Published by HRMblogs, on 08/11/2022
By Enrique Rubi (Founder @ Hacking HR)
The work of HR lies at the fantastic and highly valuable intersection of business and people operations. From that vantage point we have the possibility to create infinite amount of value by contributing to business success through the success of the people. Business success and people success are two sides of the same coin and HR has the chance to put to use that coin for the betterment of organizations and employees.
At Hacking HR we have the unwavering belief that HR has the potential to become the trailblazer leading people and organizations through times of disruption and chaos, helping them navigate the adversities of our times and emerging stronger with more sustainable and profitable organizations and healthier people who thrive in their craft. That’s the kind of leader we would love HR to become.
As I mentioned above, we have the potential… and it is up to us in HR to realize that potential. To do so, we need to take a gigantic leap of progress to move from the place where HR as a function has been for a long time toward an HR that is by far more progressive, forward thinking, open-minded, creative, curious and, more critically, an HR that sees its role not as HR but as a business leader.
There are dozens of HR leaders and practitioners already taking those leaps of progress, but to move the needle forward we must bring the entire profession to a whole new level. I separate HR people from HR as a system or “thing”. While HR people may be becoming more progressive, we need the HR as a system to also take the leap of progress.
There are five principles to start moving the needle forward and training our muscles to take the first gigantic leap of progress in HR:
Learning non-HR stuff
Traditional HR management with its transactional and administrative skills will continue to be necessary. However, those skills are not enough to become the trailblazer leading the way.
We have to learn the skills and capabilities that impact our organizations beyond HR and people operations. They include digital transformation, marketing, sales, analytics, people science, finance, business operations, ethics and privacy, among others.
To me, one of the most amazing and superpowers in the world is the ability to connect in a valuable and meaningful way seemingly disconnected ideas and concepts. That can be the genius of HR: connecting all the skills above with people strategy and creating unique solutions and opportunities that no other function would be equipped to provide.
This is why my advice is to walk away from any “HR program” that is just focused on HR without connecting it to real business operations.
Transforming our mindsets
We need to embrace the mindset underpinning any of the business skills mentioned above.
It is not enough to “innovate” an HR program, only to set it up as a monolith that never changes. We have to have what I call “mental flexibility”. That means embracing change and learning as natural habits in our work, just as breathing is to life.
The relevant and valuable HR of yesterday is obsolete today; the relevant and valuable of HR of today will be obsolete tomorrow. What matters isn’t always that we are creating an excellent HR function for today, but that we embrace what is needed to know that the excellent HR we create is relevant for the conditions of the world in which it operates.
To lead the way we need to keep our feet in the present and our eyes and minds in the future.
Removing the HR hat and putting on the business hat
HR doesn’t exist for the sake of HR. HR exists for the sake of the organization, the leaders and the people it is supposed to serve and work with.
All HR does must be relevant in that regards. Let me put this way: you are either creating value or not. You are either a springboard or a roadblock. You are either promoting or hindering what is needed to achieve business goals through people operations. When HR thinks about its work in such a way, the function and the people in it come to a fascinating revelation: that HR is a business unit that can have dramatic impact in the organization and the people in it. Therefore, HR people need to stop thinking as if they are just an HR cog in some kind of mysterious business machinery. Instead, we need to think as business leaders who create value in the people operation space… because that’s what we are.
Bringing humanity to the center of everything we do
We have been talking about this for so long: putting humans first.
Sadly, this is an unrealized promise. Do we really want put people first? Then, first, we must truly understand what putting people first means.
It is not just saying it, it is making it happen. To build a people-first agenda we have to begin by redesigning work, the workplace, human relationships at work, our HR practices, processes and systems to build an organization that truly maximizes to the highest level the possibility and ability of the humans who work for our organization to grow, thrive and flourish at work.
That’s a long sentence. Let’s summarize it this way: putting people first is helping the organization succeed, because helping people thrive is the only means to create a successful organization. Technology and “things” are the means people have to make the value creation magic happen.. but without people who are thriving, organizations have nothing!
That’s what it’s all about. When people are growing, thriving and flourishing, they will bring a level of passion and commitment, a full suite of talents, their full potential and creativity, for the benefit of the organization that is giving them the opportunity to thrive.
The flip side is true too: people won’t give their best for an organization where they are stuck. If you want to become the trailblazer I am dreaming about, start by stepping back and thinking: how are the things I do in HR contributing to people’s growth?
Leveraging on technology
I left this one last… purposefully.
First, technology won’t save a crappy HR function, let alone a crappy business strategy. In reality, technology may make both even worse. Whoever tells you to invest in technology without thinking about the four principles described above is misleading you.
Technology is a tool that will amplify your capacities, but not replace the critical thinking that goes beyond the decision-making process to verify whether those “capacities” are THE capacities you need to have.
Technology can make your great processes greater, or your crappy processes crappier. To resolve this HR technology conundrum I encourage you to: 1) think first about the four principles above and, only then, technology; 2) collaborate with people who know more about technology than you do; 3) make them feel ownership of your HR technology too. Don’t own it all, because then you will have to live alone with the challenges associated with it; 4) don’t go with the shiniest technology. Instead, think about what’s most effective and bring more value. Sometimes, it is having no technology at all!
These five principles are a strong foundation for HR to become the business leader of the future. Think about how you can put them into practice for yourself and your HR teams.
(This article was originally published on LinkedIn.com)
The same ‘ideas’ since 20 years and HR has still not learned to even move an inch to the ‘real best practices’ as stated in the article. And yes it is a state of mind first: see yourself not as HR but as the organisational and people developer
Development is closer to the HR reality than a ‘coach’ which leads to the idea of ‘therapy’. HR is NOT the therapist and neither the police-guardian of rules as they like to see themselves!
Good luck next 20 years: I don’t think HR will ever change sufficiently (thoroughly and quickly enough).
Bob Thomas (Managing Director at Hermes Consulting)
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