HR professionals get a horrible rap. Except for their own profession, no one really understands them. Most HR professionals are simply doing what every other HR pro does: Keep the Castle safe, and try to make it productive. Follow the rules of the Government (tear your hair out) and company (sometimes non-existent). It is hard or impossible to make a true difference in the profitability of an organization when you are focused “protection” duties.
The real issue is that for 50+ years HR really has not changed or been able to change their focus, just the titles that describe what they do. Example: “Personnel” changed to “Human Resources” and now the same function is “Talent Management” or “Workforce Management”.
Most HR people still do the same things: They administer benefits, hiring, training, development, rules, government paperwork, reporting and safety. They do other good things too, but nothing that makes a true difference to the bottom line of the organization, directly. The old duties will NOT plow a path to the holy grail of “A Seat At The Table”. Instead of “demanding” that SEAT, let’s look at a skill that HR can develop that WILL be unique and will have the BANG the profession needs. Collaboration (NOT Teamwork):
Collaboration is NOT teamwork, even though the concept of “Teamwork” can be a component of collaborative groups. HR has “teamwork” down cold: Get a group of people to all work together and create something good. Make sure people get along and follow the rules. Hire talent that is a lot like the talent already employed. Get people to salute the company flag and win one for the Gipper! Make sure everyone has the same goal(s) in mind; the company goals. MOST people understand Teamwork, even grade-school coaches.
We (The Great Workplace 2.0) define Collaboration as: Taking disparate points of view, disparate purposes and focusing best creative talents, knowledge and attention on a single (Different) purpose, solve an issue, create something new, and go back to your own purposes. Collaboration INVITES and encourages different talents to use those talents in different way than normal. Collaboration invites people who would not normally be Participants (see the long explanation of this at www.thegreatworkplace.com) to a team, to become intimately involved, albeit on a temporal basis.
Collaboration looks BEYOND the walls or an organization to “Best Knowledge” that can be driven to solve issues. This INVITES all Participants to become involved and to assist with their extensive expertise in helping the organization move forward. This means that VENDORS, Board members, the community, other teams within the organization, crowd-sourced expertise and also the typically IGNORED members of the organization (“They wouldn’t understand”) are invited/ encouraged to participate on an equal and recognized basis.
Collaboration recognizes that TALENT for problem solving does not have to come from the department or group that is suffering from the problem. It recognizes that different points of view (Isn’t that what Diversity is supposed to be about, not just group assumptions?) can have an enormous impact on solutions, ones that an inbred group just simply does NOT see?
Collaborations are about “Best Thoughts” (this goes beyond “Best Practices” as that term simply means what someone else has done, that worked, not what has not worked). Best Thoughts are not static, nor is Collaboration. Collaborations FLOW and change with each added thought or argued hypothesis. Best thoughts happen many times at “Serendipity” (thank you Jack Ricchiuto at JackZen.com). Serendipity is essentially great discoveries by accident. Serendipity doesn’t happen in environments where the same thing, with the same people, happens all the time.
Human Resources is supposed to be all about talent, people, expertise, genesis and generating value through Humans put to work on organization goals and purposes. Collaborations are just that for today and the next iteration of organizational excellence.
All of those components are essential to Collaborations.
To achieve that “seat at the table”, THE way to do it is to study Collaborations, become expert and to influence and lead the organization to implement those methodologies. Collaborations get RESULTS. And those bottom line results will advance HR. No other function in an organization has the foundation, skills and view that HR does. “Managers” are task oriented, and Collaborations are VISIONARY. It is THE opportunity of this century for HR: Lead Collaborative efforts to affect the bottom line of any organization. No one else can do it.
Next: HR can lead the “Onboarding” initiative. So far most HR people think that “Onboarding” is reducing paperwork. That is part of it. It is reducing time to productivity: another path to “The Seat”.