“The World is Local—High-Impact HR” Kicks off #IMPACTHR 2013

Impact 2013
Posted by Josh Bersin on April 24, 2013

It’s a pleasure to be keynoting our sixth annual IMPACT conference with a topic that speaks to the future of HR and marks a turning point in HR’s evolution from a back-office function to vital enabler of broad business goals —what we call “High-Impact HR.”

Many forces are stressing HR organizations: talent and leadership shortages, new technologies, the economic recovery, and most of all a theme we call “The World is Local.”

After spending decades developing global capabilities, and despite it being easier than ever before to connect and do business around the world, achieving global business success increasingly depends on being able to deliver what local markets want and need. What we considered a “global marketplace” has become a “global network of local markets,” each of which has its own labor dynamics, leadership needs, skills gaps, customs, and legal regulations. Today’s high performing companies don’t just “globalize” HR, they localize it – making it possible to develop high-performing local talent in each country (or geography) they do business

So, the questions I would ask you are these: How well do your HR, talent, and learning programs adapt to your company’s local needs? How well are you facilitating the localization of your company’s business opportunities around the world? How well does your HR team deliver locally relevant solutions that help local business leaders achieve their business goals?

At last year’s IMPACT conference; we noted that CEOs rate HR as one of the “least agile” parts of their businesses. Now may be the time for HR and talent programs to become more local and adopt what we call a “distributed model of HR.”

Here are some of the principles of High-Impact HR we launched at IMPACT this year:

  1. Local development capability—Employee development, onboarding, and customized training based on local needs by job, function, location, and country.
  2. A localized leadership pipeline—Building leaders locally, focusing on “cultural agility” as one of the new competencies of business leaders. Expat leadership is fading; local leadership is now king.
  3. Local, agile performance management—While organizations want a fair and equitable process to evaluate people, individuals need different types of goals and coaching by function, location, and level. Our new performance management maturity model shows that “tailored” performance programs are key, adjusting goals more frequently and focusing on locally relevant feedback and evaluation. In 2006 65% of companies focused heavily on what we call the “competitive evaluation” model of performance management; in today’s talent constrained economy, more than two-thirds focus on what we call the “coaching and development” model. And today we see citizenship, diversity, inclusion, and recognition as an integral part of building a high-performing, highly engaged workforce.
  4. Locally optimized talent acquisition—All labor markets are local. High-Impact Talent Acquisition calls for a compelling and locally relevant employment brand and well-trained local recruiting teams supported by centralized tools, assessments, systems, and technology.
  5. Leveraging new technology and BigData in a new way—New HR technologies are not systems of record, they are “systems of engagement.” Focus on making HR technology ready for managers and leaders, freeing your HR team to focus on more strategic issues than running reports and finding information. And taking advantage of BigData to perform talent analytics, one of the fastest growing areas of HR.
  6. Redesign the HR function for “distributed HR”—Just like “distributed computing” evolved from mainframe and client-server when computers were smart and capable enough to coordinate with each other, similarly HR has to do the same. There are six keys to this new HR model:
    • Highly trained HR business partners who are both business people and HR specialists. We need to train them, certify them, and continuously develop them.
    • Distributed authority, empowering local HR professionals to have design and delivery authority, functioning within standard tools, platforms, guidelines, and models.
    • Movement from “centers of expertise” to “networks of expertise” where HR professionals share leading practices and learn through the agile model, rather than making all design decisions centrally.
    • Industrialized external intelligence. Our research shows that high-impact HR teams invest the time and money they need to research leading practices, benchmark themselves, learn about new solution providers, study competitors, and understand workforce trends. They invest in their own knowledge.
    • Focus on coordination, not commonality. High-impact HR teams use standard platforms and models and tools, but they let people apply them locally through coordination, not control. This forces local HR managers to think locally and stay accountable to their local business leaders.
    • Specialization. HR and talent have become too complicated for one “generalist” to understand. We see a need for three types of specialists in the business: recruiting, OD and leadership, and employee relations and compliance. This new model puts the specialists out where they’re needed— in the business.

One may say this sounds like a high-cost model. Well, High-Impact HR organizations still focus on efficiency, but they measure their effectiveness by the impact they have on the business, not the cost of delivering HR services. Today business success can mean rapidly taking advantage of emerging markets that are “local” around the world. So our job is to rapidly improve the leadership pipeline, help managers hire great teams and improve performance, drive organizational capability and agility, and create engagement and passion in the workforce. We can’t simply optimize to cost reduction; we have to optimize around people performance—locally and globally.

Join the Bersin by Deloitte research membership program and learn more about High-Impact HR.

Josh Bersin Josh Bersin is a principal and founder of Bersin by Deloitte, Deloitte Consulting LLP, delivering analytics, research and tools that employers use as a foundation for day-to-day decision making. He has worked with hundreds of companies to help them deliver high impact employee learning, leadership development and talent management

3 thoughts on ““The World is Local—High-Impact HR” Kicks off #IMPACTHR 2013

  1. Totally agree with you about expat assignments being on the way out. 99% of all vendors associated with the business of expats say just the opposite. If I were a cynical person I might think they were doing a bit of “marketing”

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