Article from Business Insider, Feb. 10th, 2017.
The role of human resources is changing and HR practitioners around the world should be happy about that.
“The fact is that HR as a traditional role was not the coolest,” says Melanie Hache-Barrois, human capital management strategy director at Oracle. “Part of my job is to meet with HR vice presidents at various companies and the commonality is that they’re becoming less administrative and more like the people who bring innovation to a business.”
It’s part of a wider trend where companies are taking a people-focused strategy towards their business development — they value their employees, understanding they are the drivers of profit and and competitiveness. Businesses need to train and keep their best talent and make sure they take on only the best candidates as new employees. For that, management needs its HR department to advise how to do it. That makes HR professionals more important and more valuable. “But you need to be sure you’re doing it right,” says Hache-Barrois with caution.”Otherwise people will leave the company and it will cost the business a lot.”
To ensure HR departments do this well, she says, they need to be staffed with people possessing the following traits.
1. Leadership, not micromanagement
Don’t meddle. It irritates people and stops them from feeling confident and trusted in their work. “Leaders are there to take care of people, but managers are there to control things,” says Hache-Barrois. HR needs to be agile, lead and guide from a top down manner, she advises, and have faith that the workforce will take things seriously. Expect respect, don’t demand it. “It will change the way employees think about HR, we need to change and be less meddling,” she says.
Employees agree according to the Oracle Simply Talent study. Nearly 60% of employees want their employers to engage with them more proactively and would prefer a more individualised management style. Millennials in particular are keen for more regular discussions with their line managers about their career path. Nearly 80% of employees aged 18 to 34 said they do not receive this already and would like to. People feel more engaged when they have a direct line to their manager. HR needs to be agile with a human centric approach and always ready to adapt.
2) Comfort with data
HR needs data to lead and be taken seriously as an important department. It also needs facts and analysis for management to value its decisions and strategic suggestions.
Not everyone is number-minded however and jargon-heavy words like “big data” and “analytics” can be intimidating. Even so, Hache-Barrois says not to fear statistics, but instead embrace them because they’re the best way to empower HR to grow beyond its conventional role as administrator and into its more influential function as strategy maker. “I’m not saying people need to become data-scientists,” she says. “But if you don’t have some confidence then you won’t know what you’re analysing — so how do you know if you’re creating an effective recruitment campaign or providing the right kind of training?”
Many data collection and analysis technologies, such as Oracle’s, are intuitive and user-friendly. Hache-Barrois recommends HR professionals familiarise themselves with such tools.
“Otherwise these tasks will be taken by another department and you’ll remain with the administrative jobs and none of the cool ones that provide innovative business solutions,” she warns.
3) Expert knowledge
A true HR professional needs to be the go-to person when a new project is getting off the ground. They should be the ones who can suggest the best skilled employees to staff the project. They should be the ones that management goes to when they’re deciding if the workforce has the right skill set to complete a project and they should be the ones management goes to if they need to hire new people if those skills are lacking . “You want to be there when they need you. HR needs to be an enabler to help something to happen,” says Hache-Barrois.
But an effective HR workforce needs to be more than just reactive to the rest of the company’s needs. “Being a proactive enabler means you know exactly what they need when they call. You tell them what they need instead of them instructing you,” says Hache-Barrois, “You need to work with the business to help them, but you should be coming up with the ideas.”