Striking a Balance between Results and Innovation

By Jennifer Hulett, VP of HR North America, Ericsson

Jennifer Hulett, VP of HR North America, Ericsson

1. How has your HR model changed during the last five years?

In the last five years, I’ve seen an increase in the discussions around the HR model in the companies I’ve worked for. Companies are reducing their overhead costs, combined with the availability of new tools and a growing desire of employees and leaders to navigate through user-friendly systems and applications. Our old ways of working with a large structure of HR Business Partners supported by HR Generalists are changing as a result of technology. It won’t be long before the norm is an HR delivery system with a significant focus on the technology to deliver an Amazon-like user experience. To adapt, I think we as HR professionals must be open to new ways of working. Performance consulting skills, leader and employee coaching and HR IT should be areas of development for any HR professional who wants to be relevant 5 years from now.

2. What do you think are the biggest obstacles that you face in working in a more agile and outcomes based model?

I think striking a balance between focusing on results and giving people the space needed to innovate, fail and learn from failure is key. Results are essential, of course, but there must be room for innovation. Also, we have to think of how to execute in a more nimble way. We no longer have months of planning time to spend developing and rolling out the perfect HR process. Instead we must look for ways to co-develop with our employee base and constantly retool based on feedback we pick up along the way. HR professionals must think of themselves as enablers and must build systems, processes and tools that make it easy for employees and leaders to operate, whether that’s done in order to handle basic transactions or more complex activities like professional development or conflict management.

"Performance consulting skills, leader and employee coaching and HR IT should be areas of development for any HR professional who wants to be relevant 5 years from now"

3. What set of skills do you think is required for the leaders to be successful in the new enterprise landscape?

Giving people more freedom, increased autonomy, and the space to innovate is increasingly more important. The world is moving too fast for managers to hold on to any micro-managing tendencies. This means assessment skills must be well-developed so that successful leaders can confidently select the right person for the role. Also, coaching becomes increasingly more important in this environment. Giving employees the space to do their job, and the support needed to be successful is essential. Lastly, I think leaders have to understand in today’s environment that ideas should come from all levels of the organization. Breaking down hierarchies and fostering a culture of empowerment, where all employees are able to engage in solving the issues of the organization is necessary.

4. Which growing or future technology innovation are you personally excited about?

I am excited about the impact of technology on talent management systems and processes. There are a few companies that are cutting edge in how they are deploying apps to collect and share performance feedback. We also see a desire in our business for a more nimble, flexible approach that is ongoing versus a time-intensive, once a year event. I think this is an exciting development in our field that will have a lasting impact on the way we think about core HR processes like compensation, performance and talent management.

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