“Taking A View” on HR: Why It Matters Today

22-02-17 Assel Aitbayeva 0 comment

HR – Progressing from administrator to business partner, predictive strategist and trusted colleague? Taking a view!!

Human resources concept

As HR continues to work away from its administrative roots towards a more impactive business partner role business demands increasingly need HR professionals to “take a view” on best solutions that aid progress, growth and success.

The richness of ideas we have in the HR community is of course a positive and each year these are added to by new research, articles etc. which tell us that coaching is coming of age, engagement is finally proving its worth, diversity ceilings are being broken etc. Almost daily we are bombarded with differing perspectives on “what works” and this is all good as we look at these in the context of the businesses we serve and “take a view” on what HR service improvements will most help our organisation succeed and TRANSLATE these views into deliverable actions.

However, there are times when the ideas and suggestions being made are contradictory or even diametrically opposed.

“Taking and actioning a view” then becomes a much greater challenge but one where HR can make a significant impact. For example:

– A recent post argued that a high performer must be high potential. SHL (who provide a range of talent assessment tools) would argue that only 1 in 7 high performers are also high potential! We would therefore need to make a call on whether we go to the time and expense of conducting potential assessments or whether all our high performers are capable of further progress. I am firmly in the SHL camp as my emerging world experience tells me that over generous performance ratings and an over value on long service has led to significant over promotion of individuals not capable of working effectively at the higher level. But then this is my view and no doubt you have, or will take, your own.

– Another recent post estimated that by 2020 HR will contain 28% specialists,  27 % recruiters and19% administrators. As recruiters are specialists, this argues for   55% specialists and leaves 26% for generalists (HRBPs?) by this time. Not too sure what the administrators will be doing (working for outsourcers?) but so few generalists leads to a model where business leaders are working with several HR providers rather than the “one stop shop” service a good HRBP can deliver. Personally, I would at least reverse the generalist and specialist figures and lower administrators but this is my view and no doubt you will have, or will take. your own.

– A third example involves the use of psychometric testing for recruitment, with recent articles quoting substantial Fortune 500 use in the US and providing MBTI as an example. At the same time there have been a number of recent articles which are quite scathing of the MBTI tool saying its origins in mere observation mean that it cannot be used to predict current or future behaviour. Many are now moving away from psychometrics for recruitment (with some retaining for development use) preferring cognitive testing (how we assess, interpret and use data – at speed) as a better indicator of abilities required in many roles in the modern world. Despite being accredited to use a number of psychometric tests I support this move but again this is my view and no doubt you have, or will take, your own.

“Taking a view” can often be even more complex and difficult and the implications serious and long lasting. For example:

– An industry and market I worked in had, as a whole group taken a particular view on their rewards proposition; that proposition being primarily benefit driven with low fixed and variable cash making up the whole package. This led to little difference in employment attractiveness (at least for rewards), low turnover etc. and all seemed happy with the status quo. The CEO and myself decided that we disagreed with the perceived wisdom of the market and radically altered our offering to be significantly cash based, including an enhanced variable bonus scheme in line with our overall merit and “pay for performance” approach. Cashing out the benefits and reducing the army of staff needed to service them funded, in large part, this enhanced cash offer with the underlying philosophy being that the talent we wanted to attract and retain preferred “cash for choice” rather than a range of benefits they may or may not need.

What happened as a result? We stole 12 months on attracting the best talent in the market (before others began to follow) and that talent drove above target growth for several years following, albeit aided by a favourable economy.

– While conducting an assessment/development centre to determine those with global high potential (from local recommendations following their own local assessments) it became apparent that the very (very) senior leaders we were using as assessors were overly generous in their ratings. This would have long term consequences for the senior talent pool and succession if allowed to continue. I “took the view” to intervene and facilitated a much more realistic assessment of the talent/potential of the participants.

What happened as a result? 2 of the 6 participants came out very highly rated and went on to successful senior careers. Others, rated nearer the mid range of potential, progressed but “topped out” at mid/senior levels. A good differentiated result for the firm.

So, what can we learn from the examples above and the need to “take a view” I would make several concluding points:

– HR will only move up the continuum to impactive business partner if it has the capability, confidence and courage to “take a view” on what works for their business at that time and for the future – and implement it.

– The perceived wisdom in any industry or market at any moment in time may be wrong. “Taking an alternative view” does involve risk but the rewards for the firm can often be worth it.

– Very senior leaders may be great business people but are not necessarily great at making best people decisions. They need us to help (remember that next time your in a tough debate with a senior leader) and although they may not know, recognise or even like it at the time, they will respect us for “taking a view”  in the end.

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