5 Steps to a Strategic HR Reputation

The Chairman of the Board invited me into his office and announced, “I’ve decided I like you, so I’m going to tell you everything I hate about Human Resource people.” This was my first Vice President, Human Resources and Training position.

I joined a Fortune 500 company years later as the Vice President of People Services after they had conducted a yearlong search. I learned my predecessor only visited the 22 offices around the state when he had to fire an employee, no wonder they struggled to fill the job. When I announced the new HR Mission Statement – we are going to be “HR Lite: Twice the Efficiency with only half the Irritation” the leadership team applauded.

What is your HR Department’s brand in your organization? What do other departments say behind your back? Have you ever walked into a meeting only to discover that there was a pre-meeting to decide the outcome of this meeting? Did the outcome surprise you?

If these questions cause you to form a pit in your stomach, I can help. Here are 5 Tips to Enhance Your HR Department’s Reputation:
1. Tell leaders what they can do! There are a lot of employment laws and policies. Most leaders understand what they cannot do, please give them options that are legal and consistent with the company culture. What can they do that will be good for the employee, the business, and the community perspective?
2. Bring Solutions to leaders! They know that there are employee problems and concerns throughout the organization. What are you going to do about it? How can you make the situation better and prevent it from happening in the future?
3. Help Grow the Business. Do you understand the industry you serve? Or is your attitude, every business has employees, you’ve seen one set of employee issues – you’ve seen them all? How do you impact the financial statement, operational processes, and future growth opportunities? Are you are barrier to success or a partner?
4. What can you Stop Doing? Where are you spending resources that no longer bring value to an organization? My predecessor distributed a 3 inch report every month to the leadership team. I never got that task completed. I was there over 4 years and only 1 of the 9 leadership team members once asked for a report. When I informed him that he hadn’t received the report in 3 years; he said “forget I stopped by, I clearly don’t need it.”
5. What can you do at the A, B, C level and it won’t impact the business? As HR professionals we attempt to excel in all areas. There are some areas where we could be average and it won’t impact the business. I would recommend you keep Payroll at the A level. Rather than throw more resources at a problem, how can we use the resources we have today more effectively?

These are questions you will not answer immediately. Hopefully they will give you cause for reflection, perhaps with a glass of wine and your feet propped up. When I join a new HR team, I begin our relationship by asking these 5 questions and challenge us to work together to find solutions. It’s the most productive team building activity I’ve encountered.

How do you develop a Strategic Brand for your HR department?

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