In any HR class I have taught I have always asked this question. “Who is HR’s customer?” The answers given vary, but usually include the CEO, the employees, the supervisors, the managers, or some combination of these. Occassionally, but not often enough, someone comes up with what I think is the right answer. To me the ultimate customer of HR is the customer who actually spends money to buy your company’s product or service. And if you are not paying attention to them, and understand their needs, wants and desires then you cannot fully understand what kind of employee your organization needs to have. If you do not have this information you are guessing who will make a good employee or you are making the assumption that the hiring manager knows. And that is not a sure thing!
To my way of thinking you need to spend time with these customers to be a better HR professional. Work in a retail environment? Ever worked the floor? Work in a hospital? Ever spent time with a patient? Work in a plant that makes wrenches? Ever talked to a buyer or user of the wrench? If the answer is “NO” then you are not doing your best job. “But I don’t have time to do that, I have to do my job.” My response is that is an excuse and not a reason. Spending time with those customers is part of your job. And one of the most important parts. So get it on your calendar. Get out from behind your desk and learn what customers want in a good employee that interacts with them, their process or their product.
I am not quite sure if where he learned it, but Dave Ulrich agrees with me. LOL So resolve to follow Dave and Mike’s advice in 2010 and get out and meet your “real” customer. It may open your eyes and it will definately make you a better HR professional.