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Are You Doing HR All Wrong?

Updated: May 2

Many organizations view Human Resources as a cost center, as a department that is an after thought and is merely there to keep the company in compliance, out of trouble and heck someone has to run payroll, right? WRONG. A high performing HR function can and should act as a force multiplier in your organization.

Empowered, Involved, resourced chart

3 components to making HR a center of excellence: Empowered, Involved, & Resourced

What is "good HR"?

Much like good or bad behavior, it can sometimes be hard to define. but you know it when you see it. The same can be said for a high-performing or mostly useless HR function. If you find yourself wondering why your HR costs you so much, that's probably a good indicator that you aren't getting the value for the expense. If you find your organization is exhibiting some bad weather or signs of an unhealthy climate, you might want to take a look at your human resources function.
Generally, "good HR" is doing an absolutely crusher job at balancing the needs of the organization and the needs of its people. This means a department that is helping staff across all levels do their best work. A department that partners with leaders and managers to properly manage and lead their people. A department that understands the realities of the day-to-day and communicates that to leadership in a way that helps uncover and implement the right solutions.

How Can I Build a High Performing HR Function?

This list is certainly not exhaustive, but it's a great start:
1 - Build your HR department on customer service best practices — Your team is your most important customer and they deserve a high level of service
2 - Involve HR early & often in operational decisions — HR can be a powerful agent for change and help guide the org towards successful operational decisions and roll outs
3 - Don’t under-resource — HR needs to be highly resourced to do the job well
4 - Empower HR to be coaches & mentors — HR should be skilled and available partners to leaders, managers and staff at all levels
5 - Make your HR practices, expectations, & processes clear and transparent to the whole org — Building trust with HR will create an environment of psychological safety and trust within the org

#1 is a great place to start. It's really likely that if your organization is doing well, you understand customer service. You understand timely communication and acting with integrity and delivering on the needs of your customer. Great! Start applying these same principles to your HR function. Set service level agreements, create a ticketing system that makes it easy for your team to contact and interact with HR. Hire talented service oriented HR professionals. Do the internal "market research" to understand what your internal customers want and need, and make it the objective of HR to deliver on these things.
#2 is critical. If you want to create change, roll out new policies, etc you NEED to bring HR in early and often to help guide the process and to empower them to be your change agents. HR shouldn't be at the end of your waterfall rollout process. You'll miss critical people operations input to your changes.
#5 probably takes the most work. The number one reason people don't believe in or trust an HR team is because they are suspect of how HR is run. How decisions such as hiring, promoting, firing, layoffs, pay scales, etc are made. If you truly are doing things well and equitably, creating transparency around your standard operating procedures is an easy decision, and an easy win. Remove the confusion and build trust by making it clear how your organization makes its people decisions.
In Summary, it will take work. You have to WANT to deliver an HR department that acts as a center of excellence for your organization. But I promise, regardless of size or industry, investing in Human Resources as more than just the team that deals with payroll and employee complaints will pay dividends.

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