A HR Call To Action

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We have a unique opportunity right now in Human Resources to be the important leaders we’ve always wanted to be. It’s now. Not a month from now, not after reviews are done, not after the organization charts are finished or the staffing plans are created.

Now.

Now is the time, more than any other time in our industry’s history.

We must stop questioning what we know, and start inquiring what we should do.

As a former Fortune 200 CHRO, I was so proud of the HR team’s ability to endlessly, flawlessly execute upon our goals: governance, recruiting, legal, leadership development, organizational design, compensation – all of them performed expertly. I’d dare say many corporations have similarly fantastic performers, and I’d say that all our business partners agree on that one note of confidence: that HR owns their processes with confidence.

This is what makes the negative perception of the people in our industry so devastating and deflating to us. It seems that, despite our best efforts, our good name continues to be besmirched.

We meet all our divisional goals, but we’re told we’re not picking up the slack for the company. The empty seats are filled but the praise is empty. Payroll runs on time, performance is managed appropriately, the company is moving forward, and we’re being told that we’re not cutting it.

That’s because it’s not mere expertise in our processes that will move us forward: it’s how we use it to solve the problems of the companies we serve.

We must stop questioning what we know, and start inquiring what we should do.

Actually, allow me to rephrase: perhaps it’s the way we’re doing it. It’s not about another organization chart nor a new HR model. We don’t need another system, and no one needs to be let go. I believe that if we change the manner with which we deliver our resources, we will finally gain the respect we so rightfully deserve.

We must progress from functional experts into business owners. We need to understand the goals of our clients as well as they do, and share the goal of their very survival and/or success. If our goal wasn’t just to make our processes the best but to use them to propel the business forward in creative, innovative ways that created a whole new level of profitability, I think we would have the seat at the table we’ve wanted for so long.

We are the business leaders that can lead our companies to success.

It’s not what we’re delivering; it’s how we deliver it. HR’s Chief Human Officer is essentially the CEO of HR, and our budget should be managed as a P&L: every time we create capacity for our clients and they come back for more, we mark that as return business and increased profit; every time we stare at our navels or shun the opportunity to provide creative business solutions where they outsource around us is marked as a loss. This perception is more in line with what our business partners experience, and it’s quite realistic. Anyone who has experienced external consultants taking over what HR can own or having headhunters brought in rather than partner with HR because Staffing can’t handle the task knows exactly what I mean.

We are uniquely poised to enable the resources of our companies to thrive. We are the first line of defense to keep our companies strong and agile, and it’s in this role as business owners that we will find our invitation into the C-suite and beyond.

The time is now. We must act.

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