With leadership and communication often identified by Employee Opinion surveys as two of the weakest links in many of our organisations, it can seem like we, as HR practitioners, really have our work cut out for us.
As an HR consultancy we are privileged to talk with HR people all day every day. We discuss challenges, opportunities, organisations’ aspirations and their realities. And the great HR practitioners we talk to spend the vast majority of their time talking about ‘The Business’. They always put ‘The Business’ first. Which, to be fair, they should. (We’ll stop referring to ‘The Business’ like this from here on in, we promise…)
In discussing their key areas of focus, these conversations tend to revolve around two things:
- How they are often called in at the last minute to clean up the messes that occur when communication has failed; and
- The things they do to try to help leaders and employees develop so that they remain engaged, productive, and effective.
We’re sure that neither of these two points are a surprise to the readers of this blog. And while there are many other things that HR is capable of doing, wants to do, and manages to do, these two key areas seem to pop up most regularly.
As HR practitioners we all spend our days (and nights) trying to help others improve. Our focus on talent, organisational development, attribute based competencies, behavioural competencies, skill gaps, cognitive abilities and motivation is clear. We can talk the talk, reference the thought leaders, build strong internal programs, know when to partner appropriately with external providers, and, at all costs, help these people grow.
HR people are also frequently tasked with dealing with the fall out of a poorly managed process or a badly held conversation, often when our development objectives and goals have failed to hit home the way that we had planned. You know what EEO is, what you can and can’t say as a leader, how to set performance objectives, measure achievements, and set plans when they aren’t being met. Our point here is that you are well versed in people development and good HR practice. You have to be, right – otherwise what are we doing here?
So, if you have it all sorted for your client groups, are you sure of what is happening in your own backyard? Do you always have the time and the energy to focus on your own function? Or more frightening still, do you make enough time and save enough energy to look after yourself?
Someone smart once said “People may doubt what you say, but they will believe what you do”.
Imagine how much easier it might be to write the business case for the high potential development program if you can draw upon your experience being coached, or from completing your post-graduate study. And imagine how powerful your conversations with your clients could be if you were able to share with them the (right amount of censored) detail about a performance management issue that you were able to turn around.
Please don’t misunderstand us – we’re not writing this with the intention of giving you a hard time. We are writing this to you as a friendly reminder to try to take better care of yourselves. You know your stuff. So use it on your team. And on yourself. People of HR, we wish it wasn’t the case that many of our clients and candidates sometimes compare HR functions to builders living in unfinished houses. We’re hoping that a little more of practicing what we preach could lead to some pretty special things.