Thought Leadership Blog

The HRS Thought Leadership Blog delivers validated findings, visionary perspectives and op/ed commentaries related to HR, Leadership, Organizational Development and Employment Law. To enjoy the full volume of available articles, please enter topic keywords in the search box to explore our body of work. Articles are regularly presented by the HRS team and guest experts.

What Doesn't HR Need to be Today?

HR has spent years in the “HR needs to provide business value” debate with the rest of the organization. At numerous points over the past 30 years, the field of HR has been challenged to prove that what they were doing held value and contributed to all facets of operations. This has been a hot issue over the past year, with numerous bloggers and consultants posting their views of how HR needs to be defined heading into 2016. SHRM even stated that the modern CHRO needs to be, essentially, a superhero. With all of this going on, you’ve probably read a majority of these viewpoints and are now contemplating which definition stands the truest. Your answer? In short, all of these definitions stand true. If someone out there believes that HR needs to be something, then there has to be at least some demand and truth behind that definition.

HR needs to perform a multitude of different roles for an organization. While it is certainly difficult to excel at everything that’s called for, we do have the ability to simplify all of these different calls to action into a simple, catch-all 5-point definition.

We hope that you find this two-piece article to be the final, and brightest, light bulb you need on this subject. This article is Part 2, which lays out a definition of what HR needs to be today. Part 1 is The 7+ Disciplines of HR and How to Address Them All at Once by Jessica Ollenburg.

Part One: Analytical 

Businesses thrive on data. Despite the fact that data became a popular buzzword in 2015, this has always been the case. A data-driven mindset means everything to a business. But what is data, really? In the simplest form, data is information. Nothing more, nothing less. Therefore, we can look at processing data as equivalent to understanding information, and we can therefore simply label this trait as one being analytical. That’s part one of the definition: can you understand what the data is telling you?

Part Two: Business Savvy

Understanding the data isn’t the whole picture, however. It’s only half the process in meeting the C-Suite’s demands. HR also needs to be able to identify the information their C-Suite truly needs to consider. While the other leaders within your company may understand the final result that they need from HR, they likely won’t understand what data is necessary to get them there. Just as is true with all aspects of operations, all parties at the table will (or should) understand and agree upon the end game for the organization, but it’s up to you as your department head to assemble the nuts and bolts. Remember: that’s why HR (or anyone with a specialty) has been hired in the first place.

Part Three: Confident

This one might be the most surprising to you. Confidence is becoming more and more key to success in HR. HR must have the confidence to trust their abilities and successfully analyze the data, all while having the confidence in their knowledgebase to lead the rest of the organization by presenting the information that truly needs to be looked at.

This confidence isn’t just in your work, however. Recently, a new phenomenon has entered the world of HR: pride. HR has a sense of pride that it’s never had before. Not in a negative way, but in a confident, friendly-competition sort of way. More and more HR professionals are looking to assert themselves above their peers, just as has been the case in other business functions for so long. If you want to last in the world of HR these days, you have to prove that you’re better than the next person, and that leads to the bravado in asserting yourself as one of the best. Make sure you have pride in what you do, because you will make a difference.

Part Four: Relatable

HR needs to be relatable. That’s part four. Relatability should be a goal for you even if your goal isn’t to be the People’s Champion HR. This definition of relatability, however, doesn’t necessarily translate to being likable. You don’t need to be likable in the sense that everyone loves you, but you do need to be likable in the sense that everyone respects you. Big difference. HR needs to be able to obtain by-in from all aspects of an organization.

By enticing communication and knowing all aspects of your workforce, you are garnering the maximum amount of information necessary to do your job. By having all of the necessary information to succeed at your job, you can be confident. By being confident, you can be assertive and present the right information to the right people. By presenting the right information, you are being data-driven and making your C-Suite happy. See how it all ties together?

Part Five: Holistic Mindset

Lastly, we arrive at one of the most critical points. Just as HR needs to be relatable to all the other divisions within the organization, HR must also have enough of a knowledge base in all those parts of operations in order to be relatable and successful. Accounting, IT, fiscal prudence, Marketing, Engineering…you name it. You won’t truly be able to gain the respect you need if you don’t prove yourself in all of these areas (plus more). Additionally, you need a knowledgebase in all of these areas in order to be able to meet a department’s demands and put together a holistic, data-driven solution. After all, how do you know what’s best for your organization if you don’t have a fundamental understanding of how the rest of your organization operates?

So there you have it. Our final definition of HR stands as thus:

HR needs to be analytical, business-savvy, confident, relatable individuals with a holistic mindset. It’s not so bad once you break it all down, is it? You have a blueprint on where to begin. Now comes the hard part, however…achieving all five of these traits.

Matthew Bare - Thursday, May 12, 2016