Most of our automatic associations with “disruption” are negative, such as an unwelcome event that ruins a rhythm or pattern, or something that wakes you up at night. When it comes to business and technology, however, disruption is mostly associated these days with innovation that displaces an existing market or value network.
AmCham Hungary’s fourth “HR Dream Day” event, held on May 30 at the Google Ground in Budapest, brought together leading experts and practitioners from the HR field to debate the merits and demerits of disruptive HR technologies versus their so-called classical counterparts.
The intriguing event featured two keynote speakers (Natavan Aliyeva from Lee Hecht Harrison, and Eszter Vida from SentiOne) and three panel discussions, focusing respectively on: recruitment and employer branding; development; and leadership development.
“We live during a time of unprecedented disruption,” Aliyeva addressed the participants. “What the profession needs to do is both build the new and strengthen the old. Every transformation is unique, and you can create your own successful blend. We should all be excited that we’re in one of the best professions.”
New technologies are not only changing the way companies evaluate prospective employees, but are changing the ways in which people apply for jobs. Moderator Csaba Fehér led a five-person panel discussion to evaluate the impact of these new dynamics.
“With new tools such as skills swiping, and with our ability to take advantage of enriched data, we’re able to get a better look at candidates in much less time,” said Krisztián Zsédely from Profession.hu.
BlackRock Hungary COO László Hegedű-s noted the need for his firm’s 45-person HR staff to employ cutting-edge technology.
“We’re a niche market, so we need to show something interesting,” he said. “The most striking example, perhaps, is that we used virtual reality software to showcase our new office.”
Judit Simonyi, a partner at Simonyi and Tóth Personnel Consultancy, aims to strike a balance between older and new HR approaches.
“We can continue with some of the classical methods, while at the same time using some disruptive technologies,” Simonyi said. “Either way, we have to be prepared to listen to the message of the candidate and to forward the most suitable information to our clients.”
Other recruitment companies, such as Zyntern.com, are focusing on a more youthful and tech-savvy generation.
“Zyntern actually exists because of HR trends,” said the company’s employer branding specialist, Viktória Fulai. “We’re the most disruptive platform out there. More and more people are now applying for jobs using smartphones, and the apps have to be fast and easy to use.”
Simonyi closed by remarking that the recruitment process is not just about finding the right candidate for the job: “You also have to sell your company to the candidate. Many candidates will work for less money if they feel they have a chance to work with an employer that offers a superior company culture.”
Leading up to the concluding panel discussions on development, Eszter Vida walked the participants through SentiOne’s “datatelling” term-search software, which is designed to help HR departments follow the latest industry trends on multiple social media platforms.
“Twitter is the absolute leader in social media for HR-related communication,” Vida revealed, “with Facebook actually quite far behind even other platforms such as Instagram.”
Éva Uzsák from Aon Hungary moderated the day’s second discussion, during which the four panelists shared perspectives, both on how best to move HR departments forward and on the best means of motivating employees and evaluating performance.
Invitel Group’s HR director Petra Jakobsen argued that disruptive technologies are needed because the “classical methods don’t work anymore,” especially as external feedback becomes the norm.
“In terms of performance management, feedback is the best management tool,” Jakobsen explained. “This sort of feedback used to come from management, but now it comes from other sources. Young people are now reacting quickly and online with short messages, and we should be paying attention to them.”
In the end, the general consensus was that there are no one-size-fits-all solutions.
Judit Ábri von Bartheld, a coaching tutor from Henley Business School (U.K.) and Coaching Without Borders (CHN) Kft., invited the day’s final panelists for a thought-provoking, and often divisive, discussion on leadership development.
Gergő Budai from Vodafone argued that technology and development is there to support and enable people, adding that the techs themselves will bring new professions to life even as others are made obsolete.
“Leaders have to be open to new techs, but also be mindful of what is already working,” said Budai.
Éva Kreiter, HR director at Dreher Breweries, emphasized the importance of the human dimension in leadership development.
“We also need to be more self-critical and self-aware,” Kreiter explained. “Some tech can help, but face-to-face interactions are essential to complement them.”
Taking a much more deterministic and data-driven approach was Managementor CEO Róbert Dobay.
“If you ask me whether I’ll act on my beliefs or on the data, I’ll take the data,” Dobay exclaimed. “Having said that, can anybody here reach 80% of management with a single program or tool? I don’t think so.”
In terms of HR departments gaining a seat at the table with business decision makers, the panelists were optimistic, but stressed the importance of knowing the business itself.
“Business acumen is a must,” said Andrea Tognetti from UniCredit Bank Hungary.
“Come to the table with data that is interesting and irrefutable, and there’s nothing else you need to say,” said Kresier, who is also involved in Dreher’s strategic planning. “But be aware that it’s also HR’s job to challenge the status quo, and this always makes management uncomfortable.”
As for those HR departments that are still waiting for a seat at the table with management and board members, Dobay counseled patience.
“Don’t forget that HR is a new field,” said Dobay. “Sales and finance are professions that have existed for centuries.”