Organizations are slowly buying into the realization that HR is doing too much and that the list of HR initiatives is far too long. Behind this thinking is the notion that what employees and management are looking for is more impact, with less effort. Employees and management are of the view that HR tends to make things complicated. To establish a refreshed role, HR teams will need to be brave, challenging, and work together to assert professional standards and create better and more consistent systems in which people can flourish. Shaping organizations, leaders, and ensuring the best way to work is a huge responsibility for those working in HR especially now with the global COVID-19 pandemic affecting all aspects of the human life businesses included. The business hiatus because of the pandemic provides organizations with an opportunity for introspection allowing them to decide on the best hr approach to take.
Minimalism is a conscious effort directed towards less. It is the practice of self- restraint, it is the practice of traveling light, it is a practice of owning less, doing less, reducing, recycling, and simplicity (Jolly, 2019). Minimal HR is the bare bone practice of HR Management. It is stark, simple, based on compassion, and is need-based (Jolly, 2019). The reason for the adoption of this approach is there is an overwhelming amount of management literature, each one extolling values of a concept. Selecting any one methodology or approach can be taxing, intimidating, and often confusing. It can turn out to be a never-ending maze, that begins innocuously small, and eventually snowballs into a process that becomes time and resource-consuming with aforesaid results nowhere in sight.
Research done by Kulik and Perry (2018) explored the possibility that devolving people‐management activities to line managers might transform an HR unit and improve its reputation within its organization. They examined the effect of devolving people‐management responsibilities to line managers on HR managers’ construed image—their perceptions of the internal reputation of the HR unit. Results revealed that a devolution strategy had a positive effect on HR managers’ perceptions of their unit’s reputation among line managers and that this effect was partially mediated by changes in the HR function. Specifically, devolution increased HR’s involvement in the operation of business units and the organization’s strategic planning. In turn, this change in HR’s strategic role resulted in a more positive construed image for members of the HR unit.
Below are some of the ways to keep it simple in HR:
- Keep your HR team small
Organizations should have small corporate teams all with A-players, with the ability to get high-quality work done. Such small teams with capable personnel perform such that when one looks at the accomplished results, it looks like the team is a lot bigger yet it’s a team made up of a few driven employees. The tendency in most organizations is that most bosses or managers would like to meet and brainstorm with their teams resulting in spending more time in meetings. Often one of the outcomes of these meetings is more work for the corporate HR team. These meetings result in the HR team not being able to do real work, and as the requests for HR increase, they have to hire new people into the HR team. Unfortunately, research shows that the output of the team does not increase. More time will be spent on-boarding the new people, and in meetings, where the head has to communicate the outcomes of the meetings with the senior team. Team fun will decrease, as team members will no longer be the agile innovative team that can get things done. Thus organizations should always hire A-players, keep teams small, and don’t waste too much time in meetings.
- Invest in HR Tech and other apps
Organizations should invest in HR tech and systems that will contain all the relevant HR information of their applicants and employees. These HR Systems should be able to produce concise HR-reports, support with predictive analytics, and drive all the HR workflows such as performance management, talent identification, and succession management. This dramatically simplifies procedures and processes in organizations. However, for most HR teams especially in developing countries such as Zimbabwe, this is still a dream as most organizations do not see the need to invest in some simple and focused solutions that make their life easier. Some numerous apps and systems can help Zimbabwean organizations to simplify their operations. These include iPerform and talent hunter.
- Stay close to the most urgent business issues
A strategy is more about today than about the future. Organizations should ask themselves: What are the most burning business issues that need to be tackled today? Do we have the right people leading our most important strategic programs? Is our top talent thrilled by the opportunities they are working on? How can we increase our capabilities in the region and abroad? Often HR and management are somewhat afraid to tackle the most burning issues, and this is where delaying tactics come in handy. Organisation XYZ, for example, needs more evidence before it can replace manager A. Even better: it needs a better performance management system so that we can better evaluate all managers, including manager A. it also requires a talent management system and a global opportunity system, so that it can match talent with opportunities. XYZ also needs a regional relocation policy, before it can move people into the region. All good thoughts, but delaying action. Action can often be taken today, and HR should push for action and have no tolerance for delay. If organizations are to focus on the most urgent business issues, their life will be simpler.
- Keep things simple: Yes, keep it very simple
Just like “The Big Consulting Firm”. Any layperson in the organization should be able to understand and identify with what the Management is trying to achieve. Making it comprehensible makes it easier for people to adapt freely.
- Less is more: A thing or two at a time
Bombarding the organization with too many initiatives is just like giving chemo for a sniffle (Jolly, 2019). You don’t need to nuke your organization with all that the HR universe has to offer. The dosage needs to be just right for the organization. What works for a multi-locational, large organization may not hold relevance for a small-sized firm for instance. An organization of 100 people gets enough ‘face time” with its management/ Promoters and thus heavy HR intervention may not be required. Good eye contact, a pat on the back, and open dialogue may be all that is required. Self-restraint is the key while shopping and surfing for Management Concepts.
- Go slow and steady: There is a certain charm in slowness.
The slowness offers us to dig deeper, build a stronger foundation, take a measured approach, and then march forward on the steady ground (Jolly, 2019). Acceptance of any people’s initiative takes time. Unfreezing and then freezing mindsets isn’t overnight. Bring that comfort and ease in introducing a new process in the organization.
- Have Core Values
No process, no methodology, or no HR Program can outdo the virtues of compassion, honesty, respect, and trust. For any management to be successful the key ingredient to success is being consistent in their approach to people when it comes to respect, trust, compassion, and honesty (Jolly, 2019). The credibility of Management plays a vital role in the progress of its Human resource.
- Have a time frame metric
A well- defined metric of progress within a time frame serves the purpose better of achieving the goal of bettering the HR Management.
- Knowing what is needed
This is both science and intuition. Too much analytics, numbers, data capture, and jargon can be misleading. The trick is to read between the lines and use the information to establish what your gut tells you.
- Practice Detachment
Just throw out of the window that does not work. Never over-invest and attach yourself to anything that isn’t looking healthy (Jolly, 2019). Never impose it on your people. It could work in the short term, but the long term prospects are questionable. Keep the good things going, make them stronger, reinforce what works best. The rest are just fillers, you might just do away with time fillers.
In conclusion, HR’s responsibility during the COVID-19 pandemic is not only to support their business in the short term but to use this opportunity to design the business of the future. HR leaders need to take advantage of this opportunity, firstly to help ongoing communication during the pandemic, but also secondly, to build a more effective organization that will be better aligned with the future of work.
Milton Jack is a Business Consultant at Industrial Psychology Consultants (Pvt) Ltd, a business management and human resources consulting firm.
Phone: +263 242 481946-48/481950
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