I'm here at SHRM16 milling about with thousands of other Human Resource Professionals. I was on a walk last night, proudly wearing my SHRM16 Blogger t-shirt, and stepped into a joint to get some water. An employee of the store, referring to my shirt, asked, "What is SHRM?" which led to a discussion about HR.
HA! You should have seen the look on his face! He was not impressed. He excused himself as he needed to go clean the bathroom...and I giggled the whole way to the register. I think most people would rather wash toilets every day than deal with workplace or HR issues, but that’s ok. If you don’t love it, don’t do it!
I love HR; I love everything about it. Many things are overwhelming and difficult, and that’s a high for me. Many things are common sense, but that lets me take a mental holiday and still seem amazingly brilliant! Many things are personal, and that reminds me to be a caring, compassionate and empathic human.
What’s not to love about a career that offers these things?
Years ago, I learned that if I coupled my love for something with a purpose, I could do great things. I brought the love and my mentor gave me my purpose. I'm presenting about both of them on Wednesday during my Smart Stage presentation, The Value of HR.
I believe HR needs to ensure our activities are aligned with our purpose and, if they aren’t, we need to SERIOUSLY ask ourselves why we are doing them!
Purpose #1 - Increase Communication (which helps engagement, understanding and acceptance)
We all know contented cows give more milk. I believe HR and Leadership share the responsibility of making the employees content; however, HR has some specific roles in this regard. We must help facilitate two-way communication in the workplace. We must coordinate knowledge sharing, mentoring and coaching on teams. We must help managers and teams design the work to ensure we are plowing with plow horses and racing with racehorses. We must provide the tools, tangible and otherwise, to the workforce to help facilitate team building, development and effectiveness.
Purpose #2 - Increase Organization’s Bottom Line
Why do so many of us settle for the assumption that HR is only a revenue sucking line item? I believe HR can and should be a source for increasing profits! We must analyze how our organizational structure affects efficiencies so we can implement changes that increase them. We must analyze our personnel costs and identify ways to decrease them without threatening employee satisfaction and retention. We must help review and improve operational and administration processes to decrease waste and redundancy and increase productivity, quality, customer satisfaction, etc. We must fully understand the organization’s business…including what it sells, who it sells it to, and who it is trying to steal the business from…in order to improve workplace planning and staffing. I could go on and on – HR can and should be a $ generating machine…we just do it from the inside!
Purpose #3 - Increase Capacity of Organization’s Leadership
I believe HR has incredible influence with leadership and, as such, has the ability to effect self-awareness and improvement. Managers at all levels are good at their trade, but they aren’t necessarily good leaders. HR professionals should be experts in communication and conflict resolution, and mentor leaders accordingly. We must understand different leadership styles and help managers understand how and when to use them effectively. We should have creative problem-solving skills and encourage/probe our managers to “think harder” when they find themselves in a pickle. We should understand human dynamics and help managers work with and for their teams. We should be fantastic networkers/relationship builders and should set the example in this regard.
Purpose #4 - Decrease the Organization’s Risk
I believe HR needs to help ensure the organization doesn’t fall off a cliff. We must keep abreast of legislation and regulations as well as be knowledgeable about our grants and contracts to ensure we are compliant. We must train leadership and the workforce on topics ranging from safety, to customer service, to workplace behavior in order to decrease claims against the organization. We must ensure consistent application of policies and processes. We must ensure good faith treatment of all employees. And, finally, we should be VERY GOOD at documenting all of these things so we can better defend the organization’s decisions should claims arise.
So, there you have it, HR's purpose! I believe it's why we exist. It's amazing how good I feel in the course of a day if I focus on this purpose, or if I commit to this purpose. It's powerful, this purpose, and I believe it adds authenticity and value to me, my profession and my organization.
You're here at SHRM16 – you either came for the coffee and box lunches or you came to add to your own value...may I suggest you consider how you can fulfill your purpose?
For more information and to attend SHRM 2016 Annual Conference & Exposition, visit www.annual.shrm.org.