As a consultant, I am often called in to solve a simple problem that most Human Resource professionals could solve for their companies.
It's one I shared in a recent Gleaner column entitled "Why Consultants Need to See Your Watch before They Tell You the Time." In the article, I shared an assumption I make on every consulting project, that someone already had determined the answer to the prevailing problem. My value-added is to bring problem-solvers and decision makers together in a unique way that solves the issue.
This may seem simple, but often there are political, social and language barriers that stand in the way. While I make a living removing them, this task can also be performed by HR professionals.
But here's the problem. It's the rare HR professional who takes responsibility for crafting the transparent kind of environment that avoids the need for my services. Too often, HR takes a back seat, watching the culture evolve in amazement, if not befuddlement.
Take the example of the greatest work-related culture change in recent times. It's not empowerment, transparency, or leadership... it's the advent of email. In this case, HR was tucked away on the sidelines, the last to learn the difference between "Reply" and "Reply to All."
The fact is, many existing problems in your company already have a technological solution. It's not surprising that the best way to create a transparent environment also requires new technology. Here are some ideas for how a connected culture - so taken for granted to millennials - can be incorporated into your company.
1. Set up transparent online networks
HR professionals are often at the forefront of hosting traditional all-employee meetings. However, they also need to become experts at doing the same thing online, via social networks. Programs like Facebook clone Yammer make this an eventual certainty and the only question is whether HR will provide leadership as it unfolds ... or mere viewership.
2. Create space for open ideas
Giant Q&A networks like Quora and StackExchange allow for in-depth exploration of solutions to pressing problems. They are brilliant platforms that, in the future, will be echoed in-house by similar apps. But there's no need to wait - the capability to have these quality conversations already exists in your company. Just ask someone in IT.
3. Help problem-solvers meet
For difficult corporate problems, answers are too complex for any single person to solve. Often, several individuals have a piece of the overall puzzle and need to be brought together in the right way. HR can create these meetups using a combination of both online and offline solutions. Add in a dash of blended learning to kick-start the process and an opportunity for purposeful experiential training can result.
HR is uniquely positioned to tackle tough problems by virtue of its soft skills but they aren't enough in today's tech-driven environment. The HR manager who embraces technology and pushes it into the corporation can have a profound impact connecting people, leading the way to solutions rather than just following.
Francis Wade is the founder of CaribHRForum, an author and management consultant.