We now work in a virtual and digital world, with all of its joys and sorrows. Technology is credited with bringing the world closer together, spreading democracy, changing the nature of business, supplying round-the-clock connectivity. Geography has been made irrelevant. It is mesmerizing to grasp the world in a handheld device, much smarter than we will ever be.
Here are some aspects of this life that Human Resource (HR) practitioners deal with every day:
The virtual world is sold on these features. More individual freedom. Work at home, learn at will, and control your own time. Get information you need on demand. Be a global citizen.
The challenge is to address the human and workplace consequences of the technological and cultural forces that constantly drive us toward speed, control, efficiency, and short-term results.
Organizations that will truly thrive over time are creating a future that transcends these pressures. They will focus making the choice to (1) act in service of the long run, and (2) act in service to those with little power. In this way they create an alternative narrative, one centered on creating high performance by putting the future in the hands of each member of an organization.
HR can help leaders transcend these pressures by developing leaders who give priority to building relationships between peers. Real relationships, not virtual ones. HR is a stance for leaders that gives more choices to people close to the work. HR is the realization that human values take priority over shareholder values. HR clients are all members of the organization, not just top management.
There are more important values than speed and scale and costs. Organizations are human systems first and technical processes second. Important learning requires face-to-face relationships where all learning is social.
Adapted from Stewardship: Choosing Service over Self-Interest, 2d ed. (San Francisco: Berrett-Kohler, 2013).