Widening the map of HR management with new ways of listening

Throughout the pandemic, companies have started speaking about changing the way they work, communicate and collaborate. This transformation directly involves HR teams. They are called to listen to their people in a new way. Listening tools can allow data to guide management. All employees can become responsible throughout this transition phase.

The new normal could be the right moment in time to ‘revolutionize’ the way we manage people. But it’s not an easy task, because the ‘system’ tends to resist change. It’s human nature for people to return to what they already know. However, by doing so we risk that people management never really changes. That’s why “HR is heroic”, according to Riccarda Zezza Lifeed CEO. She delved deeper into the topic at a recent HRC event ‘Have we really changed the way we do HR?’

When people and society go through identity transitions, listening can’t be partial. If it was, it would reduce the amount of resources available to us. We need listening tools, including digital ones, that allow us to widen the map. Open questions become a powerful tool in reframing situations and breaking down old stereotypes. They have the power to allow people to talk about their identity dimensions.

And what about HR managers? They can transform this complexity into opportunities. By using Artificial Intelligence, they can translate available data into actionable insights to benefit companies.

An opportunity for new leadership models

HR teams have changed their processes, as highlighted by Donatella De Vita, Global Head of Development, Learning, Engagement and Welfare at Pirelli and Miriam Spezzacatena, HR Business Partner at Pirelli. Through the pandemic, certain dimensions have been reduced (think contact with corporate spaces). But geographical boundaries have also been broken down, allowing companies to reach more people all over the world. “This change has presented many opportunities. We’ve learnt how to value our people more”.

The way we lead has also changed. According to Annalisa Sala, Global Chief People Officer at Arcese, “traditional leadership models have been questioned. We need leaders with a new mindset and different skills to guide people”. As a result, HR teams must change too. They’re called to “guide this process with initiatives that help train and raise leaders, through dialogue, engagement and interactions with people”.

Right now, the world surrounding us is changing. HR teams have an extraordinary opportunity to “leave the ‘sidelines’, and become ‘Napoleons’ at the heart of the scene”. Graziano Marcuccio, Chief HR Officer at De Nora believes that “this is the working equivalent of the French Revolution”.

Shared responsibilities

Compared to the past, HR has an important seat at the table. For Mauro Ghilardi, Direttore People & Transformation at A2A, it’s an opportunity to focus on “involving managers, syndicates and those who are designing the future of work. It’s also a chance to use listening tools. We need to find the value in being physically in the office”. And most importantly “we need to treat everyone as adults. Rather than seeing the company as a parent, it’s a club where everyone decides whether they want to take part”.

Fabrizio Tripodi, Regional HR Director, Emerging Markets Division-Europe & IMEA at Brown-Forman highlights how the pandemic has made them “more agile in making decisions, more vulnerable and more authentic”. He underlined the importance of care and active listening activities with people. “We’re maximising our time to be more productive and dedicate more time to people”.

Organizations are now more flexible. They’re fast and focus on what’s important. What’s more, they’ve also been more open to experimentation and listening to others. “We’ve opened an emotive window that also involves HR teams”, says Marina Capizzi, Co-founder at Primate. “HR’s purpose can evolve towards new leadership models with increased independence, and more responsibility. It makes things more sustainable, going beyond hierarchies that no longer work”.