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HR Capability Maturity Model: An Introductory Perspective

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Organizations need to remain agile in this uncertain world, and one way to achieve this is to continuously improve processes. A maturity model indicates the capability of an organization to sustain and achieve continuous improvement. This is to assess and/or guide organizations to improve process capability by designing, managing, deploying, optimizing, and continuously improving processes. Although capability maturity models are developed at an enterprise level, such models have been developed at functional levels as well. HR Capability Maturity Model (CMM) is one such functional level model that is used to measure the maturity level of HR processes and improve the maturity level. 

Five maturity levels of HR CMM

HR CMM has five maturity levels: initial, managed, defined, predictable, and optimized. The HR CMM is used to improve HR processes from the initial ad-hoc stage to the optimal level which can be treated as benchmark level processes. 

  • Initial – This level describes a poorly-aligned function and has characteristics of non-documented strategies as well as a reliance on manual documents and excel sheets. Talent shortage, low motivation, poor workforce performance, and rare instances of training and development are usual attributes in an organization at this maturity level.
  • Managed – An organization at this level has informal policies for workforce and HR function and starts focusing on developing the skill sets of the workforce. It is also at an early stage of realization that they should have properly documented processes with guiding principles, deploying trained HR people to carry out HR processes. Work overload, workplace distraction, poor communication, and poor morale are a few characteristics of this level.
  • Defined – Workforce practices are consistent, documented, and linked to the strategic objectives of the organization. Workforce competencies development gets priority and workforce performance is aligned to key business activities. Overall, HR practices are now mature enough to give organizations competitive advantages.
  • Predictable – Organizations at this level have achieved the dynamics of reform, transform, and perform. HR-managed practices are now stable and employee engagement levels are high enough to motivate them to perform well. There is a quantitative measurement of performance that helps in the prediction of capability for performing work. Learning and development are at their peak, triggering improvements and breakthroughs. 
  • Optimized – The HR team at this stage has long-term and short-term strategies cascaded from the organization’s strategy. They are now equipped to create world-class employee experiences. Continuous improvement, creativity, innovation, and thereby, competitive niche are the characteristics at this stage. Organizations at this level have many HR processes that can be considered at the benchmark level.

HR CMM model architect 

The HR CMM model has four components: practices, process area goals, process areas, and maturity level. As shown in Figure 1, these components eventually build towards the organization’s capability which is nothing but capability and skills of the workforce that is utilized to improve business results. The process area is a set of interrelated practices that, when performed properly, contribute to achieving goals of that maturity level. For example, Learning & Development is one process area that will have definite goals for that particular maturity level and associated set of practices to achieve those goals.

Figure 1. Image Source: The KPI Institute

HR CMM model appraisal

A process area model entails having a detailed checklist of goals, commitment to perform, ability to perform, practices to perform, sub practices, measurement, analysis, and verification. Based on the model criteria, an organization has to prepare a detailed report with documents. This long report would include documents and data presentation. 

Subsequently, a discovery-based appraisal is conducted in which limited objective evidence is provided by the appraised organization before the appraisal. The appraisal team must probe and uncover a majority of the objective evidence necessary for model practices. After an appraisal, the organization gets feedback reports on its strength and weakness, as well as suggestions to improve from one maturity level to reach the next level. 

Objectives and benefits of HR CMM 

The HR CMM model has several benefits that can work towards an organization’s objectives. As such, the model can be imbibed for the following purposes:

  • Align HR strategies with the organization’s vision, mission, and values (VMV) 
  • Align HR processes with the organization’s objectives and goals 
  • Identify competency gaps and close the same for critical functions 
  • Maintain continuity of effective leadership through the implementation of recruitment, development, and succession plans 
  • Help the organization in developing and sustaining a high-performance culture 
  • Improve HR processes to benchmark levels 
  • Instill a system where capability is quantified/measured and enhanced based on measurement 
  • Foster a culture of innovation and creativity

The HR CMM model can be considered as a specialized instrument to improve HR processes in an organization. Since it is a generic model, it can be deployed in various types of industries such as healthcare, education, power/utility, consulting, insurance, banking, finance, IT, and more. The model can instill its approach of PDCA in HR processes so that process effectiveness is measured and modifications are done to achieve higher maturity levels. A maturity level at the predictable or optimized stage signifies that the organization is competitive and resilient.

What organizations should expect from Gen Z at the workplace

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Image source: Akson | Unsplash

In recent years, Generation Z represents the most diverse group to enter the labor market and is anticipating that their employers will place a high value on diversity. They, along with the upcoming younger generation, need leaders who support a diverse and inclusive work environment. As Gen Zers steadily enter the workforce, their cohort brings fresh and unique perspectives to all aspects of employment. It is an exciting potential for the future, but integrating Gen Z into the workplace culture will require some thought and planning. 

Over the next few decades, two billion more people will enter the workforce. With baby boomers retiring in droves, Gen Z is poised to take on increasing numbers of key responsibilities in the workplace. Although this should be cause for celebration, the changing conditions is also cause for anxiety because Gen Zers will be expected to perform more duties compared to when previous generations were at their age. They will need new challenges and opportunities to learn.

Expectations in the workplace

Gen Z is the latest wave of young professionals to enter the workforce, and they will soon function mainly under the leadership of Millennials, which is a cause of concern because this means that they will have young mentors. While they tend to have a reputation for being more introverted and risk-averse, Gen Z workers are also incredibly technologically savvy; this brings a heightened need to have a mentor. Most of them haven’t had a mentor yet, so they are looking for guidance from experienced professionals. They are also looking for access to systems that will allow them to compete with other companies, especially in the business-to-business (B2B) market.

According to the Center for Generational Kinetics (CGK) study, while traditional workplace expectations are being adapted to suit Gen Z, Gen Zers want certain things in the workplace. Whether they’re working in a traditional environment or industry, Gen Zers want employers to implement policies that support their needs such as security and safety at work. While they don’t like the idea of an open office environment, Gen Z professionals don’t mind interacting with individuals they don’t know well, as long as their co-workers can relate to them. They also want to feel included in the larger conversation at work; they want to feel heard and they do not want to feel alone.

Unlike Millennial employees who prefer digital communication such as email, 53% of Gen Zers choose to chat in person; while technology is second nature to Gen Z, workers in this demographic crave a personal presence in their work interactions. Maybe this is why more than 90% of Gen Z employees say they prefer the human element in their professional teams with innovative peers and tech-savvy co-workers. It is not surprising that Gen Z wants “interpersonal interaction at work”; they prefer a work environment where new ideas can be proposed. Organizations that want to attract attention in this age group should strive to create a culture that welcomes and promotes team participation.

Expectations from Gen Z

Today, Gen Z is the most influential group in the consumer market. They are more tech-savvy and conscious about sustainability and environmentally-friendly products. Organizations should develop an understanding of what to expect from this generation so they can appeal to this group.

According to the CGK report, the most prominent jobs in demand for Gen Z are those that require interpersonal and leadership skills such as sales, marketing, and human resources. They are more likely to view their employers as providing an environment where they can learn and develop their skills. It also notes that they are less interested in job-specific qualifications and more interested in flexibility and personal values which may have implications for organizations that wish to attract Gen Z talent. The report also found that Gen Z prefers to work for organizations with strong moral and ethical values. 

Organizations should expect complex demands from Gen Z employees because they know what they want and will not settle for anything less. Organizations need to be prepared for the new generation’s high expectations. This can be done by investing in their employee’s future career development and being transparent about their company values, mission, and culture.

Conclusion

In a digital world, it’s no surprise that the workforce will be facing new challenges. Organizations need to be flexible enough to adapt and find ways to retain and attract top talent. Leaders also need to create a culture that brings together their workforce and integrates technology to enhance the employees’ work experience. There is still a lot of change in store for Gen Z, and the best approach for any organization is to remain flexible and evolve to meet the demands of the next generation of workers.

Innovative Employees: Factors and Mechanisms

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There is an urge to have innovative employees in the workplace as organizations need to continuously innovate. Organizations place great emphasis on their employees’ creative abilities and their role in the workplace. Therefore, they need to fully understand the term “Innovative Employees” as well as the factors that influence them (individual, organizational, job, and team levels factors). It is recommended to analyze those before taking any management decisions that could cost lots of money, such as training the current employees or hiring new ones.

Definition of innovative employees

Diehl & Seeck (2008) defined employee innovativeness as an “engagement in innovative behaviours, which includes behaviours related to the innovation process, i.e. idea generation, idea promotion and idea realization with the aim of producing innovations”. Innovation can be categorized either as incremental or radical and as either technological or administrative. As a result, innovative employees can be assessed throughout the innovation process, starting from the ideation phase to the implementation phase and the commercialization of products/services (or the implementation of new processes or structures within the organization). 

When talking about innovation, it is essential to point out that there is a difference between creative employees and innovative employees, especially as several organizations use both terms interchangeably. As explained by Diehl & Seeck (2008), creativity is more concerned with the huge production of ideas (idea generation stage) only while innovation is related to the successful implementation of those ideas. Consequently, creativity doesn’t necessarily result in innovation but innovation will definitely need creativity.

Factors influencing innovative employees

There are four levels of factors that influence innovative employees: Individual, Job, Team, and Organizational level factors. 

  • Individual

    This includes abilities such as above-average skills, knowledge and general intellect, and domain or task-specific skills that show the employees’ educational level, training, expertise, and knowledge relevant to the job; and personality characteristics (Diehl & Seeck, 2008). The personality characteristics involve openness to new experiences, independence of judgment, a firm sense of self as creative, and self-confidence. Those factors have been revealed to lead to some employees being more creative than others. Flexibility and taking risks (the ability to try and accept failure) have also been shown to be related to creativity and innovation (Diehl & Seeck, 2008).

    Organizations require abilities, skills, and personality characteristics such as networking, new technology, languages, cultural sensitivity, ethical behavior, learning skills, reflective skills, flexibility, entrepreneurship, problem-solving, and reliability. Those skills could be investigated during the hiring process, however, others can’t be really detected unless tested on the job. And in this latter case comes the role of the organization by encouraging and developing an environment that supports innovation, for example, offering training in innovation-related skills (Diehl & Seeck, 2008). Similarly, Sameer & Ohly (2017) highlighted that personality factors such as proactivity, self-confidence and originality, motivation, and cognitive ability impact individual innovation.

    All of the previously mentioned factors should be considered by organizations whether they recruit or train their candidates for innovation. Asking the candidates to take some personality tests during the hiring phase could give the recruiters a good hint of the candidates’ personalities. This can help them identify the right training that a potential hire may need.

  • Job

    Those factors involve the ones related to the contextual characteristics of the individual’s everyday job. The jobs’ tasks and projects have an impact on the extent to the employees will be involved in innovative work behaviors. In other words, the way the employees’ jobs are structured impacts their motivation; in turn, this influences their innovation tasks engagement (Diehl & Seeck, 2008).

    Various job characteristics impact employee innovativeness, such as a high level of autonomy, non-routine tasks, and sufficient material resources (such as time to execute innovative tasks/jobs) (Diehl & Seeck, 2008). Organizations should analyze their jobs carefully and identify the workload of each to allow room for innovation; otherwise, employees will be concerned only with finishing their daily tasks. Allowing sufficient time and resources for innovation are vital elements for innovation, however, employees need to feel that innovation is among their priorities to perform it with the same level of energy as they perform their daily tasks.

  • Team

    Team tasks, context, and team characteristics are proven to impact innovativeness (Diehl & Seeck, 2008; Sameer & Ohly 2017). For instance, team composition has proven to influence employee innovativeness. In other words, deep-level diversity within a team means diversity in skills, knowledge, experiences, etc. This will help in having a pool of ideas with different perspectives. Other team-level factors encompass a team’s level of agreement and cohesiveness as well, which have a great influence on innovation (Diehl & Seeck, 2008).

    Personality tests are important in identifying and understanding the personality of each employee. Those tests will give insights on which team members should be working together, as we do not want to end up with team conflicts and disputes instead of innovative ideas. It is also recommended to always have a diverse team from different departments such as marketing and finance. This will allow them to have different perspectives in one team instead of having only the point of view of the production or R&D.

  • Organizational

    Organizational level factors are a bit complicated as they include several elements such as the individual characteristics of the CEO, the organization’s size, and market share. Corporate and innovation strategies, organizational structure, and culture are core factors for innovation (Diehl & Seeck, 2008; Sameer & Ohly 2017). Innovation strategy is an important factor as it creates a roadmap for innovation.

    There is no definitive type of structure for the organizational structure that is proven to be the most appropriate for innovation. However, it is believed that the organic structures — such as the matrix structure and the venture structure described by lack of hierarchies, low levels of bureaucracy, a wide span of control, flexibility, and adaptability — are favored for innovation (Diehl & Seeck, 2008). Finally, organizational culture is an essential component for an innovative environment. A clear mission statement (highlighting the value of innovation and internal entrepreneurship), high autonomy, tolerance of mistakes, continuous learning, and low bureaucracy are some of the most dominant elements of innovative culture.

    Creating a culture with a climate for psychological safety, service, and initiative at the team or organizational level is crucial. Teams need to feel that they can take risks without having to feel fear towards negative results on their self-image, status, or career. This can happen through: low risk in showing ideas, higher level of job involvement, and better learning experience (Diehl & Seeck, 2008).

    Lukes & Stephan (2017) has identified three main factors that influence employee innovativeness: managers, features of the organization, and wider national culture. For the managers’ role, leader/manager support is crucial for innovation; employees need to feel that their supervisors provide support to new and innovative ideas. One well-known and vital mechanism of showing a leaders’ support is leader-member exchange.

    Ul ain Aslam, Ali, & Choudhary (2020) explained that leadership, creativity, and innovation have a positive relationship with each other. Leader-member exchange theory (LMX) recommends that leaders maintain different levels or quality of relationships with their employees. Leaders become more efficient when they create a healthy relationship with their followers which can be achieved through transactional and transformational leadership styles.

To sum up, all of the previously mentioned factors should be considered when organizations consider innovation. It is not just about spending a large amount of money on training your employees or providing them with workshops. It is about having the right building blocks for your innovation capability and revising them every now and then.

Big Data: The Next Frontier of Performance Management

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Image Source: Tumiso | PIxabay

The value of Big Data has found its way to the core of many organizations. NewVantage Partners’ 2021 executive survey showed that 99.0% of the companies they surveyed are investing in data initiatives while 96.0% attest that Big Data and AI efforts were generating results. 

However, working with Big Data is not easy for all companies. The survey revealed that 92.2% of leading companies consider culture (people, process, organization, and change management) as the top reason why becoming a data-driven organization remains challenging.  

Organizations should recognize that integrating Big Data into performance management would allow them to further improve their performance , make strategic decisions, and achieve higher efficiency in many areas of business. 

How does that happen? First, it is important to know what Big Data is and what it is not. 

Big Data is not about having a higher volume of data. IBM defines Big Data as “a way of harvesting raw data from multiple, disparate data sources, storing the data for use by analytics programs, and using the raw data to derive value (meaning) from the data in a whole new way.”

Mayer-Schönberger and Cukier, authors of “Big Data: A Revolution That Will Transform How We Live, Work, and Think,” wrote that Big Data can generate new insights and develop new forms of value in a manner that changes how people live.  

The reason is that Big Data can reveal trends and patterns. In an ever-changing business landscape, organizations working with Big Data would allow them to make decisions based on facts. This echoes what Geoffrey Moore, a famous American organizational theorist & author of “Crossing the Chasm,” was quoted saying: “Without big data analytics, companies are blind and deaf, wandering out onto the web like deer on a freeway.”

Big Data’s Role in Performance Management and Measurement

The value of Big Data lies in improving the performance and processes of an organization. 

For instance, Big Data can provide insights into customer preferences. Understanding customer preferences and using them as a basis for strategies can lead to increased sales. With better forecasting, Big Data can guide companies in determining where they need to invest. A manufacturing company would be able to accurately identify the equipment that needs replacing. Moreover, the automation of high-level business processes can make organizations more effective and efficient. 

In the conference paper, “Is Big Data the Next Big Thing in Performance Measurement Systems?” the authors concluded that the presence of a variety of data could expand the horizons of PMSs due to the application of different kinds of metrics. The applications of Big Data in PMS are in planning, controlling, and improving business performance as well as in strategic planning, controlling operations, and processes improvement.

The authors found the reasons for using Big Data and PMSs similar, and they revolve around decision-making and action-taking. “PMS supports decision-making [by] providing meaningful and appropriate data [developed] through a series of activities, such as analyzing and interpreting data from past actions to influence the future performance.”

Big Data in Action

The success of Netflix,  a streaming service company, is attributed to their usage of Big Data. For content development, their objective is to determine what their audience would want to watch next. To analyze the behavior and preferences of their over 140 million subscribers, Netflix used metrics, such as “What day you watch content,” “Searches on the platform,” “User location data,” “When you leave content,” “The ratings given by the users,” and even “Browsing and scrolling behavior.”

Netflix also uses Big Data in addressing challenges in production planning, such as determining shoot locations and arranging a shoot schedule. With prediction models, Netflix can minimize their efforts and reduce their expenses.

Xerox, the world’s largest provider of digital document solutions, once faced a problem with its workforce and needed to cut employee training costs and lower the premature attrition of its employee pool. With the help of Big Data, the company executed a predictive recruiting program in order to assess and filter applicants. Big Data and Big Data analytics helped them recruit people who have more technical skills and are more likely to stay longer with them. This means lower cost of training. The reduced attrition successfully helped the enhancement of Xerox’s bottom line.

Big data is a new source of competitive edge for any organization as it permits them to provide faster and more intelligent decisions, makes information more transparent, generates unprecedented insights into market situations and customer behavior, and optimizes business performance.

If you would like to discover new knowledge and the practical application of best practices used in analyzing statistical data, sign up for The KPI Institute’s Data Analysis Certification.

The Next Generation HR is a Data Driven HR

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The last decade has brought a lot of changes to what is expected from the Human Resources function and an accelerated evolution to what is called the “new generation” HR. Few companies today remain unaware that HR can no longer exist as a support function and even the much-cited “earning a seat at the (executive) table” is getting history, as it becomes clearer every day that excellent HR is more about “owning” that table. Both HR professionals and business leaders need to understand that HR is about a set of results, not about HR. What the business requires from HR is to build a set of integrated solutions, move away from the traditional role of executing HR processes, and use these processes and solutions to accelerate business and create a competitive advantage. To achieve this shift from activities to business-relevant outcomes and create a more agile organization in the process, the HR organization needs to:
  • encourage new ways of working, 
  • learn to collaborate cross-functionally and respond faster to changing business priorities, 
  • tap the potential of new technologies and 
  • leverage advanced data analytics to give relevant insight and inform business decisions.
Getting data-driven starts with getting data ready. With an enlarged focus on driving higher productivity, as well as engagement, the HR new function must look beyond basic employee metrics to harness nuanced insights on individual working preferences, career goals, and turnover risk. With latent talent shortages and highly dynamic markets, the HR organization must also focus on continuous reconfiguration to stay current with the marketplace.  In the HR professional’s new role, business literacy and quantitative acumen will become even more important. They will need to collaborate closer and more frequently with Operations and Finance peers, interpret the HR data analytics side-by-side with data from these groups, and contribute with data-driven insights. A data-driven HR function that can make fact-based decisions, predict workforce trends, and flag areas of concern is critical to creating a people-first organization that aligns with employee needs. Thus become not only another stakeholder at “the table”, but provide leaders that are key strategists and decision-makers in a world of work that truly demands their knowledge and insights.

What is the problem then?

The people analytics revolution has been discussed for a decade now, expecting it to bring us in a new era for HR. But so far, the revolution is for an elite few, not for the masses. Too many companies say they still need help with putting basic people analytics into practice while too many HR departments are still stuck struggling with the basics.  The most cited reasons for this situation include:
  • HR has more data than ever before but lacks knowledge on what to measure or what to do with the data 
  • Poor data governance entails dealing with excessive, unintegrated, unreliable data
  • Analytic capability to turn data into insight is insufficiently developed within the HR teams
  • Cloud solutions and cutting-edge technology to enable streamlined and automated HR processes are expensive
Hopefully, this is about to change as 73% of companies declare that improving people analytics will be a major priority for the next five years. Some changes are already in sight, including:
  • A new profile of the HR professional is emerging and a brand new set of competencies are required, as shown by research led by LinkedIn that indicates a significant increase in HR professionals with data analysis competencies.
  • Over the last five years, the research showed a 242% increase in HR professionals with data analysis skills.
  • Companies have realized that starting small is ok. Value is added right away by combining reliable data with metrics that matter, while also preparing HR for advanced analytics in the future. The experience of these companies give us some insight on where to start:
    • address first the issues of data governance, analytic capabilities, and building a data adoption culture. With the implementation of limited, but targeted data governance mechanisms, many companies have managed to ensure the right data is being collected at the right level of accuracy.
    • a data plan should start with identifying metrics that matter to produce a report or dashboard that actually fits the intended purpose of tracking progress toward an objective, a critical workforce trend, or to inform a specific workforce decision. 
    • reports and dashboards should be less ambitious and more focused on the most important talent issues, so the number of metrics should be limited to 20 wherever possible. Small, easy to understand dashboards that drive action can produce a big impact.
Fulfilling the promise of the Data Driven HR is not easy and the challenges are real. Embrace it as being the unavoidable future and accept that more often than not the biggest obstacles are not of a technical nature, but cultural. And the main one is the way HR still regards itself as being a non-business function, while all success stories prove that HR excellence starts and ends with a deep understanding of business.

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