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STRATEGIC HR
Feb 11, 2014

Keeping up with evolving HR practices

More executives realize HR functions best with support from the senior team
    

By Dave Crisp

It’s great to see the messages about modern HR strategy getting out across the world.

Not so far away, but in a traditionally different business environment, Kwame Charles — a University of Toronto, Howard University graduate — led a session with CEOs for his home country’s HR managers in Trinidad and Tobago.

He writes about it in admirably clear terms in their Newsday Business Magazine, putting the case simply and eloquently for a collaborative effort between HR and CEOs that would benefit any organization anywhere.

Certainly he endorses the point we’ve made repeatedly here — that HR now fully recognizes its role isn’t just HR, but “to be business leaders with HR expertise.”

Then he goes on to quote one of the panel CEOs about the need for senior leaders to support their HR operations: “We must be leaders worthy of HR.”

We can hope that sentiment is shared by a growing number of CEOs everywhere. Of course, that particular CEO happens to be one of the still relatively few to lead an organization after serving in HR himself, but this is a key way understanding of the critical nature of the function will ultimately spread.

I have to admire Newsday as well for keeping the author’s headline intact — “What CEOs want from HR and what HR needs from their CEOs” — so it makes the point this is a two-way street. Newsday resisted attention getting tendencies we see so often such as to make it just "what CEOs want" or worse to turn it into the sort of "HR doesn’t get it" version so many others choose.

The T&T HR association had Dave Ulrich as keynoter for their conference previously, and Kwame notes Ulrich "holds a similar view" on some of the key points. True on some points, but it would be great if he were as pointed and clear as this. HR is making significant strides toward what Ulrich recently wrote of as his “dreams” for the function. He definitely says HR is making progress, though he’s labelled this about dreams because he still feels much is distinctly in the future — but there may have been more progress than Ulrich thinks.

There are certainly areas, as I’ve also pointed out previously, where HR can do more. One of Kwame’s CEOs notes there are tons of data we could be using better to clarify, focus and improve many areas of how people are managed in our organizations — using big data and statistical evidence to create value. What Ulrich and others seem to consistently miss is the emphasis I like in Kwame’s Newsday report — that this is a two-way street.

We’ve heard for years now how HR has to step up to the plate, change, learn to do things differently, etcetera. But a relatively unmentioned requirement is the support from the organization to act on aligned HR strategies. These call for developing new leadership styles and better numerical measures and none of the will happen without other senior executives getting on board.

When are we going to see the flood of articles saying, as this does, that we need to collaborate on improvements in how we work and handle people if we are to succeed long term as organizations, as nations and as societies?

    
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