Monday, March 16, 2009

Here we go again....

The last time an article caused a big uproar in the HR community was the infamous 2005 Fast Company article, "Why We Hate HR."  I made that required reading in all my HR classes at the time. 

Well today we have the blogosphere and Twitterville, discussing the latest article about HR, at CFO.com, "Memo to CFO's: Don't Trust HR."  Yikes!

Well I see some very similar themes in both articles regarding our short comings as a profession:
1) Business "savviness"
2) Analytical ability
3) Performance Management

I do agree with those listed above, in general.  I say that because as an HR consultant and professor I do meet a lot of HR professionals.  I will say that I think there has been a change in the last few years though.  I have met some extremely talented HR professionals that really "get it" and "get it done."  For example, we have a client in manufacturing that just hired a new HR Manager.  This manager understands manufacturing and adds value on a daily basis assisting the CEO and Executive Team with sales process improvements, lean principles to enhance efficiency and troubleshooting late shipments to increase customer loyalty.  I think that is adding value!

I disagree with Professor Beatty regarding employee engagement and financial returns.  I believe there is a connection and there is a ton of research that supports, "Happy employees=happy customers=higher returns."  Its HR's job to figure out which employees are engaged, AND which ones are engaged plus performing and which ones are not.  The ones that are not need to be managed out of the system. 

Professor Richard Beauty, from the HR.com article suggests enlisting someone in Operations to do HR's work.  HR has the knowledge, skills and abilities to do value added work, no doubt.  By investing time into understanding business and analytics, HR can really become a trusted business partner.  I think the economy has heightened the need for this skillset as many diffcult decisions are being made and data/analytics for those decisions is in high demand. 

How do you accomplish this illusive business "savviness" and analytic ability?  All of these articles are quick to point of the deficiencies but rarely offer any solutions..here are some off the top of my head:

1) Get an MBA if you are serious about HR and understanding the business
2) Spend time on other parts of the organization learning sales, marketing, accounting, etc.
3) Report to a CFO
4) Take classes in analytics or statistics

I think we are at a time in our profession, where we have to JUST DO IT!  We need to up our skills sets and take this challenge head on.  Maybe then we can stop discussing the table and these articles!!

What are your thoughts? 
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