Give value, or give notice

by 07 Jun 2007

By Craig Donaldson

“HR must give value or give notice,” according to Dave Ulrich. While his comment would appear to be fairly easy to understand, some HR professionals still seem to struggle with putting it into practice.

Speaking at the AHRI National Convention recently, Dave Ulrich laid bare the basics of the business of HR. It wasn’t complicated. It’s simply about taking a genuine interest in the workings of the business, then coming up with and executing solutions that meet wider business strategies, thus delivering value.

This point still seems to be lost on some HR practitioners. In speaking with managers and executives, many of them are still quite critical of HR and its lack of ability to deliver value. It would appear that some HR professionals have become institutionalised and may as well keep the old ‘personnel’ name because they simply don’t want to change and move with the times.

True, HR is starting on the backfoot in most businesses. Many executives and line managers are cynical about the value that HR can bring to the business. While some HR professionals can get time with their CEO quite readily, many executives don’t have much time for HR because they consider it a waste of time.

It need not be so. As Lao Tzu says, “a journey of a thousand miles begins with one step”. It doesn’t take a degree in rocket science to be able to sit down and talk with line managers about their business priorities and challenges. It will help in bridging the gap of understanding between HR and the business and also assist HR professionals in learning their language.

Sure, building influence and credibility doesn’t happen overnight (see “HR poor on influencing skills” front page story).

But this will become easier as one establishes real rapport with executives and managers in actually taking a genuine interest in their business affairs for the sake of the business, and not for the sake of HR.