Wednesday, July 11, 2012

What Starling Murmuration Teaches us About HR

Starlings are small birds that occasionally fly in huge flocks that shift and undulate through the sky. If you’ve never seen a video of Starling Murmuration take a quick look at this link: Starling Murmuration. These birds move about in perfect unison acting as several independent minds moving in concert to create a collective mind that serves the larger purpose.

Corporations have a similar goal – at least on paper. They want everyone to work together to achieve a common direction. They create strategic plans, mission statements, departmental goals and objectives, all aimed at trying to make people move in concert toward a greater goal. What they don’t understand is this is only half the equation. Think back to the Starlings again. Now imagine what would happen if every time they needed to move in one direction or another they had to check with senior management first. You get the picture. Starlings don’t have a single boss – they have a collective, shared interest and everyone provides input.

The employee world is shifting underneath these traditional command and control structures. A combination of technology (which enables the change) and shifting attitudes are creating a world where people want to (and can) add value without always being told what to do. This shift creates huge challenges for the way companies execute Human Resources. HR needs to change the way it hires, change the way it manages and motivates and change the way they “off-board” as well as on-board employees.

If companies expect to achieve the kind of true synergy you see in the Starling Murmuration – they have to give more of their birds free wing to fly. 

Image Credit: Irish Biker Forum