Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Training for the HR Department

Most of the time when we think about training and HR, it's the HR department providing the training. But a lot of HR bloggers are talking about the need for HR itself to undergo some retraining.

Trisha, at the HR Ringleader blog put out a call for re-branding the HR department and its functions, while Laurie at PunkRock HR thinks it may actually be too late.

I think it's somewhere in the middle. Rebranding, while certainly something we need to do to clear up the real role of HR in the modern corporate world, is critical. But unlike Laurie, I'm not quite ready to stand poised with pen in hand, ready to sign the death certificate.

I think there is still hope, albeit maybe only with the radical approach House might use on one of the patients everyone else has given up on. It requires major surgery, a complete change in life style and a different view of what a viable HR career looks like.

1) The surgery --

  • Centralized, standardized, cookie-cutter HR-driven performance evaluations, raises and promotions go first. Far too often, someone in the HR office who has never even met the employee in question rewrites appraisals, sets the raises or makes a firing decision. No more.

    The people who know the employees best, make the choices, write the reports. HR can look them over to make sure they're legal and not likely to result in a barrage of lawsuits, but that is it.

  • HR as a policy-makers and enforcers on dress code, social media access, work hours and rules about whether or not someone can have a plant or a picture on their desk -- gone. No more. We're all grown-ups here, and can certainly make reasonable choices without a virtual parent on site.

    Supervisors and managers can deal with the rules for their departments -- again, they know the people and the work requirements. They also have a direct stake in making sure the rules set result in better performance. Again, HR can enjoy an over-site role to make sure federal and state labor law rules are followed -- but last I checked, neither plants on desks nor jeans on bodies fell under any law-making body's jurisdiction.

  • Remove the phrase "We've always done it that way." and the equally offensive phrases "But it's our policy." from the vocabulary of everyone in HR. Forever. Gone. Cannot be spoken, or used as a excuse for any action or inaction.

2) The new lifestyle --

No that HR is so much lighter because of all that surgery, what can they do?
  • Learn about what motivates employees.
  • Set up programs to make those motivators available to managers and supervisors.
  • Learn about training needs assessment.
  • Make training needs assessments available to managers and supervisors.
  • Create a library of training opportunities for employees. Open the door so they can access that training AS THEY NEED IT! No more holding on to training opportunities with a closed fist!
  • Work with senior management to develop strategies to maximize every employee's potential, reduce turnover and improve job satisfaction.
  • Do not study the strategies. Act on the strategies. Now.
  • Learn about the power of social media. Use it. Allow employees to use it.
3) What an HR career is -- and is not --

What it is not:

  • A policing role
  • A top-down power role
  • A "rules-is-rules" role

What is should/must be:

  • A facilitation role
  • A problem solving role
  • A performance strategy role
  • An information sharing role
Is there still time, Laurie? I think so. The big machine that goes beep hasn't flat-lined yet.



Rogue HR said...

sadly, IME, its been the senior management team that has enforced every negative you mention in your post. It has been up to me to attempt to alter the mindset. Must be why I am moving toward striking out on my own. There is only so much banging of one's head against the wall that an individual can take before the headache becomes permanent.

Some companies prefer to hire employees that will act as "yes men" or "groupthinkers" - perhaps this is where the "evil HR lady" mindset originated?

Training Time said...

Sounds VERY frustrating!

I guess it's easy for SMgt to push off all of those unpleasant duties like rules onto HR...makes their life easier, makes yours miserable.

And I do hear you re the Yes-people mindset...some people prefer sheep to creative thinkers. Sad.

Business Communcation said...

Great article! There is always a better way to address policy than just pushing that first whenever there is a challenge. Learning what motivates people and how people become responsible for their choices requires that we acknowledge the positives, educate the policy and then give that person choices- maybe even let him or her commit to what that person will. In the end, we can have better communication and a fair sense of accountability when handling issues.

Centenial College said...

Yes it is very difficult to train the grown ups that too at corporate level1 Attitude becomes the biggest hurdle everywhere.We are becoming tech savvy on one hand .... and on the other losing grounds on humanity!

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