Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Crowd HR - Democracy in the Corporation!


Last week I talked about the Crowdfunding and Crowdsourcing phenomena and made the point that these trends are part of a larger trend reshaping business. I went so far as to call this the early signs of the democratization of the corporation. Where business goes – so must HR.

An HR democracy – surely an oxymoron.

Business (and working for a business) is basically akin to a dictatorship: sometimes a benevolent dictator (we call these employee centric companies; they win awards such as the Best Place to Work) and sometimes they are full blown autocratic dictatorships (we call these companies shareholder driven and they win accolades for returning good shareholder value). Though they may not admit it, HR works well within this structure. Face it: HR has always been about control. HR likes things neat and tidy. HR likes rules, consistency, playbooks. They like traditional employee models. Everyone knows their place. They don’t like it when outsiders come in. Most HR execs run the minute the conversation turns to contingent workforce. HR wants to worry about the employees. While their bosses deploy an autocratic, centralized dictatorship from above, HR deploys a socialist one size (policy) fits all structure from below.

But not everyone wants to sign on to the traditional corporate model anymore. Gen Y (and X and Z I think – but I have lost track of what all that means) don’t want to work for one company and sign up for someone else’s vision of career development. They want to drive. And if corporate organizations are going to find the best talent – they are going to have to get more and more comfortable with accommodating multiple, flexible models for engaging resources. A lot of this goes on today. Companies are better at flex time, remote (home office) work schedules, and contracting for help as needed than they used to be. But this is just a drop in the bucket. There is a lot more to come. 

HR is going to have to be less about control and more about enabling.

The organization of the future will consist of people who make temporary choices to associate themselves with an enterprise only long enough to get a job done and move on (or stay – but it will be their choice). HR will have to become better at managing, assisting, supporting (and chipping in) to build these ad hoc teams. HR will becoming more and more about “just in time” resourcing. Think in terms of pro sports. Each year you make all kinds of personnel moves to try and position yourself for the unique challenge you face next year. Can Crowd HR be far behind?

Maybe HR will one day be like a sports agent. But in this case they will represent both the buyer and the seller.