I have been reading a lot of job descriptions of various Head of People or leader roles in Human Resources and I am shocked at how few mentions of AI I found. One of the biggest disruptions of the last decades is happening right now and almost none of the job descriptions I looked at made any mention of AI in terms of what was expected of HR or People leader roles. This truly amazes me as the way people will work is going to be dramatically altered with AI, and in some cases this is happening right under our eyes today. This also means that the team that is supposed to lay the foundation for people to do their best work, the HR/People department, needs to be upfront in the AI adoption curve. At the moment, it seems it isn't. I am sure that many talented and driven people working in HR/People today are thinking about AI and perhaps already working on how this impacts the setup of the organization and its people but it doesn't show in the capabilities companies are describing in HR / People job descriptions. It would make so much sense to hire and bring people into this field that have affinity with technology and AI in particular. But when I look at the job descriptions, it feels like many companies are hiring profiles that match where the puck is vs. where the puck is going to be to paraphrase the hockey legend Wayne Gretzky.
One reason for this glaring omission might be that classic HR departments are continuing to struggle to catch up on a shock wave that is still causing ripples. HR needs to inject more 'business' sense in the HR/People function and move away from supporting the business in an administrative way and become a true partner that delivers business outcomes. Some HR & People teams have made fantastic progress in this space but it is also clear that many companies still have ways to go. I took a few online classes from one of the leading HR educational platforms, the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD). There was hardly any mention of AI here as well, but what was interesting is that the training material was at the level of trying to inject rather basic business skills into HR. Again, I know there are amazing People leaders out there with fantastic business experience and insight, but looking at this from the outside, it seems as if many HR teams are still working on upping their business game. Adding the disruptive nature of AI to the task of delivering more business value might be overwhelming for some HR & People teams. I would strongly urge to not take a sequential perspective on this and simply add AI to the list of things to look at.
To be clear, I am talking about the fundamental disruptive nature of AI in that it will alter how jobs are being done, how collaboration takes place, how business models will evolve. I am not just talking about using smart AI tools to assess resumes quicker, or be more effective in candidate search. While these tools are incredibly useful and need to be explored and experimented with, there is a more fundamental impact of AI that transcends the HR & People domain but impacts the work of all people in a company.
AI is kicking off a transformation that is going to be so fundamental, I think it should be top priority for any HR & People team, even ahead of getting better at adding business value. Paradoxically, by focusing on AI first, these teams can actually accelerate how they add business value. For instance, the HR & People teams can use [[custom designed GPTs]] that are tailor made to the business their company is in. This way they can use this interaction to have deep dialogues about the people aspect of how to further help the business forward and come prepared to the table when partnering with business leaders about the needs of today and tomorrow. By doing this, they would also show and get firsthand experience of how AI redefines role definitions and expectations. It will help them understand how to assess performance, not with AI as a replacement but with AI as an enhancer. What choices are there to be made about skills requirements, workforce volume and how both can be used to accelerate the impact of the company? These are vital questions to answer where HR & People leaders need to be on the leading edge. This experience will be incredibly valuable to mentor and guide the rest of the company through these questions and make sure the leadership team sets course that is in line with the company culture and principles. And if I've learned anything, it's that having hands-on experience with disruptive technology is a vital asset to increase business partnering impact in times of transformation.
Are you skating towards the puck, and ready to strike?