6 Tips to Transform into a Socially Dynamic Organization that Thrives on Change

We live in a time when everything is changing: the nature of work, the rise of technology, and a leveling of power between the individual and the organization. However, many of the organizations that we operate within today are the product of an outdated architecture of power and control. These organizations are static and lethargic, responding to change with resistant behaviors. To survive and thrive in today’s rapidly evolving world, we need to build a Socially Dynamic Organization.

The Socially Dynamic Organization is one that knows how to thrive on change. This new type of organization is based on community rather than hierarchy. Instead of the individual being a small cog in a large machine, the individual is elevated in this new organization through democratized technology, social communities, communication, and creativity. The power balance shifts to be less top-down and more grassroots and bottom-up.

Social leaders drive change

But how do we transform into a more Socially Dynamic Organization? Social leaders that have emerged within organizations are a key part of making this transition happen. Over the last few years I’ve been writing about Social Leadership: social leaders that bridge the gap between formal organizations and social organizations. What’s the gap? The formal organization owns infrastructure, hierarchies of power, systems, and processes. The social organization focuses on communities, reputation, and fairness. There is a dynamic tension that exists between these two organizations: the formal organization has resources and infrastructure, but increasingly the social organization holds influence and knowledge. If we can manage the dynamic tension, we can benefit. Social leaders bridge this gap: they have a place within the hierarchy, but also the respect of their community.

Letting go of control enables the community to create change

Social leaders are successful because they are invested in co-creating and co-owning the future. They are not afraid of the unknown. They understand that while organizations can still set the direction, they can utilize the community to solve a particular challenge. Instead of telling people what change will look like, social leaders instead ask people to help create the future picture, shaping, and delivering it together.

Socially dynamic organizations thrive with change

Organizations that do not want to change have often been highly successful in the past. They view the changes in the market and wider society as mere unnecessary details. They believe they can weather the storm with their traditional, formal strength.

The Socially Dynamic Organization, by contrast, gets stronger with change. Instead of deriving strength purely through infrastructure and hierarchy, the Socially Dynamic Organization is powerful because it has created engaged communities and spaces for its social leaders, employees, and learners to thrive. The Socially Dynamic Organization knows that change is not merely an effort, but it is the backdrop to how everything works.

But how do you build the socially dynamic organization?

The resistance to change often sits within communities of individuals who are heavily invested in the status quo: good people doing good work, within a known and static system. To them, change is uncertainty. How do you change this mindset and create an organization that thrives on change?

Here are 6 tips to help your organizations thrive on change:

1. Create social spaces where people can share new ideas organically: Attempting to own and control social spaces is an easy way to hinder emerging social communities and innovation. Instead, give employees the space to share their authentic voice and you’ll discover innovation will thrive. It’s important management does not have a heavy hand in controlling these social spaces. You can create spaces that are formal or informal. For example, Hackathon days within organizations are a formal avenue for employees to experiment and innovate out-of-the box ways to solve problems. Internal social media channels like Slack are an example of more informal social spaces moderated by employees themselves, and not HR or management.

2. Recognize your social leaders: Recognize people who are helping their teams to innovate and change, whether or not they have the formal authority or a formal title. Strong social leaders can emerge from anywhere within an organization. The Socially Dynamic Organization uses success stories to inspire positive change. For example, highlighting success stories of employees acting as “change agents,” giving shout-outs to employees on social media, or delivering more formal awards are all great ways to recognize your social leaders.

3. Listen and involve your employees: Don’t just ask people to offer opinions, but listen to their opinions and take action on them. Involve employees from the ground-up to help co-create new programs—this could be everything from adopting a new travel expense software to new business markets to expand into. If employees give feedback, ensure that your leadership team takes them into account. Otherwise, employees will feel their ideas aren’t valued and they will eventually stop giving them.

4. Failure is key to change: When we start to hear stories of what went wrong, we are starting to change. This could happen on internal social media, in meetings, or during 1:1s between managers and employees. Recognizing and learning from failure is the first step to change and an important part of becoming a Socially Dynamic Organization. Employees should be allowed to fail and not be penalized for it. They should instead be encouraged to learn and improve from the experience.

5. Build a culture of learning: Let anybody learn anything. Provide an accessible, open learning platform with a broad selection of resources that enables anyone, regardless of their position, to learn whatever they want, when they need it the most. Encouraging employees to move horizontally and cross-functionally within your organization not only stimulates them, but also brings fresh ideas and new ways of thinking by helping nurture a cross-pollination of ideas.

6. Measure the change: How do you know if your organization is changing? If you can’t see or sense the change, it’s likely you’re not there yet. Consider developing formal indicators of change to monitor whether you’re succeeding at becoming a Socially Dynamic Organization. Some measures of change might be the number of new innovative projects started to improve your product, the number of old systems replaced with new ones, the number of new markets entered, or the number of new leaders promoted.

Organizations often find it hard to change, and they say it’s because they are like an oil tanker. They have so much mass and momentum it’s hard to move. This is true, but the mass and momentum is an oil tanker that they built around themselves, and it mainly exists in their heads. Change is a mindset more than it is a process.

The Socially Dynamic Organization is an organization that is engineered to make sense of, and enact constant change. If you create the right kind of environment and incentivize your employees, you can begin to transform into an organization that thrives on change.

Julian Stodd is a guest blogger on Udemy for Business, and is an author and Founder of Sea Salt Learning—a global consultancy delivering solutions around learning, leadership, technology, and change. Julian has written 8 books, including ‘The Social Leadership Handbook‘, and over 1,300 articles on aspects of the Social Age. His current research is about the ‘Landscape of Trust,’ and how we build the Socially Dynamic Organization.

Authentic Relationships as the New Management Paradigm

The FiveStars mission is to turn every transaction into a relationship for our merchants. We decided to take the same philosophy and transform our internal organization into a relationship-based community. We want to turn every work relationship into a long lasting, authentic relationship that goes beyond our day to day, beyond FiveStars, and is part of an employee’s life and career.

The way we work is changing. Old rules are being replaced with new norms. The idea of “culture” is being replaced by the concept of “community” with a heavy focus on building authentic relationships. That means our employees need to build authentic relationships with each other, and managers need to build solid relationships with our employees.

As green managers step up to fill managerial roles, FiveStars is focused on equipping them with the skills and tools they need to succeed as leaders. It’s not enough to promote a star individual contributor to be your next manager. Not everyone is cut out to be a leader and that’s ok. Individual contributors should actually want to be managers and leaders. They should not be forced into these roles. The failure rate can be detrimental to a team and you risk losing that awesome individual contributor if they fail as a manager.

We need to choose our next leaders carefully and we need to commit to prepare them for these important leadership roles.

Authentic relationships—leading from a place of humility

We are true. We are unapologetically real. We speak our minds and hold each other accountable. And we love that! At FiveStars, we’ve developed a leadership training program that is centered on our core value—building authentic relationships. What do we mean by that? Our goal is to make sure our managers have an honest, genuine, and trusting relationship with their direct reports that lasts a lifetime, not just the duration of an employee’s tenure here. This means that we are responsible for coaching our managers to lead from a place of humility, rather than authority. That’s what true leadership is. An experience that is unforgettable and genuinely memorable that lasts throughout someone’s career and life.

We based our program on Maxwell’s Five Levels of Leadership—the basic idea that effective leadership is rooted in building solid relationships. Maxwell describes 5 levels of leadership, starting with Level 1, a leader who people follow because they have to, not because they want to. Level 2 is a leader who develops relationships. This is where people follow because they want to, not because they have to. Level 3 is a leader that focuses on producing, but only after they’ve developed solid relationships with their team.

This is where most managers fail. It’s common to skip a level and move from a Level 1 straight to Level 3 and miss out on the relationship build, which is the necessary foundation. Just like a house, you wouldn’t skip the concrete slab and start putting up the walls and the fixtures. Eventually your home would crumble. The same goes for true leadership. Leaders succeed by getting to know their employees and connecting with them personally. This builds trust and understanding which causes people to naturally follow and motivates them to get things done.

But how do we make sure our managers build authentic relationships? Here are a few essential elements of our leadership program at FiveStars that have worked for us:

Essential Leadership Elements Built By The People Ops Team At FiveStars

Clearly define the employee experience for everyone

This includes the elements below:

Onboard impactfully

We begin the team member life cycle with a relationship-based onboarding program grounded in leading academic research, including research from Harvard professor, Francesca Gino and researcher Talya Bauer, to name a few. Our onboarding is unique because it is employee-centric.

Every new hire attends our custom Authentic Strengths seminar designed to be fully focused on the employee. On Day 1, employees share stories about their peak performance—that special time when they are doing their best work. They complete the Authentic Strengths exercise, the basis for their first 1:1 with their coach, and they reflect and write down their strengths, their areas for development, how they like to be recognized, their main motivators, and more. Understanding is the foundation of every relationship. Authentic Strengths is our secret sauce.

Transform the manager-employee relationship to a coach relationship

We call our managers coaches. Coaches lead, manage, mentor, and coach employees to do their best work. Our 80 coaches get ongoing, customized in-depth training.

Turn the 1:1 into a powerful tool

We also have a strong framework around meaningful 1:1s and those include the 15/5 method that Patagonia’s founder, Yvon Chouinard, invented. The questions are intended to open up a real conversation between the coach and employee and to get the bottom of wins, obstacles, overall engagement, and what’s happening in their lives beyond work.

Clear obstacles to enable top-notch work
A coach’s job is to clear obstacles to help employees do their best work. Talk about the obstacles they perceive are getting in their way and do whatever it takes to clear those. Do it often and with consistency.

As a coach, be real, be present, and help your employees build their lifelong careers
Do this selflessly because you deeply care about their well-being.

Do what you say; don’t just give lip service
Our CEO, Victor Ho, deeply believes in authentic relationships, it’s in his blood. At the executive level, we lead by example and we call each other out and call on each other for help. When we get real with one another there’s a sense of humility and closeness that comes with it. We encourage our entire community to bring up issues to help us continue to improve and make this company great. While it’s uncomfortable and scary sometimes to be truthful, when done well—authentically—it builds deep relationships that last a lifetime.

Final thought

Our relationships are not only built on the work we do together at FiveStars, they are built on a lifelong investment that prepares and supports people as they go through different stages of their career. That is the power of an impactful employee experience that is grounded in relationships. Read more about how FiveStars is creating a community-based workplace.

Claudia Fry, VP of People at FiveStars, is a guest blogger for Udemy for Business and was recently featured on our People Innovators Panel in December. Claudia has an extensive career building HR functions at startups and is founder of HR 2.0 a networking and advising group for over 900 modern HR professionals and startup founders.

The Next Wave of Predictive Analytics in HR: 5 Tips for Success in 2017

Just like computers and smartphones transformed today’s workplace, the next wave of predictive analytics and machine learning is drastically altering functions across organizations from finance and marketing to HR. As outlined in our report 5 Workplace Learning Trends and 5 Predictions for 2017, we’re beginning to see some organizations leverage huge employee datasets and predictive analytics to make much better strategic decisions. Talent is the capital of the modern economy, and we are entering an era in which human capital is measured, quantified, and managed as diligently as financial capital was last century.

Using predictive analytics to apply HR data to enhance employee retention is an example of how machine learning is disrupting HR. By sifting through survey data from exit interviews as well as employee data on compensation, performance reviews, and engagement, HR professionals can now identify the root cause of systemic departures and focus on retaining vulnerable groups of employees. In the long run, this saves companies the cost of hiring replacements—something the C-Suite cares about.

Today, the power of machine learning and people analytics is becoming mainstream. According to Bersin by Deloitte’s Human Capital Trends, in 2016, 51 percent of companies correlate business impact to HR programs, up from 38 percent in 2015. 44 percent use workforce data to predict business performance, up from 29 percent last year. However, only 8 percent rate themselves as doing an ‘excellent’ job, and there’s still much more work to be done.

In 2017, I expect predictive analytics in HR at organizations will mature further as companies get better at measuring, cleaning up, and analyzing the data. Although organizations understand the importance of having a predictive analytics strategy, HR professionals are hitting roadblocks along the way as they attempt to implement data management and analysis across departments.

What are some of these barriers and how can you overcome them?

As you enhance your HR data capabilities this year, here are a few tips to consider:

1. Get buy-in and hire the right people

Predictive analytics has matured over the last few years and there are plenty of good vendors out there for HR. However, the challenge lies within companies. Getting buy-in from all departments from finance to legal is essential to starting out on the right foot. Organizations need to determine where they draw the line on what data they will use to make decisions (for instance, performance reviews or compensation brackets), and which pose potential privacy concerns (correlating employee web browsing behavior with departures). Once ground rules are set, the lack of strong analytics talent within HR departments is also an obstacle to effectively making sense of all the great data out there. Finally, getting your CHRO and C-suite leaders on your side is essential to ultimate success—if they see the business value, you’ll get all the resources and political capital you’ll need to solve the other roadblocks.

2. Garbage in, garbage out: data quality is a big issue

As companies rush to measure everything and churn out all kinds of charts and metrics, the quality and accuracy of all this data is becoming a critical issue. Unfortunately, metrics are only as good as the raw data that goes into them. The problem arises when various departments measure the same thing differently which is like comparing apples to oranges. All this data will need to be sifted through and scrubbed for inconsistency, duplication, or incomplete and inaccurate entries.

The scarcity of analytics talent within HR departments is also a challenge for cleaning up complex data sets. HR teams also need someone who is specialized in analyzing unstructured data like internal social media comments, images, or videos that can provide insights into individual employee engagement and sentiment. Leveraging data science talent in other departments within your organization may be a short-term solution to addressing your talent gap.

Moreover, despite all the rage around quantitative analysis, all these numbers mean nothing without context. Qualitative research in terms of surveys can provide meaning as you interpret what your data actually means. For example, correlating employees that leave with compensation data isn’t going to tell you a whole lot unless you combine it with qualitative feedback on why those people chose to leave.

3. Think big, but start small

Don’t try and implement people analytics to solve every issue in your organization all at once. Answer one problem first and do it well. At BuzzFeed, their HR department distilled key traits of successful BuzzFeed managers and focused leadership training on these specific skills.

A common mistake for HR venturing into data analytics for the first time is churning out lots of interesting data without really knowing whether the information is actually adding any value. Don’t measure for the sake of measuring. Map your metrics to your goals. Be very clear what you want to find out and why. Then follow-up with a playbook to actually solve the issue uncovered by your data insights—whether it’s better leadership training or a targeted employee retention program.

4. Democratize the data to build grassroots support

It seems obvious that you have to get your CHRO and C-suite on your side from the beginning. However, what’s less obvious is creating grassroots support throughout the organization at every level. By democratizing your new data and ensuring everyone can access it, you can create excitement and support across many different teams. Build the infrastructure so that teams throughout the company can self-serve and use this new data themselves. After all, if employees aren’t applying people analytics to make meaningful business decisions, then you haven’t succeeded in your mission.

5. Have a roadmap to build momentum in phases

Design a solid roadmap to roll out people analytics in key phases across your organization. For example, start with compensation data, and then build in benefits data and so on. It’s important to start small in the first phase with a pilot and get it right. This helps to manage expectations and build momentum for your program. Your people analytics program isn’t going to solve everything all at once, but piece by piece.

Mapping people analytics to business goals is your ticket to the C-Suite table. (See 4 Ways HR Can Win a Seat at the C-Suite Table). As more companies sharpen and enhance predictive modeling capabilities this year, here’s to a more powerful data-driven HR in 2017.

ATD Conference Roundup: 5 Takeaways on Innovative Trends in Learning

I had the opportunity to attend the Association for Talent Development (ATD)’s TechKnowledge Reimagine Learning conference in Las Vegas last week. With around 1500 attendees, the ATD Conference offers the latest technology trends in talent development and an opportunity to show how Udemy for Business’ consumer-based learning platform can help reimagine learning at organizations.

Here are some of my key takeaways on the exciting, innovative trends that are happening in corporate learning.

1. VR is not a virtual reality yet

While Vegas will always be a little noisy—too many bright lights and slot machines—I did get the opportunity to try an Oculus Virtual Reality (VR) headset. My takeaway? I’m not sure what the hype is all about. I did VR rock climbing, but it was not at all like the real thing—it was far too easy and didn’t invoke any fear of heights. At this point, the VR experience is not a “virtual reality,” but more of a “360 interactive video game.” The experience felt similar to Xbox Kinect or Wii, the only difference is that you can swivel your head and look around. The bottom line: virtual reality, in the real sense of the word, is still some years away. The challenge I see with applying VR to recreate immersive learning environments is that the user will always know it’s a game and not “real,” and it likely won’t trigger the same feelings as in the real world. For example, in military or police training, you know you won’t actually die. This makes a big difference in your decision-making and actions. It’s still an innovative training tool, but it hasn’t reached its full potential yet.

2. Data as a sixth sense is changing the workplace

We’re experiencing an exciting, new revolution in the workplace with the rise of big data. We used to live in an environment of data scarcity, but today we live in an era of data abundance. With all kinds of data insights at our fingertips about employees—everything from what makes a good manager to why people leave—L&D leaders can use this data to shape the behavior they want.

According to Rahaf Harfoush, a digital anthropologist and author of the fascinating book The Decoded Company, when we use “data as a sixth sense” and apply it to change behavior, we can then create “engineered ecosystems” or meaningful work experiences. She shared the well-known example of Project Oxygen at Google. After three months of combing through all kinds of data from performance reviews to emails, Google’s People Analytics team distilled eight key traits of successful managers at the company. They then used this data to reform how they recruited managers and they created eight new training modules focusing on teaching each trait to new and existing managers. The result? Managers improved up to 70% in their performance reviews in terms of the eight desired traits such as being a good coach, not micro-managing, and showing empathy. Rahaf Harfoush describes this as creating a culture with intent or shaping engineered ecosystems using the power of big data.

3. Social collaborative learning is a powerful way to learn

According to education research, there are two features that make good learning environments: active learning and relationships. So it makes sense that the collaborative environment of networked relationships offered by social media creates a natural place for learning.

There is nothing like asking your colleague to show you how to do something. However, imagine multiplying this by ten times, a hundred times even. This is the power of social media. But how do you promote collaboration and get people to interact? We can’t force people to be social, but L&D can create the right environment for social collaborative learning to occur. For example, L&D can create a digital space for learning by tapping into the potential of “crowd sourced learning” by getting employees to interact and create content on chat discussion forums, internal wiki pages or Slack messaging channels. This kind of informal learning that happens in everyday conversations offline and increasingly online is on the rise. Social collaborative learning can reinforce what was taught in formal settings and create supportive peer environments for continual, on-demand learning.

4. Millennials are driving self-directed learning

In this era with so many on-demand online learning resources available, Millennials can find what they need to learn on their own. Millennials also expect consumer-like learning technology. They want learning to be fun and engaging like Netflix, with ratings and reviews to help them cut through the noise and select what they want. Our recent Learning Index Report found that Millennials were the largest group of online learners on our Udemy platform at 48%, ahead of Gen X and Baby Boomers in the workforce. What does this mean for L&D? It means you need to provide a host of really great and innovative learning resources and make them available for your workforce to use when and where they want. Find out what online resources your employees are already using and bring those solutions into the workplace to create a familiar environment and increase learning engagement.

5. L&D as curators means being trusted advisors

Bringing in cool external resources to create a blended learning environment also means L&D professionals need to become curators and trusted advisors of learning content. Jennifer Hofman of Insync Training explains that curation validates the resources you’ve collected so it’s important to share why a particular resource resonated with you. Think of an independent bookstore or library with recommended books by staff members with notes on why they liked this particular book. When you’re excited about something, people are more likely to want it. And if it’s good, they will begin to see you as a trusted expert.

It’s an exciting time to be in L&D. However, the diversity of new technologies and approaches can be overwhelming sometimes, so think big and start small.

The Future Is Here: Workplace Learning Reinvented

Imagine a future workplace where new recruits are virtually touring your corporate campus and meeting avatars of your team, employees are tapping into an AI-powered coach who learns from their mistakes and makes recommendations, or using a smart bracelet to monitor employee sentiment. This future is not far off and beginning to happen at companies today, according to a new book The Future Workplace Experience: 10 Rules for Mastering Disruption in Recruiting and Engaging Employees by Jeanne Meister and Kevin Mulcahy.

Technology is rapidly disrupting the workplace, causing HR to entirely rethink the employee experience—from how to design workspaces to effectively nurturing continuous learning. Based on a global survey and in-depth interviews with 100 HR and business executives at companies like Airbnb to Cisco, authors Meister and Mulcahy highlighted 10 rules to help HR master this disruption and transform their organizations into workplaces of the future. Embracing on-demand learning is one of the rules (rule #6) necessary to transform into a future-oriented workplace.

Knowledge doubles every 12 hours

A key driver behind rule #6 is IBM’s forecast that human knowledge around intelligent products like the Internet of Things is now doubling every 12 hours. With knowledge doubling every 12 hours, are companies and their learning leaders ready for this brave new world, asks Meister and Mulcahy?

Here are some of their key pieces of advice to shake up learning at corporations.

Learning at the speed of business

Critical to future-oriented learning & development departments (L&D) is helping employees learn “at the speed of business.” This involves nurturing the “serial learner” to continuously learn as a way to keep up with the rapidly changing technological landscape and avoid becoming obsolete.

To achieve serial learning, Meister and Mulcahy recommend employees must “own their learning” and companies must embrace on-demand learning by offering employees a marketplace of learning opportunities including a mix of all types of learning—integrating TED talks, podcasts, online learning videos, and other forms of informal learning plus the company’s own customized development programs.

In this new era of rapid technological innovation, AT&T chairman and chief executive, Randall Stephenson, shared in a New York Times article, that he strongly believes in order for his company to survive, he must embed a culture of learning. He feels A&T employees should be spending 5-10 hours per week learning online or risk becoming obsolete.

Shift the mindset to on-demand learning

In order to meet this challenge according to Meister and Mulcahy, the serial learner requires corporate L&D to shift their mindset, budget, and resources from developing formal training to curating on-demand learning experiences from a diversity of sources.

A key feature of this new experience is the consumerization of learning. Employees, increasingly composed of millennials who are digital natives, expect a learning platform that mirrors how they order a movie on Netflix or a book on Amazon with ratings, reviews, and personalized recommendations.

Flipping the classroom

Video-based online learning providers also play an important role in a new approach called “flipping the classroom.” Learners engage in learning via short videos prior to formal instruction, and then reinforce concepts post-classroom through online discussion groups, videos, one-on-one coaching, and learning analytics dashboards.

Finally, as corporate learning meets the new workplace of the future, Meister and Mulcahy outline the skills L&D departments will need to be successful, such as marketing & communications skills, community building, curation, and editorial planning.

For more on the future of learning and to discover the other 9 rules to transform your company into the workplace of tomorrow, read Jeanne Meister and Kevin Mulcahy’s highly engaging book, packed with interesting case studies, survey research and advice from HR and L&D company leaders: The Future Workplace Experience: 10 Rules for Mastering Disruption in Recruiting and Engaging Employees.

4 Ways HR Can Win a Seat at the C-Suite Table

I was hired at Fleetmatics to transform HR from an administrative function into a “grown-up” strategic role. Fleetmatics, a SaaS company with over 1200 employees currently, was back then around 400 employees globally and was just about to go public when I joined to help redefine their HR function. But it wasn’t going to be an easy task. How do you shift the mindset of managers and C-suite leaders on the value HR brings to the company when they have already achieved significant business success without HR?

Four and half years later, I’m wiser, but still have more work to do as recently, Fleetmatics was acquired by Verizon. Nonetheless, I wanted to share what I learned and what has worked well for me at Fleetmatics. I had the opportunity to speak on an Udemy for Business Innovators Panel in Chicago in November on this topic. Here are a few key steps to help you reshape the role of HR at your organization and win a seat at the C-suite table:

1. Truly understand the business

When I came on board, every manager had a ton of autonomy to make people decisions without the involvement of HR. I had to figure out how to partner with these managers in a way that made sense to them. In order to do this, I first became well versed in the business so I could articulate the business value HR could bring to the table. Everyone knows that you can’t be successful without talented people, but when a manager is focused primarily on hitting a critical business target, the “how” in recruiting and retaining talented individuals becomes a significant factor. For example, we were hiring using agencies that knew nothing about our business but were paid for every employee hired. There wasn’t a concerted effort in building an employment brand and a recruitment process that would enable the most talented people to want to work here and to position them for optimal success.

2. Position yourself as a leader not client service provider

Second, you have to align yourself within the organization from a position of leadership, not from a position of client service. Fellow HR leaders at another Udemy for Business Innovators Panel last June discussed how HR is not a service center anymore. However, many HR functions still call their business partner a “client” which I don’t think is a good idea. The goal of serving a client is to make them happy. But instead, your objective should be to serve the mission of the company as it relates to people.

So for example, if a hiring manager doesn’t make the best decision when selecting full-time candidates, I expect our recruiter to act as a talent adviser and work together with the manager to bring on the appropriate people and skills. It’s not about making the ‘client’ or hiring manager happy, but it’s about implementing the right decision for the company in terms of talent. If the hiring manager for whatever reason doesn’t like the candidate, even though the recruiter feels the person is highly qualified for the role based on the position specifications, HR has to challenge the hiring manager to ensure that the talent decisions being made are the best ones for the company. It’s not easy at first, but with a strong foundational relationship, the hiring manager and recruiter can partner together in these efforts. This does also mean that the hiring manager should challenge the recruiter when the process is not resulting in good slate of talented candidates.

3. Talent is your value proposition

Talent is everything when it comes to HR. Although HR also provides the basic stuff like benefits, it’s not what differentiates the company. Talent is a company’s key value proposition and it drives performance and success. HR’s critical role in recruiting and hiring the right people and investing in nurturing this talent through learning and development is what makes organizations rise above the rest. At Fleetmatics, we use Udemy for Business online courses to help grow and upskill our talent.

At the end of the day, the founders of Fleetmatics saw the value of HR and how the function helps make decisions about hiring and developing people as well as creating the right systems and processes for an effective organization. This more strategic, business-driven role is increasingly winning HR a seat at the C-suite table. Organizations whose HR departments are primarily administrative will get left behind. By leveraging talent as part of strategic business goals, HR can play a key role in helping businesses outperform and succeed.

4. Stay ahead of changing trends

Although the fundamentals don’t change—you’re always going to want hire and retain great people—the dynamics around us are constantly changing. Today, demographics and technology are drastically redefining HR. Millennials are flooding the workforce while baby boomers are retiring. This alters the game of recruiting, engaging, and nurturing your employees. Technology in terms of big data and machine learning is also rapidly reshaping how HR can leverage people analytics to influence strategic business decisions. Riding this wave to the C-suite table will require staying ahead of key trends affecting both HR and your industry.

The bottom line is if you help the C-suite tackle business goals by leveraging talent and people analytics, you’ll be a participant at that table. But if you’re just pushing a traditional HR agenda and aren’t enhancing your company’s business needs, you’ll find yourself stuck in the back office helping to plan the next company party.

Jorge E. Diaz, Senior Vice President of Global Human Resources at Fleetmatics is a guest blogger on Udemy for Business and has over twenty years of experience as an HR leader.