Should Managers Become Extinct?

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What does HR do in a world without managers?

Morningstar Farms, Sun Hydraulics, Valve, Medium, W.L. Gore, Zappos, Treehouse, Crisp: what do all these companies have in common? It is hard to guess, but all the above organizations have done away with traditional management. Crisp, a Swedish company, even axed its CEO.

Click here to watch a BBC video clip on the CEO-less company.

In 2011, Gary Hamel wrote an article called, “First lets’ fire all the Managers.” This was published in the Harvard Business Review (HBR).

Click here to read the article.

Now, in his new book (2016) Under New Management, David Burkus is saying“fire all managers.”

Is this a real trend or a fleeting notion? Organizations have been downsizing and flattening hierarchies for decades. Has the time come to really eliminate managers? If managers are gone what is the role of an HR department? Traditional HR spends a lot if its time on supporting managers. If managers are gone is HR next, or does the opposite happen and more HR resources are required to support employees?

Is it an interesting thought? Is getting rid of managers the Ouroboros of HR (the Greek mythological symbol of the snake devouring itself)?

This will be an interesting HR trend to watch; will manager-less companies become the norm or not?

Discussion Questions

  1. Your CEO has asked you to prepare a business case outlining the benefits of eliminating managers in your organizations. Develop a 10-minute presentation.
  2. Your VP of HR has asked to develop a list of recommendation on what would the role of HR be in an organization with no managers.

Top HR Trends for 2017

What’s coming next in HR?

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Deloitte has produced a comprehensive document on the top HR trends for 2017. Some would be easy to spot if you are an HR professional that keeps current; others trends are not so easy to see. Here are some of the overriding trends in HR for 2017:

  • No organization no matter what size can survive without some type of HR. HR has permeated all organizations to their core.
  • Continue to move and improve HR systems away from transactional to not only strategic but to applicable, with the creation of technology apps that make workers more productive.
  • People or employee data analytics will become more functional, no longer just storing data but analyzing HR data for organization decision-making.
  • The use of data to influence performance management in a meaningful way. Many organizations will drastically re-invent their performance management systems with real-time assessment and employee engagement.
  • Increased emphasis on the learning organization; according to Deloitte millennial’s rate training and development as the top job benefit.
  • There will be a greater requirement for expanded recruitment sourcing.
  • There will be an explosion in new wellness initiatives in the workplace.
  • One of the most disruptive HR trends will be the incorporation of artificial intelligence into work.

If Deloitte’s trends and disruptive innovations are accurate there will be a lot of HR to do in the coming year.

Click here to read a summary of the top HR trends by HR ONLINE

or Click here to read the complete document.

Discussion Questions

  1. Review the nine HR trends for 2017. Which one do you feel will become readily accepted? Which ones do you feel will be challenged by HR or employees?
  2. Pick two up and coming HR trends and develop an action plan for what you have to do to become more knowledge about the trends.
  3. If you had to pick one trend to implement, which one would you pick for an HR department to implement and why? Defend you answer.

Mutiny on the Campus!

What should an HR Department do, when employees revolt against the organization?

This is a question that the University of British Columbia (UBC) campus, has to consider! As reported by CBC on March 29, 2016, 62% of the UBC Faculty Association Members have “no confidence” in the UBC Board of Directors. This news story should put every HR department on high alert.

Click Here to Read the Article.

What does a motion of non-confidence really mean, anyway?  A vote of non-confidence means one party believes the other party is “not fit to hold that position.” So 62% of the UBC Faculty is saying that the Board of Directors is not fit to provide strategic leadership nor to run the operations of the university. In reality, the vote of non-confidence has no legal binding power but it does send the significant message that the HR department should be very concerned.

This is not the forum to discuss the specifics of the UBC case; however, the case open the opportunity to discuss what an HR department should do if a majority of employees uses their collective voice to deliver a message of opposition to the organizational as a whole. In essence, what should you do if your employees verbally revolt against a company’s decision, policy or direction? How should HR respond?

  • Does HR ignore the complaint?
  • Does HR try to compromise with employees?
  • Does HR negotiate with the employees?
  • Does HR terminate the employees?

What is the best way to respond?

All of the current research states that Human Resources must move from transactional to strategic actions and one of the most beneficial strategic tools to use is organizational environmental scanning.  Many organizations do a very thorough job of external environmental scanning; however, few organizations do a very comprehensive job of conducting internal environmental scans.

Having a sound understanding of the pulse of your employee’s voices is a requirement in today’s organizations.  If the organization is not listening to those voices, it is far too easy for employees to find an external outlet that will listen to their positive or negative collected voice in public.

Discussion Questions:

  1. Imagine you are working for a HR consulting firm and UBC has asked you to provide advice on how to respond to this vote of employee non-confidence. What advice would you give to UBC?  As a starting point UBC has asked you specifically to address what would happen if they chose the following actions?
    • Ignore the non-confidence vote
    • Seek a compromise
    • Negotiate with the UBC Faculty Association
    • Termination of the employees that voted against their employer

Check Your Sources

Every year end, industries look back or look forward at their performance. This is particularly true for strategic HR planning as it is key to look forward and try to predict where the work world is going?

According to Robin Domanik Havre’s blog, there are seven interesting trends for 2016 that all HR Practitioners should be aware of:

  1. Some 3.6 million baby boomers are set to retire in 2016
  2. Millennial’s are moving into the work world and soon they will make up 20% of the workforce
  3. Greater time flexibility is a key to attract new employees
  4. Office design must be taken seriously, the way you design your workplace does affect productivity
  5. Big data: from buzzword to actual thing, big data and HRIS will be disruptive technologies in the working world
  6. Greater transparency, if your organization has to say, “it is transparent,” then it is not. Organizational transparency is a feeling not a statement
  7. More immediate feedback is a must to actually change employee behaviour and performance

Click Here to Visit the Blog.

The trends listed above are happening now and all organizations should be developing strategic plans on how to address them.  All seven might not apply to all organizations right away, but they soon will.

Let’s dig a little deeper and ask ourselves – are these actual HR trends for 2016?  Let’s check the source?   Robin Domanik Havre’s is a blogger – here is his bio.:

“Robin Domanik Havre is the CEO of New Intranet. He’s helped many companies deploy successful mobile intranets that are easy to use and specially designed for employees not working in front of a computer. The goal of this blog is to provide research-backed intranet and internal communications advice for more successful HR strategies.”

The goal of his blog is to provide research backed intranet and internal communications advice for more successful HR strategies.

He may have great supported research or he may not, nowhere on his site are his sources of research noted.  We just don’t know!

As an HR professional it is easy to fall into the online research trap.  Just because it is online does not make it true. Before you start to implement any HR programs make sure you have true, creditable research to defend your position.

Discussion Questions:

  1. Do you think these seven (7) trends are valid?  Your VP of HR has asked you to pick two trends that you think are most relevant to your vision of HR. Pick two trends and research the topics with the goal to support your position.
  2. Once you have validated your position with research, what executable plan(s) will you recommend to implement the plan(s) in order to stay ahead of the trend?