As HR professionals, we’ve all heard the usual complaints about human resources. We’re also aware that most employees would rather undergo a root canal than deal with us. Why the animosity? Is it possible that some of the accusations, though harsh, may have merit? In the spirit of honest self-reflection, HRGuru examines the most commonly voiced complaints about HR and our effectiveness (or occasional lack thereof). After all, if we know what our clients are thinking and saying, we’ve got a good chance of overcoming their objections, and maybe changing our own behavior for the better in the process.
Complaint No. 1. HR people do not understand the business
This may be the most widespread, and most accurate, complaint against HR.
1. Emphasize business learning in your regular curriculum: If it’s not the right time to get an MBA, take a business course at your local college. Make sure you are familiar with the basics of business strategies, marketing, and finance. (Test: Do you know what COGS is? Case in point).
2. Pay attention to the business strategy and objectives in staff meetings: Too many HR people think of their jobs as distinct from those of their clients, instead of thinking of a collective set of tasks targeting the same goal. A good first step to behavioral change: pay attention in staff meetings, ask questions about business decisions being made, and try to customize your deliverables to meet the new objectives. For example, if you are rolling out a bonus stock program to the organization, tailor your guidelines for managers, enabling them to reward the key players based on recent changes in the product strategy.
3. Build business into HR training. If you have responsibility (or even input) for training within the HR department, push to include business training. Schedule seminars with both internal and external leaders, where they’ll explain the business works.
Complaint No. 2. HR people care more about the process than the outcome
This criticism is fair and unfair at the same time, because HR people are well aware of the dangers of bad processes. For example, imagine a RIF process without a process that passed it through the hands of the managers, generalists, employee relations specialists, and lawyers. However, there are many instances in which HR people adhere to obsolete or tedious processes for the sake of the process itself, without paying heed to the desired objective.
What you can do:
1. Streamline, streamline, streamline: HR people create many of the processes that keep the business alive. Fun as it is to lock ourselves up in a room and emerge with a flow chart of varied sizes and colors, it is critical to ensure that this academic exercise can be put to some practical use. Try this easy test to identify unnecessary roadblocks in your process: Run process flow by removing one step at a time. Any step that permits the process to flow through in its absence can be considered overhead; remove it.
2. Rely on data: HR people need to get better at using data to drive decisions – period. When rolling out a new process, determine a test period in which you can identify tweaks that need to be made. Collect data by speaking with the constituents involved and by measuring process output against some pre-determined goals. This doesn’t have to involve heavy algorithms: It could be as simple as a checklist of things that need to occur for the process to be considered effective. 13th August 2009 From India, Madras