HR: Good Practitioners, Bad Marketers

March 22, 2010 at 5:15 pm 4 comments

 For a few years now, we’ve been hearing about Human Resources (HR) professionals having a “seat at the table”, meaning being seated at the same table as the owners, senior managers and participating in the strategic management of the organization.

 For many years, my thought was that HR’s biggest challenge was not getting that seat at the table, but letting others in the organization – especially owners and senior managers – know what it is  that HR does; how they either save the organization money, or reduce expenses. I’ve been validated now by Lawrence O’Neil, the CEO of the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), the national organization of Human Resources. In the March 2010 issue of HR Magazine, O’Neil says:

 “Great HR professionals communicate the strategic importance of their profession to decision-makers who may have never given HR a second thought. Or even a first thought.

 Communication is the real work of leadership. And if HR is going to lead, it needs to communicate … to tell its story to the world beyond human resources.”

 I’ve worked in some great HR departments – some departments that did a lot of great things for their companies – and no one knew about it except those of us in the department. My hunch is that there are more than just a few folks working in HR functions that are probably there because they aren’t salesmen or marketers, or at least they don’t see themselves as such, but that doesn’t mean HR practitioners should keep what they do a secret, especially from company owners and managers.

 HR is like the electricity in the wall; its always expected to be there, doing its job, with those on the outside of the wall not even thinking about it or knowing its even there. But just wait until the lights don’t snap on when they flip the switch, or the food in their fridge doesn’t stay cold and starts to spoil. Then they think about the electricity.

 I don’t want something to go wrong in an organization before owners and managers think about HR; I don’t want the company to lose a lawsuit or experience excessively expensive turnover before they think about HR. As HR practitioners its up to us to be giving valuable information on what’s happening now with the company’s people, and what’s happening next, such as issues created by the current economy, job losses, COBRA, and health care reform, to name only a few.

 It’s a two-way street between HR and owners/senior managers. We must both reach out to the other. Companies need HR “at the table” to assist in the strategic decision planning process, and HR needs to prove itself worthy to be there by adding value – and making it known.

Entry filed under: Human Resources (HR). Tags: , .

Chocolate Éclair Cake A Good Yellow Cake

4 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Midge  |  March 28, 2010 at 6:44 pm

    Great perspective! I totally agree!


    • 2. bradcreerhrcooks  |  March 28, 2010 at 8:19 pm

      Thanks Midge. We can realate, no? Been there, done that!


  • 3. Calee  |  March 23, 2010 at 11:44 am

    You could have your own article in SHRM! 🙂



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