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HR Tech Europe is less than 2 weeks away. We had a chance to catch up with Andy Campbell, HCM Strategy Director at Oracle, to get his views on what is happening in the field of HCM. Andy has years of experience and knowledge in such areas as HCM, SaaS, Modern HR, Talent Management, Talent Analytics, Big Data, Operational Excellence, Innovation, Creativity, Employee Engagement and Business Change.

What are the top three HCM priorities on the market at the moment?

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First, getting to grips with the mega-trends such as mobile enablement, social collaboration, how to handle millenials, top talent etc. A lot of organisations are slow to address these fundamentals yet soon they will be the table stake. How does the HR function respond in a VUCA (volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous) world?

Second, employee engagement and enablement. It’s an extremely competitive environment for talent so organisations need to develop the most compelling employee proposition and then deliver against the expectations that they have set in terms of ways of working, development opportunities, collaboration, innovation etc. Organisations understand the need to clearly differentiate their customer proposition, yet at the moment many of them still take a ‘one size fits all’ approach when dealing with employees. This is likely to change: the way in which we treat our customers will soon become the way in which we treat our employees.

Third, data. It’s growing exponentially. We’re still getting to grips with what impact this is likely to deliver. Predictive analytics and big data are often discussed; the market is still somewhat immature, yet the potential is huge.

What main trends/shifts in the area of performance management did you observe over the last 5 years? What are your predictions for the next couple of years?

Performance management has been in vogue for many years but is now being seriously reconsidered. If we look at the big picture, productivity of UK Plc has largely flatlined over the past 10 years. If peAndy Campbell 1rformance management was really effective in improving actual business outcomes then this would not be the case! People are seriously questioning the value of the process and many organisations are actually stopping their PM programmes. Much research suggests that any positive impact that they might have is purely short term and does not compensate for the many negative implications of a poorly designed and managed process.

That said, the value of having effective conversations between managers and employees is recognised. Having more regular ‘check in’ conversations focusing on an individual’s goals, objectives, priorities and progress is seen as of value to both parties. Technology has a significant role to play here. The use of mobile devises that are simple, collaborative and intuitive to use will facilitate this more social approach to engagement. We may see a resurgence of performance management in a less structured and more valuable manner.

Where do you think companies make the most mistakes when it comes to performance management?

Companies tend to focus on the process rather than on the outcome. The risk being that the central specialist HR team focus on designing an ‘ideal’ process which ends up being overly complex. This may also be detached from the actual needs of the business. If a process is cumbersome or difficult then people will not use it. Similarly, individuals, be they managers or employees, need to actually see some benefit from the process they are involved in. Otherwise they will not give it the appropriate level of priority or consideration.

Utlising data analytics to gain deeper insight into human behavior and culture is a growing trend in HR, yet many organisations are struggling with getting it right. What is your advice on the best ways to reaping the benefits of analytics in the field of performance management?

It comes back to the issue of performance. That is where the focus should be, establishing those characteristics that drive improved business performance. Often HR reporting operates in its own functional silo; we need to move towards true business analytics that include financials and operational information. We need to get a more holistic view of the organisation and focus on the outcomes rather than just costs and transaction volumes. What value can people bring to the company?

I would give two pieces of advice. First, getting the right analytical skills is vital. They probably do not currently exist in HR, so look to other areas such as marketing where they will. Second, set up a small project team that is focused on one specific business hypothesis such as ‘Who are our most successful managers?’ and let them get on with it. Obtain data from every conceivable source, sit in a room and look at it, study all of the variables, model them and challenge assumptions. That is what other business functions do, HR should do likewise. When you come up with the answers then you are able to show true business value and this will be recognised by the executive.

The younger generation (or Millennials) seem to crave more peer-to-peer and mentor-driven well-rounded performance evaluation that’s done on a regular basis. This may not necessarily be the case for other generations. How can an HR department harmonize the needs and preferences of a diverse workforce in terms of performance management?

I’m not sure that this is actually the case. If the process is seen as being helpful, non-invasive and offering some value, then surely most people will recognise its importance, regardless of their demographic. We have just completed some research with two teams of masters students from LSE focused on the expectations of millennials in the workforce. This forms the subject of Oracle’s keynote session that I will host at HR Tech Europe on 24 March.

I’ve invited along a few industry experts and student representatives to discuss the implications of this research and take crowdsourced questions via #OracleAndyAsks. It will be interesting witness the dynamic and hear what fellow HR professionals think about the results!