HR’s Role in the Evolving Work Environment


June 9, 2010

*Today I’m sharing a special guest post from Mike Grindell, EVP and Chief Administrative Officer at 22squared.  Be sure to read to the end so you can connect with Mike on Twitter.

Lately I have been thinking about what makes organizations and people successful – my own company, girls soccer teams, boards, communities, etc.  As some one who spent a number of years in Human Resources, and is helping shape the direction of SHRM-Atlanta – I wonder what role HR leaders play in today’s new environment:

I believe it ultimately comes down to a straight forward equation:

Better HR leaders and efforts create great leaders, great leaders create better companies, great companies create great communities in which to live and work.

So, how does HR get there?

A few suggestions/questions:

Be a student and expert in your business/area of expertise

  • allocate time to read about your organization, its category, how money/success is made, competitors – do you truly have time blocked on your calendar?

Be a killer business person

  • Know the P&L better than the CFO, track the equities markets, track competitors, visit operations of your organization and those of competitors – does your time allocation reflect being a killer business person?

Engage in the development of the HR discipline

  • SHRM (national and local), HRLF, conferences, follow experts – are you regularly involved with your discipline?

Coach, mentor, develop

  • There are mentoring organizations everywhere – they are always looking for mentors – are you a member, do you allocate time every month to offer advice, counsel, provide real feedback, a supportive comment?

Many HR leaders manage the largest budget items in any organizations P&L – what are you doing to drive different results with those budgets?

  • Salaries, benefits, training dollars, and other budgets often represent the largest set of investment/expense dollars for any organization – are you bringing innovation and new ways to invest and drive results?

Accept that the rules have changed forever

  • HR is not about programs and processes anymore (yes, there will be recruiting, compensation, benefits, talent management, etc.) – it is about driving sustainable business results that matter – you must be able to answer the question „we are doing xxxx in order to drive yyyy results“
  • and, I am convinced the decades long practices of driving engagement through compensation, rewards, talent practices have changed – it is simply not a given or assumed anymore that salary increases, affordable benefits, great training and other efforts are part of the employment deal – do you have a point of view and a business agenda you are advancing at your organization in the context of today’s new realities?

Are you nourishing your own soul, spirit, health?

  • I truly believe each of us must flourish as an individual before we can help an organization be healthy
  • Are you making time for health, for learning, for love, for culture, for laughter?  Are you a more fulfilled person today than last year?  Are having the life you planned?

Offer your point of view and thoughts – its an interesting and challenging world we find ourselves operating in every day.  The HR discipline must develop its own great leaders so we can drive the results required.

So, what do you think?  Let us know in the comments.

Thanks to Mike for this thoughtful post.  Mike is a senior change, strategy, and operations executive focused on driving business results through organizational capabilities and by building processes and operations that matter. Serving in a variety of executive and management roles, Mike has a history of leading change management and process improvement initiatives that drive sustainable business results.  As EVP, Chief Administrative Officer at 22squared, he leads Finance, IT, Human Resources, Office Services, Campaign Management, Real Estate, Media Buying and is helping shape the agencies Digital strategy.

Previously he lead his own change and leadership consultancy, and was a 16 year executive of The Coca-Cola Company holding a variety of executive roles focused on building organizational capabilities and driving talent management initiatives. Prior to Coca-Cola, Mike held positions of increasing responsibility with Citigroup and Federated Department Stores, respectively.

Mike earned a bachelor’s degree in business administration from the University of Kansas and an MBA from Emory University’s Goizueta School of Business.   He is married to Jana Graham Grindell, they have four children, he is a runner, NASCAR fan, avid U2 fan, and his favorite roles in life are husband and father.  Mike serves on the boards of SHRM Atlanta (Board Chair 2011-2012) and Quality Care for Children.

You can find Mike at:

Twitter @mgrindell


  • Mike…Nice list…In my experience, most HR folks struggle with thinking and acting as a true business person (particularly as it relates to executing #1 & #2). And regarding the idea that the rules have changed, I believe there are many CXOs who still look at their HR leader in the same old way and do not foster their development…Sad.

  • Perhaps because I’ve chosen to make my mark through corporate communication consulting, I look at leadership and communication as the indispensable hallmarks of great companies.

    As you said, HR is no longer about programs and processes (thank heavens). I think what makes for a great company is infinitely simpler.

    People want to go to a workplace where they feel respected, appreciated, challenged, and safe (speaking primarily here of emotional safety — can I trust the integrity, competence and benevolence of those around me, or am I constantly having to be on guard?).

    A positive, top performance workplace may be reflected in programs, processes and policies — but I think it’s created in the hundreds of seemingly small encounters, every single day.

    Some questions HR professionals might ask themselves:

    * Do we reward high performers in ways that are meaningful to them? Or do we simply “reward” them with more work?

    * If I were a top candidate interviewing with my company, would my interactions with HR make me more excited to work here — or less?

    * How well can we articulate our value to senior management?

    As the face of their companies, HR professionals are uniquely poised to create a winning workplace culture — and to attract the new hires who will ensure the organization’s continued success.


  • Shaun – thanks for the comments – its a challenge to shift from thinking of HR as a set of programs versus a business lever – sounds like you are on that path! thanks for your comments

  • Gina – love your thoughtful comments – and glad to be following you. I agree that people are looking for richer meaning and fulfillment in work and life today, and the progressive organizations will figure that out. Thanks

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About Trish

A former HR executive and HCM product leader with over 20 years of experience.


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