How Can HR Build A Game-changing Talent Strategy?
The most vocal critics say HR Managers focus too much on administrative work and lack vision and strategic insight. The harshly put feelings aren’t new. They’ve erupted because people don’t like being told how to behave. We get particularly defensive when we’re instructed to change how we interact with people, especially those who report to us. The HR makes us perform tasks we dislike, such as preventing us from hiring someone we “just know” is a good fit, or documenting problems with difficult employees.
Usually when companies are struggling with productivity issues, HR is seen as a valued partner. When things are going smoothly, managers tend to think, “What is the HR doing for us, anyway?”
This doesn’t mean HR is above criticism. There is plenty of room to improve and yet, little has been done in the past. In the early 1900s when the U.S. economy was booming, recruiting and retaining workers was a difficult thing to do. After the World War II, U.S. industry suffered from an exponential talent shortage. A lot of small companies went out of business, and many big ones had to be sold.
In the leadership void, modern HR was born. The HR managers ushered in practices such as job rotation, coaching, developmental assignments, 360-degree feedback, and succession plans. This sound routine today, but there was quite something back then. The need to include such practices
arose mainly to attract and retain talent post the World War II. HR became not just a powerful function, but one voted the most glamorous by business executives.
The economic slowdown of the 1970s eliminated labor shortages had business leader design programs to identify and develop good managers and workers. Supervisors spent less time on their direct reports. They had people working under them to manage everybody else, and other tasks were now given a higher priority. During the 1980s, when it was found that managers believe people-management tasks too distracting, they were allowed to devote less efforts to evaluation and coaching. The HR Manager’s tasks were now inclusive of hiring, retention and evaluation and coaching. While at the same time, tasks traditionally performed by HR were now pushed onto supervisors.
HR is now in the position of trying to get those supervisors to follow procedures without having any direct power over them. This is more commonly known as “managing with ambiguous authority,” where those on the receiving end feel it’s like nagging.
As the economy recovers post the 2008 Great Recession, businesses are now looking to HR to speed things up. The expertise will help companies get ahead of debilitating market shifts. What can the HR do to lead the change?
Chief executive officers and other executives are rarely experts on workplace issues. Whatever experience they have comes through training programs and assignments in which they could have learned effective people-management practices. HR teams can articulate a point of view on people-management topics relevant to the business.