HR – Not Off the Hook Because the Economy’s In The Toliet…

Maren Hogan Maren Hogan

I heard a fantastic speech by Johnny Taylor, SHRM board chair, a few weeks back. While the message wasn’t new (he’s been preaching it since 2005) it was riveting. And here’s why, it was a challenge. He talked about Courageous Leadership in the HR field by:

Knowing HR: Making sure we are experts in OUR field. Not marketing, not accounting, not operations, PEOPLE. If we are not the experts, who will be? Many mid and senior level HR folks are being painted back into a corner by thought leaders about what they should know and how they should apply it. That’s okay but know YOUR stuff first.

Doing HR: Strategy is great, said Mr. Taylor but do we DO IT? Do we live it? One of my favorite lines was: “All the strategy in the world doesn’t matter to someone who finds out at the emergency room when their three year old has an earache that the benefits don’t work.” We need to “make sure the trains run on time.”

Aligning HR: Making sure that HR objectives align with business objectives is not a sell-out of the first step. It’s the perfect replacement – when you know how to use your breadth of knowledge in HR (or your niche therein) to complement and help achieve the things “keeping the CEO up at night”.

Assessing HR: Make no mistake, this was about more than metrics. It’s about doing something with the metrics. What is the info, you’re working so hard to collect, telling you? Are you putting that in the broader picture we discussed in step three? You can spend loads of money and achieve your objectives, but when it throws other numbers out of whack, it’s time to reassess and take a new tack.

What really came through out of this talk was something that struck an odd chord with many in the room. At a time when more than one HR pro is out of a job, his talk of “doing the right thing” and “standing up for employees’ rights” caused some rears to shift in their chairs. Here’s what he didn’t say:

– You’re off the hook because the economy bites.
– You can relax because they need you to fire folks.
– Your job will be secure if you do what the CEO says.
– You can commence whining about what corp America is not giving you.

Nope, it was pretty much a knuckle punch to the old pity party. Now, I don’t have my PHR or SPHR. I am not a member of SHRM (I am a member of local HRAM). You might have heard that some of us here at FOT are not big fans of SHRM. But if they keep racking up members like this and this, this (sucky workforce time) may be their time to shine. I applaud Mr. Taylor for his rousing talk “Courageous HR Leadership” or in my own words: “Grow a Pair”.