Life is a series of chapters and transitions, personally and professionally. I’ve found that to create meaning in the face of and across those transitions, one has to build from one to the next. Transferring knowledge, learnings, innovations, reflections…, makes for lasting contributions and leads to greater growth and innovations.

Having served as head of human resources for three major academic and health systems, I’m motivated to share and exchange learnings and insights with colleagues who are similarly thinking about the need for workforce innovations and what I would call futureHR. My goal is to solve organizational challenges, some of which are very long-standing.

I can attest to the fact that over 20 years little has changed how the workforce is managed and cared for. Tight margins and emphases on non-HR matters, important no doubt, has limited HR in effectively and collectively planning changes with leaders. That lack of cohesion muddies the people message in organizations, and leads ultimately to managers de-prioritizing employee engagement, where it matters most.

Culture is achievable. You have to believe it, and then you have to make plans and actions to create it. Consider first the value proposition: What has been an organization’s investment in people? How have employees and the organization benefitted? Have we addressed environments that are disempowering, or even worse? Does ownership and accountability permeate the organization at all levels?

It’s also important to recognize that culture impacts organizational resiliency. Companies know that by eliminating complexity (in systems, pay rules, benefits…) for example, they not only gain financially, they are creating the necessary underpinnings of an employee culture and integration. The question is: Can the existing culture support those relatively minor, short-term pain steps in order to achieve those gains, or will fear and resistance of change prevail.

Leaders first and foremost must overcome their own hesitations, if managers are expected to unite behind change. I have found that so long as managers and employees understand the whats and the whys of a particular change, small and large workforces can be surprisingly resilient. It comes down to communication, communication, and more communication. Thoughtful decision-making doesn’t hurt the process either.

Pressure is increasing on HR to impact, to a much greater extent, culture and employee engagement. Ironically, even without a definition or evidence of its benefits, leaders are single-mindedly focused on engagement as critical to achieving an organization’s mission. Creating that people culture is not soft nor does it remain elusive; there are tangible innovations across every HR functions that can and must be pursued. Through my blog, I am motivated to reflect on examples of a much-improved future-state HR, and as I embark on my new transition perhaps I’ll reflect on some lessons from leadership that are simply unforgettable and relevant to the challenges we face.