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An eye on the horizon – what is the plan for next year?

We’re approach the ‘planning’ season in our profession: covering plans for the business, a plan for people, performance and rewards, learning, budgets and all the other acronyms and titles you can think of.  

The bottom line is that we in HR will hold the keys to our company’s plan for the future.

This year, I want to suggest an option for a new approach for HR professionals to take during planning season. I’m predicting that next year, as has been the case for several now, the pace of change is going to continue to accelerate. In my opinion, a number of factors that will affect us all – albeit in different ways – are the speed of innovation, technology shifts, globalisation and shifting demographics as per the recent research paper ‘Leaders 2020’ by Oxford Economics.

I’m going to make a suggestion (no I’m not going crazy): Throw away your previous plan. Rip them up and file them in the round cabinet under your desk and consider these four initiatives.

1. Develop concrete goals.

We spend too much time moving the same old projects/goals/activities from one year to the next without questioning why, or taking the time to consider what this means. If it didn’t happen, you either need to get rid of it, or understand what did not work. In the second case, you need to take the time to resource, support, prioritise. Reshape it into an action that you believe can be completed – and achieve tangible results – in 2017.

2. Embrace digital technology.

For some, that means fully committing to implementing new technologies into your business in 2017. For others, it means making a conscious effort not to transfer the same old bad processes on to new technology – and expect it to improve. At my organisation, we have global teams of HR professionals who are bringing technology into their day-to-day work in a very real way and helping our customers get the best from technology too.

3. Create an atmosphere of trust.

You should also look to streamline your decision-making by considering a level of trust with your employees as a given. Where in the past you might have focussed on the risk of the 2 per cent who stepped out of line, in 2017 bring your focus back to the 98 per cent of committed employees and give them your trust in order to engage them to achieve your goals.

4. Bring in new ideas.

Let’s look at how we can flatten the organisation. By this I mean remove the pyramid from your organisational structures, as well as the urge to say no. We need to see how we can bring the fringe voices and ideas into the middle of the organisation. It is clear that innovation comes from the edges in all companies, so we all need to create ways to hear these voices and allow innovation into your company.

Finally, your most critical plan must be around this: a laser focus on building that commercial silver bullet; building the best workforce equipped for the amazing world of opportunity this digital economy is offering us. This will be the difference between companies who win and those who fail, and that, my friends, is firmly in the hands of those of us in HR.

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