Sunday, October 5, 2008

Advice for Human Resources

Human Resources professionals work very hard to gain a seat at the table with the other functional leaders in an organization. Much has been written and discussed about how to do this.

Typically those discussions boil down to "What gets us there?" Here are my top eight factors for HR to gain a seat at the table.

1. Making Stuff Happen Work with managers or associates to resolve issues builds street cred. Being a provider of solutions is invaluable

2. Customer Service. - be uber responsive & uber accessible Be there when they need you.

3. Business Knowledge. You can't be effective to your business colleagues unless you know your business. Learn processes, KPIs, jargon & customers. You don't want to look like a dope

4. Reliable results. Be a doer, you earn one kind of rep by providing solutions that stick & good advice People must see you as a confidante & counselor who can help them Leader finds this invaluable & will want you with them.

5. Provide real world advice, not just policy guidance. Be able to step outside the HR policy manual & the law & come to grips with both sides of the problem: the business case and the HR case. Seeing both will let you mediate solutions that work for the business while protecting HR interests

6. Don't be overly obsessed with policy and lawsuits. Making fact based, ethical business decisions that consider the interests of the business and your employees will take you miles down the road. I am not saying be reckless, just realize you WILL be facing some litigation. If you do the right thing, you have less to fear, and win more allies in the end.

7. Challenging the Status Quo. Business partners don't need yes men. String leaders don't want people who rubber stamp their decisions. Be thoughtful, but act as devil's advocate. Doing this may mark you as a bot of a rebel, but if you do it effectively, you will be appreciated by your peers.

8. Be an early adopter. Stay ahead of the technological and informational curves. Use the tools and resources that are out there to give yourself a business edge. Let Google be one of your best friends. It can't hurt!

Others have shared their thoughts as well.

Cristina Mihai from the United Arab Emirates share her own list:

1. business focus
2. business acumen
3. balance strategic & support functions
4. appropriately position HR functions and people in the organisation
5. know your technical tools & methodologies, and keep updated
6. balance individual people focus with business needs
7. be human at all times, and educate all others towards this goal
8. think long term while solving routine problems

Octavio Ballesta from Argentina adds these thoughts, citing the research done by the Great Place to Work Institute:

I foresee for the years to come a Human Talent function strategically oriented and having a place at the corporate table. These are the biggest challenges that a Human Talent department should face in the foreseeable future:

1. Anticipating Global Talent Shortage: The most critical problem that today’s HR managers face is hiring, retaining, training and motivating professional talent in a troublesome scenario where the already critical shortage of human talent in some professional areas and in diverse managerial disciplines due to the beginning of the retirement with no enough replacements of the baby boomers’ workforce; economical growth in China and India and resurgence of energy market firms due to strong crude oil prices has motivated a fierce competence to hire, train and retain the already scarce talent available in the job market. Being so, human talent is being more critical to ensure the competitiveness of a company for the long term.

Such perspective is the expression of a growing trend of cannibalization in hiring and recruiting scarce professional resource that finally is engaged to work with the bigger companies. This trend is particularly critical in the Oil & Energy and Engineering industries where I have worked for years and where is possible observe a continuous turnover of engineers from one company to other one looking for better salary perspectives and superior career development plans.

Being so, some companies belonging to these industries are beginning to develop systematically their respective Strategic Workforce Planning to analyze, evaluate and forecast the talent that they need to develop their strategic planning. In parallel, these companies are developing a more proactive HR management and are making the necessary adjustments to excel in the role of hiring, retaining, training and motivating professional talent.

2. Employer Brand Management: Today’s global organizations should excel in developing Employer Brand Management practices to generate multicultural workplaces where an employee can feel pride and satisfaction for belonging to an organisation where he/she is considered, respected and recognized. The Great Place to Work Institute, located in San Francisco, USA has developed practices to improve five cultural dimensions (Credibility, Respect, Fairness, Pride and Camaraderie) to pursuit this purpose.

When an employee as usually happens in most of today's companies is considered as a mere commodity that may be easily replaced, relocated, hired and finally fired out, is easy to expect that in such workplaces an anguish feeling of demoralization, progressive disengagement and lost of motivation finally will have a profound and detrimental impact over employee’s productivity, increasing the rate of employee’s attrition and affecting the whole company’s productivity for the long term. This is the reason that justifies the progressive adoption of Employer Branding practices.

3. Managing efficiently multicultural organizations: In global organizations that are engaged in developing transformational projects with a worldwide scope dealing with cultural differences in organizations requires from a strong, empowered and influential leadership with the willingness of applying the proper corporate governance practices to homogenize those differences around an inspiring business vision that being strongly encouraged by senior Management and enabled by collaborative technologies may be instrumental in reducing the inefficiencies of having multidisciplinary teams geographically dispersed with different cultures working in markets, products and projects that could be intrinsic and inherent to the particular country´s culture, history and traditions.

Dana Jarvis MPA, MSW adds:

I appreciated reading your insights. Along with the 8 factors you mentioned, I'd also like to add, Strategic Thinker. HR must be able to think in strategic ways that add direct value to the company's bottom line. Examples would include HR's strategic eyes on Succession Planning, Learning and Development and Performance Management. In each of these initiatives, it requires critical thought to design them for short and long-term or strategic success.

and finally, Rebecca Regan, owner of Regan HR,Inc. attributes to factors within the organization:
I think a lot has to do with who you report to and how they value HR in their organization. It's kind of like the idiom, you get what you expect. If you're reporting to a CEO who doesn't "get HR" and how it can truly contribute to the quality of the overall company, then you can't have a seat at the table. You'll be shuffling paper instead!

Here's to avoiding a fate worse than death Don't let yourself become a paper shuffler!

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