IBM's Chief Human Resources Officer Shares Best Advice on the Future of Work



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Director of Human Resources, IBM, Diane GhersonDiane Gherson / IBM

Diane Gherson is a person you want to know, at the forefront of the global human resources landscape.

As Human Resources Manager at IBM, Diane has helped revolutionize IBM over the last 13 years. Under her leadership, she transformed the results of the global workforce by analyzing talent and data, with a focus on predictive analytics.

I interviewed Diane for her thoughts on different topics, including the future of work, how technology disrupts human resources, how to create a sustainable culture, the best way to give feedback, his favorite question, the best career advice eats breakfast.

Zack Friedman: It's no secret that technological innovation is causing rapid disruption. The field of human resources is no different and we are witnessing a massive shift in data, analysis and artificial intelligence. What are the historical changes affecting human resources today?

Diane Gherson: I see three major disrupters that disrupt human resources:

  1. The expectations of the consumer. Employees and job seekers have new expectations because of their rich digital experiences outside of work. They express themselves and connect on social media; the world is searchable and transparent; their questions can be answered 24×7 in a live chat. And then, they come to work. Our human resource work is about creating this connected, transparent, mobile, personalized, searchable and 24×7 world through our workplace and tools. It means investing in new technologies and reinventing all our processes from the employee's point of view.
  1. Rapid access to artificial intelligence and deep learning creates the opportunity to detect trends and predict results.This enhances our decision-making and workforce management capabilities – whether it's selecting more successful candidates, associating an employee with job opportunities or inferring skills. an employee from his digital footprint. We can also use robots to improve our productivity – for example, our analysis tells us that we saved 500 hours of Q & A by training a Watson AI robot that answered over 10,000 questions.

  1. Obsolescence of skills. Technologies are massively disruptive to businesses and desperately need their employees to reassemble for the digital age.

At the same time, the half-life of skills is decreasing and employees must continue to learn at an exponential rate. Human resources must respond to this demand for continuous renewal of skills. It comes in all its forms: creating an irresistible learning platform, rewarding the skills of the future and integrating learning into the way we lead and work.

Zack Friedman: What do human resources look like in the age of the cloud, analytics, mobile, social and security technologies?

Diane Gherson: I would say that human resources are characterized by speed, personalization and democratization. In the pre-digital era, human resources were optimized for efficiency and standardization, with shared services and the separation of front office and back office activities.

In the digital age, we focus on end-to-end experience, which can be achieved seamlessly with new technology, with customization. Our slow but effective bureaucracies of the past are surpassed by this new model. The most exciting aspect is the two-way nature of technology. Human resources announced new programs and the conversation was essentially one way.

New technology makes all of our employees co-creators of culture and our programs. They are no longer consumers of human resources, but co-producers.

Zack Friedman: What is the main professional skill that the next generation will need to flourish at work?

Diane Gherson: The ability to work with data and analysis.

Zack Friedman: Given the focus on data and analysis, what is the future of work?

According to my readings, I do not see us falling off a cliff with millions of jobs lost, but just about all professions will change and new professions will be born, as was the case during the transition to the industrial era.

Based on what I see in the technological space, the premium on speed and innovation means that the work will be highly collaborative, iterative and executed by teams able to assemble and disassemble quickly, responding in time real to internal and external signals. Work must therefore be co-located in agile workplaces. Home virtual work worked well in the industrial era, where work could be done sequentially, but at least for these central organization teams, they will have to co-locate.

This does not mean that the auxiliary work can not be done at home, but more and more, this is where the economy of the supermarket explodes. I think the baby boomer generation will have become a practice of typing: that's what everyone ends up doing when they grew up thinking that it might just be relegated to a few experts.

Zack Friedman: How do you build a successful and sustainable culture and how do you support this culture?

Diane Gherson: It starts with knowing your purpose and who you want to be. It's then every decision, even the smallest, that you take afterwards.

Zack Friedman: Let's talk more about your goal. Given this mantra, how would you define IBM's culture and what makes it unique?

Diane Gherson: For IBM, our culture is based on our highest goal: to change the world. We've been doing this for 106 years, but it's still at stake for us. This is not a slogan. People come to work here because they want to solve important and important problems, and with intelligent colleagues.

So, connecting our employees and giving them the freedom to contribute every day to that higher goal helps to maintain IBM's culture.

Zack Friedman: What's the secret to creating effective teams? & nbsp;

Diane Gherson: What defines an effective team today has certainly evolved since the industrial era. Then, it usually involved bringing together a group of independent people to bring their expertise to the mission, with a manager who made most decisions.

Today, we begin by bringing together an interdisciplinary group of autonomous and empowered people, guided by more servant leaders. The secret is therefore empowerment and diversity.

Zack Friedman: So you build what you believe to be an effective team. Months later, you discover that not everyone in the team contributes equally or optimally. What steps should the team leader take to treat an inefficient team member? & nbsp;

Diane Gherson: It's a two-way conversation. They are ineffective because they are struggling with something. They also need a direct conversation and regular and transparent comments. Then, if they do not improve, they will understand why they have to leave the team.

Zack Friedman: I think you have reached an important point, which is the need to speak frankly and to receive regular and transparent feedback. How does a forward-thinking organization create a culture of feedback, including in its performance evaluations?

Diane Gherson: It's actually the first big challenge I've seen in my role as the head of human resources. There is no perfect performance management system – it's always a question of compromise. What really matters is the result – you have to create a culture of high performance and people have to think that it is right.

So, rather than attempting a perfect design with a group of experts, I engaged all of our 370,000 collaborators – all with strong opinions but a wide range of experiences . We achieved a 90-day "hackathon" from start to finish, using prototyping videos, debates, polls and numerous text analyzes. Two months later, we were in 170 unmanned countries.

The heart of the system is regular feedback, at least once a quarter. And people have it. After all, your baby is never ugly.

Zack Friedman: What's your secret to motivating your colleagues and teams? & nbsp;

Diane Gherson: Most people are motivated by a higher purpose and recognition of their role.

So I want to remind people of the main purpose of our work, the impact of each colleague or team, and to celebrate the innovative changes we have already made together.

Zack Friedman: What's your favorite question to ask in an interview?

Diane Gherson: Up to now, what have been the strengths and weaknesses of your career? Retrospective capacity is so important for lifelong learning.

Zack Friedman: What are your top three career tips?

Diane Gherson: My top three career advices are:

  1. Follow your passion not your pocket book.
  2. Treat the comments as a gift – and ask them often.
  3. Take care of yourself – your career is an extreme sport.

Zack Friedman: How does your day start considering IBM's culture and your global workforce? What is your morning routine?

Diane Gherson: We are global; and our management team starts very early, so I sort my first emails and give priority to my day before climbing the ellipse and getting the news while I work.

And as long as you do not tell my children, I have lunch in the car.

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Director of Human Resources, IBM, Diane GhersonDiane Gherson / IBM

Diane Gherson is a person you want to know, at the forefront of the global human resources landscape.

As Human Resources Manager at IBM, Diane has helped revolutionize IBM over the last 13 years. Under her leadership, she transformed the results of the global workforce by analyzing talent and data, with a focus on predictive analytics.

I interviewed Diane for her thoughts on different topics, including the future of work, how technology disrupts human resources, how to create a sustainable culture, the best way to give feedback, his favorite question, the best career advice eats breakfast.

Zack Friedman: It's no secret that technological innovation is causing rapid disruption. The field of human resources is no different and we are witnessing a massive shift in data, analysis and artificial intelligence. What are the historical changes affecting human resources today?

Diane Gherson: I see three major disrupters that disrupt human resources:

  1. The expectations of the consumer. Employees and job seekers have new expectations because of their rich digital experiences outside of work. They express themselves and connect on social media; the world is searchable and transparent; their questions can be answered 24×7 in a live chat. And then, they come to work. Our human resource work is about creating this connected, transparent, mobile, personalized, searchable and 24×7 world through our workplace and tools. It means investing in new technologies and reinventing all our processes from the employee's point of view.
  1. Rapid access to artificial intelligence and deep learning creates the opportunity to detect trends and predict results.This enhances our decision-making and workforce management capabilities – whether it's selecting more successful candidates, associating an employee with job opportunities or inferring skills. an employee from his digital footprint. We can also use robots to improve our productivity. For example, our analysis tells us that we gained 500 hours in Q & A by training a Watson AI robot with more than 10,000 questions.
  1. Obsolescence of skills. Technologies are massively disruptive to businesses and desperately need their employees to reassemble for the digital age.

At the same time, the half-life of skills is decreasing and employees must continue to learn at an exponential rate. Human resources must respond to this demand for continuous renewal of skills. It comes in all its forms: creating an irresistible learning platform, rewarding the skills of the future and integrating learning into the way we lead and work.

Zack Friedman: What do human resources look like in the age of the cloud, analytics, mobile, social and security technologies?

Diane Gherson: I would say that human resources are characterized by speed, personalization and democratization. In the pre-digital era, human resources were optimized for efficiency and standardization, with shared services and the separation of front office and back office activities.

In the digital age, we focus on end-to-end experience, which can be achieved seamlessly with new technology, with customization. Our slow but effective bureaucracies of the past are surpassed by this new model. The most exciting aspect is the two-way nature of technology. Human resources announced new programs and the conversation was essentially one way.

New technology makes all of our employees co-creators of culture and our programs. They are no longer consumers of human resources, but co-producers.

Zack Friedman: What is the main professional skill that the next generation will need to flourish at work?

Diane Gherson: The ability to work with data and analysis.

Zack Friedman: Given the focus on data and analysis, what is the future of work?

According to my readings, I do not see us falling off a cliff with millions of jobs lost, but just about all professions will change and new professions will be born, as was the case during the transition to the industrial era.

Based on what I see in the technological space, the premium on speed and innovation means that the work will be highly collaborative, iterative and executed by teams able to assemble and disassemble quickly, responding in time real to internal and external signals. Work must therefore be co-located in agile workplaces. Home virtual work worked well in the industrial era, where work could be done sequentially, but at least for these central organization teams, they will have to co-locate.

This does not mean that the auxiliary work can not be done at home, but more and more, this is where the economy of the supermarket explodes. I think the baby boomer generation will have become a practice of typing: that's what everyone ends up doing when they grew up thinking that it might just be relegated to a few experts.

Zack Friedman: How do you build a successful and sustainable culture and how do you support this culture?

Diane Gherson: It starts with knowing your purpose and who you want to be. It's then every decision, even the smallest, that you take afterwards.

Zack Friedman: Let's talk more about your goal. Given this mantra, how would you define IBM's culture and what makes it unique?

Diane Gherson: For IBM, our culture is based on our highest goal: to change the world. We've been doing this for 106 years, but it's still at stake for us. This is not a slogan. People come to work here because they want to solve important and important problems, and with intelligent colleagues.

So, connecting our employees and giving them the freedom to contribute every day to that higher goal helps to maintain IBM's culture.

Zack Friedman: What's the secret to creating effective teams?

Diane Gherson: What defines an effective team today has certainly evolved since the industrial era. Then, it usually involved bringing together a group of independent people to bring their expertise to the mission, with a manager who made most decisions.

Today, we begin by bringing together an interdisciplinary group of autonomous and empowered people, guided by more servant leaders. The secret is therefore empowerment and diversity.

Zack Friedman: So you build what you believe to be an effective team. Months later, you discover that not everyone in the team contributes equally or optimally. What steps should the team leader take to treat an inefficient team member?

Diane Gherson: It's a two-way conversation. They are ineffective because they are struggling with something. They also need a direct conversation and regular and transparent comments. Then, if they do not improve, they will understand why they have to leave the team.

Zack Friedman: I think you have reached an important point, which is the need to speak frankly and to receive regular and transparent feedback. How does a forward-thinking organization create a culture of feedback, including in its performance evaluations?

Diane Gherson: It's actually the first big challenge I've seen in my role as the head of human resources. There is no perfect performance management system – it's always a question of compromise. What really matters is the result – you have to create a culture of high performance and people have to think that it is right.

So, rather than attempting a perfect design with a group of experts, I engaged all of our 370,000 collaborators – all with strong opinions but a wide range of experiences . We achieved a 90-day "hackathon" from start to finish, using prototyping videos, debates, polls and numerous text analyzes. Two months later, we were in 170 unmanned countries.

The heart of the system is regular feedback, at least once a quarter. And people have it. After all, your baby is never ugly.

Zack Friedman: What's your secret to motivating your colleagues and teams?

Diane Gherson: Most people are motivated by a higher purpose and recognition of their role.

So I want to remind people of the main purpose of our work, the impact of each colleague or team, and to celebrate the innovative changes we have already made together.

Zack Friedman: What's your favorite question to ask in an interview?

Diane Gherson: Up to now, what have been the strengths and weaknesses of your career? Retrospective capacity is so important for lifelong learning.

Zack Friedman: What are your top three career tips?

Diane Gherson: My top three career advices are:

  1. Follow your passion not your pocket book.
  2. Treat the comments as a gift – and ask them often.
  3. Take care of yourself – your career is an extreme sport.

Zack Friedman: How does your day start considering IBM's culture and your global workforce? What is your morning routine?

Diane Gherson: We are global; and our management team starts very early, so I sort my first emails and redefine the priorities of my day before climbing the ellipse and getting the news while I work.

And as long as you do not tell my children, I have lunch in the car.