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Yes, HR Has An Image Problem

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"It is practically a business truism that the HR function is not well respected at many organizations."

Let's face it. Human Resources is not usually at the top of the list of favorite departments in any organization, in any industry. Our field is largely misunderstood, undervalued, and in some cases, lacking trust. I often see eyes roll when I tell people I'm an HR person. Whatever the reason for this image problem, it is important that we work to fix it.

Consulting giant KPMG recently released a report, Rethinking Human Resources in a Changing World, which details findings from a survey of 418 global executives across a wide range of industries about the future of HR. While 81 percent of respondents indicated that they see talent management as a key competitive advantage, only 15 percent believe their organization's HR department could provide "insightful and predictive workforce analytics" and just 17 percent said they could measure and demonstrate the value of HR overall.

KPMG concludes in the report, "At the very least, HR has a perception problem." BINGO! They also provide four specific ways that HR professionals can work to rebuild our image.

1. Make the value of HR more prominent and understood.
This is something that I work on every day. It's why I write this blog. It's why I work with school districts to understand just what great HR practices can do for them. It's why for every disgusted face, eye roll, or negative comment I get about HR, I patiently work to educate people about the true value of our profession. But to truly change the perception of HR, we must all work together to communicate what we do and why it is critical to the success of any organization.
2. Think, understand, and communicate in the language of the organization.
A major criticism of Human Resources staff is that they aren't knowledgeable about the organization. A great HR department understands how each area of the organization operates and how they can support this work, not make it more difficult. I would add that is it also important for HR leaders to understand their impact on the organization. With high turnover in many HR departments, particularly in education, we must do our due diligence in educating our own!
3. Move from administration to higher-value-added activities.
I have been a vocal proponent that HR departments need to shift from the traditional transactional body handling largely administrative functions to an office that is better equipped to meet the strategic needs of the organization.
4. Transfer appropriate responsibilities to line managers.
In education, this transfer of responsibilities happens when a principal is empowered to manage staff in their school, from recruitment and selection to observations and final summative evaluations. This also means that HR needs to develop a service-focused relationship with building leaders to continually support their needs.

Robert Bolton of the HR Transformation Center of Excellence at KPMG explains in the Rethinking Human Resources in a Changing World report that, "HR functions have tried for the past 15 years to transform themselves into strategic players and earn a place at the leadership table. But they've done so with limited success because they have focused on rolling out generic HR models and universal best practice, rather than customized solutions that support the valued drivers of the business. Now they're caught in what I call the 'doom loop'." (Well said, Mr. Bolton!)

To get out of the 'doom loop' and rebuild HR's image, all HR departments must evolve to meet the changing needs of their organizations, while demonstrating the importance of a comprehensive HR strategy to success. What are your views of HR? Do you think KPMG's recommendations are enough to rebuild HR's image? How are you working to reshape the perception of HR? Please share your stories and ideas in the comments section below!


For more information on talent management or human resources, feel free to follow me on Twitter at @EmilyDouglasHC or join the online Twitter chat using the hashtage, #K12TalentMgr!

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