This past week, we hosted an event called The HR Reinvention Experiment in Omaha. It was a group of HR leaders from around the state of Nebraska who came together to talk about the current and future of HR. The topics and discussions were very rich and I came away with a notebook of ideas for blog posts at the end of the day.
- In HR , we have a crippling desire to be acknowledge and validated. For whatever reason, we haven’t figured out that the merits of good work stand on their own. As a profession, HR lacks self-confidence. It seems that we keep running around yelling “Notice me, notice me” when we should be focusing on just getting things done. Our desire to be “invited” to the executive table is our problem. We need to stop worrying so much about being loved and valued by our organizations and more time making things happen that create value.
- Great HR is invisible. Zappos was discussed as an example. Most people in our business hold Zappos up as the pinnacle of a great organization built on a great culture. The only name we seem to hear is that of Zappos CEO, Tony Hsieh, but they are doing great HR at Zappos. The fact that no one talks about HR at Zappos is a sign that they have some great HR going on. If you are going to work in HR, you have to come to the realization that our work is about helping others be successful. When we do that well, the organization is successful and they don’t even notice HR was there. If you desire to be recognized for every good thing you do, go into sales or product development. HR gets the most attention when it’s broken. That’s just how it is.
- Human Resources has a brand problem. There is a lot of baggage that goes along with being labeled HR in most organizations. The discussion on this topic quickly turned to the idea that we need to change our name to resolve this problem. However, a crappy product with a different name is still a crappy product.. Think about Hyundai cars. Ten years ago, Hyundai had a terrible reputation for making cheap, unreliable cars. In the past decade, they re-engineered the product and thus, recreated their brand. Today, they have a totally different and more positive brand. In HR, if we want to fix our brand, we have to fix our product. It’s not about a name. It’s about a fundamental re-engineering of what we deliver to our organizations.
- HR is in the influence business whether you like it or not. Rather than trying to grab power by grabbing onto legal considerations that give us the ability to say yes or no, we need to permanently let go of the need for yes/no power. Instead, we have to embrace that we can’t and don’t want to make anyone do anything. Our objective should instead be to influence others to do the things that will help them to be most successful. Influence works optimally when the person you are influencing makes the decision to do what’s right AND they look back thinking it was their own choice to do so. Influence is tough work. It’s much harder than being the traffic cop in your organization. HR leaders` of the future will be masters of the tools of influence.