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When the HR Manager isn’t THE HR Manager anymore

To borrow a line from one of my favourite bloggers, Jay Kuhns, one of the things that “gets me fired up” is when other managers in your organization start thinking and acting like HR Managers. It is especially beautiful when they do this and don’t even realize they are doing it! It truly is a mark of success for my team when I see operations managers engaging with their staff and each other the way true HR professionals engage with them. I have always held the belief that the HR dept. can be rated as being effective when line managers, directors, etc. have become their own de facto “HR Manager.” In essence, they are doing the day to day, in the trenches work that many of us as HR Pros get sucked into doing (for them). It truly is a sweet moment when they start thinking and acting as strategic HR Managers.

To get to this point, HR has to have been able to:

Articulate a vision and strategy that is aligned with operational goals,

Make communication and coaching with their operations partners a top priority,

Get out from behind their desks and see life in the operational trenches, (and understand it)

Help operations managers see the connection between their people practices/programs and business results

SuccessNoticed I didn’t use the words “business partner” or “seat at the table” anywhere in there! I truly believe that most managers are looking to HR to help them make their jobs easier. They want guidance, direction and support on how to enhance their people practices. For the most part, they know they need to engage their staff to achieve their outcomes – most of them just don’t know how or where to start – hence where HR comes into play.

Ok, so now that I have set the stage, what exactly do I mean when the HR Manager isn’t the HR Manager. What I mean is that managers are now seen as running point on the key HR issues while HR does its thing in the background – in glorious anonymity. For example, part of my team’s strategic plan is to transform/evolve our culture to be more performance based and link all the various components – i.e. coaching/development, performance reviews, recognition, compensation, etc. As an HR professional I am always looking for signs to see how/if we are moving the needle on this transformation. I knew the efforts of our team were starting to take hold when operations managers were starting to come forward with their own (department developed) systems on how to measure project performance, cascade into individual performance measurement AND link it into the organization performance process! What a sweet moment when operations come to HR with THEIR solution on how they are going to address performance gaps, in other words – their solution on how they are going to manage THEIR human resources – vs. HR “imposing” a solution on them.

So for me, the bottom line success of HR can be managed when the actual HR Manager (as a metaphor for the HR dept.) isn’t THE HR Manager. It is when front line managers and supervisors have that mindset, desire and ability to link in their people practices as a way to achieve organization results. Just don’t tell my boss that they are the true HR Managers now……..

What about you? How do you define success for your HR team? What behavioural changes do you look for in your operations partners? As always, I welcome your comments and feedback.

Image courtesy of suwatpo/ FreeDigitalPhotos.net


3 Responses

  1. I agree with this. Thinking back on teams I have managed, my teams produced the mosr positive results when I made my presence visible. That is not meaning I micro managed them. When I came in each morning, I checked in with the team and greeted them, let them know my agenda, asked if they needed anything, let them know where I would be if they needed support with anything or a have a sexondsend pair of eyes on making a decision in resolving an issue. Ask about their justification in a decision they make. Ask how they feel about it. I made them see we were all on the same side if you will.

  2. Thanks for the comments DeNeen! You provide some great points that show how ANY manager can be THE HR Manager!

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