In an old classroom that smells like an infirmary, with only hours of sleep, and sitting at a desk witha small notebook covered in doodles, the professor’s voice soared. He wasa thin, passionate type of fellow, always subject to getting on a tear about certaintopics. Each word he spoke was with passion and emphasis. Occasionally he would pound his fist on the desk to get the student’sattention. He hammered into our minds over and over again, “Brokendown simply, Human Resources is utilizing the resources that are human.” Quite possibly the single biggest lesson anyone can learn about HR.
Years later and to this day, it holds true.
HR isn’t some paper-pushing profession (alliteration intended) that includes maintaining documentation and legal precedents… well it is. But it isn’t only that. The core of HR is the “paperwork” – ensuring that documentation is solid, that employees and the company are protected, that everything is done in everyone’s best interest. It all starts with the foundation of this “house.” And if the base isn’t solid, then HR can’t progress to the really rewarding, beneficial work. Employees and management need confidence that HR is working mechanically, methodically, and with a stable routine that makes everyone feel like they can progress forward knowing “the paperwork” is good.
The walls of this “house of HR” is the data. HR has the benefit of accessing data about humans. How do they learn? What motivates them? Their health. Their mistakes. It boggles the mind to think about the amount of both professional and personal information HR Managers have access to. Do we use our resources for good — or for evil? This data helps to build up theories for change. To create efficient workflow. To put people where they should be, where they want to be, and where they want to go.
Thereafter, the roof of HR is about recognizing the masses, identifying the talents/skills, and putting them where they belong. It may sound like strategic planning,or organizational change, and less like HR — but that is the the trend in today’s HR. Attend a SHRM conference or read some HR blogs and you’ll find more and more that HR is becoming business’s strategic planners or initiative pushers. Why? Because they have a pulse on the people. The role of HR is to have their hands and heads in the heart of the organization — the people.
Due to the awkward nature of being at the executive level and yet “down to where the rubbermeets the road”, HR Managers have the benefit of seeing both sides to every coin. Which makes them a huge resource to senior level management, and also (in some cases) the biggest road block. If not HR, who else in a company’s organization has this unique opportunityto be able to see things from a different perspective? Where Marketing and Sales departments look for revenue increasing opportunities, HR is in the background supplying the “human resources” to make it possible. And beyond that, by putting them with the planning initiatives, employees feel comfortable that decisions were made in their best interest.
If HR isn’t invited to be part of these initiatives, it can permeate a culture of resentment. Employees want career development, incentives, and more! HR are (or should be) the gurus at the things that help to develop more efficient workforces … which create more productive employees … which increase the bottom line. HR has the tools, data, and know-how to make this happen. Where executive management wants to add more coal to the fire, HR decides the quality, quantity, and distribution of that coal.
I’ve heard it said b ymany small businesses that adding HR feels like adding “dead weight” to the salary expense line. And that is all determined by how HR is used. Start with “the foundation”, the core of the regulations, guidelines, job descriptions, etc. – the necessities of HR. Then work on the “walls of data” – gather and capture the HRinformation needed at all levels and departments. Lastly “put a roof on it.” With good HR practices and clear data, HR is poised to be right at the table with executive level management to make recommendations and follow through.
Build the HR house from the ground up
This post was written by Christine Assaf.
Christine has worn many HR hats in her professional career. From Office Manager, to Executive Coordinator to Buiness Support to HR, Christine’s versatility in the workforce helps her to see all angles of HR.
She graduated from University of Phoenix in 2005 with a BS in Business Management. Recently Christine completed HR course work and certification from Louisiana State University and is studying to take the PHR exam next year. She is currently employed as the HR & Business Support Manager at The Royal Standard (a growing retail and wholesale business.)
Christine was raised and lives in Baton Rouge, LA — and loves LSU and New Orleans Saints football. She is married to her heart school sweetheart for over 11 years and the proud mother of a very smart 12 year old. Her hobbies include anything geeky and nerdy, including (but not limited to): playing Dungeons and Dragons, first-person shooter or role-playing video games, and Settlers of Catan board games and more. She is also a health/fitness friend with a sister blog called dubyawife.com where she talks about her weight loss and fitness journey.
I had the pleasure to meet and spend time with Christine at the Louisiana SHRM conference in April 2012. After just a few hours, I knew I had to have her as a guest on The Buzz! Christine was sharp, funny, endearing and truly understands the HR trenches. Read more of her HR writings at her blog HR Tact then follow her on Twitter and connect with her on LinkedIn. You will not regret it!