Transformation: How HR can 'own' it

Everyone keeps talking about transformation, but what can HR actually do about it? HRD finds out

Transformation: How HR can 'own' it

Digital transformation is rapidly changing the way we work – but as most note, transformation won’t take place overnight. How can HR prepare ahead and lead the change in an organisation?

HRD sat down with Grace De Castro, founder and chief empowerment officer at Vision et Agir Management Consultancy, Inc. to find out her take on how digital disruption is transforming HR.

A HR guru, life coach, as well as business and career strategist, De Castro has had plenty of corporate experience in her 20-year career to understand how each wave of transformation impacts HR.

Prior to her foray into entrepreneurship, she held various HR roles at global companies such as Unilever Philippines, Levi Strauss, Shell International, Globe Telecom and Nestle.

De Castro began our chat by quoting CIO Insight: “change is about using external factors to modify actions to achieve the desired results, while transformation is about modifying beliefs so that natural actions achieve the desired results”.

“I subscribe to this and believe that transformation starts with the self before one can even think of leading others,” she said about the quote.

She then told us when she was starting her HR career “many moons ago”, technology was just beginning to gain a foothold in her function – “dot matrix printers and acetates were still our go-to tech then!”

“Today, the advent of technology has been both a boon and bane for HR professionals. Alongside advancements come stresses of all kinds,” she said.

“From balancing the human with the resources – maintaining the soft touch with all the buzzy high tech that is so prevalent now – to feeling like we are on call 24/7 with no right to shut off, pressure of all kinds run rampant.

“For me, there is a need to cut this culture of busy-ness versus real productivity. And in this oft-times crazy quest to be automated and ’technified’ let's not forget this basic premise: the human comes before the resources in human resources for a reason.”

”In this oft crazy quest to be automated…let's not forget this basic premise: the human comes before the resources in HR for a reason.”

On that note, she proposed adopting the “ACE” approaches to navigate the tides of disruption.

The first ACE stands for acceptance, courage and empathy:

- Acceptance: Embrace the fact that old ways will never bring new results
- Courage: Dare to move forward even in the face of adversity
- Empathy: Know that not everyone will be at the same level of understanding or the same pace of acceptance when it comes to any transformation.

“Be patient but firm, be kind but keep your eye on the why,” she said.

The second ACE stands for acumen, communication and engagement:

- Acumen: Know your business well. Understand your brands and your business model
- Communication: Keep lines open, be honest, ensure that various channels are available for people to voice out opinions, seek comfort, and to have a better grasp of the situation
- Engagement: Engagement is key at all levels to ensure buy in and sustainability

“Transformation of any kind can only be truly successful when it goes beyond lip service and people take it to heart,” she said. “And people will always look to HR to know what is happening in the organisation.

“But you do not always have to have an answer. Sometimes, knowing that HR is there, truly listening, is more than enough.”

Besides focusing on going back to the basics of HR’s function, De Castro realistically adds that the best way to deal with any form of disruption is to constantly keep abreast with the market and be ready to evolve.

“HR will need to be ‘RH’ – simply put, human resources will need to become resourceful humans as new technology, new competition, new expectations, and new ways of working unfold in the coming days.”


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