Dr Russell Thackeray is a huge fan of HR. He has worked in and around the function for many years as well as being an Operational line manager, CEO, Consultant and Entrepreneur.
As a psychologist, Russell is very interested in behavioural change and how it is linked to evaluation. Russell has taken his marketing metrics know how, his operational expertise and his understanding of the psychology of people, to make sure that the HR function is as effective as it can be because when HR practitioners are good, they can be awesome.
We asked Russell….. What is HR here for?
Russell has found that alot of HR people say that they are here to mitigate the risk of the organisation, or here to deliver services. Some say they are here to add value but they do not know how, others say it is expertise. We very rarely hear that HR is here to make the organisation perform better, to generate more revenue and profit. But HR is… not just by managing down costs but by seeing HR’s role as some part of the revenue upside story. This gives HR a really interesting place to work from.
Russell spoke with a senior L&D professional about obtaining information from his organisation, to allow the L&D Porfessional to generate development that allows for upside revenue generation. They didn’t seem to have the clout to be able to ask the person the key issues that were involved in the resourcing and the pay bonus process. What is this about? We have to have the idea that HR are experts at something and that this gives HR legitimacy. If you are an expert in HR, you have got to be good at influencing, communicating and consulting…and asking difficult questions.
What will help HR in the future?
There is no doubt that consumer behavior and technology are big applications and drivers for HR, in terms of HR practice and HR opportunity.
The rise of Social, Augmented Reality, Bots, and various bit of technology are going to transform organisations in the mid to long term. We are already seeing it as Social is already here, Augmented Reality is around the corner and Virtual Reality is just down the road. It is really important that HR is up to speed with this technology. This new HR role as guardians and innovators means that HR should be looking after the organisation with the technology that is coming around the corner – making sure that facebook profiles are appropriate and such like. We want HR to be innovating, using technology more skillfully and of course there are lots of interesting drivers for this.
Russell feels that HR should be making sure that good governance exists and that the organisation performs ethically. The organisation must make its money of course but it should be ethical. Social governance is going to be a key feature moving forwards as the link between organisation and consumers becomes ever more transparent. Leadership skills, management skills, management practice and leadership practice are evermore important.
Time for Change – What does HR need to do?
HR really needs to be red hot at evaluation and know what they are delivering. HR needs to talk about proof. HR are evaluating against governance and culture, so if HR can’t measure culture, then it is time to find all the tools and techniques which exist out there.
It’s time to get back into the sphere of performance. Rethink performance management by understanding the psychology of behavioural performance and the new neuroscience aspects of this.
HR needs to be able to offer perspective. When an HR department sees big issues across the organisation, these should be brought to light bringing best practice when working with teams or working in specific areas. Bringing an external perspective into the organisation is part of what earns HR the right to sit at ‘the table”. HR generally has great expertise in supplier management, whilst the rest of the organisation may not. How much is that expertise really shared around and could it be better?
HR needs to get back to the idea that HR manage careers around the organisation and that the reason for being in the organisation is because there is a point to it. Who looks after some ones career, puts the PDP’s together and makes sure that there is a start and an end point to people journey within the organisation?
HR needs to also be non-HR and entitled to talk about those non-HR solutions.
Russell talked to a retail HR team where no one in HR had a professional HR background, they had all worked in the line and the last HRD had been a retail Director. They were the most commercial HR department that Russell had come across. They were adding tremendous value without even noticing it. They were invited to every top table meeting because everybody knew everything about the organisation. They could comment on a retail footfall issue as credibly as finance or marketing or any other part of the organisation.
Jargon can be an issue so HR needs to speak corporate speak not HR speak. There is a lot of jargon floating around that people really don’t get the hang of. It is time to use business processes that the rest of the organisation understands as well.
HR needs to be great with metrics. Very few people in HR are really good with metrics, analytics, reporting and understanding key measurement and management processes around metrics that exist. HR must know their numbers – time verses impact. Where do you spend your time? Where do you get the most impact from?
It’s time to get back to the idea of Organisational Development, Change Management, Performance and Change across the wider organisation. The biggest change in HR is going to be in the rejuvenation of OD.
The New Roles of HR
If we think about roles, HR has to be great at process and delivery areas, regulatory and legal compliance aspects, to keep the organisation safe. HR has also got to widen ideas out of HR Performance and Change into Organisational Performance and Change and in Organisational Innovation.
What is HR bringing that is new that the organisation has not heard about before?
Where are the HR sources of entrepreneurial growth, drive and vigor coming from?
How is HR processing that entrepreneurial growth through its service delivery arms?
How is HR operationalising Talent Management to become a useful process rather than something that people talk about without having any ideas?
How does HR take Engagement and talk about it as Organisational Innovation when it has simply become part of the process of delivery teams.
Lets go back and refocus HR based on this idea of the wider world and the wider organisation after all HR is here for the organisation.
Russell suggests that we can use this very simple audit tool to help HR move forward and find out how HR can prove the value of what they are doing. There is a lot about adding value because people talk about it but still don’t know about it. People don’t talk about functional ROI.
If HR is going to add value…. have a value added measure. Many exist so let’s crack on and implement them.
HR Expertise is for implementation, not just advise. Advise is earned through implementation not the other way around. If you are a great line manager then you will have proven your worth in the wider organisation, not just your own team. HR constantly assess people but do not assess themselves. Time to step up your game.
What are the key differentiators?
- What is going on inside your organsisation and what is coming at you?
- How ambitious is in your HR department or function?
- What are the targets that HR has to deliver? Not just KPI’s but targets. Sales do not run themselves on a bunch of very flimsy targets so why should HR? Hold yourself to the same standards that you hold the rest of the organisation.
- Is HR influential enough to skill other leaders within the organisation by operating at that same sort of level?
- Does HR have sufficient resilience as a team and as individuals?
There are many OD practitioners out there but QED offer support through metrics, proof and analytics, putting credibility and grit into your process. HR needs to be supportive and have a balance between management leadership focus and people focus, because actually HR are there to make sure that people wellbeing, health and resilience is improved. This is not because it is nice or fluffy, but actually because it matters to organisations absence rates, and critically to performance.