The Digital Revolution Impacting Today's HR Leaders

The future will belong to HR leaders who are capable of bringing high-tech and high-touch together in a way that serves both their workforce and the bottom line.

HR leader considering how to bring high-tech and high-touch together in a way that serves both their workforce and the bottom line.

"All those things ignored that reach the light," wrote René Magritte, the famous surrealist painter. With machine learning, big data, predictive tools, it's a bit like that! Today, technologies allow us to go faster, further, to strengthen decision-making and to highlight the invisible. More than ever, the horizons they open to us arouse a legitimate enthusiasm, but also a certain "naive apprehension:" one reads often that high-tech apps and robots could replace humans and even surpass us in almost all fields. But the reality proves quite the contrary: the development of high technologies requires, in my opinion, closer accompaniment and intervention by humans—the high-touch to unleash the full potential of high-tech. Our future will be “high-humane” if we succeed in combining technical algorithms with the deep nature of humans to cultivate and develop, to remain free, to act based on meaning, and to evolve and learn.
More than a "digital" transformation, a real paradigm shift is underway. A technological acceleration without precedent which has, in many trades, opened the horizon of possibilities. Who would have thought, just a few years ago, that neurosciences would enable as much predictability in the detection of leadership potential? The enthusiasm for new HR technologies continues to increase: in 2015, investment in HR startups reached $ 2.4 billion!
So, how do we "reconcile" high-touch and high-tech in the HR technology revolution? How do we make human and machine allies rather than opponents? I would like to answer those questions by providing some examples from our businesses.
The assessment of leaders in high-tech times: what role do humans play?
The assessment of leadership potential has become a strategic priority in the face of talent shortages facing many companies today. In a recent survey, 87% of organizations said they have not identified future leaders to fulfill the roles essential to their future development.
At Right Management, we have forged technological partnerships to be at the forefront of identification and prediction in talent assessment. In particular, we work with Hogan Assessment, an industry leader based in the U.S. that has its own neuroscience laboratory and offers highly sophisticated personality measurement tools. 
As valuable as these tools are, they need to be complemented with the expert analysis of HR professionals who understand the organization’s business goals, challenges, and culture, and will be responsible to nurturing the careers of the talents they evaluate. Technology can provide data and assist humans in the interpretation, but only an expert consultant can take this information and turn it into actionable intelligence about the individual. While machines can easily calculate intellectual, emotional, commitment, and leadership metrics that indicate potential, only a human-machine duo can evaluate them in depth and drive their development.
Coaching and skill development: a focal point between high-tech and high-touch
The identification of high potentials in a company is only a "beginning:" what follows are the necessary leadership development programs. This is crucial: Right Management research shows that 45% of HR executives believe their leaders are not prepared to address business challenges in the next two years.  
This is where humans have skills that cannot be replicated by technology, including the ability to conduct directed interviews, career management, training, and career coaching. Coaching, by definition, is based on a close relationship between two people. Coaching is the art of asking the right questions to help the person develop. Today, the coach can benefit from a wide range of data on the coachee in order to guarantee both the right areas for improvement and, more importantly, to measure the impact of this development on the organization and employees.
A profound transformation in HR
What will the HR of tomorrow look like? In a word, versatile – capable of linking high-tech with high-touch and deploying a wide range of profound skills, ranging from neurosciences to management of organizations, along with great relational intelligence.
HR consultants cannot be content to be "psychologists" for all purposes! In an increasingly complex world, they will have to add scientific muscle to their operational approach and nurture their situational intelligence with a wide range of data. They will have to be comfortable with the technologies to transform them into useful tools, and to know how to control them so as not to drown in an excess of data.
Advances in technology are there to support the very human job of HR: helping individuals discover the pathway that will reveal their potential and enable them to go further in their careers!
Employees today have strong expectations regarding career management. Technologies will help provide the data to help them position themselves, while HR consultants will accompanying them in the quest for meaning in their career, in developing their talents (cognitive, emotional, behavioral), and in adopting the right attitudes in this new era.
The future will belong to HR leaders who are capable of bringing high-tech and high-touch together in a way that serves both their workforce and the bottom line.
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