Over the years we’ve worked with many Human Resource executives. We’ve also facilitated a few hundred offsite executive retreats as part of Culture and Organization Development.
Step #2 in that process, setting up and following through on the executive retreat, is where we see the starkest differences in HR leaders. The biggest differences often show up in how the HR leader is able to influence and guide the CEO and executive team in setting up the retreat and following through with steps 3, 4, and 5 after the session.
The most effective HR leaders are valued advisors and key leaders highly respected by the CEO and executive team. Less effective HR leaders can’t get the retreat properly set up (if at all) or they’re nudged aside as others take stronger leadership roles.
The July-August issue of Harvard Business Review features a bomb with a burning fuse on its cover and this bold proclamation; “It’s Time to Blow Up HR and Build Something New.” In one article, “Why We Love to Hate HR…and What HR Can Do About It,” Wharton School professor, Peter Cappelli, provides five “basic steps HR leaders can take.”
Here are his steps rewritten with a few key questions to help you assess your HR leadership:
Set the Agenda
- Does HR wait to be asked/told what HR issues to address or do they lead the way?
- Is HR partnering with managers on key people issues like layoffs, recruiting, flexible work arrangements, and performance management?
Focus on Here and Now
- Is HR perpetuating old practices (like widely hated performance appraisals) or building organization-specific approaches that fit today’s needs?
- Is HR using evidence-based approaches rather than theories and traditions to guide HR practices?
Acquire Business Knowledge
- Is HR bringing first-rate analytical minds into the function to help their organization make sense of all the employee data available?
- Is HR using data to help their organizational leaders learn how to predict good hires, the best leaders, and people practices with the most impact?
Highlight Financial Benefits
- Is HR making the case for how they help drive financial performance?
- Is HR using its enterprise resource planning systems to analyze turnover, productivity, engagement, and leadership effectiveness to determine talent management strategies?
Walk Away from Time Wasters
- Is HR investing in fads like generational differences that don’t have any compelling evidence to support they need to be managed differently than everyone else.
- Is HR balancing short term projects and initiatives with long term strategies?
People leadership is vital to organizational effectiveness. Highly effective HR leaders are strategic leaders and executive team members as vital as finance, operations, or IT. How does your HR function measure up? What are you doing to improve it?