The Website and Blog of HR Author and Speaker Lori Kleiman

The Right HR Department Adds Value


Human Resources is an expensive department for an organization to absorb. While HR professionals know the value HR can add, most executives still do not. Executives often still hold the misconception that all HR does is push paper, enforce policies, and remind them of all the laws that exist to stop managers from implementing plans. They see human resources as the clerk who processes benefits and ensures that payroll is run on time. HR professionals today must take on the responsibility of showing the executive team that HR is an essential part of the organization’s management team.

Focus on the competencies in human resources

When studying the recent literature on CEOs’ concerns as they relate to the human capital in their organizations, we see common threads. The list below is a compilation of the new areas of focus for HR that are common in literature, as well as those that we hear informally from top HR executives. Essentially, the role of HR in the 21st century should be focused on:

  • Leadership skills
  • Change management
  • Succession planning
  • Finding and retaining top talent
  • Diversity communication
  • Analysis and forecasting

Studies found in business literature continue to indicate that CEOs are not interested in HR departments who see their primary focus on day-to-day administration of employee needs. Rather, they want to see a focus on how HR can support teams to move strategic organizational goals forward. CEOs are aware of the high level of administration and paperwork in the HR function but see that as a function of all departments. The HR leader must be able to add value while getting the administrative functions done at the same time.

When was the last time you attended a management meeting and heard accounting talk about cutting checks or operations talking about putting inventory away on the right shelf? They just do those things. They come to the CEO to discuss a new way to increase speed of receivables or the return on investment they will attain with a new piece of equipment. No one wants to hear that HR is having a hard time finding good people because we don’t pay enough – rather HR needs to go to the table and talk about the common threads in the best new hires of the last six months and how you plan to attract more of the same.

Leaders are looking at big picture issues and expect the focus of HR to be on meeting the goals of the strategic plan. There is an expectation in organizations today that the HR leader will be strategic and innovative. Are the conversations in your organization between HR and executives focused on growth and strategy? If your conversations more typically focus on the number of manual checks cut from the payroll run or the increase in workers compensation claims at any given time you have to shift the focus. HR should want to focus on the issues that will drive strategic initiatives for the organization. Then they can come to the table with ideas and solutions that address the strategic needs of your leadership team.

The preceding blog post is excerpted from Lori Kleiman’s upcoming book, Taking Your SEAT at the Table, soon to be released. For more information, or to pre-order your copy click here!

Photo used under the following license.

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