END HR SERVITUDE!!!!
This page is for talented HR professionals who want to make a strategic impact in their organisations; to rattle the cage; to drive cutting-edge solutions; to slash non-working, bureaucratic procedures; and to deliver a pipeline of talent in their organisations that will deliver “excellence” in all its forms.
THIS PAGE IS NOT FOR THE FEINT-HEARTED. SO, PAUSE AND REFLECT BEFORE READING ON.
HR is a phenomenally complex function and demands high levels of technical knowledge and interpersonal skills. Through my speaking and consulting work, I have the privilege of meeting and knowing many awe-inspiring HR professionals. So, when I read the article, “What Makes A Great HR Leader” in the March 2017 issue of People Management, I was heartened, but not surprised, to read that “HR leaders are better educated, more networked and more mobile than ever before.”
But, that begs the question,
“WHY DO HR STILL STRUGGLE TO ACHIEVE RESPECT AND IMPACT?”
I believe that the answer comes in two parts:
- Being good at what the job demands is what we should expect of all employees; it is not something for which to be congratulated.
- Despite its origins (playing a strategic role to ensure sustainable productivity in the early 18th century), it has focused too much on bureaucracy and on providing reactive, short-term, tactical solutions.
I trained initially as a methods and systems engineer, designing working processes that capitalise on contemporary technology, and designing technology that capitalises on behaviour engineering principles. I soon learned that:
TECHNOLOGY IS NOT THE SOLUTION; IT IS MERELY AN ENABLER.
The quality of those responsible for others is by far the single most important factor in (a) achieving maximum productivity with given staff capability, and (b) realising the true potential of each individual member of staff through targeted development.
I believe that this is affirmed by three recurring themes in organisations:
- Productivity is lower than expected, desired and possible
- Employee engagement is a key concern
- Higher than desired attrition with those resigning citing aspects of how they were managed as the key triggers.
What bugs me is that we often address the symptoms when one fact is blatantly clear.
WE ARE PUTTING THE WRONG PEOPLE INTO PEOPLE-MANAGEMENT POSITIONS.
Why is that?
My more than 30 years international HR experience in and working with organisations tells me that it is often because HR places providing a service above being strategically impactful.
YES, HR IS A SERVICE.
BUT, IT SHOULD NEVER BE SUBSERVIENT.
DESPITE NOT ALWAYS HAVING DIRECT AUTHORITY, IT SHOULD BE ACCOUNTABLE FOR ENSURING THAT SOUND PEOPLE DECISIONS ARE MADE.
I contend that the goals of any HR function are:
- Compliance - To ensure that the organisation has, and follows, policies and procedures that deliver 100% compliance with all statutory and regulatory requirements.
- Performance - To work with line management and staff to ensure optimal individual and team commitment to the organisation’s goals and values, and performance to achieve them i.e., productivity is maximised.
- Talent - To work with line management and staff to ensure that the organisation has a talent pipeline that meets the short and medium-term operational, and long-term strategic needs, especially (a) the ability to fill all critical roles with suitable talent, (b) the ability to cope effectively with the unexpected loss of any critical employee, (c) retention of true top talent, and (d) the ability to fill all roles, only with those with proven capability and desire to succeed.
- Development - To work with line management and staff to ensure that individual employees and teams focus on realising their true potential through targeted and effective development activities and assignments i.e., potential is maximised.
- Investment - To work with line management to ensure that staff costs are managed as investments - providing a measurable ROI and that administrative costs are minimised.
- HR Team Development - To develop an HR team that has the skills required to provide world-class solutions to the organisation - that operates as an integrated function; that provides efficient and effective operational services; and that provides input into the organisation’s strategy, not merely support for it.
IN THE WORD “ENSURE” AND IN GOAL 6, LIE THE RUB!
Of course, we require HR professionals to have excellent functional skills. Across the globe, and in the UK and USA in particular, we have universities and professional bodies committed to supporting that. Yet, still we have the challenge of achieving respect and impact.
TRULY GREAT HR LEADERS BRING MORE THAN JUST FUNCTIONAL EXPERTISE.
Truly great HR Leaders bring additional skillsets some of which I will summarise:
IF YOU SHARE MY PASSION AND WOULD LIKE TO BE PART OF A GROUP COMMITTED TO ACHIEVING AN IMPACT AND GENUINE RESPECT FOR HR, THEN SIGN-UP FOR MY FORTHCOMING NEWSLETTER. YOU’LL HAVE THE CHANCE TO CONTRIBUTE AND TO INTERACT WITH AN INSPIRING GROUP OF FELLOW PROFESSIONALS.
- Courage - As Merom Klein articulates in his book, “The Courage To ACT,” with courage you can transform a business. In my own words, “Without courage, you aspire to mediocrity.”
- Business Acumen – including, but not limited to:
(a) Having an in-depth knowledge of the organisation - its vision, mission, strategy, operations, and operating environment
(b) Understanding how the funding, finances, and financial management of the organisation operate
(c) Developing powerful business cases to promote HR initiatives; not reacting to requests and/or merely following the populist fad.
- Technology – including, but not limited to:
(a) Understanding the behaviour-engineering potential of contemporary tools
(b) Understanding the short, medium and long-term risks, and cost-benefit ratios of different tools
(c) Commissioning the right tools, not merely the recommended or popular tools.
- Analytics – including, but not limited to:
(a) Collecting quality (valid, reliable, comprehensive, different, and useful) data
(b) Analysing and interpreting data
(c) Presenting and utilising data to inform and drive effective decisions.
- Personal Effectiveness – including, but not limited to:
(a) In our increasingly noisy world, communications are largely comprised of connectives (brief, transitory connections between people, processes and things; across time, space, languages, and cultures). So, messages become fragmented and disjointed. If HR are to achieve impact, they need to be able to command the stage, to create a presence, to present with impact, and to inspire others.
(b) Preparing and delivering proposals in a way that sells them to the target audience
(c) When faced with resistance, negotiating solutions that are in the best interests of the organisation.