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Top 5 Tips from HR Professionals

Today's post is by Joyce Maroney, executive director of the Workforce Institute at Kronos.

September 26th is HR Professionals Day. appears to have started this in 2001.  This event hasn't gained the traction of say, Administrative Professionals Day (April 24, 2019), but it should.

Most leaders will say their people are their most important assets, yet many HR pros still feel they don't get the respect they deserve.  How come?  Certainly in lots of organizations, HR can be relegated to serving as the labor law compliance and administrative police.  And of course, they get to handle the difficult employee behavior and performance issues.

I've worked in the HR technology industry for almost 20 years and have had the privilege of working with literally hundreds of great HR leaders and practitioners. I've learned a lot from them over the years about how to be a better leader and coach of other people.  I've also learned how to collaborate with HR pros in a way that enables us both to be successful.

Here are my top five lessons learned from excellent HR professionals:

  1. Making the right hire starts long before you see your first candidate.

Measure twice, cut once.  The work you do to strategically assess what's needed for success in a job allows you to create a job requisition with your talent acquisition partner that will attract the kind of talent you need.  Don't just copy-paste the posting you used 3 years ago. The business changes, the skills needed for the position have probably changed as well.  Your HR partner can also help you benchmark your job in the market to get a better feel for appropriate compensation and the likely supply of talent available.

2. Helping people perform well is your job as a leader - and HR can help you with that.

Most employees will tell you that they wish they had a better sense of what their next step could be in your organization - and what they need to do to get there.  Your HR partner can help you with performance assessment, coaching skills, appropriate development strategies, etc.

3. Be tough on problems, not on people.

An HR executive told me this years ago.  It means to focus your energy on the business problem and not to misdirect that energy to visible anger or frustration with the person or people creating the challenge for you.  "What can we do to make this better?" vs. "How could you have done something so stupid?".

4. Don't let performance issues fester.

When you let ineffective performance continue, you do a disservice to the organization, colleagues, the person and yourself.  I recently wrote this post about tips to improve your skills at performance management.  I stole all of them from excellent HR pros.

5. HR technology is only as good as its alignment with the organization.

There is lots of great technology that can help streamline HR processes, alleviate the administration of policies, and otherwise free HR pros up to do more of the hands on strategic work of developing a great workforce.  The road is also littered with failed implementations of systems that never quite got implemented, or that weren't a good fit for an organization.  The key to making HR system implementations successful is ensuring that all the right stakeholders are involved in purchase and deployment decisions.  If the decisions are being driven through an IT function, it's especially important to involve HR, even if that's going to slow the process down.  (See #1 above.)

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