Radically review all of those processes that we slavishly follow in HR, or think of as 'best practice'. Ask yourself what value they are really adding, and whether or not they could be holding you / the organisatoin back. Think job evaluation, handbooks, exit interviews, employment policies etc etc. If you can't articulate clearly the value of something in the length of a tweet consider just not doing it.
Ban the word 'precedent'.
HR departments often find themselves undertaking a policing function, and are often preoccupied with risk (e.g. risk of the employment claim) leading to complex processes that often perpetuate an adult / child relationship between the company and its employees. HR gets bogged down in administration activity, limiting its ability to deliver more value added activity.
The structure of many HR departments, expecially those organised on Ulrich lines, push people towards processes and impersonal systems. This reduces personal interaction, but the amount of policies and processes that exist in many organisations also dis-empowers management by removing the requirement for them to make decisions for themselves, have genuine conversations with their employees and act accordingly.
All of these factors together can negatively impact upon the reputation of the HR function and its ability to be a strategic partner (partly because it is too busy to be strategic when it is administering job evaluation).
More importantly, this rigidity of approach and collective approach (e.g. treating everyone the same) does not fit well the predicted future of work.
We are proposing that HR departments need to reduce inefficient / low value processes, minimise bureaucracy, reduce administration and encourage people managers to make decisions. Employees need to be treated as individuals.
This Hack could be linked to / mutually support those being run by Tim Scott and Kev Wyke.
This Hack has the power to achieve several things. Firstly, it reduces the adminstration burden on HR, freeing up time for more valuable activity. It can empower managers to make their own decisions. It could, if linked to other Hacks (such as the one being run by Kev Wyke) start to move culture away from parent to child to adult to adult.
Finally, it can positively help the internal reputation of HR.
Culture. The HR I describe is embedded in many organisations and is usually aligned to / reflective of a wider command / control culture. Therefore, a HR department will need to be brave - both in terms of challening that culture, but also being willing to let go of 'the way we have always done things'.
Leadership capability – if you are going to empower people managers then they need to be able to take that responsibility and make decisions.
Take the Chintz Challenge.
The Chintz challenge is designed to free up HR teams from a burden of bureaucracy and low value add administrative tasks.
This Hack is designed to provide a guide for HR teams on how they can begin the journey of transforming their function.
The hack presents a challenge to HR teams – a test that can be applied, and some next steps. It is then over to the HR team applying the challenge to decide how they fill the void left by the reduction in bureaucracy. It starts with a test that can be applied to each and every process, procedure and activity undertaken……
- Can you simply explain the value of the HR activity to the business and to a non HR professional?
- Does anyone do anything with the output, or use it to make decisions or changes?
- Does it help change our culture, or improve people’s skills?
- Is there a bloody good business reason?
- Is there a legal requirement to do the process or does it significantly reduce legal risk to the organisation?
- Does it fit your organisation'?
- Is there anything you are doing, just because you believe it is best practice?
If you can't answer yes to at least a couple of these questions, consider stopping the process or practice.
The How To:
- Do a quick and dirty list of all your main processes and procedures within the function – where is your time going every day?
- List all the documents you produce.
- Hold a workshop. Your choice - just HR or involve the business.
- Apply the test and take the Chintz challenge.
- After you have completed the test and the challenge, sit down as a team and figure out what you are going to do with the time you have saved.
The Challenge to HR people everywhere:
- Apply the test. Find three things you currently do in your HR department that you can stop doing immediately, and just do it. Don’t ask anyone for permission. Just stop doing them.
- Identify three things that you do in your HR department that you can simplify or strip back, and just do it. Don’t ask for permission.
- With the processes you decide you want to retain, define a clear measure of success, so you can clearly explain why you are retaining them. This needs to be articulated in terms of need for the business, and not just need for the HR department.
- Employment Policies. Review all of them, and simply delete, remove or chuck in the bin any that do not meet the test. Take every policy you have and aim to reduce its size by half, removing any sections that state the obvious. Replace as many rules in policies as can with line manager discretion. Remove as many clauses as you can which reduce the element of conversation.
With what is left of the employment policy, use the following design principles:
- Ensure they are written for the majority of sensible employees, and not the ones that will do something wrong or dumb.
- Put yourself in the customer’s shoes – if you were on the receiving end of the policy how would it make you feel?
- Principles, not rules.
- Generating discussions between line managers and employees.
Measures of success of the challenge / chintz test:
- Less paperwork, more talking
- A clear rationale for processes
- HR reputation improvements
- More time for value add HR – determine what this means for you! Create your own best practice.
Team were awesome! Thank you.
Also thanks to Tim Scott who suggested an additional question related to his own Hack about best practice.