HR One met with Dave Ulrich, founding father of modern HR, for an exclusive interview. The management expert, co-author of 30+ books, co-founder of The RBL Group, and professor at the University of Michigan's Ross School of Business, answered our questions on the transformation of HR, but also addresses the topics of recruitment and talents skills.

What are of the main aspects of the HR mutation you’re inviting HR to consider in 2018?

I always see the best as yet to come and have written about disruptions in HR and opportunities for 2018. In the quest of creating more value through HR work, for the individual (talent) focus, I want to learn even more about meaning and to help individuals find a sense of personal belonging in their personal, family, work, and community settings. For the organization focus, I want to unravel how organizations can become market-oriented ecosystems where they succeed by building capabilities within the network more than just the individual firm. For the leadership focus, I want to identify and flesh out the key requirements of emerging leaders and how to upgrade them, particularly in private equity. For the HR profession focus, I want to help HR professionals deliver even more value by discerning the impact of HR in a new setting and how it can be transferred. This means work in defining a new role of a leadership capital partner in private equity. Always more to learn.


You strongly suggest to shift from individual development to a focus on organizational needs...

This pivot from individual to organization is not my personal desire, but based on research and experience. In Victory Through Organization, we report data from 1,200 businesses and 32,000 people. We measure business outcome with a 6 item scale. We then measure the competencies of the individuals within the 1,200 businesses and the capabilities of the 1,200 businesses. Our statistics show that the organization has 4 times the impact on business outcomes than the individual competencies. Experience confirms this in sports where the leading scorer in soccer, basketball, hockey, and other team sports, is on the team that wins the championship only 20% of the time. People matter, but organizations matter more. Individual are champions, but teams win championships.


How can we change our view of an organization as a structure to a new vision linked to capability, besides a blended workforce or on-demand knowledge workforce?

When I ask participants in a workshop to name an organization they admire, they can quickly do so (Apple, Google, Amazon, Lufthansa, etc.). Then, I ask them how many levels of management in that organization, and no one knows, or cares. But, when I ask them why they admire the organization, they quickly list the reasons. These reasons are (loosely defined) as the capabilities of the organization, what the organization is known for and good at doing. Apple is good at design; Google at information; Amazon at customer service, Lufthansa at on-time arrival or service, etc. Any full time, part time, on site or off site employee decision should further change these organization capabilities.


Meanwhile and facing the daily need to maintain a high level candidate flow, is there a quick shift in the soft/hard skills we need to consider? 

We have found that the “hard” technical or functional skills for an employee are a basic requirement, the ante in poker, the infrastructure of a house, or the shared qualities in a product. The differentiator skills are more often the “soft” or relationship skills. These are more difficult to copy and more meaningful to a customer. MBA students must know the basics of finance, economics, marketing, technology, and other functional areas, but the real differentiator is the ability to be self-aware, to manage relationships with others, and to embed a culture.


The recruitment industry has to create a new approach too. What are your recommendations for recruitment firms in order to bring talents that will perform and if possible, stay a long period in the company?

The basic steps of recruitment have not really changed: set standards for a position, source the position, screen the applicants, secure the best candidate, and orient the new employee. But, there are innovations in each step. Standards include the ability to learn and be flexible; sources of employees are full or part time, domestic or global; screening candidate includes multiple experiences of employee; securing candidates requires focus on meaning and purpose for the employee value proposition with line managers involved; and orienting the employee includes performing personal tasks and fitting in with a team.


Once they have joined, how can we link employee experience to better customer experience and corporate results?

First, there is now a body of research that shows strong correlations between employee sentiment, customer attitude, and financial results. It is useful to source and share these data. Then, it is helpful for a company to create their own findings. Most companies measure employee, customer, and financial results. Find ways to correlate these findings. At a personal level, share cases of where positive employee experience led to positive customer experience and improved financial results. Help employees see that their attitude about working at the company correlated with customers attitude about doing business with the company.


Interview by Fabien Amoretti

Publié le 29 janvier 2018