Navigating the Future of Strategic HR

We interviewed Mads Kamp about strategic HR and how it will look in the future. Mads believes that strategic HR will change completely from how we now it today. With strategic planning becoming more flexible and agile, HR strategies will become less relevant, but HR in general will have a bigger impact on corporate strategies. Read the full interview to learn more about strategic HR and leadership development.
What is your background?

Professionally I have a background in the large, Danish corporations all with some sort of technical element; from early on at CBS my interest has been on the organizational level of business and stayed there through the emergence of the concept of HR. I have developed a home base in HR and Leadership fueled by curiosity for other disciplines and for the products of the organizations that I have worked for. For the last 15 years, I have exercised leadership across borders globally. I am for better or worse, a pragmatic academician that loves both the challenge of a complex topic across functions, business areas and products yet always needs to end with “So what do we do about it – and why”.

You will be moderating the Panel ‘Aligning your HR strategy with Corporate Strategy’ at HRtechX 2020, but what is your take on Linking HR Strategy with Business Strategy?

My take on linking HR Strategy with Business Strategy is not to see it as a straight line, but as a circle: If you are successful in developing an HR strategy the first 1-2-3 times that align with the Business Strategy, then your HR Strategy will start to influence the Business Strategy. You need to recognize the initial hierarchy, yet believe and work for impacting the Business Strategy. Seeing strategy work as a continuous process and not as an annual, completed line will help you achieve this.

Do you expect HR strategies to have a bigger effect on Corporate Strategies in the future?

I also think that strategy processes as we know them will (continue to) change over the coming years and more and more corporations will work with more agile, flexible methods of planning where they are going and how.

The extreme version of my expectation is that HR as we know it will not exist in 10 years. And if this is the case the answer to the question is that HR strategy will have a smaller effect. I also think that strategy processes as we know them will (continue to) change over the coming years and more and more corporations will work with more agile, flexible methods of planning where they are going and how. HRs contribution to this will be by direct infusion of the “people agenda” into those planning methods and thus – you can say – that HR strategy will have a bigger impact on Corporate Strategies in the future.

How well do you think organizations are at utilizing its people as an asset to help it improve, stay competitive, and strategically meet goals in the digital age? Are people used efficiently or is talent wasted due to lack of effective strategy

In general organizations are improving in their approach to combining the goals in life for individuals with the goals that organizations have by having employees in their company. I do think that the gap is on average becoming smaller. I also think that there are huge – if not enormous differences – even within the organizations themselves. I think most organizations are still on a strategic level struggling with what digitalization means for them, both business wise and how the relationship between employees and organization should be. The risk is that the stretch between what technology can do and what we as humans organized in organizations can keep up with in understanding, what it means for our ability to reach our goals, is only becoming bigger. If that happens it means ruptures, the downfall of known organizations and the rise of others.

What is your best advice for training, developing and growing leaders?

There are a number of key things to remember: First, Leaders at any level are people – what they haven’t learned, they will most likely find hard to do.

Why it is that business life is the only “sport” where you play the cup final every day and only train as an exception?

Second, all leaders want to do better – yet when we have to do things in a new way, we all hesitate and look to reduce the risk of failure. Create pieces of training – not courses. Create safe spaces to fail. Train often and short rather than seldom and long. Why it is that business life is the only “sport” where you play the cup final every day and only train as an exception?

Third, start by training simple things – if you cannot do the simple things, chances is that you cannot do the hard things.

Fourth, get very good trainers – don’t save money and buy mediocre ones – the good ones will give you good results – the mediocre ones are like buying a lottery ticket: You may win – but very likely not.

Fifth, the higher up in the organization, the higher the vulnerability is felt when training: Your C-Suite has gotten far on what they can do – most of them will not be comfortable displaying that there are things they do not know. If you can create situations where they become comfortable, they can get even better – AND your organization will see them as role models for learning.

Mads Kamp is Associate at Copernicus.dk & former SVP at Pandora and Demant. Mads will be moderating the panel ‘Aligning your HR strategy with Corporate Strategy’ at HRtechX 2020.

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