I give a presentation called, “Transforming HR: It’s NOT About Putting “Strategic” In Your Title”. In it I ask the HR folks to stand and shout the word “strategic” three times and then sit. The point of the exercise is to hopefully get the word out of their system….plus it’s always amusing to scream or play loud music at HR conferences, disrupting the session next to you! (guilty on both accounts, multiple times)
I’ve come to loathe the word. I talk to HR pros all day and hear “I’m a strategic business partner” at least three times per convo. It’s ok if the person can back it up, but typically not the case. Go read the Harvard Business Review article written by J. Craig Mundy called, “Why HR Still Isn’t a Stratgic Partner“. Not only does he point out how often HR talks about the need to be strategic, but more importantly what will happen if HR doesn’t start demonstrating what it means.
This, has been my frustration with the HR conversations all along.
I LOVE it. He defines friction as anything that would make it difficult for employees to win with the customer. Flow is when you do everything to remove barriers and promote top performance. Are you (HR pro) enhancing the flow of your business or are you causing friction? Let’s work through an example courtesy of a friend of mine.
Business Leader: “I need critical analyst talent for our business to run effectively and meet the needs of our customers”.
HR: “You have to put a requisition in the system when an employee leaves, then it goes into a queue along with other requisitions. Our recruiters begin working the req (on average) 4 weeks once it has been entered”.
Business Leader: “So, a recruiter won’t even begin to look at resumes or source additional resumes until 4 weeks AFTER I enter a req. With all that needs to happen and 2 weeks notice…at best I have a new employee 8 weeks after someone leaves??!”.
HR: “At best, yes”.
How “strategic” do you think HR is viewed in this Fortune 500 org? I’m sure this team of recruiters is overworked and like most large companies, a process does have to be followed; however, why do all requisitions have to be treated equally? If the business leader can make the case for this critical role jumping up the req list, shouldn’t it? OR, what about another solution to provide a temporary deviation from the process so the needs of the customers can be met?
J. Craig makes another great observation about HR feeling the need to focus equal attention on everyone. Yet, we have hi-po programs and employees who bring in more revenue than others…so why is it so hard to admit that some areas of the business and likewise, talent in the business, should be the focus of “flow”?
Quit talking about being a strategic business partner and go forth and figure out how to make your business flow or reduce friction! I think J. Craig has this HR gig down, so perhaps he should be the next judge on American Idol?