Looking to 2011 and Beyond: “Who You Gonna Call?” Will it be to HR?

Ghostbusters photo courtesy Columbia Pictures
Ghostbusters photo courtesy Columbia Pictures

This time of year always brings out the crystal ball for psychics, bloggers, writers, and thought leaders in every profession. Well, maybe not in that order.

I remember when I was growing up, I would always read the predictions of the psychics. I would literally keep track of who was right and who was wrong by the end of the year. The vast majority of time they were wrong, but that did not stop them from coming out the next year with a new and bold list.

Lately I have read about the changes coming in 2011 concerning social media, technology, human capital, talent management, strategic HR and the list goes on. Everyone has their take. In 2009, I wrote a piece for a career magazine on my thoughts on 2010 titled “Try to Put 2009 Behind Us, Making the Most of 2010.”

I recently reread that article and it could still stand the test of time.

Reports worth reading

In our HR space today, there has been excellent research this year that would have a psychic salivating. We don’t really need the predictions unless we have been blinded by the turmoil and stress.

Here are my favorites reports for the year:

All these reports serve as a guide for human resources. There are great nuggets in all of them, and no one size fits all. We will have to craft our own policy based on culture, industry, major issues within the organization, engagement, etc.

The decade from Hell

This is the birth of a new era. This past decade will go down as THE most volatile for human resources. It started with the longest economic expansion in U.S. history. It ended with the worst financial downturn since the Big D. The worker has been on a roller coaster riding the ups and downs of each wave, benefiting from the good and suffering for the bad.

HR has been riding shotgun throughout this process. We’ve been trying, in a lot of cases, to just hold on. We have been ridiculed, not taken seriously, and not seen as partners in the business (regardless of what the title implies). Some of this we brought on ourselves, but some of the criticisms caught us by surprise. And, some of us saw the dawning of a new era.

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I wrote a blog post a few weeks back referencing HR 3.0. That is my vision of the HR profession. This year has brought everything front and center. We have arrived at the true intersection of people, business, and talent. My mother’s favorite saying was that “the darkest hour is right before sunrise.”

The year 2011 will begin the process of a rebirth of our profession. We are now in the trimester of the new HR. Some of us are excited and are preparing for this birth. Some are reluctantly waiting. Regardless of your state of mind, it is on its way.

The reports I mentioned earlier serve as guidelines or a wish list. Thought leaders are called thought leaders for a reason. There are some organizations that are now preparing for the new arrival of the hiring talent management specialist, OD specialist, HR strategist, or whatever they decide to call it. In other words, HR is beefing up the roster — something professional sports team do this every year.

HR in the next decade

My vision would be to have HR looked upon as in-house consultants. Imagine, having a Deloitte or IBM in the house, seen and respected. When issues pop up, the first thought should be, “Let’s call HR in to take a look, because they are the experts.”

HR in the next decade will look nothing like it looks now. We can sit where we want. The meal will not start without us. The klieg lights will shine on us for the strategic effort that we will play in contributing to the bottom line. When problems arise in an organization, the first person on the scene will be the HR consultant.

The theme song from Ghostbusters says it all: “Who you gonna call?” but the chorus for the next decade will be “HR.”

Ron Thomas is Managing Director, Strategy Focused Group DWC LLC, based in Dubai. He is also a senior faculty member and representative of the Human Capital Institute covering the MENA/Asia Pacific region.

He was formerly CEO of Great Place to Work-Gulf and former CHRO based in Riyadh. He holds certifications from the Human Capital Institute as Global Human Capital Strategist, Master Human Capital Strategist, and Strategic Workforce Planner.

He's been cited by CIPD as one of the top 5 HR Thinkers in the Middle East. He received the Outstanding Leadership Award for Global HR Excellence at the World Human Resources Development Congress in Mumbai, and was named as one of the 50 Most Talented Global HR Leaders in Asia

Ron's prior roles included senior HR positions with Xerox HR services, IBM, and Martha Stewart Living.

Board memberships include the Harvard Business Review Advisory Council, McKinsey Quarterly's Executive Online Panel, and HCI's Expert Advisory Council on Talent Management Strategy.

His work has been featured in the Wall Street Journal, Inc. Magazine, Workforce Management and numerous international HR magazines covering Africa, India and the Middle East.

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1 Comment on “Looking to 2011 and Beyond: “Who You Gonna Call?” Will it be to HR?

  1. Great insight Ron.

    You are right, looking at the new era of HR and reflections of lessons learned in perhaps the most difficult of circumstances, the idea that HR should house experts in a number of practice areas is a great one. Respect, both earned and given will provide much of the impetus for these ideas. As a prospect for HR related positions, I hope that the time effort and dedication to learning and applying lessons learned in school, on the job and indeed while out observing all of the comings and goings will serve to add value to an organization. As you mention, sports teams scan the horizon for new talent all the time, so why should any other organization be different?

    Happy Holidays

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