and if the effects will be positive or negative. What follows is asummary of the themes that emerged.Howwill the Internet change HR?Thebiggest change brought about by Web technology is the way it has acceleratedthe automation of HR tasks and enabled HR departments to put basic employee transactionsonline. Atone extreme this can lead to the outsourcing of the HR function altogether. Outsourcingclearly appeals to Kevin Green, managing director of HR consultancy Qtab. “Ifit is a solution for the transactional side of HR then why not out- source it?”Green asked the other participants. Theanswer, according to Amira Kohler, director of people management at Metrius, isto identify what added value internal HR specialists can offer, and this istied to their understanding of the business. She pointed out that in themselvesonline HR tools are not solutions. You can do 360-degree appraisal online, forexample, but, “that’s the beginning of the conversation,” Kohler said. “HRpeople then add value.” Intheory, freeing HR professionals from the “grunge” of HR administration shouldfree them to adopt a strategic role, but it may not be so simple in reality.“HR could get fixated on managing the grunge online,” warned Ralph Tribe,vice-president of HR at Getty Images. Devolvingresponsibility for this to the line will not necessarily help, Kohleradded.  “Staff don’t want to do therubbish either,” she argued. The trick, she said, is to work with technologysuppliers to limit administrative grunge. Evidenceso far shows that e-HR does result in cuts to HR staff and to a change in theresponsibility of those who remain. The survivors are likely to take on astrategic and consultancy role in their organisations, as Kohler suggested. Accordingto Victoria Bird, HR manager of Electronic Arts, e-HR requires a heightenedlevel of business understanding. “In the future, I think HR professionals willbe people who could have also gone into marketing,” she said.PaulCulleton, vice-president of HR at Johnson & Johnson, agreed. “You need tothink about the internal marketing, positioning and content of the productwithin the culture of your organisation,” he said. Intranetswill also force HR professionals to review how they present their coreinformation, from HR policy through to employee benefits.“HRpeople tend to think that everyone wants to have all the details they will everneed so we put together huge manuals and expect them to pick out the bits theywant,” said Kohler. “That’s not good enough. We need to think about producinginformation that is swallowable.”Alarge part of HR’s role in future could be designing the service online. “TheHR profession has got to think about designing processes and initiatives withthe delivery channel and end user in mind,” said Kohler. “Weshould recognise that, increasingly, CVs are going to come directly through theWeb and have that in mind at the time of devising the processes rather thantrying to shoe-horn it in later.”Animportant concept to emerge in the debate was “stickiness” – the ability of Webservices to ensure users return to the site. Electronic Arts’ HR website notonly has simple benefits or holiday forms but also e-commerce links. “Myvision would be a website where you can do everything,” Bird explained.  “Yes, there are benefits and yes there’shealth information, but it’s also somewhere that you can do your shopping. Itmight not be a HR function but it’s about pulling people to your site. If youwant to find out about flower arranging – go to the site too as that’slearning. It’s not about learning to do your role and your job necessarily, butit’s a completely different mindset.”Sinceits introduction she has recognised a large increase in web traffic. “From myexperience, people surfing the site will only visit it once in a while if you’vejust got a list of benefits,” she said. “If you have a site which is like your total career and your life thenpeople are going to visit it every day.”RalphTribe agreed that this approach could address the issue of stickiness. “It isthe Web changing the working environment. It becomes less of a vending machineand becomes a working world that you switch on in the morning and dip in andout of during the day,” he said. Whatskills will HR professionals need for e-HR? TheWeb is fundamentally changing the skills set needed by HR professionals, thepanel agreed. “HR professionals will become a hybrid between HR and people whoare web-savvy, web project managers,” said Bird. Thisdoes not explain how that can be achieved or where HR departments are going todevelop the Web skills to make it a reality. Bird contended that handlingon-line recruitment has enabled her to “manage almost any website”.Apartfrom new technology skills, HR professionals will need a heightened commercialawareness, according to Brian McLaren, head of training and online learning forRoyal Bank of Scotland. “The Web calls upon people to be more commerciallyaware, which I think is a big part of the future of HR,” said McClaren. Theseskills will be needed to deal with those supplying technology solutions.McClaren added, “It can be difficult to deal with a technical supplier whoclaims to have the solution to all your problems, particularly if you have totell them that you’re not interested. It’s a big change for people who havegrown used to the personnel officer-type role.”McClarenidentified commercial awareness, partnering of internal and external customersand supplier management as key HR skills of the future.Greenwarned that there were risks for HR. “Are we just recipients of the latest fadfrom the marketplace?” he asked. Culletonargued that HR managers needed to champion the Internet in their organisations.They should “act like a CEO who just happens to have HR responsibility” andbring technological awareness to the boardroom. HR should promote webtechnology “so that it makes sense to the board and can then be introduced tothe whole organisation”, said Culleton.PhilipBurns, vice-president of European HR for Electronic Arts, supported this view.“Technology is providing us with an opportunity. We either take that up andexploit it or we leave all the possibilities of its HR functions behind,” hesaid. Burnssuggested that lack of confidence has caused HR professionals to ignore thefull potential of web technology. “The Internet is a reality. It’s a fantastictool for HR. Let it demonstrate the benefits to the organisation. But not withmassive board level presentations as they are not going to be too interested –they’re going to want to see results. So let’s get some results and not spendtoo much time navel-gazing.”Thepanel agreed that HR has a key role in leading change, not just as changeagents, but as initiators of change. Kohlerhad a view as to what was the best way to develop cutting-edge e-HR skills:“Work in organisations where there is a passionate belief in the advances e-HRcan deliver.” Whatcan HR professionals do to make sure their organisation has the right webtechnology?WhileHR professionals look set to become web masters leading the rest of theirorganisation through change, this naturally calls upon them to becomeincreasingly strategic and invest funds in highly complex equipment. A rolewhich Green believes “HR as a profession is traditionally poor atwinning”.  Heasserted that it is vital for HR to understand why they’re buying something –even if it means ignoring the latest technology on the market. “If you’re asupplier then there’s clearly a demand from organisations saying, ‘What newways have you got of doing something?’ “Butit’s still the fundamental question of is it the right tool? Will it make adifference? Will it add value to the organisation? HR needs to drive the debateabout what adds value.”Tribeagreed.  “You need to think aboutmeasurable value first and then work backwards,’ he said. “Forget about ‘e’.The issue is technology. And e-technology or web technology is simply thelatest technology in the same way that Windows-based technology was 10 yearsago. “Inanother 10 years there will be another form of technology, so I think you needto forget about that and concentrate on achieving value.”DavidWimpress, chairman of learning provider KnowledgePool, said HR departmentsshould extend their knowledge about technology as far as possible. “HR leadersneed to have a full understanding of what’s out there for training,” he said.“You need to be sure that you’re getting balanced, subjective output from yourstrategic partners. One of the biggest dangers is putting together nicheplayers who will steer you in the particular direction that conforms with theirown business model.”Thepanel concluded that HR needed to strike a balance between making a start onrelatively small scale Internet projects with the need to ensure that webactivity was adding value.  Burncame down heavily in favour of  making astart. “The reality of it is that I look at my existing budgets, see where Ican find some money and then I get something that’s a paper aeroplane and Ilaunch it. And if I can then demonstrate that the paper aeroplane flies, Iescalate it all and I gather in more resources.”Tribe,however, cautioned against “tinkering with change” and argued that HR webprojects should be integrated with the business.DavidBrain, director of consultancy at KnowledgePool, said that HR professionalsshould trust their instincts. “One of the greatest additional values that HRcan impart to a business is our spirit,” he said. “I think there’s a good casefor being slightly intuitive in management and HR managers are generally prettywise and commercially sensitive.”Wimpresssummed up by saying the Internet is “not a panacea but it is an important newdevelopment in the market”.Howeffective is the Web at training and development? Asa learning medium, the Internet is often criticised for its lack ofinteractivity and the isolation experienced by learners. Wimpress had a clearview on this. “You need to build the interaction of the classroom into thee-learning environment,” he said. One of his organisation’s solutions is 24/7mentoring online.Anotherissue was the content of e-learning. Green insisted that to be successful itneeds to be driven by individual rather than organisational objectives. Tribeagreed. “The Web is either a tool that works or not depending upon the cultureof your organisation – whether people see that it’s important for theirday-to-day work or career development or not. If it is then people willactually make the effort,” he said.Wimpresssaid a good way to do this was to integrate e-learning into the individual’spersonal development plan which can include tools such as competency modelling,skills gap analysis, succession planning and psychometric appraisal. Tribeurged organisations to generate a learning culture so that “people get used toreference-based learning or wanting to learn how to learn”. Kohlerargued that this is one of the biggest challenges faced by HR. As she said, “Oneof the advantages classroom-based training has is that at least people have thedate written in their diary and they know they’re going to be out of theworkplace for a particular amount of time. A problem with online learning isgetting people into the discipline of taking the time out to actually do thetraining.”Whatit boils down to, McLaren said, was understanding the people within theorganisation. “Yes it’s cost effective, and I can easily convince my managersto buy Internet stuff,” he said. “ButI’m still not convinced that we’ve yet got into the mindset of the people whoactually use it. I think that’s the biggest challenge. It’s not the efficiencyof it – it’s the effectiveness.”Thepanel obviously believed that HR was up to the challenge of the Internet. Whenasked whether the Web was a friend or foe to HR a show of hands showed that thepanel was unanimous in the view that the Internet is HR’s friend.BiographiesVictoriaBird, 28, has been in HR for seven years. She started her career as agraduate trainee with Marks & Spencer and has also held managementpositions at Time Warner. She has been at Electronic Arts for two years as HRmanagerDavidBrain, 50, has worked in HR for 25 years. He has previously worked forBedfordshire County Council and is currently director of consultancy forKnowledgepoolPhilipBurn, 48, has worked in HR for 26 years and joined Electronic Arts inDecember 1997. He started his career in 1974 as BAT’s first graduate personneltrainee and has also worked for RCA Records, Ward Brothers, De la Rue andLogica. He is currently the vice-president of European HR for EA PaulCulleton, 44, has been with Johnson & Johnson for five  years and is currently vice-president of HRin their medical devices section. He has previously worked for Burmah Oil,Costain Engineering, Crosfield Electronics and various independentconsultanciesKevinGreen, 38, has been Qtab’s managing director since 1991. During that time,the company has grown by 70 per cent. His clients include Unilever, FirstChoice, DHL International and Smith and NephewAmiraKohler, 29, has worked in HR for eight years and held positions at NetworkSouth East and British Airways. She is currently director of people managementat Metrius BrianMcLaren, 32, is head of training and online learning at the Royal Bank ofScotland Group. He has held various positions in the bank since joining in 1997and previously worked for Computershare ServicesRalphTribe, 32, is vice-president of HR for Getty Images. In 1992 he started asa recruitment and training officer for British Rail and has also worked forRailtrack, Qtab and DACGDavidWimpress, 54, has been executive chairman of KnowledgePool since 1992. Hehas also been HR director of ICL UK, group HR director of De La Rue and the UKHR director for MotorolaChairmanNoel O’Reilly, editor of Personnel Today Previous Article Next Article Is the Web a friend to HR?On 13 Mar 2001 in Personnel Today Comments are closed. last_img read more

Going up? What women in leadership positions in credit unions bring to the table…

first_imgAccording to “Women in Leadership: Obstacles and Opportunities,” a report from the Filene Research Institute, 53 percent of all credit union CEOs are female and 70 percent of CU employees in the U.S. are women – numbers that far exceed other industries in terms of female representation. While women make up the overwhelmingly majority of Credit Union employees, they mostly only lead smaller institutions. This industry has opportunities to increase the number of Women in Leadership roles and take advantage of the many qualities that women are bringing to the table; qualities that will increase the bottom line of CU’s. Here are a few examples:Just the Facts-If you’re not familiar with the power of the purse, here are some numbers to think about. Women control an estimated $14 trillion in assets, representing more than 50% of all private wealth. They influence 85% of all purchasing decisions and launch 70% of all new businesses at a rate of 2 times more than men.  Nearly 60% of all college graduates are female and 57% of graduate degrees are earned by women. Single women account for 17% of homebuyers in the U.S., vs. 7% of single men. There are more women with experience, finances and knowledge that they are willing to share with others in the industry and companies can benefit from having them in leadership positions.Women Know Women– What’s better than having an inside track on your clients, your employees and your leadership team? Women understand the differences in communication styles, they rally around change and they bring teams together through collaboration. While women know women they also can help the connections between men and women in buying, selling and working together. They aren’t afraid of sharing their knowledge and sometimes it’s through what isn’t said, rather than what is.  Take the time to observe and listen. Long-Term Relationships Are Here-While we talk about the differences between being transactional and relational, let’s take that one step further.  The result of being more relational will result in long-term relationships, golden referrals and valuable strategic partners.  Women will develop and nurture relationships and that will show up as continuous business in the future.  Sometimes the bonds are so deep that you will need a flow chart to see where it all began.  More Than Just a Product-Women tend to look at companies that have more than just a product or service to offer.  They want to see how the company gives back to their community or if they have a social cause they believe in.  This helps in your customer growth, recruiting efforts, retention and promotions.  Women want to be part of something bigger than “just” a position. They want to give back, support and mentor. Did you know that 65% of women that are mentored become mentors? Imagine what that can do for your bottom line.There are articles after articles and studies after studies that show the benefits of having more women in leadership positions. I recently came across a New York Times article in which Therese Huston reviews studies that answer the question, “Are Women Better Decision Makers?” The studies show that, under stress, there are gender differences, and women tend to perform better. In stressful situations, women typically take smaller, measured risks and are more able to consider another person’s perspective. Men tend to take bigger risks for bigger wins, even when they are more costly and unlikely. She concludes with a study that revealed large-cap companies with at least one woman on their boards significantly outperformed comparable companies with all-male boards.According to a Credit Suisse Research Institute study, companies with more than 15 percent of women in top management have a higher return on equity than companies with less than 10 percent. Think about your company. Is there room for more women at the top? Invite women in be a part of this level.  They bring a different perspective and one that compliments what the men are already successful doing. Learning and sharing is part of what makes us who we are. 90SHARESShareShareSharePrintMailGooglePinterestDiggRedditStumbleuponDeliciousBufferTumblr,Judy Hoberman Men and women sell, manage, recruit and supervise differently.  Judy Hoberman, creator of “Selling in a Skirt”, shares essential insights about gender differences and how to embrace and use those … Web: www.sellinginaskirt.com Detailslast_img read more