Rayna had just received an interesting request. J.B., a recent addition to the front-line management team, had come to her following the division wide quarterly town hall update. The division president, Anne, had given a talk on accountability. She’d been firm in her resolve to increase division wide understanding of what it meant to be accountable at work. J.B. wasn’t questioning the directive. He was struggling with the meaning. What did accountability mean for him as a manager?
Ben was concerned. Emma, a manager new to his group, had just received her employee engagement scores. They were not good. Emma had been a rock star in her previous individual contributor role. She was seen as talent for the future in the organization. As her HR Business Partner, Ben had watched her struggle as a first-time manager. Now, it appeared that her employee team was willing to put those struggles on paper in the form of not so good engagement scores.
In my teaching and consulting practice, HR professionals often recount stories like this. Someone, somewhere, makes a disparaging remark about human resources as a “dead end”, “non-value add” or “being the department that just gets in the way. Here’s the news. This is no longer truth. This is wonderful time to be an HR professional. It’s time to grow into a true business partner. It’s time to be seen as someone who “gets it.”
It’s Saturday morning in cottage country. You’re hugging a cup of coffee on the porch. The mist is just clearing from the lake. The view from the deck is stunning. The geese are feeding at the shoreline. A hawk circles above the pines in the distance. Waves lap the deck, reminding you that you promised your cousin a kayaking lesson later this morning. He’s coming with your Aunt Sally on the train as part of the adventure. Aunt Sally recently discovered plein art painting. “Bring the SUV to the station,” she said. “I have the easel.”
Driving mountain roads can be very tricky. With the exception of those who drive a super-powered something able to negotiate a significant vertical climb, mere mortals learn that reaching the top of the mountain requires learning the skill of turning switchback corners. Go too slowly around the curve, and you run the risk of the vehicle stalling in the climb. Go too fast, and it can be a kissing-the-guardrail moment, or over the edge you go.
At some point in his or her career, a human resource (HR) professional will encounter the notion of "earning a seat at the table." This overused buzz phrase is fraught with meaning and can result in a serious case of consternation. Sitting at "the table," from this writer's perspective, is all about understanding the management systems of the organization, the organization's relationship with its external customers, and the organization's approach to change.