Company of the futur, the one from the digital world, will carry tomorrow a management model yet to be invented: it should be more respectful of people’s differences, aspirations, attentive to the impact of changes, transparent on expected compensation. This new model will have to answer to both collective goals and satisfy individual ambitions; Knowing how to make up economic and social. But if the digital revolution can enhance the role of each one, it can also be a new Taylorism, destructive of the human side. Or it’s a new form of control, less visible and therefore more harmful, modelled on the image of the Panopticon prison model developed in the 18th century by Jeremy Bentham, in which the potential of being watched is more efficient than surveillance itself?
This digital business model, however, can be defined by three dimensions:
- Internally: because it promises process changes, necessary to review the management and the managerial models, redraws the nature and relationships between people, requires new skills among employees and managers.
- Externally: with a strong dimension around social media. Driven by its external contacts (customers, prospects, shareholders, suppliers, candidates, …) and the rapid changes in their behavior, the company must urgently review its methods of communication, distribution, marketing, its customer service, manage its online reputation
- Business model: as new competitors or new entrants pure players coming from a completely different sector, adopt a new perspective, free from constraint, which upsets the established situations reshuffling the cards. And at a pace that traditional players are struggling to follow. Uber for transport, Amazon for trade, Google in many areas, think a networked society (energy, telecom, transportation …), the examples are endless.
But beyond the usual three dimensions, the field of digital goes much further, blending new technologies (much broader than social media, like the Internet of Things or connected object, for example, or big data), usage (shares, gamification …), culture (importance of the ephemeral and new screens). All being increasingly disruptive compared to a past world, where large public uses are beginning to weigh more than the corporate culture and impose on it a faster pace.
This new business model will develop without an overhaul of its management model because more than the tools, the digital revolution is about culture, uses, individual and social behaviors, interactions, all areas that directly impact HR. Particular attention must be paid to the pace of this transformation: how to reconcile the level of acceptability of the internal rhythm and requirements of the market and competitors? How to manage remote teams, integrate generational differences, articulate local and global cultural dimensions. Difficult to define a single model.
In any case, the current model of the company is still very hierarchical and compartmentalized in the operating logic of the business units, P & L differentiated. This old model,not very different from the Industrial Revolution one at the end (time unit for all employees, and place around production tools) is increasingly challenged by both the new requirements and new behaviors employees (teleworking, BOYD, …), and of course because it seems to reach certain limits in terms of efficiency, particularly in markets where innovation, agility and imagination become indispensable.
Some initiatives are emerging, such as HCL, Indian IT company that advocates « employee first », not by demagogy but to be closer to the creation of value, such as Zappos, defender of Holacracy and for the limitation of managerial « layers ». Moreover there is often a co-existence of several models within the same company.
It is all the managerial triangle to rethink, employees in an internal and external ambassadorial role in its report to all stakeholders. Who must help them to understand that sharing is to their advantage too, as explained in this Japanese proverb:
candle loses nothing of its light by sharing with another candle
Manager must understand that we can have respect rather than domination, trust instead of discipline, transparency instead of opacity and enhancement rather than ownership. As for HR, guardian of old modes of operation, it must also be the one who guides to these new models and talents that may lead it to schizophrenia (hence perhaps his little current involvement).
It’s certain that recognition of employees will also change: recognition criteria, assessment process, evaluators, awards … Is the manager still more legitimate to evaluate an employee who works every day with multiple partners, in temporary projects modes with internal and external teams of the company? The 360° will no doubt evolve towards more actors sought for assessment: clients, peers, … Is the company credible when it maintains an individual assessment process and at the same time claiming the virtues of collaboration and collective? The annual rate cycle assessment / personal reward will it long be accepted by young employees, raise with video games and their instant reward model, to whom short term results are expected? What of the rewards, which consider the employee as a unique individual, thus denying it may have different expectations, such as moments of life against immediate financial party or postponed, against part-kind or services, enhanced social protection, training needs, need for autonomy, recognition of personal expertise outside its usual job description …
The recommendation forms of social media: FourSquare badges, LinkedIn recommendations, reliability criteria in e-bay, Klout score … perhaps foreshadow what tomorrow recognition of employees in the digital business. Anyway we are at the crossroads path and these choices will largely mark what will be the report of the company’s future with employees, for better or for worse.