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HR should be business enablers.
Or at least that's my view.
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It’s Tuesday, and as we all know by now, that means a new edition of FullStack HR.
Today I’m in Paris, and tomorrow I’ll be attending Unleash World. I’ll try to summarize my experiences in an update, so stay tuned for a bonus newsletter this week.
Today we’re moving away from last week’s future-looking post, and we’re going to talk about the increasing movement around HR being deemed a business enabler. Or at least I’ll share my view on that. As always, you are more than welcome to disagree with my ideas. I even encourage you to question everything I write.
I’ve said this in the past, but it’s worth repeating - my aim with FullStack HR is not to be 110% right nor to present stuff like it’s the only way to do things. Instead, I aim to spark a new thought, a discussion, or a fierce debate. I profoundly believe that we move society forward through conversation and idea exchanges. And I think we, as HR, fall short here. We need to discuss more. Sparking these discussions that’s my aim with FullStack HR. I hope that we will all get better by doing so.
That said - let’s get to it! Why does HR exist? It’s perhaps a silly question to ask in a newsletter solely dedicated to HR, but it’s not a bad question to ask yourself from time to time. I ask because I still think that we (HR that is) are doing HR stuff for the sake of doing it.
We create processes and policies based on what’s working for us.
We create complex performance management processes that require tons of inputs so we can aggregate data and showcase it to management - look at what we’ve built and all the insights. Then we tend to forget that managers than just rate people in our beautiful system but ignore having meaningful and impactful conversations with the people they just rated. Will it make a difference if we put a person in this box or that box on the 9-box grid? Not if the manager isn’t having a meaningful conversation with the employee.
During all my years in HR, I’ve never ever heard an employee say, “I thought of quitting, but I stayed because your performance management process is so nice.”
Still, we focus a lot of our efforts on building and fine-tuning these processes.
And don’t get me wrong - they can be of great use, but we must constantly remind ourselves why we are building these processes. And my answer to that why is to make the business faster, better, and stronger.
We need to be business enablers. We enable the business. We help the business achieve what it sets out to achieve. I also touched upon it in the people strategy article, so it's not news if you've read that one, but we often forget this and sometimes forget that we ultimately support the business. Sometimes we blame the business for wanting to move "too fast" or "not following our processes." If that happens frequently, we should always ask ourselves - do we have the right processes? Sometimes we do, and then we can communicate back that, "We have this process because of X and Y," but sometimes we can, and should, look at ourselves in the mirror and acknowledge that a process or procedure might be outdated not enable the business.
And yes, I know there are managers that never follow processes. But in my experience, even with those managers, it comes down to that we've done a poor job communicating with the manager. That, or they have identified a need within their business, and we haven't been able to meet that need on time. Hence they take a shortcut and ignore the process.
It falls back on us to then explain the process. Educate and inspire. (Yes, you can inspire people to use a process.)
If you want someone to do something, you have to consider their perspective and explain what's in it for them. Involve them.
We build stuff for the business - not for us.
Do you agree or not? Let me know in the comments!