Everyone knows someone from Human Resources Department. The people meet them during job interviews, exit interviews and usually have several interactions during the employee lifecycle (that is how we call hiring and firing procedure). However, we often do not know what the real job content of HR employees. Human Resources is one of the most critical business functions that can make the company better than other competitors. Moreover, it can make the firm worse than other competitors. It is all just about HR processes, procedures and employees employed in the HR department. Human Resources is not a function that has a magical impact on people’s life. A great Human Resources Department is not a mystical place in the organization. It is predictable and delivering crystal clear results.
The role of Human Resources has shifted significantly during last decades (find out more about HR Roles and Responsibilities). In the past, the HR Department was the unit that was focused on the administration of the personnel files. It had no intention to set up any strategy. However, the market competition has increased, and the employees became the most valued source of the competitive advantage in many industries. Leaders realized that the skilled and stable workforce could beat competitors. They started to find a department that has a primary focus on hiring, development and retention of employees. Finally, they found one – Human Resources (they just had to change the name from the Personnel Management Department to Human Resources Department).
Human Resources maximizes the performance and the potential of the organization. It designs processes and procedures for line managers. The people management is not a primary role of Human Resources; it just helps managers lead teams. It does not intervene when there is no reason. It makes Human Resources almost invisible to most employees. Human Resources is not a direct manager; it just supports managers do a better job every day. It develops managers to become brave future leaders.
Human Resources is a department that makes changes in the organization easier. It knows the potential of employees; it collects data about employees and turns them into useful pieces of information. As a reliable business partner, it can and has to take over many responsibilities from other business leaders and managers. It can act as the facilitator that enables changes and guides employees during the journey. It is a critical role that was missing in the business.
The HR Leader is a member of the leadership team and makes sure that Human Resources delivers practices and procedures that help the organization gain the competitive advantage. Today, employees are the only source of the sustainable competitive advantage. Everything else is easy to copy; the corporate culture cannot be replicated because each organization sets the unique one. The modern Human Resources Department aims to cultivate the high-performance corporate culture. It designs dedicated development programs for various groups of employees to ensure the business is ready to combat coming challenges. It grows future leaders and creates programs to protect the business know-how.
The engaged and empowered HR Team builds a significant difference compared with other companies. The high-performance organization always has excellent HR Management practices and procedures in place. These firms collect feedback, and Human Resources designs new and improves the current people management practices. The HR Team supports managers in bringing better results; it supports innovations through proper innovation management procedures.
About Human Resources Management
The HR Management is a strategic business agenda today. The modern Human Resources Management translates the business strategy into the competitive and actionable HR Strategy (more on HR Strategies). The modern and competitive business requires the motivated and engaged workforce, skilled and bold managers and inspiring and influencing leaders with compelling visions. Human Resources cannot deliver it all; it needs to work in close collaboration with the business leader to deliver the priorities with the highest impact on business results. HR develops tools, programs, and procedures to build a better organization, which can compete successfully on the market.
The high-performance firm stands on several key HR Management principles (more on a definition of the HR Management). It has the corporate culture that values the performance and creativity. It has simple and straightforward HR Processes that deliver promises and results. It has a limited offer of development programs and training to grow the potential of employees. It has several basic communication channels towards employees to make sure everyone is informed about the critical business targets.
The modern organization faces many challenges coming from the market. It deals with issues coming internally. The competitive HR Management has to deliver the answer to these problems and challenges. Human Resources is a business department that enjoys its best days right now. The role of Human Resources and the HR Management undergoes a dramatic shift and change. The HR Management is an expertise that can make a significant difference. A company can build a comfortable and long-term sustainable competitive advantage using the unique approach to the people management.
Today, most modern western organizations have to focus on designing, developing and delivering innovative products and services. They need to utilize the full potential of employees. They need to unblock the creativity. They need to act fast. They need to learn from mistakes. The HR Management becomes the enabler of such a dramatic shift in the business. The role of the HR Professionals has grown dramatically in the organization. The proper, innovative and modern HR Management becomes a hot topic on the table of the Executive Board.
The modern competitive HR Management always starts with the business oriented HR Strategy (more on HR Strategy). It links the business vision, targets, and goals with the strategic job of Human Resources. It is not a generic document; each competitive business requires to have the unique and specific one. It gets translated into the HR Model that splits responsibilities in Human Resources Department among managers of HR Centers of Excellence (more on HR Model). Then, managers drive the development of HR processes and procedures that fit the purpose of the organization. The strategy is a crystal clear navigator for HR Managers and employees.
The modern HR Management consists of many HR Processes grouped into functional areas. Each HR Department does not have to run the full portfolio, however as the organization grows, more and more processes should be incorporated. The most common HR Processes are the talent acquisition (aka recruitment and staffing), performance management, compensation and benefits, leadership development, talent development, training and employee lifecycle management.
The competitive HR Management focuses on the building incredible organization that provides simple, useful tools for managers and employees. It creates such place where everyone wants to work. The primary focus of the HR Management is the change of the organization; HR facilitates the process and makes the transition easier for the workforce.
Customers of Human Resources
In the past, there were just two customers for Human Resources Department. It served employees and managers. Later, the critical relationship management with Trade Unions was added. It used to be the most strategic relationship of Human Resources at that time (more on HR Management history). However, those times are over.
Today, the modern Human Resources Department has many customers and clients, and it has to serve them all. The strict definition of roles and processes is required so that all HR customers receive information and services they request. Most HR Department has the same set of clients – the internal ones, the external ones, different data connections, and communities.
The most visible internal clients of Human Resources are employees and managers. They produce all the transactional requests. They want information, update data or open the vacancy in the team. All their standard requirements can be digitized to save time and workforce. Still, it does not mean that Human Resources does not need to talk to employees and line managers. It can just save time by eliminating most common requests.
The leadership team is a special internal customer. The leaders set strategic goals and objectives for Human Resources. They demand reports about the status of the business; they want to be informed about issues in departments. They want to receive all early warnings related to the future of the organization. They want Human Resources to act on challenges and issues.
Human Resources becomes widely interconnected with external clients and audiences. The HR Department protects the interests of the business in many areas. That is a significant change compared to the past because HR was serving just internal clients.
The external clients of Human Resources can be divided into several groups – job applicants, vendors, state authorities, social media followers and communities. HR was always heavily involved in the recruitment of new talents. It was the first and most important group of external customers. However, social media communication becomes the most important external communication channel of Human Resources. HR can engage in different communities, and the company can demonstrate its support to those in need.
There is one special category – data connections and data delivery to other departments. Human Resources collects many data about employees, their attendance, performance and other behaviors. These pieces of information can be highly critical for Finance, Operations and Sales. HR has to build secure data connections to other critical IT systems in the organization to make sure that the business operates smoothly and efficiently. The IT Systems in the organization have become a critical client of HR.
The role of Human Resources and HR Manager
As mentioned earlier the role of Human Resources shifts dramatically, from being a service center to a real business partner. The partner that share the responsibility for the delivery of the critical business targets and results. Human Resources has to identify opportunities how it can support the business in its growth and competitiveness. On the other hand, HR still has to act as the employee advocate.
The purpose of the HR Management is in keeping the organization competitive, efficient and innovative. It connects employees with the business priorities. That is the most significant change – from being just a reactive service center to a proactive business partner. The modern HR Management is not about fulfilling all needs and wishes of managers and leaders; it is about creating the compelling HR Agenda that is critical for the organization.
With the shift in the Human Resources Strategic Agenda, the profile of the HR Manager (more about the Role of HR Manager) needs to be adjusted, as well. The HR Manager is the mission critical HR employee. She has a primary focus on delivering the best solutions for internal clients to enable the growth potential. Being a strong consultant to business leaders, she needs to focus on the productivity and performance issues, workplace issues and having successors for critical resources in departments.
Today, the HR Manager shares goals and objectives with the business leader. As partners, they are both responsible for the delivery of targets and agreed on results. The HR Manager takes over the leadership and management of the strategic projects, which are focused on the change management agenda in the function. The HR Professional does not manage the daily schedule of the business partner; the HR employee administers the list of strategic priorities for the internal client.
About jobs and careers in Human Resources
As the role of Human Resources dramatically changes, there is also a high demand for new skilled and experienced HR employees. The HR Jobs get wider in their responsibilities; Human Resources starts to pay highly competitive salaries compared with other departments in the organization.
The modern HR Management requires open, smart and well-educated professionals who can deliver promises and deal with employees in stressful situations. Most Human Resources Departments offer excellent career opportunities; they defined a clear HR Career Path for young professionals entering Human Resources. The Human Resources Career Path becomes a viable solution for many college graduates. HR offers the constant change and development. The career in Human Resources is about the constant learning of new stuff, and developing the financial and statistical skills as well.
HR Career Path
Most leaders still complain that HR employees have no business sense. They do not talk about numbers; they do not support arguments with relevant data. They are still emotional, and they have no influence on senior managers. That is the reason many experienced business professionals enter Human Resources. They turn the emotional department into a one that builds a strong relationship with Finance guys.
Human Resources requires employees with the high business acumen. The modern HR Professional can quickly switch his career to the financial management or the operational management of the organization. The HR Roles and Responsibilities changed dramatically like in no other business function. That is what is challenging and promising. Most graduates entering HR will work in a different HR Organization within ten years. They will have different business priorities to focus on.
HR Jobs are usually structured based on the gained experience and the primary focus of the role in the department. Human Resources becomes similar to the Finance Management department. It employs analysts, specialist, managers, project managers and HR Business Partners.
This structure of HR jobs promises great development opportunities. Each HR employee can focus on different development needs, and a great HR team can help. In an excellent HR team, a new employee can learn new things about the general business management and become a true HR professional.