These days you can’t evade commentary on what HR should be doing and assuming responsibility for. The list is endless and maybe even unreasonable.
How organizations structure their HR departments differs based on an innumerable amount of variables. For starters, complexity of the organization, functional clarity and employee headcount are some of the more common variables that account for how HR gets structured within an organization.
The nature of work is changing and so Human Resources is also changing as a result. This means rethinking the way “the way we have always done things”. In shifting from the “Personnel Mindset” to present day HR, we must also realize and admit that some of the ways that we chose to operate never worked and as such will not be sustainable in the current business climate.
I’ve spoken a lot in the past about how we move forward as a discipline, but there is an elephant-in-the-room and it is about how we are structured. It doesn’t matter how many strategies, tips, or insights I or any other expert provides to you as an HR practitioner, if your HR department is so fat that it is bulging from all of the unnecessary sub-disciplines dragging it down from a both a functional and financial perspective – HR will be inert.
We can’t be all things to all people…
Perfection is impossible and while we are still collectively trying to get there – we miss the mark everytime, because some of our beloved sub-functions need go or need a makeover.
Here are three examples:
- Exhibit A: Payroll the odd HR stepchild. If you are a small to mid-size company, Payroll may be fine under HR. Still, I never understood how this was an HR function at all. I get that there is FLSA and other labor considerations that scream HR. Nevertheless, anytime a function is handling funds for an organization – I immediately think Finance. If you ask me, Payroll belongs under Finance with maybe a dotted-line reporting structure to HR because of the nature of their work. Why HR in many organizations remain responsible for this function is beyond me.
- Exhibit B: Very few employees trust Employee Relations/Conflict Mediation owned by the HR function. Let’s talk about transparency and HR’s “open door’ policies around employee complaints and disputes. I worked as a recruiter for many years. Transitioning to a Talent Management professional was easy, because I had so much practice being an ear for employee’s who didn’t trust HR let alone the conflict mediation/employee relations process.
Some of the concerns expressed over the years have been:
- ” The ER Specialists never listen to our side, they immediately jump to defend the managers and/or organization.”
- ” I told the HR Business Partner something in confidence about my work environment and now everyone in my department is treating me indifferently.”
- “I see my manager go to lunch with the ER Specialist all of the time, I could never go to her with my issue.”
When it comes to Employee Relations, it may make sense to have this be a standalone function separate from HR. HR needs to be aware of the volume complaints and may even partner with them on approach and resolution of larger organizational issues. Outside of that, you may find employees being a little more transparent with what’s going on when this is no longer under HR. Additionally, I like when functions that have a direct effect on Talent Management report directly to the CEO. It gives frequent ER and discrimination issues the visibility needed to stop them in their tracks.
3. Exhibit C: Diversity and Inclusion should be an organizational strategy not a slapped-together group in HR. I could be wrong, but I’m pretty sure I’m not. Unless there is a true dedication to fostering a diverse and inclusive environment from the top, HR is where Diversity and Inclusion strategy goes to die. Why you may ask? Every organization I have been in has suffered a year or more of a meager HR budget. In almost every instance, the first function to have their funds tremendously cut, was the Diversity group followed by Learning & Development. I don’t think any organization can afford to defund or piece together a Diversity function lacking in both financial and strategic support in today’s social and political climate. In my humble opinion, this sub-function needs a direct-line to the CEO as well.
I could make the case for a few more functions to move based on company specifics. The point is: no one should be structuring HR as it has been for the past 30 years because that is what has been done. The focus and challenge for HR is to be lean and flexible. To be both means we need to take a hard look at what we have on our plate and start creating smaller, smart portions of HR so we are able to focus and add value where we are truly needed.
Courtesy of Pixabay.com
There is nothing more reassuring to a jobseeker than hearing that opportunity abounds in the company you are interviewing with. It isn’t the most important aspect for everyone, but for a good majority- it is the defining factor next to compensation and other candidate bait. There’s very little reason for candidates to doubt your claim of endless upward mobility. That is until they get burned. When they start a job and find out the yellow brick road to career greatness is more like quicksand; it leads to initial disappointment-but they haven’t lost hope in every employer yet. They start to search again and find another seemingly good company. To ensure that they don’t make the same mistake again, they ask your recruiter better questions during the interview process. They join your company with hope and promise beneath their wings; but this time there is a new set of tricks that halt their career progression. Now, it hits the candidate like a ton of bricks that there’s something wrong. Either they are really bad at choosing companies or they aren’t as great as they thought. To put it plainly it is utterly frustrating.
At a time where retention and talent management are all the rage, you would think companies would be more intentional about looking at practices that may be undermining their efforts.Whatever your sentiment is about how employees progress in the company, you have to agree that the following practices are pretty lame and counterproductive to your talent management strategy.
1) Bogus Job Postings– Here we have those highly-coveted positions where you have quietly identified your candidate of choice, but decide to waste your employees’ time, energy and emotions as they fawn over a job they have no possibility of attaining. The worst part about this is the imposition you put both your recruiters and candidates in. Both parties know how it’s going to turn out, but instead they have to go through the motions because you want it to appear that you conducted a competitive search.
2) Sneak-Attack Promotions- When you feel the need to confidentially promote employees followed by a celebrity-worthy press release announcing your decision- morale is going to plummet. It doesn’t say very much about your leadership ability, when you don’t think enough of your team to give them a chance to apply and interview for positions they are qualified to do.
3) Hold em’ and Fold em’- Are your managers undermining your employees’ ability to transfer by creating performance issues and personality narratives that never existed? This is typical when opportunity presents internally, but the manager does everything in their power to keep the employee from progressing further by sharing off-the-record performance fodder that influences the selection process. The problem with this is the employee catches on eventually and realizes they’ve been blacklisted.
4) The Relic on the Shelf- Poor tenured employee who has done well in becoming the go-to gal or guy in their department, but can’t seem to get any further. So you mean to tell me that this person who has been with the company for 30+ years with nary a bad performance review and happens to be fluent in the company rules, norms and culture is suddenly not good enough for any other opportunities in the organization or even their own department? Stop the madness!
5) Give Me More… more education, more experience, more skills, a third arm, the stem cells from your first child- I get it-you don’t have time to train and you need them up and running like yesterday. How do more KSA’s help when you haven’t established what is absolutely essential to your operation? In addition, why is it necessary when you have promoted and continue to promote people with no credentials? If you’re going to ask someone to go back to school or learn more, the request needs to be consistent and operationally-warranted. Last time, I checked Jesus Christ already has a job.
Here you have five scenarios where there is likely a disconnect between your intention and practice. The moral of the talent management story is this: if someone isn’t performing well, don’t promote them. However, have the decency to have a conversation about how they can fix it. When they do fix it, don’t hold their past performance mistakes and deficits over their head indefinitely. Strike a balance between what you want and what is needed. You may think you “need” someone with a PH.D and the ability to read minds for that receptionist role, but does it have to be so?
For God’s sake be thankful for your tenured employees, if not for them many of your triumphs and financial gains would not be possible. If they aren’t trained to the standard of the current workforce, blame yourself for not investing in them and insisting that they continue to grow professionally. Speaking of growth, stop hiding and withholding opportunity from your workers. Be transparent about present and upcoming opportunities. Allow your employees to apply for internal opportunities aligned with their backgrounds and interests. The best case scenario is you could find out you have been missing out on some unknown strengths of your employees. The worst case…you hire the right person and your employee carries on knowing that you at least gave them a chance.
Lastly, no more bogus searches. External and internal candidates alike know when you are full of sh%&! Stop putting out external postings knowing you want a qualified internal candidate and stop posting internal positions knowing there’s a VIP in mind. Interviewing for a job is stressful and we have all been there. There is nothing considerate about making someone go through the scrutiny that is synonymous with the interview and selection process for no reason. Being honest about opportunity is just one more way of building rapport with your employees. It also ensures that prospective employees aren’t deterred from joining your company because you haven’t committed to a consistent and fair talent management strategy.