The Website and Blog of HR Author and Speaker Lori Kleiman

5 Questions to Define an Effective HR Department

Here are 5 questions you can ask of yourself and leadership to begin creating a human resources department that really adds value every day.Business leaders have often set up a human resources function, and then left it to run. As long as employees are being paid, their benefits work at the doctor’s office and the EEOC is not sending complaints, they assume they are good. But really, is that all you want from your HR function? I hope not.

Here are 5 questions you can ask of yourself and your leadership team to begin the conversation of how you can create a human resources department that really adds value every day. And if the answers to all the questions are, “We’ve got it covered,” take the person responsible out to lunch!

Question One: How do your employees receive their information today?

Communication can be a primary driver of organizational culture. Most importantly, keep in mind that what employees don’t hear directly, they often invent.  Put your human resources leader in charge of delivering the right message at the right time.  As discussed in this short blog, you have to walk the walk and talk the talk.

Question Two:  Do you have one person dedicated to HR, or are your managers all handling their own issues?

I have a client with 120 retail employees that were having managers do all their hiring and even payroll. Then they wondered why the stores were not at the profitable levels they wanted. We put in an entry level HR team member to handle all recruiting, payroll and benefits, and within a few months profits improved. Time your line managers are spending on HR is time they are not driving your business forward. And, since they likely haven’t been trained on best practices, they are spending far longer on HR then a pro would. Consider starting with a part-time HR professional if you really don’t think you need someone full time, but get someone!

Question Three: Is your current HR resource utilizing technology for basic administrative functions?

Technology in HR is critical today. Without a robust HR tech system, your human resources will be stuck in administration. It doesn’t mean it has to be expensive. Most organization with fewer than 250 employees simply use the capabilities of the payroll or benefit systems. Just be sure they are all working together, and HR can focus on your organization, not processing data.

Question Four: Does your HR function regularly interact with the other business units about their business, or are they generally focused on HR?

Human resources has to be about business first. Their expertise is in employees, but their focus should be what drives your business. In my Taking Your SEAT book, I talk about the importance of knowing what drives the business – is it ROI, Market leadership, Research? And, getting out of HR and learning what makes other areas tick. One suggestion I offer in my human resources presentations to those looking to take their career to the next level is to get out to lunch with other department heads and learn their priorities.

Question Five: Does HR report to the CEO, or another function within the organization?

While the CEO often thinks, “The last thing I need is another direct report,” what can be more important to you then a direct line of communication between you and the employees? A great HR person will know what is a good use of your time. Empower the human resources function to act on behalf of the organization, and lead the management team to success in employee engagement and productivity.

I am passionate about HR being part of the leadership team.  If you want to learn more on how to make this happen, I invite you to my Presentations, Webinars and books!