My daughter was in the first grade at Christian Fellowship School in Draffenville. At the breakfast table one morning, she informed me that she had to tell in class that day what jobs her parents did.
As an HR manager, I had to think about that one. I finally came up with, “Daddy helps decide who works for the company and how much to pay them.” That’s probably as short an HR description as you can get.
But that afternoon, my little precocious one came in and said, “I found out what you really do, Daddy. You do the hiring and firing.” She even had a certain inflection on the two key words. Needless to say, I winced.
Surprisingly, not much has changed in 20 years. HR is still seen by most as the group that does the hiring. Unfortunately, it is also the group that most managers turn to when they have to terminate someone’s employment.
To borrow the title theme from Jim Collins, these managers probably run good organizations.
However, the great companies and the great managers see HR in a far bigger light: leaders in talent management.
In any case, for a company to be successful, talent must be identified and its use must then be maximized by the organization.
It starts before someone is even hired. Resumes are reviewed and vetted to a short list for testing or interviewing. Is it fair that decisions are being made even before you meet the person? An employer may have to be legal, but they usually don’t have time to be fair.
As a side note, that’s why your resume needs to be as clear, concise and orderly as possible. The one thing the government still allows in hiring is the assumption that what you’ve done in the past will be repeated in the future. So if your resume is sloppy and full of spelling errors, the hiring manager is allowed to assume that you will be a sloppy worker with little attention to detail.
Testing, interviewing and background checking are the normal methods for identifying whether an applicant has certain talents. These can be expensive and time-consuming. The truth is these are just tools to help the employer estimate the future ability of this person.
Once the applicant is hired, it is the manager, supported by HR, who needs to allow for the better performer to be noticed and rewarded. From the evaluation process to compensation flexibility, it is the HR group that works with managers to hold them accountable for completion.
By the way, there is often the opposite track in which a functional area is identified that needs improvement. Hopefully, HR can be brought into the discussion as to how this weakness can be turned into a strength via some personal development planning.
Lastly, when true talent does shine through, then HR needs to be ready to allow that light to be used to the max. This can be as simple as the accounting clerk who is excellent at the detail being the one who completes the final quality review of all disbursements prior to mailing. Or it can be the sales executive who has a talent for leading others who is asked to chair an ad-hoc committee to launch a new product.
For smaller companies that don’t have a dedicated HR staff, the going can get tough. You still have to hire talent and retain that which already exists in your business. Often, this is actually harder since you may not have the name recognition or the same dollars to invest as the larger employers with whom you compete for people.
But that has always been the challenge for the entrepreneur. And that’s probably why it is so rewarding when done well.
Randy Fox, SPHR, is the founder and senior partner of Capstone HR Services, Inc., an HR consulting firm dedicated to serving the needs of the small employer in the greater western Kentucky region, including Evansville, Ind., and Clarksville, Tenn. Contact him at 270-703-9352.