Meet The Advisor:

Paul Corke

This article is part of our new State of Employee Feedback Series which will interview a diverse mix of HR experts and thought leaders with a goal of better understanding their perspectives on the current state of and future of HR.

The following is an interview we recently had with Paul Corke, Author, Speaker, Futurist & Founder.

What is the state of the human resources industry today?

With the onset of the pandemic, HR has had to adapt to be able to support the new working demands and flexibility expected in the times we now live. There is no new normal because there is now constant change and new ways of working have seen the obvious rise of remote and hybrid working. More businesses are realigning the role of HR so they can best manage and grow their company cost effectively due to the impacts. Right now, companies are examining their HR function to ensure it is adding value to the organisation. Some may be asking should we do away with HR? 

With the onset of exponential change HR’s performance will have come into question because never before have demands been so great. This means that HR functions will have either been able to rise to the occasion and have greater credibility or will be having its existence in the organisation questioned.

Right now, HR has never been needed more as the volatility and speed in which an organisation responds has never been more important. Being able to deal with the external influences and economic uncertainty require an organisation to be agile, able to adapt, respond and reengineer on a continuous basis. HR needs to be at the forefront of that response leading the way as organisational shapers of strategy and not seen as reactive partners and order takers.   

What are the most common challenges you face when managing employee feedback and reporting?

For me employee feedback is an essential component of a successful organisation. If an employee feels they can speak their mind and share ideas without any form of retribution it means you have a culture based on trust. Employee feedback is an important component of managing employees, shaping business strategy, driving innovation and moving the business forward.

The biggest challenge I have seen in organisations when it comes to managing employee feedback is firstly it actually being seen as feedback and not criticism. When it is seen as criticism it leads to dysfunctional leadership behaviour and wrong actions. Then there is the trust issue so people do not speak their mind because of the consequences or because there will be no action taken. 

There is nothing worse than being asked for ideas or brought into an organisation to share your feedback and ideas to then be called a maverick, having your cards marked or labelled for the future.

And then another big challenge when it comes to reporting of feedback, is not to react instantly, it is important to fact find with positive intentions and not go on a witch hunt or to take action without all of the facts or understanding of the feedback that was given. 

What are 3-5 pieces of advice for organizations in your industry looking to improve their employee feedback culture?

To make feedback work and where I have seen it work well, a culture of ‘360 feedback’ was created. Do not misunderstand this as the completion of a 360 report for development. The creation of a ‘360 feedback’ culture is an agreement between all employees as part of the psychological contract that you are able to speak your mind freely in the moment, with your manager, in the employee survey, to share ideas because everyone is looking to learn, grow and shape the organisation.

It is about creating a mature arena where what your people think and feel can be shared for the greater good. 

It being part of the culture and values helps to drive a culture of feedback and improvement then ensuring the right mechanisms are in place and focusing on positive language so looking to enhance and improve ways of working as the focus. 

This is then embedded in the right mechanisms within teams, meetings, idea sessions, innovation challenges, employee survey and so on. Everyone understands the importance of the ‘360 feedback’ culture and what it brings to the organisation. 

What’s the future of HR?

Right now, HR is focused on new ways of working, generational differences with millennials and Gen Z as the largest cohort, the gig economy, AI, new cloud-based software and technology and being able to tap into a global talent pool. The pandemic has seen the future of tomorrow today with the recent changes to new ways of working. HR is still playing catch up in trying to define a new normal and will continue to do so. HR has had to adopt a people-first mindset that focuses on being human, empathy and empowerment.

Based on this the future for HR will see:

  1. A widening talent pool based on new ways of working means anyone can work for any organisation across the world meaning HR will need to transform to a global world and support mobile workforces across geographic barriers.
  2. HR technology will disrupt ways of working and how HR supports its employees.
  3. Technology will provide insights and analytics so HR will learn new tools to drive workforce performance.
  4. HR will be seen as a critical strategic function helping to shape agile business strategy to enable organisations to adapt to the changing business landscape.
  5. HR will focus on providing the best in class ‘employee experience’ or they will lose their best talent to their competitors who have a much better employee value proposition.

How do you see your role evolving over the next 3-5 years?

Personally, I see smart working as the way forward so that we can work anywhere at any time and can still easily get things done. With this I believe we will see a more mature working environment where organisations recently have started to learn that it is important to treat their employees as adults. 

In my role I see the continuing use and adaptation to new technologies that will support what I do and the integration of AI, Virtual Reality, and Augmentation becoming the new normal in the near future.

The crossover between the cyber world and real world will start to provide greater opportunities and new experiences as the world continues to evolve at a much greater pace. 

As we become more integrated with technology and society continues to become more fragmented it will never be more important to be human focused in our ever- changing world.

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