People in Human Resources are expected to be friends with everyone and friendly too! Every unit in the organization looks to HR for policy and operational solutions that keep people engaged and productive.
For its part, HR strives to build strong working relationships with all business units and their internal customers. Sometimes serving in an executive capacity (doer), while other companies have HR play a more consultative (thinker) role. Either way, HR ends up the nett giver and everyone else the nett receiver.
Some kinder business unit heads may offer their HR colleagues a business orientation of how the unit runs, their challenges, some top-line gyaan about the market etc. Traditional stuff!
It’s time HR leaders reached out and sought some reciprocation!
To become nett receivers, broad-skill themselves and make their units interesting places to work, HR leaders must have six new friends:
- The Marketing Chief: HR communications are usually cut and dried. So people read them because they have to – not want to. Enter, the Marketing Chief! An expert at communication, with access to the latest communication mechanisms and a bunch of creative agencies on hand. The Marketing Chief also stays updated on the latest, most efficient media – audio, visual, digital and social. Good marketing people instinctively know the best and most visible spots where a collateral will receive the highest number of eyeballs. HR communications can certainly become as attractive as those that promote the company’s own products!
- The Head of Sales: In any organization, Sales has the best connect with the external customer. Sitting face-to-face, they build personal rapport and keep an ear open for praise, tales of woe and valuable suggestions. More to the point, sales-people understand positioning like few others do. It’s their core competency. They position products and solutions to fit the needs of every customer segment. This skill can be used to customize HR solutions – and their communication – to various employee segment! You’ll need to ask ‘nicely’, though – these guys rarely hang around the office – and are often quite eccentric!
- The Operations Head: Owner of the largest employee population – across all age-groups and levels – the Operations Head is arguably the best source of vox populi and ideas for change. Is existing company policy a business enabler or an impediment? Which policies are more acceptable to which employee groups? Are people happy with HR operations – payroll, allowance claims and other processes? Where are the pain points? What tweaks can make life easier. Your friend in Ops may already have answers that are statistically significant!
- The Chief Technology Officer: If there’s one thing that is rapidly transforming HR, it’s technology. In fact, HR technology is contributing big-time to business agility. This is also the one area that many HR professionals find themselves at a loss. What is this animal? What’s it doing on my turf! Spending some ‘getting-across’ time with the CTO can be an enlightening experience.
- The Finance Controller: The money-bags! But it does not mean that your friend in Finance will sneak you any funds! What this friendship can do is define the Math required to present compelling people-investment opportunities to the Leadership Team. This is also a great place to understand the financial health of the business, especially for those of us who are numerically challenged, the Finance Controller is a great friend to have!
- The General Counsel: These folks not only know the law, they also know how to interpret it – and even a few creative ways around it. In the Board-room, they may stamp a foot about the ‘letter and spirit’ of the law. That’s their job: to prevent even the hint of any kind of litigation. To the uninitiated, it may seem like the legal-eagles are nothing but a bottleneck to doing business. On the contrary, it makes good sense to proactively seek help and support – not just their sign-off – from Legal before progressing any People-related plans. It’s always good to be friends with lawyers!
Given the diversity of these relationships, HR leaders will be juggling 6 skittles at the same time. Investing in any relationship requires time and effort but in the end it pays for itself – and can spice up the workplace!
Consider departing from the traditional ‘linkage’ relationships. Instead, add on working friendships that deliver new, and true, value to HR leaders and their team.
So, whatsay we go make some new friends…!