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HR's Role in Digital Transformation - "Cliff Notes" on Charlene Li's LinkedIn Learning Course - 10 minutes

Uncategorized Jul 08, 2019

 By Emma Lokar

Watch my summary on Charlene Li’s, LinkedIn learning course, “HR's Role in Digital Transformation”. Charlene Li will be speaking at this year’s BigHR Event.  Throughout the learning course, Charlene explains why it is important for HR to not only have a “Seat at the Table”, but why HR needs a seat at the “Digital Table”. Human Resources utilizes technology everyday through the abundance of HR systems and platforms. They should be on the ground for any issues that may arise, and helping to transform the technology for employees.

Charlene also explains with the digital transformation on the horizon for all businesses HR plays a critical role in the employee experience and digital facing entities. If HR is not having the conversation about Digital Transformation then NO ONE is. HR’s presence in the digital space expands across all functions of HR; such as, Learning and Development, Recruiting, and Project Management. A large part of the digital transformation is data. Data is the lifeblood of how HR drives many of its strategies and initiatives.  Li states, “HR could really accelerate its digital transformation journey by pulling people in from other functions and embedding these new skills that are needed in HR”. Click here to watch the full SUMMARY.   (If you prefer to read the summary, see the transcript below.)


All My Best,

Cindy Lu

Founder, HR Mastermind Peer Advisory Boards

ps. Register today for the BigHR event on Friday 9/13/19 at Cisco in Richardson TX before summer special pricing ends: 


Transcript by


Cindy Lu:             Hey there, this is Cindy Lu, founder of HR Mastermind groups, and today we're going to do a quick summary of HR's role in digital transformation. The cliff notes version of the LinkedIn learning course from Charlene Lee, who is also going to be our big HR event keynote speaker.

Cindy Lu:             All right, so in her course or digital course, she talks about the importance of why HR needs a seat at the digital table and how so many HR executives and professionals have pulled themselves away from this digital transformation discussion and how that's a huge mistake and that HR really needs to be in the middle of it, because it's really never been about technology, but rather about the people. She starts by talking about six different arch types, from the conventionalist who does everything in the analog way and only uses digital when they have to, all the way to the other end of the spectrum of a provocateur, somebody who lives and breathes digital and is not just HR anymore, but really is a digital evangelist for the organization and speaks on behalf of the employees and how this disruption really needs to be owned by HR.

Cindy Lu:             The transformation of HR's role is critical, because this digital world that we're living in changes cultures and it really needs to start with HR first, and if HR isn't having that conversation, then no one is. They talked a lot about employee expectations and how employee expectations are changing dramatically. We know this, right? As a consumer, if you are on Amazon and ordering products, you know you have a certain expectation of how that experience is supposed to be, and when you go on a site that doesn't create that same kind of experience or better, it's disappointing. That same kind of expectation is getting pulled into the workplace. She also talked about how some of the hard factors of attraction and retention, like benefits and compensation, are no longer enough, and some of the soft factors like recognition, flexibility, working with the latest technology and be able to develop themselves. Employees depend on HR to really deliver these kind of softer benefits in a digital way in order to meet their expectations.

Cindy Lu:             She also talked about how employee experience is not the same as employee engagement. It's more of an outcome and it requires a strategy, a clear objective of what you want this relationship to be with your employees and how that should look like. How do you want your employees to describe this relationship? How would they feel? What kind of words are they using? And because there are so many different generations of employees and types of employees in the past it's been really hard to segment this, but with digital technology it has become much easier to segment your employees just like you do your customers. She gave a couple of examples, like in talent acquisition and how there are so many candidates today that are considered passive candidates, meaning they're not out seeking a job, and how to pull these candidates into your pipeline and nurture that relationship and how social and digital allows you to do that in a much easier way than in the past.

Cindy Lu:             She then talked about learning and development, and how learning and development used to be episodic, but now with digital it allows learning to be continuous and how that's actually very much a requirement and help make suggestions for the employees like, "I see you started this new project and here's some suggestions on courses that might help you," making that these things on demand. Then making shorter modules, so sort of she describes Snapchat type of learning instead of hours and hours of material in minutes. I think thinking about communication skills and be able to condense that down for people is a real skill to be focused on in the future. She then talked about how work is changing with technology, AI, robotics and how we are always on and what are the expectations from a culture perspective. I recently actually just saw in the signature line of a chief HR officer of a very progressive global company and it said that we are flexible and sort of like if you get this message in the middle of the night, I don't expect you to turn around and respond to it right away.

Cindy Lu:             She also talked about no borders. Not just globally, outside of our organizations, but also inside the organizations and how to develop relationships and work on projects with people you don't know and how HR needs to be in the center of that. She talked about new workplace platform and collaboration tools, as well as social networks, and how the adoption rate is increasing. The big reason behind that is because leaders are starting to embrace these tools. Instead of using email, using tools like Slack. She did not mention that, of course, because LinkedIn is owned by Microsoft. But I've talked to CHROs who are part of digitally advanced companies where Slack is the primary method to communicate. I communicate with my interns and my staff through a project management tool, really sophisticated one, but it's just Google Sheets. We put our projects out there and instead of emailing back and forth, these projects are there. She really talked about how important it is for leaders to embrace these digital tools, and when they embrace it, the rest will follow.

Cindy Lu:             Her next topic was about speed of work and agile practices and how projects instead of being six months to a year that companies are breaking these up into small pieces so that you can immediately see the impact. Also, because of these tools, it's very clear who's doing what. There's transparency, accountability and how HR needs to be part of this process and really embed this kind of mindset into the culture. Next topic she talked about was empowering employees and managers and how in this digital culture it's about being able to speak up and give honest feedback up and across and down. What occurred to me was that this is not something new with digital, but I [inaudible 00:07:14] think that's it... In some cases with the certain channels, it becomes easier for employees to give this feedback through these digital channels.

Cindy Lu:             She also talked a lot about mindset, beliefs and practices and limiting beliefs, as well as the kinds of beliefs that are holding us back, as well as the kind of beliefs that we need to adopt in order to make this transition. But my favorite tip was sort of about getting the right people on the bus and how to really accelerate the journey for HR as it relates to digital transformation. It wasn't just about developing folks in HR or hiring more digitally mature skills within HR, but also looking at other departments that have been on this digital transformation journey maybe for the last 10 years. Pulling people out of marketing, product development, employee or a customer experience. Then taking somebody from customer experience and helping them craft an employee experience all the way to leadership communication. She talks about how HR could really accelerate its digital transformation journey by pulling people in from other functions and embedding these new skills that are needed in HR.

Cindy Lu:             And finally she talked about data and how data is the lifeblood of HR and how many HR functions are drowning in data. They have too much data, but not enough insights. So to go back to sort of asking the right questions of the data analyst and making sure that we are focused on not just the outcomes, but the behaviors and what those behaviors might predict. She talked about how there's obviously no one size fits all or a set of standard questions, but to really think about what are the... What's the information that you're looking for and asking the right questions.

Cindy Lu:             I would love to hear from you all and ship me a note or drop a note in the comments about your experiences with digital transformation, whether it's within the HR department or helping another department within your organization go through that process. I think that there is probably nothing more important these days than for us to be watching out for the employee experience, not just because it's so hard to find and retain people, but also because when we hire the best people who help us transform and disrupt our businesses, that's going to keep our businesses alive.

Cindy Lu:             Love to hear your thoughts. That was my quick summary in 10 minutes from a one hour LinkedIn learning course from Charlene Lee, and we look forward to hearing from her at our big HR event. So if you haven't signed up yet, make sure you get signed up right away for our event on September 13th. See you soon.


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