What does every truck driver dream of while navigating the streets of New York City? Becoming an H.R. professional. It’s the natural order of things. Or at least that’s how it was for me. After two years delivering lumber and building supplies in the business founded by my great grandfather, I found myself applying at least some of my college training as an entry-level member of a boutique staffing firm in the greatest city on the planet.

In this series of blogs, I’ll share some stories about the journey from the cab of a truck, to a small desk in a small firm, to the big desk in a big firm and on to my favorite (and current) role as leader of product development for some of the coolest technology any Talent Recruiter could ever hope for.

It was quite a transition and challenge acclimating to an office-based HR role. In my truck driving world things were simple; drivers drove, loaders loaded, receiving managers received. Everyone had a role, knew what one another’s place in the delivery ecosystem was and what spelled success for each. To be honest, one of the first challenges of delivering staffing services to companies was gaining an understanding of each of the stakeholders’—HR and the Business—roles in the process. At the time, I assumed it was just the perspective of an outsider looking in.

Flawed assumption.

After a few years working on the agency side of the business I made the switch to the corporate HR world and joined as an HR Manager at a Big Six (remember them?) accounting firm. Ironically once I was on the inside of the process rather than seeing it as a vendor, I quickly realized the question as to the role of HR—and in many eyes, the value—was still murky.

After a few more years as a practitioner, I found myself wanting to help define the role of HR and give fellow practitioners the opportunity to really carve out their niche in the value generation continuum. I joined an HR technology vendor and haven’t looked back. Now some 15 years into the vendor world I see that we’re making strides but still often hear the same question asked by others that I asked myself so many years ago; “how do I show the business that I bring value every day?”

With our launch of TalentObjects by Lumesse, we challenged ourselves to move past just helping HR demonstrate value and instead make them a superhero to their business stakeholders. Why not?  Who wouldn’t want to be a superhero or have a superhero working for their organization? We know that it’s a tall order.  We know that all paths to business value run through “the business”. We know that the tools we can deliver will generate business value quantified as faster and cheaper recruiting, better quality hires and faster time to productivity. But we know that the biggest issue with HR tools is adoption by the business. So we set out with a very clearly-stated mission as we started our design process.

“Deliver HR solutions that a business person can love.”

It’s all about focusing on the basics and the fundamentals. The first of which is defining how the best people get into the right jobs at the right time to drive business value. Turns out that line of thinking takes us right down a path that runs parallel to but not through HR.  It’s the hiring manager, the interviewer, the employee, and the candidate. These are the stakeholders HR has historically tried to support and whom HR professionals (like me) have tried to provision with technology to make their jobs easier. The irony is that even with those good intentions, we failed. The technology didn’t and doesn’t get used for a simple reason. HR technology has historically been designed for HR processes and people and then rolled out to stakeholders beyond our corner of the office.

No question much of the frustration around HR technology for business people is that it doesn’t really run the way their business processes run.  Beyond that it runs in environments separate from their familiar business environments. In other words, it wasn’t built for them.

The second basic is something that we all know. People appreciate simple. In our daily lives we are all consumers and users of technology and our expectations have been set by the simplicity with which we can manage our lives. When we get to the workplace either as a jobseeker or someone trying to link up with jobseekers, we want that same experience. We need to bring that same simplicity and personalized experience to the enterprise.

And finally, a dichotomy. People hate change. People LOVE change. They love it when it doesn’t take them a lot of effort, gets them a great result and feels like it’s being made just for them. Adapting an environment that is familiar to them is what softens the impacts of technology or process change. It is why, given our focus on enabling hiring managers, recruiters and other stakeholders from the business, that we chose to create TalentObjects on the Salesforce platform. Familiarity. Fit for purpose. These tools feel like they are created for business people.

As a technology provider, I know that anything is possible. Technology put a jukebox in your pocket after all. If we think through a challenge or opportunity, put ourselves in the seat of the person we are trying to serve and then create based on that perspective we can deliver some magic. Magic in the form of a hugely improved business process, delightful user experience or major impact on results. Creating superheroes is within reach. It’s all about taking that user perspective, designing from that angle and giving HR professionals a tool that engages business people as equal partners in the shared process of optimizing a workforce. Giving business people a platform that even they can love.

Speaking of superheroes…to many Bruce Lee is a bona fide superhero legend. And without really knowing it he defined exactly what we set out to do as we reshape the capabilities of the Salesforce platform to deliver TalentAcquisition tools for business people.  “You must be shapeless. Like water. When you pour it into a cup it becomes the cup. Be like water my friend.”

Shape yourself to fit. Good advice.

We listened. We are doing it. And superheroes are in the offing.

Next blog:  “Is HR Technology a dinosaur? Workforce Technology may be that meteor that disrupts an ecosystem.”