As I listen to the Internet scuttlebutt I have cause to stop and consider whether the HR profession, as we know it , is thriving or either dying or has already died. I have a fellow consultant who told me that the reason why I am not getting the interest in some of my programs is because the majority of HR people are ignorant. Others tell me that we, as a profession, have no fathom how to respond to the demands and needs of the C-Suite. So, what is the dilemma here?
To answer that question we only have to go back in time to the beginning of the HR profession when we were referred to as personnel administration. If you Google the term personnel administration, you will find that the vast majority of the definitions suggest that many of the tasks assigned to Personnel were essentially clerical in nature. They completed applications, processed payroll and the like. None of these contain one iota of a strategic approach to the management of human capital. And in this lies the crux as to why HR is dying.
It is not too late for HR to turn around the direction of the ebb of the profession. How do you do that? As individual professionals:
Contact your local colleges and investigate the availability of six sigma classes and sign up for them.
Whether you go the entire regimen to earning a Six Sigma Black Belt or take the entry level training to obtain a Yellow Belt, the courses force you to look at the world with a different focus. It is one based on evidence-based data and solutions. It changes your world not only professionally but personally.
Investigate HR metrics and research how to develop them and interpret them.
Read the works of Jac Fitz-Enz and Wayne Cascio, both who have written extensively about the ROI of HR and the use of metrics in the process. Investigate the various software alternatives on the market like QI Macros and Sigma XL that will conduct the analysis and develop the metrics for presentation to the C-Suite
Reach out to the C-suite and determine the precise metrics they need from HR
Don’t assume you know what the C-Suite wants, go and ask. Find out exactly what metrics they need in order to meet the demands of their stakeholders. Find out in what format they need them. Do they want them as visual aides? Do they want them in the form of an Excel spreadsheet? It is also critical that they tell you how they are going to utilize what you provide to them. As Dave Ulrich states in his new book, Victory through Organization, HR now needs to look at its role in the business not just in HR. The metrics we present to the C-Suite are about the future as well as the present.
The HR profession has a vital role in the vitality of our organizations but that role can’t and will not value the old way of operating. We can no longer focus on the administrative end of HR because for the most part those actions comprise a small part of our value to our organizations. Your value to your organization as HR professionals is to pave the way to the future towards evidence-based data that will explain to the C-Suite and other members of management what it is we do and why we do it. Your role is to provide a clear view using this data why the suggested strategy is the correct one. Your role is to demonstrate to the stakeholders the viability of the organization as seen through the data produced.
Is human capital management dead? The answer has to be a qualified maybe. If you want to leave things more or less status quo then you need to operate from the premise that your professional days in HR are numbered. If you are open to looking at the new role and learn how to develop, interpret and present the data metrics for HR and the organization as whole, then the door is still open for you to not only survive bu flourish as an HR professional in your organization for the foreseeable future.
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