Taking the load off unsung HR heroes!

My hat is off to those who work in the human resources (or HR) function.

HR is a team that often gets blamed directly or indirectly when things go wrong, but rarely gets credit when celebrating successes.

Also in many companies, HR was probably among the last functions to be formed. And the person responsible for it was probably the CEO's personal assistant! I may be exaggerating but I'm pretty sure it wasn't the first team to form in most companies and the person initially responsible for it was probably not hired specifically for that function. A common path is that when the company reached a certain size, the CEO probably thought that she needed a buffer between her and the people...and the HR function was born.

It then probably grew in a piecemeal fashion as things were added such as:

  • Recruitment and selection policies

  • Disciplinary action

  • Orientation procedures and company handbook

  • Appraisal and review processes

  • Rewards systems

  • Internal Newsletter

Let's get one clear now. An effective function which takes care of our precious people is an essential part of scaling up a company in a healthy and sustainable way.

Here are two key ideas to help lighten the load of the HR team and help them help everyone else perform at higher levels.

1) Don't call the function "Human Resources!"

This expression encourages us to think of people as resources. Ok ok they are the most important resources a company has, but they are not to be thought of as things like, cash, components, inventory or work in progress.

The Employee Experience team sounds a little better than Human Resources (to me anyway...)

The experience a team member has with your company on a daily basis is what's going to help them make bigger and bigger contributions and stay with you for longer.

2) Make Life Easier...

Base hiring, firing, rewards, induction and policy decisions around the company's:

  • Core values

  • Core purpose

  • Core competencies

If the functions that HR is commonly responsible for (listed earlier) are all based directly upon the three core elements above then life becomes much easier.

Recruitment: How well do they match up with our core values and purpose? How are they rated by their immediate past employers / colleagues?

Disciplinary action: Which of the core values were broken? Why that behaviour is not in line with how we practice the values.

Orientation and handbook: Why and how our values and our core purpose were chosen and the stories of those who have lived them best. What behaviour standards are required to live the values.

Appraisals and reviews: How has that person demonstrated the values or advanced themselves in line with the core competencies of the business? What results have they achieved while upholding the values and advancing the companies purpose?

Rewards: In line with performance (as measured by the appraisal system, does a particular person qualify for a reward.

When using the core foundations of values, purpose and competencies, communication in all its forms is simplified and matters are less of an opinion and less open to debate.

Playgrounds, roads and fences...

Imagine small children playing in a square park with busy roads on all four sides with traffic moving past at high speed. If that park had no protective fences, they would likely play very close to the centre to avoid danger. However with four solid protective fences on each side, they would most likely play to the full area of the park knowing they were safe from the traffic.

The fences represent the values, purpose and core competencies of the the company. We need to to be clear on what they are and let our team members know exactly where the boundaries are and "play to the fences!"

We need to take great care of our most valuable resource. Let's make it easy for everyone to understand what's expected of them when they work for the company and what it takes to excel and enjoy the ride.

My best,


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