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Turning the Corner in HR

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This week I had the privilege of sitting in as a guest on HR Happy Hour.  (If you are interested, you can listen to the replay here.)   The topic was Heartland HR, specifically trends we have seen in the last few weeks as I spoke at ILSHRM and MOSHRM.  This happened in the same week I was working with teams in six different countries for one client while simultaneously preparing a trip that will take me to two different continents this weekend to work with another client.  In between, I spoke with an HR leader who is building out their HR Shared Services function and trying to figure out how to put an HR case management system in place without causing any heartburn for the team.  It’s a lot of perspectives and a lot of issues from around the globe to deal with all at once.  And the really interesting thing about it is that everyone has the exact same issues in play.

  • We need data.
  • We need to understand that data.
  • We need to be able to turn that data into information.
  • We need processes.
  • We need to improve those processes.
  • We need to automate those processes.

You know what I didn’t hear?

  • We want to be taken seriously by leadership.
  • We want to be taken seriously by employees.
  • We don’t want to have to buy birthday cakes anymore.

The modern HR practitioner has, I hope, turned that corner.  I suggested that understanding HR technology, statistics and data analysis were the biggest issues in the practice these days, which is rarely met with excitement.  Later in the show, John Nykolaiszyn joined us.  John is an Associate Director of the College of Business at Florida International University, and spends a good bit of time talking to business leaders about what they look for in new HR practitioners.  His list was the same as mine.  Others who joined the conversation, as well as the many practitioners I talk to on a regular basis agree.

I think it is safe to say that as a community, HR is finally turning the corner and becoming more focused on business needs and data than on the undefinable soft skills that have for so long dominated the practice.  That’s not to say those skills aren’t still important, but rather we are moving to a competency model that emphasizes analytic ability as well as interpersonal.  The HR professional of the modern world must be able to handle people and their emotions as adeptly as they do spreadsheets and their formulas.  Which, when you think about, is what good business leaders have always needed.

Nice to see we are catching up.

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