Is HR an elusive value proposition or can HR deliver real value to its employees?


My business partner in the US, Mark Herbert wrote a very interesting blog a few weeks ago, named HR’s Elusive Value Proposition: – Mark maintains a very strong service offering and ethic across human capital development within fortune and SME organisations, he really understands the dynamics around business growth and development and we have had many conversations around where is the value in company’s today.

Mark’s research was incredibly interesting, in summary the final analysis he produced showed HR does not manage human capital, and ever worse there was no master compliance. So where are the values across teaching company organisations and people more importantly how do we create an environment where people engage in the vision, mission, values up rather than just comply and deliver the satisfactory, I decided to review this subject further as, non emotional productivity can only end up with a company declining in revenues and needing further investment for sustained growth.

There are an incredible number of pressures on today’s organisations. To name a few: environmental pressures such as increasing globalisation, rapid technological change, and tougher competition; organisational changes such as new organisational alliances, new structures and hierarchies, new ways of assigning work, and a very high rate of change; changes in the workforce, including employees’ priorities, capabilities, and demographic characteristics. Within these pressured organisations, there is a need for the human resource function to play a critical role in helping organisations navigate through these transitions. In order to play this role, however, HR will have to increase its real and perceived value.

The role of human resources has been evolving for some time. The shift from “personnel” to “human resources,” for example, was part of the movement to acknowledge the value of employees as an organisational resource, and was an attempt to remove some of the stigma that was coming to be associated with slow, bureaucratic personnel departments. This shift in label was accompanied by a call for HR to become a strategic partner with the leaders of the business-to contribute to significant business decisions, advise on critical transitions, and develop the value of the employees-in short, to have a seat at the table.

It seems almost everyone has a negative story about how their workplace’s human resources department failed to support them when it comes to the “human” part of workplace antics like, conflict-resolution with colleagues, bosses, or subordinates, career tips, or interpersonal strategy.

Leadership is incredibly important to the solution, why? Leadership has access to potentially powerful, game-changing ideas. Its easy and tempting to change to a new transformational practice, a new expert, or new research that seems to provide some relief or a solution to a problem. What is potentially harder, but far more valuable, is to be motivated with the problem, what happened to a renewed focus on emotional intelligence as a driver or KPI for leadership and through the management ranks, a focus on values and culture as a company differentiator?

This can be a problem for many company’s in the business world. Research has clarified why forced rankings were undermining the desired culture of trust, collaboration, and risk taking. It provides another angle for exploring the complexities of culture, values, and talent systems in organisations.

Classic management science has defined four management functions: planning, organising, motivating and controlling. According to research, the classic definition is missing a key function, namely; aligning. Sustaining high business performance is a product of continuous strategic alignment. Strategic alignment is a function of political alignment. It is how well the teams communicate and work with each other. Simply put, strategic alignment is getting all the people in an organization rowing in the same direction — imagine the force and speed when they are rowing synchronized in the same direction and imagine the performance and wasted of energy when they are not.

Management by its nature is a highly political role. The first key management function is planning and resource allocation among competing business needs and departments. Managers must balance the conflicting interests among their stakeholders, including the investors, board of directors, employees, customers, suppliers, and governance.

Technical managers that get promoted into business management positions, learn, the hard way that they cannot function, if they do not have the political skills needed to deal with never ending conflicting views, interests and personalities. The organisational life is full of conflicts, ranging from minor differences of opinion to major political wars. Learning how to manage workplace politics is critical to professional and business success.

Common organisational politics and management behavior:
• Most managers have natural tendencies to hoard resources and build empires to gain more control power and status within the organisation.
• Most managers play territorial games. They will resist or delay change, if they do not fully understand the impact on their territory
• If the manager does not agree with the plans, he or she are more likely to play passive-aggressive games
• Some managers will sabotage the leader’s plan, if it threatens their interest
• The higher the stake for the manager, the higher the risk of unethical political behavior
• Even fast-growing and profitable companies can develop bad internal politics and unproductive work habits that will eventually lead to declining performance.
• The larger the organisation, the more susceptible it is to the breakdown of communication, the emergence of management silos and misalignment.
• Many of the smaller companies also suffer from similar problems, but to a lesser degree.
• When management tends to focus so much on one management area, e.g., sales, and has no time to manage the internal organisational challenges, dysfunction creeps in and takes hold.

To build and sustain high-performance teams, the leadership and human resources managers should distinguish between functional politics and dysfunctional politics in every part of the organisation.

The subject of leadership has been greatly covered by scholars, academicians and consultants, yet building and sustaining high-performance teams remain elusive to most companies. Leadership is the most important competitive advantage of a company, not technology, finance, or anything else. Leadership formulates the company’s business strategy and builds its assets, including its people and operations.

A failed business is the result of poor performance. Poor performance is the result of an incompetent or dysfunctional leadership team.

Med Jones, the president of International Institute of Management, once said:

“The leadership team is the most important asset of the company and can be its worst liability.”

In summary, its about delivering value. Although this is not a new challenge for HR, it remains a critical one. HR is still perceived by many within today’s organisations as simply a non-revenue generating function. It is important to make apparent the value provided by working with the management team to hire the right people, manage them well, pay them appropriately, and build a working environment that encourages success.
Beatty and Schneier (1997) extended the concept of delivering value within the organisation by arguing that HR must deliver economic value to the customers, as well as to employees.

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