Why HR and IC professionals need to dare to fail

Comms Hero October 14, 2016

Human Resources and Internal Communications as disciplines have (at least) one big thing in common: they are both all about people stuff. Whatever the name of the function, wherever it sits in the organisational structure, whoever heads them up: people are at the absolute heart of what we do. In particular, engaging with people; listening, communicating, creating dialogue.

There is much that is actually pretty difficult about people stuff: from dealing with a difficult disciplinary issue, through to communicating a particularly challenging message. These are all parts of the day job. Unfortunately, it doesn’t always make us the most popular people in the organisation: certainly most people who work in HR will have experienced the “conversation stops abruptly when they enter a room” effect… So when the going gets tough, this is when we need to be a hero – together.

Internal Comms, HR and external communications too are coming together like never before. Many organisations are putting these functions under one leadership. It isn’t hard to see why – it is all about people and all about brand after all.

It is becoming something of a cliché to talk about the rapidly changing world in which we live and work. There are even horrible management-speak acronyms to describe it (yes, “VUCA”, I’m looking at you here). But there is often at least a grain of truth found in clichés. Work is changing, technology is changing and expectations both of and from our people are changing too. We are seeing the consumerisation of IT extend further into work, the rise of the “gig economy”, automation and artificial intelligence, changing demographics and globalisation. The cognitive computing era is upon us and the robots are coming after our jobs. All of these are significant global and economic trends which are having an impact on the work that we do and the way that we do it.

So more than ever it is important that we dare to fail. In a fast-changing world, it is imperative that we try new things. We have to embrace new technology and find out how to maximise the opportunities it offers us personally, professionally and organisationally. We must get social to extend and improve our networks. It’s time to try out new ways of working and give stuff a go – as individuals and within our organisation.

The lifecycle of a business model is shortening all the time. We have to acknowledge the risks of trying new things but also recognise and strive for the rewards that getting it right brings. Think about companies that have genuinely disrupted their marketplaces – we all know who they are – companies like Uber. Essentially a taxi firm which owns no cars.

To make the most of all of the opportunities that are presenting themselves, all of us working in the people space must be brave. It’s no longer enough to hide behind our policies and procedures (or employment law for those of us in HR): we have to be enablers rather than naysayers.

What’s the worst that can happen? It doesn’t work. We fail. So what? We acknowledge it, learn from it and move on. This is how we learn, develop and change both personally and organisationally.

Dare to fail and you might just get the biggest reward…

Maybe we will see you at a #CommsHero event soon to carry on the conversation. You can hear more from me on daring to fail with social media on 16 November in London or 29 November in Manchester.

Tim Scott HR

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