Fix Your Human Resources Function By Blowing It Up

For many CEO’s, their company’s HR function is a source of ongoing frustration. Why?

There are many reasons, yet at the high level, the work of HR is extremely diverse. It ranges from tedious benefit design and administration to the strategic development of next generation leaders. Unless your business has nailed the details of benefit and compensation administration (the paycheck stuff), little else can occur. Unfortunately, HR leaders in companies that lack sophisticated infrastructure are so busy fixing transactions they don’t have the time or business credibility to contribute in ways that are more proactive and value adding. Finally, many CEO’s don’t (and shouldn’t!) expect more until the basics are in place. I realize this is an oversimplification, but frankly I would rather get to a solution that spends more energy defining and inviting debate about the problem.

Think about what needs to occur to ensure alignment of your company’s brand with its culture. At the end of the day, it really is all about how your customers experience interactions with all levels of employees. This requires the integration of thought leadership regarding business and organizational development. Focused leadership around this agenda is lacking in many businesses. HR, Strategy, and Business Development Executives are often not on the same page, with the former feeling like the dog trying to catch the bus. So why not place the development of HR strategy, policies, as well as organizational and people development programs under a senior executive responsible for strategy and development, and take all the administrative HR tasks under a leader with operational or other transactional responsibilities?

This change (assuming you place the right leader in this new role) will immediately focus the accountability for your strategy and development team on producing more integrated business strategies and/or M&A options that effectively integrate considerations for people and culture. This sets the foundation for integrated and systemic business metrics and the development of talent, rewards and people development programs that reduce the risk of implementation failure of important business initiatives.

So what do you do with the rest, consider outsourcing, or better still, if your business has a service center capability, why not have that service capability also be directed at your employees? Service centers get transactions right, delight customers, all at the lowest possible unit cost. They leverage technology to provide increasing levels of service, while improving cost. They outsource where appropriate. This is very different DNA from that which exists in most traditional HR departments. And, isn’t this a very important focal point for aligning brand and behavior?

Color outside the lines in design of your organization. Ground the design of structure in criteria that best ensure implementation of strategies while leveraging talent and existing capabilities in new ways.

How might you think differently about other business support functions with the goal of improving the real value of output? By the way, if is better, if will often times also me more cost effective.