Three’s a crowd; HR, business and the straight line

Three’s a crowd; HR, business and the straight line

As we approach 2020, we’re becoming more and more aware of the value of diversity and fairness in creating and sustaining an organisation. As work relationships are HR’s business, it’s surprising (or if not, disheartening) that nearly half of the HR practitioners recently surveyed by the CIPD are still under pressure to put short-term commercial focus above long-term business needs (i.e. engaged, productive employees).

There is a reassuringly effective remedy for this, however. Research is starting to show that time spent learning elsewhere in the business consistently makes successful HR practitioners. Almost half of current HR directors worked outside of HR in their last job, suggesting that rotating in and out of HR is one way of developing the necessary skills to advance an HR career. The road to HR leadership doesn’t have to be a straight line up the obvious route of succession. A huge 70% of HR directors used to work outside of HR, five job roles ago, helping them to understand and use a range of perspectives with which to look at the employment relationship. This kind of insight helps one align with the needs of a business, rather than relying on ‘best practice’. Surely this experience, and the ability to compare functions and cherry pick the best of both worlds, would suggest that ‘oil and water’ are capable of being far more symbiotic than we have previously believed.

HR needs to understand business challenges from the other side, so that they understand why they hit obstacles when presenting ideas to the board. Just as kitsch placards warn us never to trust a thin chef, HR needs experience in the business if it’s going to earn the respect it needs to be able to offer strategic advice (and have it followed).

So how does HR go about it? What skills are needed to support and influence business? What’s the best vantage point from which to gain the capability required to have real impact and influence in today’s organisations?

To discuss these issues and more, The HR World, in association with Resource Management, hosted a round table debate in London on 2nd July 2015. The fruits of this discussion will be turned into the seventh white paper in our series of HR hot topics.

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Author: Caroline Beer

Posted on: Wednesday 1st Jul 2015