Death by Silos: How HR Can Avoid It

Clearly, human resources (HR) teams are under stress.

They are constantly searching candidates with new skills and knowledge that are hard to find – or expensive to employ. They are also vital for succession planning and ensuring that the right leadership will steer the company through future challenges.

While these challenges are not new, the speed of business and the competitive market landscape are making them boardroom level concerns.

Need to Introspect

These challenges are forcing HR leaders to take a closer look at their talent management strategies and pay closer attention to internal development. For example, Domo emphasizes internal employee development.

“That allows us to develop existing employees that are already in place. So, for us, rather than finding a niche skillset in sales we need to fill and looking outside Domo for that, if we can engage with the sales team to develop that talent from within, that’s ideal,” said Shane Koller, vice president, Human Resources, Domo Inc.

Koller sees this approach improving the employee value proposition (EVP), “which is that reason people come to work – the value they get from being associated with the company they represent. “As we’re able to streamline work, we’re able to focus on high-level strategies for getting our value proposition out so we can attract the people we need to fill critical roles,” he added.

Get Interactive

Equally important is interaction – a key ingredient that gets lost when HR teams get overloaded.

“When a small recruiting team gets overloaded, the first thing to go is that interaction. The candidate isn’t kept in the loop or engaging with the company to the extent we want them to be,” said Koller.

He noted that HR teams need to strengthen processes and practices that strengthen interdepartmental interactions, and those with the HR team. “Often times we don’t engage early enough. But if we can, and if we do, then we are able to identify the people who are ready now, the people who will be ready in a month, the people who could be ready in a year, and so on.”

For larger companies or those whose brand appeal is strong to candidates, Koller advised to “codify” the development process “so that once you have people in the door, they know what their progression looks like and can see a timeline attached to it.”

Double-edged Sword of HR IT

Digital innovations are supposed to help HR to overcome the workload and become more strategic. But many became barriers themselves.

“To be honest, most HR technology has been more of a hindrance than a help, because HR software is typically behind the times in terms of relevant user experience. It’s just not up to the same spec compared to sales software or marketing software, for instance,” he said.

The problem lies in their design, Koller noted. Most were designed for HR teams that worked in silos, not in the fluid, interactive environments that exist in many of today’s companies.

“Historically, HR technology has been incredibly siloed and therefore creates a lot more work on the part of the HR professional to present the data that is relevant to the organization.

Koller sees value instead in building a data-centric platform that connects with various departments – a chief reason for him choosing his own company’s platform for HR. The result was a better analysis of the departments and people they work with.

“For example, being able to work more strategically with a chief revenue officer to understand how his organization is performing and where we see trends or patterns in his team to determine where there are pockets of strength and/or where there are pockets of concern,” he said.

Artificial Help

Such a platform approach also helps HR teams to start exploring machine learning (ML) and other new artificial intelligence (AI) solutions that Koller sees vital for future HR development.

“As AI and ML become more commonplace in the HR function, we’ll be able to create more predictive validity around who is ready for – and who can be successful in – certain roles. In fact, maybe this is what we lead with in terms of how we answer this question,” he added.

Koller admitted that AI and ML are still new but holds great potential for helping HR teams to handle the increasing workload and become more strategic in their approach to succession planning.  

“Artificial intelligence and machine learning in the HR space is still in its infancy, but as it evolves, I see us being more proficient in the algorithms we’ll use to predict who will be successful in certain roles and measure who is already successful. We’ll also be able to use technology like network analysis and deep learning to help us understand who the influencers and leaders are within the organization outside the standard org chart,” he said.

Future is Personal

No matter how great the technology is, it can never replace human interactions in HR. 

“Each HR department has to decide what those areas are, but they must, because it’s imperative that certain conversations continue to happen between humans. But with non-value-add areas of HR, such as changes to personal information, they should absolutely be automated to the extent they can be. That allows the HR team to free up their headcount to interact in ways that most substantially impact the employee experience,” said Koller.

“But where we absolutely cannot lose personal interaction is in those moments where an employee doesn’t understand how to act on a benefit or has a problem getting a family member with a health concern taken care of. In situations like that, we want to be very high-touch on the human side. We’ll interface with the benefits spenders and carriers to make sure we resolve everyone’s questions and concerns,” he added.