Thursday, March 21, 2013

How HR Gets in its Own Way of Being Awesome

I have been delivering many sessions, panels, classes, workshops and discussions regarding HR's journey to becoming what it thinks it should be...a true business partner.  (my word is Business Leader)

I always pose the question, "what are some roadblocks for you (HR) in becoming ____________.  (Fill in the blank with awesome, valuable, strategic, effective business partner, business leader, etc.)

Here is what I have been receiving as answers:

1. I don't have the executive support
2. I don't have the resources (technology, budget)
3. My staff is not strategic (skills)
4. My managers don't buy in to it, they think they will have more work
5. I don't have time
6. I can't do that stuff, I am busy doing _______________.  (employee relations, payroll, benefits, etc.)
7. Our employees need hand holding
8. I have to be involved in all employee relations issues
9. It's a difficult change and the business is not ready
10. A different HR model is difficult to get used to (generalist, specialist, support center)

The bottom line is this.  IF HR can't show how it impacts the bottom line and how what they do is a critical function of the business then the game is over.  It's hard to draw a line from processing paychecks to a result.  (I know getting paid is important, let a third party do that)

Think about these activities for a moment:

1) HR having the ability to identify competencies that drive results in the organization and develop those competencies rather than a generic set from the talent management system.
2) HR having the ability to predict the success of HR expenditures before the check is written.
3) HR having the ability to predict and identify those high performers that contribute most to the bottom line, that are at risk for leaving.
4) HR having the ability to create a high performer profile that predicts what a successful candidate "looks" like in terms of knowledge, skills and abilities.
5) HR having the ability to lead strategic execution to the point of cascading goals all the way down to the front line where execution is critical.

Now, those things above are what I would rather be doing in HR.  All of the roadblocks listed earlier can be overcome by educating leaders and managers on "what could be." Another tool to use, is creating a business case for a different HR model.  This task in not an easy one but leaders are used to business cases that speak the language of the business.   It's worth the effort and trust me, it's a lot funner than processing paychecks and benefits forms.

Another thing HR is going to have to do is this...let go.  Yes, you heard it from the biggest control freak on the planet.  So what, if you don't sit in every routine termination.  So what, if you don't sign every routine disciplinary form for attendance issues.  Who Cares?

I do see a shift...I have seen some bright HR professionals who are making a difference everyday in their organizations, we just need more people on that train.  As businesses deal with change and strategic shifts at a faster and faster pace, what a great time for HR to jump in head first.

How have you made the transition from transactional to strategic?  What were your roadblocks?
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