The workplace is changing and becoming more digital, fast-paced and dynamic than ever before. In this new, tech-driven atmosphere where there’s constant demand for increased speed and efficiency, are we losing sight of what the entire profession of human resources was founded on: people?
The fact is that we are only at the beginning of the digital economy’s exponential growth – automation and artificial intelligence will affect every aspect of human life, and therefore, the workplace as well.
As technology takes over increasingly complex tasks, new forms of human-technology interaction will emerge, and industry and society will have to evolve to accommodate that relationship. We have to work to blend the best of technology with the best of human abilities. There are certain things that technology will not be able to replace and those are the things we should start focusing on putting back into HR.
All humans have basic needs. We need to feel appreciated, valued and a sense of belonging. Face-to-face interaction provides the emotive qualities that we need in order to feel heard, respected and valued. E-mails, texts, virtual environments and automated responses can result in a misconnection. Customer satisfaction is not based solely on response time; relationships and experiences are crucial.
Here are a few suggestions on how to find the right balance between technology and human abilities:
• Leverage technology to connect – connecting does not always have to be done in person – virtual meetings are our most common form of interaction. I challenge you to turn on your video camera the next time you are connecting with a colleague. We want to feel noticed, and using video functions can help to make a meeting feel more personal.
• Make automated services personal – when accessing an automated service, the interface should utilise technology to have interactive videos to guide employees through a request. Lengthy descriptions on how to utilise a tool are time consuming to read and leave the requester feeling incapable of completing a request. Having a friendly face pop-up to walk you through a process would provide real-time guidance and would bring the system to life – the perfect blend of human and technology.
• Constant personal connections – personal connections allow you to have a pulse of the people and organisation. When analysing key data, trends emerge enabling you to build proactive solutions. It is up to us to bring the analysis to personal contacts to continue the investment in people and ensure we implement the proposed solutions.
• Engage with technology – create an environment that inspires employees to make your business their career, by engaging the right talent across your workforce – and make sure they succeed. With technology you can streamline and standardise your HR processes, get new hires up to speed quickly, and reward your employees in an instant. This enables you to attract and care for your most important resource, the human one.
The technology evolution is only beginning. It is our job to stay on top of the trends and find the right balance to combine the best of technology with the best of human abilities.
A simple guide to dealing with office politics
Office politics is defined as the tactics that people within the work environment use to gain an advantage in order to further their own goals. Whether you hate it, admire it, practice it or avoid it, office politics is part of life in any organisation – and it needs to be understood and mastered.
The term often has a negative connotation, in that it refers to strategies people use to seek advantage at the expense of others or the greater good, and is seen as something to be avoided. However, “good office politics” helps people to promote themselves and their cause fairly.
Denying the existence of office politics may cause you to suffer while others take unfair advantage, or you might miss the opportunities to properly further your own interests.
Accept that office politics exists
Accepting the reality of office politics is the first step to dealing effectively with it. Develop strategies to deal with the political behaviour going on around you. Observe these behaviours and then use the information you gather to build a strong network to operate in. Do this by:
- Observing company interactions for a while, to re-map the organisation in terms of political power;
- Find out who the real influencers and mentors are;
- Find out if there are any social cliques, interpersonal conflicts or difficult people in the office;
- Build relationships in your office that range across the formal hierarchy (from peers to executives).
- Build real relationships based on trust and respect instead of false flattery; and
- Be friendly to everyone but don’t align yourself with one group or another.
Steer clear of negative politicking and promote yourself positively. It is up to you to communicate your own abilities and successes to the right people through positive political action. When you spend more time listening, you are less likely to say something inappropriate. Get to know the negative politickers better and be courteous to them, but always be very careful what you say to them. Try to understand what motivates them, thereby learning how to avoid or counter their impact.
Govern your own behaviour
Observation will help you better understand what works in your office. Watch other people and identify successful behaviours that you can imitate. Ensure that you:
- Don’t pass on gossip or spread rumours. If you hear something, take time to consider its credibility before reacting.
- Rise above interpersonal conflicts. Do not get involved in divisive arguments with colleagues.
- Always remain professional and remember the best interests of the business.
- Maintain a positive outlook, and avoid whining and complaining.
- Are confident and assertive but not aggressive.
- Do not take a personal view when voicing objections or criticism. Keep the organisation in mind.
- Always assume things will be disclosed rather than kept in confidence, and decide what you should reveal accordingly.
- Lead by example in your office or team. Be a model of integrity.
Positive or negative, office politics is a fact of life. Refusing to participate in it means that you run the risk of having no say in what happens to you, while people less qualified than you make the decisions. Learning how to use the power of office politics positively, while diffusing the efforts of those who abuse it, will make for a happier office.