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I’ve Heard this Song Before

October 29, 2010

I spent most of today at our local SHRM chapter conference, which had a theme of “Linking HR to Business.” It was a great event with a sizable turnout of very engaged attendees.  The CFO of a locally-headquartered restaurant chain shared his perspective on the role of HR, and a local HR leader shared some energizing observations about connecting employee motivation to outcomes …. while ensuring one doesn’t make assumptions about what motivates people.

The keynote presentation was by Deborah Avrin, SPHR, of Management Skills Resource, Inc. and was entitled “The Strategic HR Edge.”  Throughout the day, Deborah, in a very engaging and participative manner, provided suggestions for HR professionals so that they can “gain that edge”:

  • Create a vision of your role
  • Set your objectives
  • Assess yourself (and your HR team) using the HR Competency Model
  • Discover the most effective way to communicate with other functions and the C-Suite

As we progressed through the day, with a number of small-group and table-top exercises, we touched on many of the areas where HR impacts the organization including talent management, performance management, compliance, and financial impact.  We very briefly tackled measuring effectiveness (please – not time-to-fill), and naturally, the phrase “seat-at-the-table” popped up numerous times throughout the day.  The over-arching theme that emerged, however, was moving from what was termed “traditional” HR to “strategic” HR.


So please forgive me if I just disconnected from the content for a large portion of the day.  We’ve been having this same discussion for so many years now, I wonder how it is possible for HR professionals to act as if it is the first time they have heard some of these tips for being ‘strategic?’   Speak the language of the C-Suite.  Understand the business. Make your case.  Measure what’s important.

How can we not yet be at a stage where the norm is for HR professionals to be competent Credible Activists, Culture and Change Stewards, Talent Managers/Organizational Designers, Strategy Architects, Operational Executors and Business Allies?

The expectations have been outlined – for heaven’s sake we MUST, by now, know what we need to do.  Let’s go out and do it.

Let’s hear a new song.

6 Comments leave one →
  1. Steve Browne permalink
    October 29, 2010 5:49 pm

    Amen Robin !! I don’t know why HR pros and HR chapters continue to think this is “fresh” !! It is good info. and dead on for what we should do. Maybe we should use “Rock the Casbah” as our theme to shake things up !!

    • Robin Schooling permalink*
      October 31, 2010 6:08 pm

      perhaps with Joe Strummer (RIP) as a musical icon for HR, we could shake up a lot of stuff!

  2. October 29, 2010 6:22 pm

    I have a blog post for Monday that I think will explain the problem…

    • Robin Schooling permalink*
      October 31, 2010 6:08 pm

      I’m looking forward to reading it!

  3. October 29, 2010 8:26 pm

    You’re right, we don’t need to keep hearing about what we should be doing, but many could use practical advice, mentoring in many cases, to help make the shift from what they are doing to doing it in a different way.
    Pick any one project or initiative, tie it to business success, and learn to blow your own horn.
    I managed a selection process for a start-up. When the first piece of equipment started up, there was a big celebration. Engineers were recognized, operators were recognized, trainers were recognized, but not the team that hired and on-boarded 95% of those who were responsible. Once that oversight was pointed out, it was a true ah-ha moment for leadership that HR was strategic all along.

    • Robin Schooling permalink*
      October 31, 2010 6:12 pm

      @HRI – I love that story; actionable results from a project done and done well. Rather than HR pros sitting and lamenting the same-old-stuff all the time, we need to just get down to business and show our results.

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