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© 2017Harvard Business School Publishing Corp.
Distribuido por: The New York Times Syndicate.
What Separates Great Human Resources Leaders from the Rest
Human resources seems to have become every manager and employee’s favorite corporate punching bag, vying with information technology for the dubious title of most-irritating function.
So perhaps this is a good time to evaluate what we really want from our HR leaders – and what we don’t. Over the last five years, Zenger Folkman has collected feedback data on 2,187 HR leaders from hundreds of different organizations – with 68% of those leaders located in the U.S., 11% in Asia, 8% in Europe, 7% in Latin America, 4% in Canada and 1% in Africa.
We contrasted the results for the 2,187 HR leaders in our data set with those of 29,026 leaders in other functions. We were able to identify a few key skills that were common strengths of those in HR and some that appeared as weaknesses.
Strengths of HR Leaders
– Developing and coaching others. One of the most positive areas for HR leaders in general was that they were truly concerned about developing others. Leaders in other functions did not score highly on this skill. HR leaders also rated positively on providing coaching, acting as a mentor and giving feedback.
– Building positive relationships. In most organizations HR is responsible for diversity and inclusion initiatives and for labor relations. HR leaders rated well on being able to “balance results with a concern for the needs of others.” Another of their more positive items was being trusted and staying in touch with the issues and concerns of others.
– Role modeling. Some of the most positively rated items for HR leaders focus on their willingness to “walk the talk,” to be role models and to honor commitments and promises. HR leaders are frequently put into the position of ensuring that others in the organization do the right thing and follow established procedures.
– Having functional knowledge and expertise. Most employees in organizations are unaware of labor laws, hiring rules, benefits and compensation issues. HR leaders were viewed as knowledgeable and helpful in these areas.
Weakness of HR Leaders
– Focusing internally rather than externally. When comparing HR leaders to all other leaders in our database, they rated significantly more negatively on their ability to understand the needs and concerns of customers. In many ways the function of HR is focused on internal problems, but the lack of understanding of the external environment often caused others to view some HR leaders as not in touch with the issues facing the organization. HR leaders also rated more negatively on their ability to represent the organization to key groups.
– Lacking strategic perspective. In general, HR leaders rated poorly on being able to distinguish between the big picture strategy and the details. Many were viewed as so focused on the “day-to-day” work that they lost perspective on the broader business issues. HR leaders often complain that they “want a seat at the table” to engage more fully with other executives, but without clear strategy and focus they will never have that seat.
– Not anticipating and responding quickly to problems. A number of responses noted a general lack of speed and urgency.
– Resisting stretch goals. On a number of occasions we have watched as senior executives ask for a program or process to be rolled out quickly only to have HR respond, “It takes more time than that – we need to slow the process down.” While at times that is necessary advice, too often it is the first response given by HR without considering what could be done to speed the process.
What the Best HR Leaders Do
We also found in our database that some of the best leaders in the world were part of the HR function. It’s worth noting that what separated the best HR leaders from the rest was their performance on the key competencies that were often weaknesses in HR: establishing stretch goals, analyzing and solving issues, developing strategic perspective and connecting with the outside world.
If more HR leaders would add these four important competencies to their skill sets, we would see many more sitting at the table; and an increasing number at the head of the table.
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