By nature of having a 3 year old daughter at home, I hear the word “why” about 3,000 times a day. Even at hear young age, she’s discovered the power of this tiny word. It provokes thought. It provokes conversation. It provokes discovery. Ultimately, it leads to learning and confidence. And we don’t use it enough within our work in HR.
This may be really over simplified, but I think it may also be this straight forward. To practice human resources in a way that adds value and that your CEO, business partners and colleagues will love, simply know why you do what you do. Some examples.
Why does HR exists? If you can’t answer this question the same way your executive suite answers it, you are losing the battle. Either you are out of alignment and out of touch OR you aren’t influencing up to shape HR should be defined and understod. My answer: HR exists to make sure an organization has the human capital it needs to succeed. Pretty straight forward.
Why do we invest in Talent? Can you define what talent is at your organization and why it’s important? You are the expert within your organization on talent. If you can’t define the why here, who can?
Why does a policy exist? If you don’t know why, find out. If it’s a stupid or out-dated reason, kill the policy. If it’s a good reason, communicate that. people hate rules that don’t seem to exist for a reason. They may not love any rules, but they will respect rules that exist for a reason that they can understand.
Why do we make people do performance appraisals that everyone hates (even HR) and that don’t seem to impact performance (at least not positively)? Enough said on this topic.
Why do leaders need to communicate (or develop or motivate or etc.) their people? It’s critical that we aren’t just reading off a script that someone else provided to us. We often stand on the HR pulpit and preach the importance of communicating with and developing our employees. But can you articulate the reason why this is important in a way the CFO would find credible? How does it impact or matter to achieving business goals?
This is just a few questions to get your brain started. By committing to know why you and your HR organization do what they do, you will be on the track to greater credibility and impact within your organization. Be warned though that asking why a lot will make others uncomfortable and will likely cause some conflict. It’s not always easy and it’s certainly not comfortable, but that’s why many people aren’t practicing great HR.