Like a skilled marketing manager marries the needs of the market with the capability of the company, the HR manager has to marry the needs of employees with the success of managers and the profits of the company
In the third and final part to the series on ‘HR as Entrepreneurs’, we explore answers to three questions I had posed in Part 1: What business problem am I solving? How much are they willing to pay? What would make me the first and best choice for solutions to my customers over my competition?
Before we jump straight into this, for those of you who missed reading Part 1 and 2, they are available online at People Matters and are articles titled: Can HR be an entrepreneurship venture? (Part 1) and Why do we need HR? (Part 2). In a nutshell, Part 1 introduced the concept of how being an HR entrepreneur is a unique and interesting proposition and Part 2 addressed in greater detail the WHY for HR’s being. I had articulated hopefully persuasively that HR exists for the People of the Organization.
Part 3 of the series addresses: How do we succeed as Entrepreneurs? Why will our customers choose us over others and what will they pay us to serve them? I think we will be the first choice for customers if we have what it takes! And what is that, you ask? Let me narrate a personal story and draw parallels from this as learnings for us.
Recently, the voltage convertor at home just stopped working! Now this is a catastrophe at home as this means no television! When entreaties of love, coercion and pestering failed, the ultimate threat was served on me “We will get the building electrician to fix it”! Oops!! I went late that day to work to drop off the convertor at the electrical repair shop and made sure I took a detour on the way back to pick it up! And I paid at least 30 per cent more in price (not counting the time and fuel getting to this place). Stupid you might think, but I have a reason. I trust this electrical repair shop chap! I know if he fixes it for me it will stay fixed, there is no scope for mishap like when you turn on the electricity, the convertor blows and something in the TV blows up as a free add-on. I was willing to go out of my way, pay more, go late to office, make the detour on the way back just to get this repaired by THIS gent! ! I couldn’t say the same about our building electrician.
Can you say your customers will do the same with your Internal HR services as I did to get the convertor serviced by that one gent only?
Hopefully, you will not take offence to me comparing HR to an electrical repair shop but bear with me as it’s the services aspect I am addressing here. What made me go to such great lengths? Why did I choose this gentleman’s services over our building electrician’s? I will break down my answer into small bites for you to digest as it is a combination of few key hats he wore…
Trust in the fact that it will be fixed, that it will remain fixed and that there will be no further mishaps! Trust borne out of past experiences of consistent quality of services that have been rendered to me. Trust that customer comes first and only what is required to be fixed will be fixed. No ripping me off for personal benefits. This ties back into what I said in the first part – Purpose first and profits second!
I know that he knows what he is doing. He is not a regular quack who will fix a switch without an earthing! He will take time to understand the root cause, ask questions to find out what we did for this to happen. Was this an electricity surge or did you draw more voltage? It is a delight to deal with someone like this. Many a times, I have called him to ask for his advice on other aspects such as which particular inverter is the right one or about LED lights and their ability to really reduce our electricity bill? A regular chap would have probably got me to change the lights in the entire house but his advice was – “Tell me which areas you use regularly, replace the lights in only those areas and by the way if you want I can get them for you too”.
Now not all electrical repairs need trust, but I still will get it done because there is a history, a relationship and sense of comfort built here. There is a comfort that ensures you don’t need to go through the process of testing, bargaining etc. The whole engagement is a simple transaction.
Given the consistent quality of services rendered, I know that I will get back the converter at the time that was committed along with the quality and the assurance that it will remain fixed. This deep sense of predictability ensures my work day and time with family don’t go haywire thanks to endless waiting, false promises etc.
Trust, specialization, relationships and predictability are the keys to ensuring your customer picks you every time over somebody from outside. Once this happens, there is a simple answer to the question of what the customers are willing to pay and that price is not even a consideration. I, for instance, was willing to pay a premium. Now, this may not be the case always especially when you know there are margin pressures. However, as long as there is value, this becomes a non- issue right?
In the above personal example, I knew exactly what the problem was and I knew who my go to man was. This is not always the case right – sometimes a business may not know the root cause of a problem, they may only share the symptoms with us and it is then up to us as HR entrepreneurs to help them dig deep and identify the business problem and then articulate customized, practical, implementable, cost effective solutions. When HR does this they become the choice that the business makes every time, then the task of serving our employees becomes that much easier!
Influencing from a vantage position of trust and confidence is much more successful. What you influence and who you will serve will have to be a scientific process. It cannot be based on gut feel.
Like a skilled marketing manager marries the needs of the market with the capability of the company to make winning products and services, the HR manager has to marry the needs of employees with the success of managers and the profits of the company.
To summarize the three-part series, sure HR as entrepreneurs is an exciting proposition but one that will need radical changes in mindset, smart thinking, some old skills and some very new specializations! So are we game?
I have enjoyed trying to crack this code of HR as Entrepreneur’s through this 3 part series. I hope you did too and will go out and make the change happen. Change is complex if you see it as a whole but if you break it into steps it will happen. Just keep sight of where you are taking those steps. Good luck and as always stay connected.