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The Futurist: The role of HR in a multi-speed business

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Human resources departments can support their current and future leaders by being sensitive to the needs of a multi-speed business, says Jason White, head of APAC at Mannaz.

The world of business is changing, and the role of HR is changing with it. Digital disruption can bring advancement, but one of the repercussions is an increased level of uncertainty. Although businesses are no strangers to dealing with uncertainty, it’s the sheer scale and speed of technological development that makes digitalisation such a disruptive force.

That same rate of change means some organisations are yet to understand the potential that digital disruption can bring to their organisation.

Take big data, for example. In certain companies it is something that is left to the IT department to deal with, often without clear objectives in mind. Even though companies are taking digital seriously, many have a lacklustre strategy in place that makes it harder for them to effectively optimise their investment.

Another effect of digital disruption is the burgeoning reality of the multi-speed organisation, in which different parts of the business innovate at different speeds.

The retail banking business is one example. Aspects such as counter services remain practically the same, but enormous strides have been made when it comes to the development and implementation of purely digital products that are in sync with customers’ “smart” lives.

Human resources departments can support their current and future leaders by being sensitive to the needs of a multi-speed business. They need to be close to the business to pick up on the signals that precede necessary change. Like any other part of a dynamic fast-evolving company, HR cannot keep doing things the way they have always been done and expect to keep up.

Of course, the challenge lies in not only supporting current leaders through changes, but also identifying and developing the leaders of the future.

The issue that HR and L&D are facing is that because of the current rates of change, they do not know which reality to develop people for.

The solution here is to develop for leadership and learning versatility – helping talent develop the skills to quickly adapt, learn, be open to change, and recognise that a decision made two months ago may no longer be relevant today.

Additionally, one of the most valuable assets future leaders can possess is the ability to calm down, be still and be thoughtful. It’s here that, when managing across different business models in what might seem like a form of organised chaos, mindfulness can help the leader, and the company, succeed.

The June 2017 issue of Human Resources magazine is a special edition, bringing you interviews with 12 HR leaders, with their predictions on the future of HR.

Read The Futurist or subscribe here.

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