August 27, 2015 Anil Saxena

HR Leaders, What Grade Would You Give Yourself?

Let’s be honest here. HR people aren’t always the most popular people in the company. That’s not that big of a surprise, really, since they are usually the face of performance improvement processes, layoffs, annual reviews, and all those other fun processes.

Plenty of the time, they have to be the bad guy.
What about all the other things that HR is supposed to handle though? Have we forgotten all about the real purpose of “Human Resources” and turned the job into the office’s keeper of the process?  Between the mandatory employee engagement action plans and completed performance management forms, is that so hard to believe?
HR leaders aren’t supposed to be some militant watchdog – they’re the driver of talent management. They’re supposed to be the group responsible shaping future leaders and ensuring that its current leaders are agents of change.  In the age of knowledge workers, there is probably not a part of the organization that is more important than HR.
This is NOT the position of a bad guy or the “People Process Police”. In fact, HR leaders should be looking for ways to unleash the organization’s leaders not miring them in process.
So let’s get real – are you helping the organization to be their best, or just instituting programs? If you had to give yourself an honest assessment, a letter grade even, how would you rank your own performance?
Seriously – what is the letter grade you would give HR in your organization if the criteria were the following:
• Impact to business goals
• Impact on engagement
• Impact on being ready for change

HR’s programs, practices and initiatives should be designed to positively impact business goals.  Not just “cost of hire” or “cost of attrition” type of metrics.  Those are passive measures.  HR needs to link each and every program to a specific business goal.  It is likely that the success of the goal will not be solely impact by HR, but that’s not really the point.
No HR program should be started or continued unless it’s connected to a business outcome or goal.
How many of your programs have a direct impact on business goals?
According to SHRM’s “Future of the HR Profession” white paper one of the most critical areas of focus (and improvement) for HR is to

“quantify in dollar terms the value HR initiatives bring to the bottom line, is the best way to ensure future investment in the HR function.”
If you had to give a grade for your organization on impact, what would it be?

There has been a lot of talk over the past years about employee engagement. The problem is not that organizations aren’t concerned about it.  They are spending countless hours and dollars on it.  Unfortunately, the results have been less than stellar.

“A recent national study by Dale Carnegie Training placed the number of “fully engaged” employees at 29%, and “disengaged” employees at 26% – meaning nearly three-quarters of employees are not fully engaged (aka productive)” – Victor Lipman(@VictorLipman1)
With all of the measuring and talking about engagement, very little of significant impact is being done.  Study after study shows that there are a handful of methods to drive employee engagement:

1. Get results to people quickly
2. Empower teams, managers and employees to take action immediately
3. Connect employee engagement to business goals/outcomes that matter
4. Make sure that the business owns engagement, not HR
5. Make engagement part of the every day, part of a leader’s routine
How many of these does your organization enact?  If you had to grade your organization on how it impact’s employee engagement, what would it be?
One of the most important roles of HR is to ensure the organization is ready for and looking forward to change.

“Forces at work in … business — increased competition, rapidly shifting technologies, and emerging disruptive business models — are the forces that are reshaping many parts of the global economy “ – Scott Anthony
It’s cliché, but true – change is the new normal. Organizations that are not constantly ready and even looking for change are doomed to failure.  It’s HR job to make sure its leaders are agents of change.

Is HR in your organization looked upon as change experts?  Do other parts of the organization regularly call upon HR to lead or facilitate change?

If you had to grade yourself on how well you’re preparing the organization for change, what would it be?
There are many areas that require HR’s expertise and wisdom.  HR can push organizations to greater impact or fight mightily for the status quo.  If you were grading HR for your organization, which role would you say they play?
I’d be curious to hear about other areas of grading for HR.  What are critical factors that HR plays on an organization’s success.  Please let me know your thoughts!

Anil Saxena is the President of Cube 2.14, an organizational development consulting firm that works with clients to increase both customer and employee engagement while decreasing turnover, improving customer retention, and increasing profitability within organizations.

Saxena is a certified High Impact coach and trainer and a Joint Application Design facilitator. He is also certified by both Rush Systems and IBM as a focus group facilitator. He is an inaugural member of Northwestern University’s Learning and Organizational Change program, and he earned his bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from the Illinois Institute of Technology.


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