Highlights and thought-provoking insights from EAPM HR Summit 2019 in Slovenia

The summit took place near a beautiful scenery of Lake Bled in Slovenia, where nature reflects a peaceful harmony and quietness. Paradoxically, the conference was full of discussions and messages about the big impact that the fast-changing environment and technology have on us as human beings.

A mixture of local and international speakers came and were presenting a variety of views on trends and practices in the area of human resources and personal development.

There is no way to make a perfect summary of the conference content in this short article. However, I will try to highlight some thoughts shared by several conference speakers that I found to be the most significant for professionals dealing with human resources.

Lucas van Wees

European Association for People Management, President

Lucas van Wees shared his views on some trends, which affect the current and future state of human resources field from the European level perspective. With no doubt, the fast progress of technology and digitalization has a huge impact on the work of human resources and the need of organisations to implement new technologies will only grow, if they don´t want to stay behind.

Also the demographics of Europe is changing significantly due to the big number of workers working and living abroad. At the same time, organisations become more and more dependent on international workers. On the other hand, there is a growing need for organisations to know how to manage the cultural differences and diversity resulting from this.

According to Richard Farkas, a speaker about national culture in the conference, diversity doesn´t automatically lead to a better productivity. The diverse teams need to be equipped with skills about how to work effectively together first.

Tom Haak

HR Trend Institute , Director

In Tom Haak´s presentation, a very dominant theme was about the need of HR to become more personalised. He provided some examples how technology can help to achieve it. One of them was about technology that is supporting microlearning by providing employees with answers and guidance while doing their job.

Through technology and algorithms organisations can now listen and deliver messages to masses of people at individual level. It is quite paradoxical that organisations will increasingly rely on technology to be more human and personal.

Tom made also some very spot on comments about pitfalls of HR, when it comes to implementing changes. On one side, the approach of HR is to focus only on getting the basics right and clean up the mess. I think that organizations are missing out on a lot of very impactful opportunities, if this is the only thing they do.

Another great way of blocking a lot of meaningful improvements is when HR relies too much on implementing one big HR system that will solve most of its problems. Also it is not good to run too many improvement projects as there is a risk that nothing gets really done and HR is just busy.

Dr. Pierre Casse,

IEDC-Bled School of Management, Leadership Chair

The overarching theme of Dr. Casse´s presentation was about the world of change in which we live and how leadership should deal with it. The pace of change is huge and leaders can turn it into an opportunity or cause a decline. It was emphasized that leaders should lead by doing, teamworking, inspiring and empowering the right people. Especially those whose behaviors create an environment of trust.

One thing is certain and that we live in a very uncertain world. A world where more is achieved through trying and failing than through a perfect and sophisticated approach. Dr. Casse´s conclusion was that leaders should challenge and review all assumptions from the past as what worked yesterday might not work today.

Martin Klaub

IBM Global Business Services, Cognitive HR Solution Leader

This presentation gave a real look to the future as it showed some examples of how artificial intelligence is already used in IBM to carry out a lot of HR work. Starting with recruitment, chat robot asks a potential candidate questions to evaluate his or her suitability for a job in IBM. Candidates can also upload their CV and the system will show them for which jobs they could apply and how much of their profile matches with the profile of the job.

If existing employee would like to move to a different job or be promoted, they can ask another system to find out what options they have. The system evaluates their skills and previous performance and proposes some suggestions.

Likewise, if employees want to grow their skills, they can go to a portal dedicated to learning. There they will see what competences or skills are important for their position and the system will also propose to them courses, which can help them to improve their competences or skills.

There is also rewarding system, which identifies employees who are likely to leave the organisation and proposes a salary increase that should be given, if the management wants to keep the employees. The system also assesses how hard it is to find a replacement for those employees.

I think that at the moment, for many organisations, especially the smaller ones, this is a sound of future somewhere far away. In fact, there are still many organisations in the world, where HR professionals still work in the excel spreadsheets or even with the paper only.

Also I am not really sure, how effective these AI systems are at the moment, but I am sure that they will continue to be improved. As the basic versions of these systems will become more financially available, they will be adapted by more and more organisations. The question is not if, but when.

John Amaechi

Amaechi Performance Systems, CEO

This was more a motivational speech about personal development and transformation rather than a presentation purely about a human resources topic. It was interesting to put such a powerful speaker for the last session of the conference. It certainly ended the conference on a high note and with strong emotions.

The main massage was about what it takes for an individual to transform into someone extraordinary. I think there are lessons, which leaders can learn from it as well, if they want to transform their organisations. First of all, it is about inspiring people by telling them what they could be great at rather than just saying what they should do.

Secondly, leaders should enable their people to know themselves well and then to challenge them whether they are willing to pay the price for the transformation. Thirdly, leaders need to be graceful and accept that failures are part of transformation process.

Big transformations require a lot of courage, because they are about achieving something, which is improbable or far from being usual. These are the times we live in, big changes happen, when we aren’t afraid to challenge what seems to be usual.


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Author: Ivan Kuzma, Founder of HRprofil.eu

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