Article: What HR leaders shouldn't do in 2014

Strategic HR

What HR leaders shouldn't do in 2014

10 areas that the HR should stop focusing on in the New Year to make the function more effective
What HR leaders shouldn't do in 2014

Start practicing the idea of limiting choices. Then redirect this investment of time, money or energy into one of your other identified priorities that will have a big impact on the business in 2014


We learn little if we are not prepared to fail. As an HR leader, we should be creating an environment that people feel safe to experiment and potentially fail


A significant amount of time and effort is invested in predicting the future – be that at an economic, industry or business level or even at a leadership and personal level. A range of data sources like expert opinions, scholarly research, tried and tested frameworks and a plethora of personal insight tools are used to help predict the future and in many cases, these are highly informative and useful in limiting the direction and choices we make.

However, the basic error many organizations and leaders make is limiting the range of choices to pursue. We know we can only focus on a small number of initiatives yet we tend to go way beyond an ideal list of highest value opportunities to include those other ‘things’ we should do ‘just-in-case’ our prediction of the future doesn’t play out as we planned. And this typically leads to a shopping list of priorities that result in a lack of focus and ultimately a poorly executed plan.

So, if we were to narrow down the areas of focus for 2014, and STOP doing something, here are 10 things you might consider:

1. Choose JUST ONE thing to stop doing in 2014

What would be the one thing you would not miss if it was done (again) in 2014? This applies to something you do at an organization level – for your leaders, your team, or yourself. Start practicing the idea of limiting choices. And then redirect this investment of time, money or energy into one of your other identified priorities that will have a big impact on the business in 2014.

2. Don’t let 2014 be a repeat of the past

2014 will not be a repeat of 2013 - unless you allow it to be. Challenge the views and paradigms of those around you, and challenge yourself to think differently; about what is working or not working and WHY. Embrace the business leaders in meaningful and practical dialogue about the year ahead and gain their commitment to doing something different – even if it is just one thing.

3. Stop ‘DOING’ and ‘DELEGATE’

What is the one thing you should be delegating to your team this year that you didn’t delegate in 2013? What sorts of development opportunities could you create for your team if they took on something new?

4. STOP investing in non-integrated interventions

Align and integrate your HR initiatives behind the business priorities. Clarify the business priorities for 2014 and then review your HR programs that deliver the people components of these priorities. Business priorities change and so should the core HR tools that translate these priorities into actions. Competency frameworks and success profiles at each level are two areas that you could review in 2014. Then make sure these tools are used across the core HR arenas such as selection, development, and succession & performance management. If the initiative you are working on is not tied to a 2014 business priority or links to another major 2014 HR initiative, consider delaying or discontinuing further investment.

5. Don’t depend (entirely) on your same networks

Connect-connect-connect – be strategic about building and harnessing the power of internal and external networks. Be mindful of who and what you need to know and how to get things done. And be open to connecting with people and groups with diverse and differing views. The future of work will be different so connect with the people who are going to be a big part of that future.

6. Don’t delay

Time is a scarce resource. As HR professionals, we must act and act faster than we did last year. We must understand our customers and anticipate their needs, using 2014 to take one step closer to that future state. And we should provide them with the platform and environment to accelerate their growth, giving them and the business a superior return on the time and resources invested. Present a strong business case to your internal partners, linking their challenges to the solutions HR provides.

7. Stop investing in everyone equally

This may sound controversial to some (and at the same time obvious to others) but there are still too many HR professionals spreading scare resources across their organizations in an un-differentiated manner. For example, broad training and development initiatives play a vital role in an HR development strategy but so does accelerated development for a small portion of the population with the highest potential to lead the business into the future. Allocate resources wisely, and take some risks. Measure the impact of your HR initiatives and stop investing in low value-adding initiatives.

8. Don’t lose your talent

Know who your best talent is and what motivates them - really motivates them! Partner with the business to address areas of high attrition and if necessary, be creative about how to retain these people in your organization in the short- to medium-term.

9. Don’t let tough conversations get in the way

One of the most difficult jobs for a leader is having the tough conversations, including discussions on poor performance. HR professionals can help. By clarifying and communicating goals, cascading and aligning them effectively, and helping leaders build their skills in this area, we can make a difference in 2014.

10. Don’t fear failure - take a risk

We learn little if we are not prepared to fail. As an HR leader, we should be creating an environment that people feel safe to experiment and potentially fail. As a famous Indian business leader once said when explaining why his company had instituted a prize for the best failed idea that taught the company a valuable lesson - "Failure is a goldmine". So, create the freedom for people to experiment.

This is by no means an exhaustive list of what HR should do or not do in 2014 so please feel free to add your views, opinions and thoughts to the discussion using so I would love to hear your thoughts on this topic. Post one thing HR leaders should not be doing in 2014 to #HRNot2014.

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Topics: Strategic HR, #HRInsights, #AreyouintheList?

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