Three Things to do to Improve HR Department Performance


Three things HR can do to improve in the eyes of the C-suite.
In October of 2012 KPMG published a study of 400 C-Suite executives. As you can tell from the title of this post, the news was not good. They think HR is ineffective. So here are three things HR can to to improve performance.Failure
According to one quote HR departments “consistently fail to demonstrate any form of value to their organisation”. (This is their UK spelling). The report is called “Rethinking HR for a Changing World” and is based on a survey of C-suite executives. The study was not all doom and gloom, 17% of the executives thought their HR departments do a good job. But as far as the others were concerned HR is just not up to the challenge of ushering their comings through an increasingly virtual and flexible workplace.
While HR continues to make inroads in areas such as social media and analytics it is not perceived as being enough. According to the study only 15% of respondents regard HR as capable of providing “insightful and predictive” workforce information. In an ultimate understatement Robert Bolton of KPMG said that HR has a “perception problem.”
Three Things
Given that point of view of C-suite executives what are some of the things an HR department can do to improve?

  1. Acquire data analysis skills. If you don’t have the ability yourself hire someone well versed in statistics and analysis. This may mean you go outside of the traditional areas of finding someone for the HR department. This person does not need HR skills. It may take a selling job on your part to convince someone with this skill set that they want to be in the HR department.
  2. Collect that data. That means you have to have some way of quantifying things that often are not quantified. Do you do performance evaluation? Do you capture all that information? Is it tied to actual performance numbers? Is it tied back to sources of the candidates or training they have had or pay? You need to figure out how to put all that stuff together. By the way, the date collected needs to be relevant to the performance of the company, which means you have to know the business. Most CEOs don’t care about internal HR metrics.
  3. Use technology to a much greater extent, including social media. There are still too many HR people who avoid social media use inside their organizations and outside. The get all frightened by listening to lawyers tell them the downside of social media use and thus decide it is just better to avoid it. GET OVER IT! It is not going away. It is a superb method of communication and information and data collection.

Wouldn’t it be nice?
Wouldn’t it be nice to read a C-suite survey in a couple of years where only 17% of executives thought HR was doing a bad job?
The key thing to me is understanding what the executives want. What things do they consider to be of value to the organization? Find the answer to that question and then deliver and you will make the grade.

3 thoughts on “Three Things to do to Improve HR Department Performance”

  1. Mike, I like your directness about the issue of HR being perceived as low value. For those of us who’ve been in the business a long time, it can feel like “really, has nothing changed” as the discussion about being a strategic business partner continues. I wanted to put more emphasis on your point about interpreting the data in the context of the business. You are right that internal HR metrics are only interesting to leaders when they are contextualized. This isn’t as hard as it sounds with the amount of research now available on human behaviour inside organizations. Let’s not forget the value of qualitative data: When HR people are trusted and can diagnose and deliver important messages to leaders they increase their credibility and their worth.

  2. So getting a director, C-suite or general-manager job involves getting yourself noticed personally by the hiring manager – usually through in-person networking, references from personal contacts or outstanding qualifications. Prep work can include experience on executive committees, lead roles on high-profile strategic projects, or demonstration of a rare skill or knowledge of particular value to the company, according to Elisabeth Marx, a psychologist who researches the qualifications that help women and minorities achieve executive roles and a partner in the European division of Heidrick & Struggles.

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