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Thursday, September 23, 2010

Improving Your HR Reputation

I had a chance to speak with three HR people in about the same number of weeks who lamented the lack of their company's appreciation for their contributions. There is also a seeming lack of appreciation of their role because most of the times, HR is not trusted to make HR-related decisions. These of course, make them feel bad. I mean who wouldn't?

Some of those I talked with long for the day when management can fully realize HR's value in the organization while others just resigned to thinking that HR is in deed a thankless job and that HR will always be looked at with some degree of ambivalence. Neither of these two views are correct. First, because how people see HR is a product of how HR projects itself. If HR wishes for others to see it differently, it has to rethink how it plays its role in the organization in a way that adds more value from the perspective of its clients. I say this because there is often a conflict between how HR appreciates itself and how others appreciate HR's contribution. This is often the cause of frustration and the sad thing is for most, it has been accepted as a way of life. This is untenable because this kind of thinking is not good for the organization more than the fact that it is not good for HR.

HR can change this situation by evolving in its role. It is not an easy task but if  we want to be appreciated better, we have to start stepping towards becoming strategic business partners who serve as the company's most trusted allies for people and organizational growth.

I have written about becoming a strategic HR partner in the past. if you want to know more about my thoughts on it, you can read them here. That is not the goal of this post. My goal is for those who feel they are stuck to being order takers to take the necessary next steps towards achieving HR nirvana. I see that the biggest gap is in the mindset, the fear to thread outside status quo and the unwillingness to learn the skills of a trusted internal consultant.

Becoming a reliable strategic HR partner requires confidence and confidence comes with competence and competence starts with knowing. In short if you want to play a bigger role in your organization, you have to start learning how. Take a course, buy a book, go Google or get a mentor. Do whatever it takes to acquire knowledge. As you sift through information choose what you think will work for you and apply them. You can't learn to drive a car just by knowing how it runs, you have to step into the driver's seat and drive.

That is the message of this post; grow out of your comfort zone and grow into a bigger more strategic role and start by learning how now. Strategic HR partners are development oriented and the development starts with themselves.


  1. " Becoming a reliable strategic HR partner requires confidence and confidence comes with competence and competence starts with knowing." I like this line Ed. People do not realize that college is just a preparatory school to life. We have to keep on learning everyday.

    Thank you for this very persuasive post.

    Jef Menguin
    student of human potential

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