Tag: Business Partner
“Only mediocrity is sure of itself.” –Paulo Coelho
Last month I did a Workshop at the PIHRA convention in Anaheim with the above title. Here are some of the points I made in that workshop:
- Do you believe in HR? If you claim that you do, what risks are you willing to take on behalf of that belief? Asked another way, what would you do if you knew you couldn’t fail? If you have a deep faith in yourself and what you are capable of, are you demanding that you get the opportunity to make a difference? Or does that belief wallow in silence?
- This is the “story” of HR. But it doesn’t have to be your story! I’ve gone so far as to suggest HR executives call themselves anything other than HR! Queen for the Day is better. Or Chief People Officer, Chief Relationship Officer, etc. Fact is, no matter what you get paid or what you can accomplish, the very term “HR” makes an emotional connection which says: administrative.
- Because it has been so under-valued HR is a real opportunity! Most of the competition leaves this opportunity on the table very day. In large part because HR executives don’t know how to make a case for strategic HR. When I speak to CEO groups I go over the math and ROI of HR so they get the investment opportunity. Fact is, in most companies the opportunity is worth at least 10% of annual payroll. So in a $2,000,000 total payroll company that means the opportunity is worth at least $200,000!
- The number one excuse of those in attendance as the reason why they don’t engage in more strategic activity is TIME. Yet few of them have ever taken a time management course (P.S. there’s one on HR That Works I designed). When I coach HR and other executives the first thing I do is have them get crystal clear as to where their time is going and then get them to STOP doing 5 hours of low value work per week. That frees up 20 hours of opportunity time per month. Do you know where your time goes? What will you stop doing for 5 hours per week?
- If we want to get paid we have to understand business and money. One of the great Catch-22’s is the fact that many people in HR are terrible with numbers! Especially if they did not migrate into the role from accounting, etc. In addition, we have to learn how to talk to business owners in a way that gets their attention. Meaning we have to understand revenue and activity equivalents of HR costs. By attending the webinar listed at the end of this article, I’ll show you how to have that conversation the right way.
- When you think of HR do the words creativity, innovation, and fun come to mind? Or do you agree that 99.9% of HR is boring? Which implies…you may be boring?? (I dread the thought.) Again, it doesn’t have to be that way. Where’s your creative edge? What tests and experiments are you running? How robust is your suggestion system? How out of the box are ya? If you haven’t already done so, do yourself a super-big favor and read Gordon MacKenzie’s Orbiting the Giant Hairball. (P.S. Hairball means the policies and procedures people like HR create that can stifle organizations.)
- Do you have an HR plan? Unfortunately most small and mid-sized companies don’t. Do you have a plan for your HR career? As the beautiful May Kay so accurately stated, “Most people plan their vacations better than their careers.” There is no substitute for good planning. Try building a house without one. Or an HR department or career. I am a big fan of rolling 90-day game plans that focus on one strategic objective a month. I also coach my clients to have daily game plans so that they make their day as opposed to everyone else doing it for them.
- Get fired up! What are you waiting for…a next lifetime? It is important to rediscover your BIG WHY’S and make a commitment to attaining them. Whether it be for the company, yourself, your family, your dream adventure, or anyone else you can make a difference with. Being fired up is an inside-out job. Don’t expect others to do it for you.
- Lastly, be prepared to ask for a raise. Not because you want one or need one but because you’ve added so much value that you deserve one. I know that many HR executives are intimidated by money and intimidated by asking for more of it. If you believe in yourself and know you can and make a difference then get paid what are worth or work someplace where you can be fully and financially actualized.
So, if you are one of those people who is not stuck on ordinary, I encourage you to view the HR That Works webinar recording on Getting Paid to Grow the Bottom Line.
Over the years the Human Resources Department has transitioned through any number of “latest thinking” management concepts and corresponding “buzz phrases” – from “matrix management” to “broadbanding” to “onboarding” and “headwinds”. Each new approach seemed the brainchild of management consultants seeking to encourage what they called creative thinking and the latest strategies to improve the human factor.
Lately though a persistent theme has settled in that HR should become a “Business Partner” of the organization, in order to be taken seriously by senior management and enhance the value-added contribution of its programs. This encouragement suggests that HR is not currently a player on the Senior Executive team – but needs to be.
So what exactly is an HR business partner? Several key criteria have been tagged as descriptors:
- Diagnose business needs
- Develop management’s capability to address HR issues
- Provide advice and a point of view
- The primary focus is driving the business forward
- To educate, motivate and influence others
Does the above describe the HR function at your company? Is HR considered a business partner?
Your Father’s Personnel Department
Today most would chuckle at memories of the “old” Personnel department, whose primary responsibilities seem to have been tasks like recruiting, record keeping, arranging the blood drives, the safety shoe program and running the annual picnic / Christmas party. The head of Personnel was rarely considered a “player” at management meetings. Some in management claimed that the department was only a necessary evil.
That Personnel was viewed as the department focused on the interests of the employees. Its management was staffed by employee relations generalists, was sensitized by the needs of employees and left the running of the business to the “businessmen”. Personnel dealt with people.
Today, companies expect more. Leadership expects less transactional administration and more strategic thinking. Being labeled a “people person” is now considered a negative, a source of humor among recruiters.
What are the signs that HR is a true business partner at your company?
- Direct report to the President / CEO and listed as a member of the Senior Team
- Able to speak with credibility and respect at the management table
- Able to advance the value of HR to those holding negative biases
- Consulted by senior management on human factor issues
- Company decisions affecting employees are initiated by the head of HR
As a newly designated business partner-wannabe, Human Resources in many companies has transitioned away from the traditional role of caring for / representing the employees. It has focused instead on utilizing the human capital to assist management in achieving objectives and driving business success. However, the more successful HR has become as a business partner the greater the danger that employees will lose trust and confidence in HR, exactly because the focus has moved away from employees.
As HR has developed a new stratagem, some might say a new identity, what has been the cost to the original mission? What part of itself has been lost while chasing the role of business partner?
Have a care that you don’t lose the heart and soul of HR – its caring connection about employees. Don’t start looking at them as merely numbers on a spreadsheet or boxes on an organization chart. There are other departments who already do that very well.
Is the HR function served or harmed by leadership that is “counting the chairs” on their way up the hierarchy? These are typically fast-trackers who are not HR-trained, but only temporary visitors to the department for a “broadening” of their management experience. Why is that acceptable for the HR function, but wouldn’t be tolerated in IT, Finance, Marketing, Engineering or Manufacturing? Is the head of any of these other functions anything less than a seasoned expert in that profession?
Why is HR viewed as different? Why are other functions already presumed to be business partners? Only HR is being challenged, remaining a newbie, on probation at best, at worst one step away from getting the coffee.
Lip service to the people department? Even while sitting at the Senior Management table negative biases from the old days often remain:
- Remember the safety shoe program? It’s hard to be taken seriously after so many years focusing on administration. Does HR deal with important issues today?
- If the head of HR has only been appointed to gain experience toward their ultimate loftier goal, how serious can we take a temporary worker who is only passing through?
- HR is still perceived of as offering restrictive advice, what can’t be done; they remain the gatekeeper of corporate policies. Being an advocate of policy doesn’t win friends.
From the employee’s perspective it is important to consider HR as the source and advocate of fair and equitable treatment, compliance with all regulations affecting employees, and their representative among senior management.
What if senior management doesn’t feel that way? What if they want HR to become just another “business partner” concerned more about the bottom line – to the exclusion of the human factor?
Have a care that we get what we want – Business Partner – and then our employees choke on it as we lose our way.
Article courtesy of Chuck Csizmar, CCP, CMC Compensation Group.