The Future of HR, part 9: Moving fast and slow

The ability to speed up and slow down at the right moment is of great importance for HR. The tendency is to move at high speed all the time, but this is not very effective. At the same time some processes are very slow, and HR should drive acceleration. Some examples.

Where do we need to slow down?

  1. Conversations.
    Take the time to have meaningful conversations. Why has one hour become the time-unit in which most conversations have to take place? Take two hours, take halve a day or a day. The office generally is also not the most stimulating environment for good conversations. Go outside, take a walk, sit in the park.
  2. Appointment decisions.
    Appointing new people on key positions is the most crucial (and effective, when done well) HR intervention. Do not rush. Take the time. Consider various candidates, also some ‘strange’ candidates. Interview serious candidates twice, and take the time to discuss their aspirations and ideas.
  3. The initial phases of projects.
    We often fall into the same trap. Because a project is super important and has the highest priority we rush-rush-rush into the project. We know that when we take more time for the initial phases, we easily win this back later. But we do not do this. Take time to scope the project. Take time for risk analysis. Take time to deal with objections. Take time for a solid communication plan.
  4. Reflections.
    More time is needed for reflections. Individually (sometimes called: thinking). In a group. When the pressure goes up, time for reflection suffers first. The intentions are good, but most often when a meeting or workshop is finished, we have to rush and there is no time for reflection.
  5. Lunch, breaks, dinners etc.
    The informal meetings and conversations during breaks, lunch, dinners, drinks is very important. Because we need breaks. Because networking works best when it is not structured too much. Because good things come out of unexpected encounters.

Where do we need to go faster?

  1. Performance management.
    A one-year cycle has become far too slow for the performance management process. Performance management has to move from a very slow once per year to almost real time. Frequent relevant feedback. Frequent goal adjustment.
  2. Career development.
    Experience is overrated. Young talented people should be given new challenging assignments a lot faster.
  3. Dealing with non-performance.
    Dealing with non-performance is almost always too slow. We need more observations. We give another chance. We are not 100% sure. We are afraid to have the difficult conversation. An important role of HR is to deal with non-performance faster.
  4. The recruitment process.
    Yes, lets take more time for important appointment decisions, but lets at the same time speed up the recruitment process. It still takes often far to long before the first conversation with candidates takes place. And then they have to wait until the diaries of the executives match before they are invited for the second round.
  5. Most meetings.
    Most meetings take far too long. Many meetings can be reduced to 0 minutes, as they were not necessary in the first place. Some meetings can easily be replaced by some e-mails or a chat on Google+. Some meetings can be a lot shorter if we agree upfront what the objectives of the meeting are.

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