Is HR Hardwired to “Push”?

On a recent Netflix bingeing session I came across a terrifying yet thought provoking social experiment/ television show by Derren Brown called “The Push”. The concept of “The Push” although disturbing, is simple, can a group of actors use social compliance to manipulate someone into committing murder? After watching this show I couldn’t stop thinking about how social compliance is entangled with our everyday lives and in particular how it relates to business and the crucial decisions that are made every day across all industries.

Social compliance comes down to an individual’s behaviours and importantly in a professional environment, comes down to three core personality traits. Firstly, low assertiveness. Compliant people are more diplomatic and have a low need for control. They are comfortable with letting others take the lead and will not normally voice their opinion. Secondly, high manageability where the preference is to have more structured guidelines. They are content with authority and will follow the rules or procedures of an organisation without question. People with high manageability tend not to come up with new ways of doing things and instead would prefer to follow the norm. Lastly, optimistic attitude and their trusting outlook. Individuals who have a more accepting attitude tend to be manipulated more easily and believe most people are honest and good.

Over our many years of assessing the behavioural composition of thousands of professionals we have noticed that HR in particular is an area of the business that has always been hardwired for social compliance. Maybe this is down to the legal requirements of the role as organisations have strict reliance on HR to keep them out of trouble. HR will always need to be up to date with current regulations, however with the growing implementation of new HRIS systems covering off many of these legal areas, the usual compliancy responsibilities are becoming less demanding.

Technology has been the catalyst for a lot of change in the world but what is exciting and sometimes daunting is the role data is playing . Data has now surpassed oil as the most valuable resource and HR is perfectly positioned to have access to the most important data set of any organisation…..their people. In order for HR not to be left behind it will need to innovate and start critically reviewing this people data to be in a position to assist with the complex business problems of the future. We can already see the divide between those HR teams who have recognised this dramatic shift and embraced these new technologies and those who are lagging and resistant to change.

Which camp do you sit in?

After watching Derren Brown’s experiment it is clear that an individual’s acceptance to social compliance is a hardwired attribute. Compliance is a very important part of all business but as companies and technology evolve they need to appreciate the fine line between innovation and conformity. We believe that the responsibilities of HR are rapidly changing with the exponential growth of technology and in order to keep up HR must transform into more strategic and data driven teams.

Maybe HR needs to be “pushed” to be more adventurous, innovative and accepting of risk!

Written by David Snow

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