Reimagine HR – Creating “Talent Companies”

March 5, 2013 Michael George

reimagine HR - customer/talent company

Recently, Salesforce’s CEO, Marc Benioff delivered the company’s new message that refocuses Salesforce from its mission of enabling the “social enterprise,” to that of helping organizations create “customer companies.”

Using emerging technologies like cloud, mobile, social, touch, identity and communities, customer companies develop deep (and many) connections to their customers, employees, partners and products. This means that today’s businesses are no longer simply managing customers, or employees, or partners or products. They are managing relationships and improving connections, and to win, the customer must be placed at the center of every one of those connections.

Salesforce’s shift in message is a recognition that consumers have more power than ever before in a connected world. No longer are they at the mercy of companies that treat them poorly; they have a loud, far-reaching voice with real power in the marketplace.

The idea of putting the consumer at the center of the business is not a new idea. Successful companies have, for years, recognized the importance of “customer-first” thinking in everything from product development to customer service. As consumers, we have all experienced businesses that meet and even exceed our expectations, as well as those that fail miserably when it comes to serving the customer. Most often, the difference maker is not the website, or the mobile app (although important), or even the product itself, it is the employee(s) with whom we interact.

In a recent video interview, Vineet Nayar, author of the book, Employees First, Customers Second, points out that the core business of any organization should be to create differentiated value for its customers. This unique value, according to Nayar, is created in the interface between employees and customers. Thus, the sole purpose of managing the workforce should be to enthuse and encourage employees so they can create this value. In other words, enabling employees is the critical first step in creating a customer company.

But in order for any business to truly become a customer company, it must first become a “talent company,” and all of the same arguments (made by Salesforce) for becoming a customer company apply.

A talent company goes beyond the obligatory, “Our people are our greatest asset,” inscription on the Annual Report and is able to reimagine the HR function to engage and inspire the workforce in meaningful ways each and every day, across the employee lifecycle. And just like the world of the connected consumer, the world of the connected employee requires HR leaders to understand what is possible with today’s technology in order to create and manage robust and significant employee connections. This understanding gives HR leaders the ability to create strategies and deploy technologies that allow them to outwit their competitors for the best talent, rapidly onboard and engage new workers, quickly identify and train on needed skills, collaboratively measure performance and develop new leaders, retain the best and brightest, and create a work experience that puts the employee at the center of it all – the fundamentals of creating a talent company.

In the weeks and months to follow, we will be discussing ways to reimagine HR throughout the employee lifecycle that we hope you will find interesting, informative and inspirational, including ways to reimagine:

  • Workforce Planning
  • Talent Acquisition
  • Onboarding
  • Goals & Performance Management
  • Employee Training & Development
  • Succession Planning
  • Offboarding/Contingent Workforce
  • Crowdsourcing

Our goal is to connect with you, start a conversation, and offer insights and tools to help you reimagine HR in your organization to help create a talent company. We would love to get your thoughts and comments below on which areas in HR you’d like us to cover, or feel need to be improved, as well as share with readers ways you have already begun to use new technologies like cloud, mobile, social, and communities to reimagine the HR function in your organization.

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