This HR lady is fired up! Lately, there is no shortage of posts and articles about Human Resources not being strategic, not being valued, and needing to change in order to make everyone else in the C-Suite feel better. From articles in HBR (including their current magazine cover saying “It’s Time to Blow Up HR”), to Forbes to the Korn Ferry Institute, people are questioning whether or not HR can be strategic, what they need to do to become strategic and whether we should just start over from scratch.
As someone who has dedicated my entire career to working in HR and trying to further our profession, I can assure you HR leaders are strategic. The issue as I see it from the trenches is a lack of respect for the value HR brings to the organization and for that, I don’t believe that “blowing up HR” is the way to correct it. What HR needs is a re-brand.
If I were asked to describe my “ideal” HR department, it would be one in which every HR pro would:
- Know the business- Speak the language of the particular industry they support.
- Understand the financials- This is key to being able to strategically advise leadership on people issues. Ensuring you have a solid understanding of exactly how your organization makes and spends money, then be able to equate the people costs to the bottom line.
- Get honest– They wouldn’t sugarcoat what is going on. The only way to really make things better is to examine the issue at hand by being honest and transparent.
- Encourage innovation– Include HR at all levels in brainstorming to truly challenge the traditional ways of doing things. Some processes will remain the same. Others will be taken to new and better levels.
- Be recognized publically (internally AND externally) – Other work teams publicize their “wins”. So should HR.
How do we get to the ideal? We RISE to a new level of awareness:
- Reduce or outsource administrative functions where possible
- Innovate to come up with fresh approachs to business issues about people, then aggressively share with the C-Suite and other leaders
- Spread the word about what HR is and what it isn’t and really publicize HR “wins” and successes
- Engage all levels of the organization
I had the opportunity to speak to a group of HR leaders in Kansas City last night and one conversation was focused on how to rebrand HR in higher education. This leader was describing how he is taking business principles to rebrand the HR team. Instead of the employees working off old assumptions, he’s breathing fresh, new life into the HR team and then publicizing the interactions so that the overall opinion about HR changes. It’s steps like his that will make HR rise….not blowing up the profession or tearing it apart.
All this feels like the culmination of many different approaches all leading to the same result. A new HR. A refocused, redefined, re-branded HR. The ball is rolling. How do we gain momentum?
Totally agree with you. We need a re-brand badly. The C-suite needs to see has a business partners and innovators and not just a non-revenue producing expense.
@Jenna- Thanks for the comment. We are totally on the same page. When I was working in HR at at PR firm about 5 years ago, I even wrote about how I’d love HR to operate like a profit center. http://hrringleader.com/2010/01/28/four-ways-hr-can-operate-more-like-a-profit-center/ I feel like the problem isn’t with us, it’s with the way we’re used as a free resource, thus less valued.