The professionals in Human Resources have a difficult job that most people do not quite understand, nor appreciate. HR professionals are supposed to be developers of people, systems and environments, but most companies have them cornered into performing duties and responsibilities that turn them into Castle Guards, Benefits Technicians or policy messengers.
HR Pros have been forced into functioning in a CLOSED, CONFIDENTIAL and secretive manner. It is not the people. It is the functions they are performing in management-created environments. Having to deal with and protect confidential information on a daily basis is not a justification for becoming your material. It is however the cocoon that has formed around the functions and by association, the profession itself.
In The Great Workplace 2.0, the HR role is changing. It is now becoming a “micro” role (more hands on) than the “macro” role (benefits, downsizing, policy administration that) organizations have allowed them to play.
Clearly the majority of people in an HR function will need to change with the changing Workplace. Their challenges will be to direct, guide and help change the environments, the relationships of “Participants”, how Participants are Immersed (onboarding) into the organization, and how all Participants interact with each other. HR Pros will be teaching and guiding management, vendors, employees and all Participants on the fluidity of a changing environment.
They will face incredible new challenges in being a critical “center” to all that happens within the changing environment now and in the next 5 years. Now is the junction where opportunity and choice intersect and create the ability for dedicated HR professionals to become the person “at the table” they have aspired to be. The real change now is that “the table” is in the open, no longer contained within a privileged room.
Here is some learned guidance for the HR professional of the future:
If you want to make an “Impact” on an organization attempting to create the (or a) new Workplace; go to classes, seminars or get one-on-one training in the skills needed to facilitate Collaboration. This will be difficult. HR’s function has been to be CLOSED, guard the fort and to be the last line of defense against the Barbarians at the gate.
Good HR people will realize however, that their base skills put them in the lead to be key figures in changing their environments to that of Collaboration. Management does not yet have these skills. You have the “three steps to the door” lead. Collaborations are not TEAMS, but there are teams within collaborations. If you can herd cats, you are on your way. Read, attend classes (especially on your own time) and stop hanging around only with other HR people.
Change Management. This is your new role. Unfortunately for just out of school HR trainees, you were not taught this in school, nor are you experienced enough (yet) to lead this critical effort. You can learn the techniques and the rules. Be the facilitator’s backup. Learn. Grow. Be open. And again, learn Change Management, just like you will need to learn Collaborative Skills.
Learn Operations. Until you REALLY learn what people in your company do for a living by getting into each department (the fabrication shop or coding room won’t kill you), get out and network with people who are NOT in HR. HR has been a closed community of “rules and regulations” folks. Get out and meet people who are proactive. Meet Entrepreneurs. Learn what “making a payroll” feels like. Meet BUSINESS Managers. This will give you an appreciation for disciplines outside of HR. The future is in start-up and smaller companies. Go find out what that means if you don’t know. Start ups can be exciting, but they are also huge challenges.
Get to know people (Participants). That means get to REALLY know the people in your company, the customers, vendors, board members, professionals who service your company (Lawyers, Accountants, Funders, Bankers, Sales Reps and Recruiters) and the community around you. If you are going to change their lives, you need to know what that means.
READ. Read the Top business books. Read books about people, ideas, innovation, marketing, sales, and technology. Studying for your SPHR is a good thing. You will know a lot about things you may never use. But while you are doing all that know that a person in Operations became your boss and is facilitating the Collaborations and Change management groups. He came looking for you at 5:15, but you were gone to an HR meeting about Immigration. That was a topic you could have read online in 15 minutes.
Be “Open”. The HR community (SHRM as an example) has created a closed system of individual members, not companies and not Executives. Their membership is tiered and in some cases requires memberships in local and national organizations. In attempting to create a community of professionals who will better themselves and therefore better their respective companies, they actually have created a closed community with exclusionary rules of entry and an “us versus them” attitude. (I am and have been a member, supporter and have been an “outsider”). Use your membership wisely, but don’t sink in it. Don’t believe this? When is the last time you have seen an HR seminar where they invite business executives, entrepreneurs and the general public to their affair? The email invitations go to HR members who have paid their dues. Membership is for HR people only. They do allow “Associate” memberships of non-HR “Practitioners” (a word used specifically to create the “Professional Aura”), but you will pay more, be invited less. As Groucho Marx said “I wouldn’t belong to any club that would have me as a member”. SHRM is NOT a bad thing. Just don’t drink the Cool Aid. Join groups that are frequented by the people you will influence.
Get Out Of Your Office and Don’t Hide Behind Email and Voicemail.
Interact. Learn to read people and their (your) emotions. Technology can be a blessing for Information, Communications and Knowledge. It will NEVER take the place of reading someone’s eyes and voice inflections. Meet your providers and learn one important lesson: most of those outsiders know more about your business than you do. Let them help you and your organization succeed.
LEADING an organization through change requires that you change. HR professionals will need to learn the skills required to be at the CORE of fluid organizations. As was said in the movie The Matrix: “Open your mind, Neo”.
HR professionals have the ability and opportunity to become key players in the Work Place revolution. They will simply need to be open to new opportunities through new methodologies.