So you want to work in HR?

true events

CEO:    Ah, HR Director.  Come and sit down, I need to talk to you. I will get straight to the point. I have some concerns about our HR strategy and how you and your team are performing.

HRD:    Well, yes CEO I have been expecting this.  You see I am feeling a little overwhelmed and…

CEO:    Really? I can’t imagine why.  You have the cushiest job in the organisation.  All that stuff you do, it’s not real work is it? Anyone could do it. That’s why an Accountant is head of Corporate Services and not you.  They don’t need to know HR, but they do need to know the numbers. You know, REALLY understand the business. So with that in mind, I need to see more from you. I need to see some innovative and creative thinking and fast-paced delivery.

HRD:    Er, OK, can you give me some examples?

CEO:    Where to start?  I’m concerned this whole #Metoo thing is getting out of hand. We seem to have had a few bullying and harassment complaints recently.  You need to jump on it and shut them down.  And keep it quiet.  Who do these people think they are going around ruining good careers over some drunken fumble?

Look, I’m all about diversity and inclusion but in the right way.  Have we got any of those ladyboys or non-gender specific people working here?  If not, why not?  You need to look at our recruitment practices.  I want one of those Rainbow Ticks for the company this year.  None of our competitors have one yet so it could be a competitive advantage if we get in quickly.  Why have we not won a Diversity Award yet?  You don’t have to do much apparently. Just run a little diversity project, employ a few people with disabilities or something, and then we can tick that off and forget about it.

That reminds me, what are we doing about pay equity?  We need to tick that box as well. I can’t understand why you can’t just make it happen.  You have a 2.5% salary increase budget to play with.  Juggle the numbers, be creative.  Just make sure our highest performers are well rewarded too so there is a clear differentiation.

HRD:    Well, it’s a complex issue. Over half of our workforce are female but not at the senior levels and…

CEO:    That’s because they are all too busy having babies and working flexibly.  We can’t have that nonsense going on at the top of the chain.  Look at our Prime Minister.  She’s a wonderful role model for young women.  Knocked out her sprog and then straight back to work.

HRD:    Yes, but she has a lot of support and a stay at home partner.

CEO:    I know.  How they survive on just a Prime Minister’s salary is anyone’s guess. She’s so inspiring.

Talking of young talent, I want to see a graduate programme.  We need new young blood coming through.  But they need to hit the ground running so just find us the best students who have work experience.  We don’t have time to train them.  We are moving too fast and they won’t stay long anyway.

And on the subject of training, why aren’t our people getting any?  I allocated 0.05% of the salary budget to training. We need to have a strong commitment to developing our people and it isn’t happening.  We’ve got too many under performers.  Managers can’t cope with all the process you’ve put around getting rid of people.  No wonder they don’t have time to do proper performance reviews.  And where is the leadership programme I asked for? Where is that new online onboarding programme we spoke about?

HRD:    Well, as you know I had to make our Learning Specialist redundant.

CEO:    That’s no excuse.  When we are restructuring HR has to take the first hit.  You can’t be credible if you aren’t suffering as well.  Besides, I needed the headcount for my new Strategic Advisor.  I may be the CEO, but the Office of the CEO doesn’t create itself you know.

Talking of restructures, morale seems to be very low.  I don’t know why.  All those leadership off sites and we can’t seem to find the answer.  We’ve just restructured the whole organisation.  They should all be grateful to still be here, pumped about the future and raring to go.  Do you think it’s because we stopped the biscuits in meetings? I need you to have your finger on the pulse and let me know what’s going on.  I think we need a staff survey. Let’s find out how engaged they really are.  What gets measured gets done and all that.  While I want to hear what our people think, talk is cheap so I don’t want to pay for it.  Just make it happen. That’s why we spend $30 a month on Survey Monkey. Use it or lose it.

Perhaps it’s time to refresh the company values as well?  A new start for the company post the structural changes.

I think we need to focus more on our employee experience.  I saw a good video about that on LinkedIn last week.  Shall I send you the link?  Do we need another table tennis table? More fruit? All these new ideas are out there. Bet you haven’t even thought of that, have you?

Let’s do something about wellbeing as well while we are at it.  As you know, I’m a big fan of work life balance and flexible working – just so long as it doesn’t impact the bottom line.  So let’s keep it in house and develop some resources people can use at work to build up their resilience to bullying and reduce our increasing sick absence levels.  We can’t have people running around the place working wherever they like.

And where is our commitment to social responsibility?  Those volunteer days are good so let’s do more of that. It costs us a bit in productivity, but saves on expensive team building activities so it’s a win/win.  We need to encourage it.  Getting closer to our local communities is a good thing, particularly when a target client is on the board of the local not for profit. You need to think more strategically, you know.

We don’t seem to be getting very far with our key talent identification either.  People need to know where their careers are going.  We lose too many good people and turnover is too high. What are you doing about that?  And while we are at it, we should really be thinking about the future skills we need in the organisation so we can get rid of those who don’t have them early before every other organisation starts doing it.  Work practices are changing you know, and we aren’t planning for it. We need to be ahead of the curve.

I thought your team are supposed to be Business Partners?  I don’t see much of that going on. Why aren’t they out in the business every day? Tell them to get their priorities sorted or we’ll replace them with robots.

HRD:    There is too much administration.  We really need an HR information system.

CEO:    I’ve told you to get one.  It needs to do recruitment, online performance, remuneration, integrate with payroll and if you can tag on health and safety as well we’ll be sweet.  And the talent management? And online learning? Just don’t spend more than 20 grand. Don’t thank me, I’m here to help. And the reporting, did I mention that?  I need strategic insights.  You know, turnover and leave balances, that sort of thing.

If I can offer some words of advice, make things as simple as possible for yourselves in HR. People need to know where they stand.  Those new policies you rolled out for example.  Simple, one-page policies are no bloody good to anyone.  We need chapter and verse.  No one takes a policy seriously unless it is at least three pages long and tells them clearly in language they can’t understand what they can’t do. Firm but fair. How can we expect to be an employer of choice if people are free to do what they like?

If you could just put this into a strategy on a page for tomorrow’s leadership meeting we’ll say no more. You can have five minutes to present it.

Now tell me, why are you feeling overwhelmed?


6 thoughts on “So you want to work in HR?

  1. Sarah Kerr-Deans says:

    Hi Richard, That’s the best read I’ve had in a long while. Thanks! Sarah.

    Sarah Deans 021 429 963

    Sent from my iPhone


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