How To Effectively Use HR – Chapter 1

Questions This Guidance Answers: 
  • Why should I get to know HR?
  • When should I involve HR?
  • Will HR let me use the Management Trinity?

The first part of our guidance on working with HR.

Mark used to say he hated HR. Now he says, he hates bad HR. Many companies are too small to have HR. Managers in companies which are big enough to have an HR department, sometimes wish they didn't. When you want help, they won't give it, and when you don't want help, they want to tell you about a bunch of rules that make your life harder.

HR does have an important role to play in organizations - a company doesn't get very big before someone decides someone needs to handle all that "HR stuff". How do you work with them effectively?

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Great HR

Thank you! HR really is great if done correctly.

I’ve been in HR for a good 15 years and it has frustrated me no end how much bad HR is out there and I have worked with. But the upside has been that it has spurred me on to change and improve the bad HR in an organisation. At times though, you can be beating your head against a brick wall if the CEO isn’t aligned. When that happens, the good HR moves on to shine their light and make improvements elsewhere…

Moving around has allowed me to see exactly what is needed, where to carve a niche and also provides so many learning opportunities. There is always something to learn anywhere you go.

As Mark mentioned in this cast, relationship building is key. And for HR to be firm in what they expect from managers too. I still find managers are definitely not building relationships with HR. Whether I’m in a new organisation or a new manager comes on board, I make the initial contact, requesting a recurring meeting once a month with each of the business unit managers that fall under my representation (in the current climate, although for some areas we need to meet fortnightly). It’s essentially an O3 between a manager and myself. We discuss staff issues, leave management, recruitment, training, streamlining processes and strategic areas where HR has an input – currently working with all the senior managers on culture, communication and on-boarding.

The challenge from a good HR point of view is to educate the managers on best practice HR ‘stuff’, keeping in touch and not doing their work for them. Of course, the old line of ‘if I do my job well enough, I will make myself redundant’ still applies to people management skills and operational HR. Yet there is a real need for strategic HR to work with management also. This is where I think the union between the two can really soar to great heights when done well.

Our most recent challenge: recommending to the CEO, CFO and management to include the organisation's mission and values in the new strategic plan. They decided to omit it. Solution: we will communicate it via other channels and other initiatives on the boil and through a Communications Plan HR are driving, yet has management buy-in. Ideally I would like to see all of this driven at CEO level.... but it's not going to happen today. I can work with that ;)