QI am an HR generalist with more than eight years’ experi
ence. I have a pretty good handle on the requirements of my
role, because my business has previously been in growth mode.
My business is now heading towards a contraction. Will I be
equipped to deliver whatever is required? What areas of career
development will I need?
As always, the answer to delivering superior HR generalist services in
this cycle is to provide fast, efficient and professional support to match
business needs. This cycle will focus on areas such as:
• Change Management – restructuring and rightsizing;
• Organisation Design – structure and position design;
• Employee Relations – business and employee interfacing;
• Communications – updates and forward direction;
• Performance Management – expectation management; and
• Mergers and Acquisitions – transmission of business and people
These areas have a technical underpinning that is not always under
stood – nor appreciated – by business leaders (and even some HR profes
sionals). The comment that HR isn’t “rocket science” belies the impor
tance of technical, legal and compliance requirements when supporting
management through a contraction.
While technical knowledge of contraction cycle activities is important,
it’s the development of higher level behavioural capabilities to deliver serv
ices which is the key to HR success. For instance, mastering relationship
management of large groups, influencing decision-makers, and critical de
cision-making will be vital. Another important, yet rarely recognised capa
bility to grasp is that of “staying centred”.
What does it mean to “stay centred”? Clearly “staying centred” is a
mindset which allows experienced HR professionals to handle the emo
tions of difficult people situations in a fair, balanced and professional manner. Staying centred requires a reflective approach – whatever we do will
be evaluated by people both internal and external to the organisation in the
short, medium and longer terms.
The capability to manage the big picture with the here and now, com
bined with fairness principles, and commercial reality is a tricky balancing
exercise for HR professionals to achieve.
Some of the techniques to staying centred include:
• Having a framework to work through a difficult discussion;
• Having a clear set of principles to balance both organisational and
individual needs with fairness;
• Having a clear context of the message the business wants to
• Having an enquiring approach with a clear set of questions.
“Staying centred” may just be one of the most vital capabilities for any
HR professional to develop and master. When the business is wavering in its
principles, a consistent approach from HR will be highly respected and
“staying centred” will be the key to achieving your future HR career success
By Craig Mason, managing director, The Next Step