by Sam Neo
My open letter to all Human Resource (HR) professionals who still believes in the profession:
Very often, the HR department is treated as a dumping ground where “unwanted” employees are thrown in as a last resort before terminating their service. You see misfits from your various departments getting forced out of the team and in turn, having to request for a move to HR. Sometimes you wonder, is HR indeed a dumping ground? What are the possible causes for such a phenomenal?
PERCEIVED PURPOSE of the team. In many organizations, especially the small and medium enterprises (SMEs), HR is often perceived as an administrative function. The primary purpose of the team or single HR personnel is to provide administrative support and ensure that the daily routines are covered. You rarely hear business owners saying that they require inputs from HR or that HR can provide strategic guidance to the business. Rather, bosses talk, and HR executes. Speaking of which, should we instead call ourselves the admin support team?
HR is regarded as a team that supposedly doesn’t require much TECHNICAL SKILLS. “Anyone can do HR”. Sounds familiar? We often hear this statement and somehow, can’t firmly disagree to it because HR is a people business and chances are, intelligent people with high EQ can do the job well. Or is it? But is that what all HR is about? What about the specialist roles such as Total Rewards and Talent Management? Are they so straightforward that anyone can do it?
Lack of a VOICE. Most HR professional want to do great things but are not willing or even afraid to voice out their thoughts. It might be the natural ranking of HR’s status in a corporate setting where the department is usually down the pecking order that affects the level of conviction for most HR professionals. This often translates into a lack of confidence to stand up to stakeholders and to hold our grounds firm. Should the current lack of recognition and status be a show-stopper for HR teams to voice out what’s right and what’s wrong? Are we doing our job if we simply keep quiet?
Poor sales ability to sell our ACTUAL value. Unlike the sales and marketing colleagues, HR is often in the background focusing on getting the job done without claiming credit. Or perhaps, we do want our due recognition but are unable to articulate what we have actually delivered that is so impactful to the organization? Besides the inability to sell how our deliverables are tied to measurable business outcomes, we are often unaware of how to set up the right metrics in the first place. What do we need to do to ensure such indicators are properly set up and in turn, enable us to sell ourselves better?
REACTIVE rather than PROACTIVE approach. HR typically takes instructions and react to what the organization needs. We want to initiate meaningful work but are often tied down by the daily operational requirements. When can we ever become more proactive to tell the management what is the best way forward? What must we do to be make things happen rather than wait for things to happen? Do we always want to be a receiver or should we start thinking of becoming the creator instead?
Focus on ABIDING THE POLICIES and not how to ADD VALUE to the stakeholders. HR creates the policies and observes everything the policy says as though it is a bible. Question is, do we really need to do so? Is the purpose of a policy to streamline our work or is it there to impede progress? Strictly abiding to the policies may be right on paper but, are we adding value to our stakeholders? Or are we in fact creating more problems which prevents the business from growing?
LACK OF PRIDE from HR practitioners. Do you hear many HR professionals going out telling people what their profession are? If so, are they that proud of being in HR? What can we do to instil greater pride in the profession and help fellow professionals hold their heads up higher when the meet others? Do we always want to be labelled as the “bad guys” who hire and fire or, true professionals who deliver great value to people and organizations alike?
If any of the above pointers resonate with you, I’ll like to urge you, fellow HR professionals, to step up and start rallying as a community. To prevent further dumping into our home ground, we need to stand tall, defend our turf and learn to voice our views more confidently. It’s time to deliver what we ought to and not be afraid to take centre stage. It may be daunting for one individual to do so, but with a community supporting this movement, it is not going to be long before we get to where we envision the profession to be. We can, and definitely will, deliver great value to our organizations in whichever capacity we are in as a HR professional.