5 Places to Focus Your Energy When Leading an HR Reboot
I was recently asked about how I would go about rebooting the HR function and it really made me think about what the key functions HR provides to an organization and how we impact the bottom line.
Changing leadership in any organization can be a scary time, but can also be a chance to reshape the organization. Changing HR leadership has the same impact, and also has the ability to effect the entire organization.
Here are my top five places to focus your energy during a reboot, why I think they are critical and how to move the needle.
- Administrative tasks – Being good at administrative tasks is Number 1 on my list. For those of you that follow me closely, that may be a surprise. It's true that I am not a big fan of bureaucratic HR, but there are key things that we have to do well to support the organization. We need to maintain accurate records, ensure policies are applied equitably, and keep track of many small details. This is our cost of entry and is what allows us to work on the fun stuff. Do this well and no one will care. Do it poorly and no one can succeed!
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- Talent - Most organizations refer to talent as hiring, recruiting or Talent Acquisition. I like to put it all together and look at these functions as how the organization is going to hire, develop and engage a strong team.
We have to go out and find amazing people to join your team. Search LinkedIn, be active on the forums and always be a net giver. Proactively identify where the needs are going to be and build your relationship in that community. If you are going to need web developers, you should know what Ruby on Rails is, what the changes are in version 5 and how the early adopters are dealing with the changes. This is how you will find the best Ruby programs to join the team when you are ready to hire.
- Succession Planning - For this column, I will keep this simple, but it really is an important task. First, I sit down with leadership and identify all the key roles. Ignore talent at this stage and look at what capabilities are required to deliver the company mission. Once I have a good understanding of what skills are needed to drive the bottom line, I turn my focus to the team. During this stage, I want to understand what we are good at and what are the team’s individual strengths.
Those two documents can then be matched up to align the team and ensure our key leaders are in our most critical roles. Finally, build and execute development plans for the gaps.
The teams that can best distribute talent across their key roles will always out perform their competition.
- Employee development - First, make sure that you are not waiting for Day 1 to start onboarding an employee. Reach out once you have a signed offer letter, assign a mentor and start engaging the new employee. Once on the team, pay attention to the new employee. Does a new employee have a full calendar? Have you identified key meetings, relationships, mentors? Schedule meetings with senior leadership. Remember: development should last a full career and not just the first 90 days.
Your team will experience a lot of waste if the new team member has to waste time getting up to speed.
- Culture - My most basic caution here is that culture is an output and not something you can control. You need to have a set of core values and then make decisions based on those values. I wrote my key values on my wall with a sharpie. This serves as a public reminder for both me and my team. It’s what we believe in and how I make decisions. Don’t underestimate the impact of being consistent.
Overall, I think HR has to take an active role. Engage your business partners and really understand their needs. Once you are trusted and seen as a partner, you can install people leadership programs and drive the business.
As always, please let me know what you think and for more discussions on this and other leadership topics, subscribe to my podcast.
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