June 2, 2011 at 8:50 pm #131944
I believe HR professionals are essential to a business/government operation. However, I have seen business operations professionals who have ignored, not appreciated, etc. their HR Professionals –
1. why do you think that is? and
2. which characteristics/traits of HR professionals are respected by business/government operations professionals?
June 2, 2011 at 9:34 pm #131986
1. Speaking as an HR professional, oftentimes managers/mgmt. view us as (these are things that I have been told, or that other HR professionals I know have been told):
- “pro-employee” – simply untrue…we do our darndest to remain non-biased and objective)
- “anti-management” – don’t get this one…some of us in HR ARE managers!
- “throwing up roadblocks” – truth is we’re simply looking out for the organization by pointing out how actions/reactions/situations in the workplace may be viewed by others
- “HR is a huge hurdle in getting things done” – perhaps, but we’re trying to comply with the organization’s policies, procedures, state and federal law, management’s wishes, etc. Reality is that in many situations we are asked to get involved after there has been an incident (sorta damage control). Hard for HR to come in for what I call hazardous waste clean up when the damage is done. We have to find a way to defend the organization/mgrs. actions…best to get us involved from the beginning!
- “I hate HR, for changing things” – newsflash: change is inevitable. Here’s another newsflash for everyone: Sometime HR even has to implement policies and procedures they don’t agree with.
I could go on, but will stop here at 5!
June 2, 2011 at 9:49 pm #131984
Tricia, thanks for the input, and your comments are on-point – so how do we break that cycle? What if HR professionals became proficient in “business acumen” speak? Thanks, al
June 2, 2011 at 9:54 pm #131982
HR has been trying to “get a seat at the table” for a long time. In my opinion, HR professionals have been more successful in the private sector than the public sector. Oftentimes HR doesn’t report to the “top dog” so-to-speak, and there’s people in between (ex. HR reports to budget/finance). Not an easy thing to overcome with different perspectives on what’s important and gets escalated.
June 2, 2011 at 9:58 pm #131980
Tricia, agreed, but when reporting to budget/finance – if you don’t speak their “business acumen speak” they may discount your necessity. You don’t need a finance degree, but if you are aware of the balance sheet/income statement (industry, not government) and know how what you do as an HR professional impacts top line growth or bottom line savings, both tangible and intangible… do you think that would help?
June 2, 2011 at 10:11 pm #131978
Agreed that it helps – as far as HR’s working relationship with their direct supervisor. However, it is a challenge to work through ER issues (and some of the less tangible benefits issues)…how about them learning “HR speak!?” 🙂
June 2, 2011 at 10:23 pm #131976
🙂 great reply ! Let your HR colleagues know I am interested in this topic, Thanks, al
June 9, 2011 at 12:24 pm #131974
An understanding of my business (and respect for me) is key to earning my respect – it doesn’t have to be deep, just a basic understanding. I am in the web profession; an HR director once me that “user interface lead” and “user experience lead” were “weird” nonstandard job titles. I told this individual that I had carefully researched these roles before coming up with the postings. It made no difference. I love HR professionals who help with recruitment, retention, HR policies, etc.; they are invaluable. But not when the don’t understand my needs, my business, or what I bring to the table, they are undermining.
June 9, 2011 at 1:12 pm #131972
Line leaders want HR professionals who talk straight and deliver results. Same as any other leaders. Everyone appreicates people of integrity who know their job and how to consult well enough to answer leaders quesitons’ proactively.
Susan you said that when HR doesn’t know your needs they are undermining. What have been the difficulties in communicating your needs to them?
June 9, 2011 at 1:59 pm #131970
Susan, you provided a good example of non-collaboration. I agree there are more HR Professionals who are actively involved and collaborative with other business functions and leads, however, there are those that do not or never want to understand business operations, those few have an impact on the overall reputation of the HR profession within a business. Not sure what you mean by undermining? Thanks for your comments.
June 9, 2011 at 2:01 pm #131968
Carol, great comment about talk straight and deliver results..people of integrity…answer leaders questions proactively. Can you provide an example of such a great exchange of communication?
June 9, 2011 at 2:29 pm #131966
I would definitely agree with this point; it’s key that they understand the the roles to build respect and trust. Also, to Tricia’s point #4, I think being a really clear communicator/keeping communication lines open is important here. If other employees are aware of the various rules/regs that HR folks need to comply with, they are more likely to be understanding when things don’t move quickly. But if I don’t hear back from the HR office for weeks at a time, you can bet I’m going to get frustrated.
June 9, 2011 at 2:36 pm #131964
There is a disconnect in perception, both on the part of some managers and some HR practitioners, as to what the role of an HR professional is in the overall scheme of the organization. Many people on both sides view HR as only the personnel processing function of the organization. It is so much more and HR professionals need to assert their role as strategic consultants just as much as management needs to recognize them as such. If HR professionals present management only with “you can’t do that” rather than “here are some options” they will be seen as obstructionist.
I think one of the biggest issues for government HR is that many people on both sides still view HR in just the personnel actions processing function and many HR staff members do not have the organizational behavior, strategic business and finance knowledge necessary to do the job. For most organizations, payroll is a huge part of their budget and having the best people to get mission goals accomplished is critical. HR professionals need to have the mindset and the skill set to consult with management on the best way to get well-qualified people in the right jobs at the right salary. HR professionals need to have the business acumen AND management need to understand that HR professionals are the experts on staffing issues. When both sides understand what the roles are supposed to be, the collaboration can be successful. When HR is only the keeper of the regs they are obstructionist and when management tells HR “I don’t care how you do, this is what I want” they are bullies who fail to see options available. Both sides need to learn each others’ needs for the collaboration to work.
June 9, 2011 at 2:47 pm #131962
Alan, the people in HR who do not understand business functions or how to collaborate with management give the profession a bad name. There is a big difference between the clerk who keys in benefits information and processes SF-50s and a real HR professional. Both HR and management need to recognize the difference and we need to stop promoting HR staff to leadership positions if they do not have the broad business perspective to provide strategic advice to management.
June 9, 2011 at 3:19 pm #131960
I think they are ignored, not appreciated, etc. because there are some who don’t understand the “business” side. HR Professionals need to not only be on top of the HR aspect of their job, but we need to understand the business of our employer, know how to read a balance sheet, understand a day in the life of (fill in the blank – those whom we serve).
The characteristics and traits of HR professionals who are respected by business/government operations professionals include having that understanding of the business or operational aspect of the company/agency we serve; building relationships with management and line staff; following the latest trends/best practices – not just in HR, but in all aspects of the business or operations. Become involved in the operations or various department meetings and understand their challenges. This helps when we provide training to managers, or counsel to line staff, because it shows that we do understand what they deal with on a day to day basis.
June 9, 2011 at 5:45 pm #131958
Great points Susan! I’ve worked along side of HR people who don’t want to take the time to understand their “customer’s” needs (although I’ve experienced this with individuals in all departments within an organization, not just HR). I’m not sure how one changes this, and it is detrimental to an organization when HR folks don’t take the time – the organization has more hurdles, speed bumps, etc. since they aren’t getting what they need – the right folks, correct information on laws, policies, etc.
Having a work ethic is important – initiative, pride in what you do, customer service, staying engaged, continually learning, etc. It’s truly unfortunate that there are people in the workplace are not passionate about what they do.
June 9, 2011 at 5:51 pm #131956
Carol, great characteristics of HR people. Our customers are contacting us typically because a situation has arised, and they would like it addressed promptly before it snowballs even further. I think all of us want to know the information we obtain from HR is accurate and easy to follow or implement. Who doesn’t want their problem or issue solved the first time around?
June 9, 2011 at 5:53 pm #131954
Tamara – pretty much! It’s pretty difficult for us to get others to think of us as not just pushing through personnel actions.
June 9, 2011 at 9:15 pm #131952
My ELDP fellow wanted to improve collaboration on his team and asked how much it cost to conduct a 360 degree feedback for them. I told him he would be better served if he had a facilitator coach them on communications and collaboration and told him about how much it would cost.
My executive director customer wanted to re write position descriptions to ensure his employees detailed to him permanently completed x. I told him that PDs are normally generic and out of date and that he could achieve the same thing for less effort by changing performance plan critical elements for customer service. When I discovered that we weren’t allowed to tailor critical elements I suggested changing projects, outcomes, metrics and milestones. HE was a fabulous customer that I would have like to have as my supervisor.
June 9, 2011 at 9:19 pm #131950
Customers and HR or whomever serves them need to speak english to faciliate communications.
There is a big difference between contracting for a training class or advising them to hire a class rather than to conduct a 360. One is just processing an order. The other is a fully engaged, competent human resources consultant.
June 10, 2011 at 2:07 pm #131948
Exactly. If HR wants a seat at the table, they have to understand business operations, not just personnel operations.
June 11, 2011 at 7:17 pm #131946
Tamara, good point, as the language of business is “finance”. So why must HR Professionals learn this language vs. Business Operations Professionals learn the language of HR?
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