Whenever we talk to HR Professionals about implementing an engaged workforce, the finger is often times pointed across the hallway. “If management, or the managers, the employees” is the most often heard sentence when talking about engagement, but HR can do so much and should be the driver of building a strong effective workforce. And in 5 steps an HR Manager can create that highly effective workforce.
Know when to bend and when to enforce
The first word an HR manager in an organization should think when they would like to do something is “how” instead of “risk”. A Human Resources Business Partner knows when to uphold the standards and when to treat standards as guidelines. For example, when do you provide a written warning to an employee when they show up late? The policy might say “when an employee arrives late, a written warning is given”. But how realistic is that really? If an employee shows up 15 minutes late on rare occasion, you probably do not give a warning, but address it verbally instead. But if the tardiness becomes more frequent, you probably want to provide a warning in writing. An HR Manager needs to train their managers on how to know that line, and at the same time treat all employees equally.
Make managers masters of the legal risks
When Human Resource professionals explain to managers the monetary risks, litigation, and labor laws in easy to understand language, those managers understand why certain processes are in place. More important, those managers are able to provide assistance in improving processes, so those processes are effective. A “lean” Human Resources professional doesn’t have to spend their time being watchful of everything a manager does with his or her staff and; the lean manager understands when it is time to call in the experts, and when they can move forward on their own.
Get a voice in the board room, not just a seat
Human Resources leaders will frequently have a seat in the boardroom, but often because of their lack of understanding of business drivers, they are not a voice at the table. When HR Professionals develop business acumen and an understanding of their important role at the table, they will be able to support the organization in aligning the human capital to the purpose and financials of the organization.
Examine all Human Resource processes and cut out the waste
Finally, Human Resource professionals need to work with representatives from each department in the organization that is involved in Human Resources Processes. Together they need to look at where Human Resources can increase the quality of their service so that redundancy can be eliminated, the number of approvals can be reduced and accountability can be moved over to the line.
HR in Action: The Performance Review Process
You can recognize an Engaged focused HR culture in the Performance Review; the process starts with a presentation of the organization’s 3 year structure and goals in a meeting prior to the review. From that, each employee has to create their own development plan to help the company reach those goals. During the performance review with the manager, they discuss what support the employee needs and what needs improvement. In this model, a manager is a coach that provides feedback. After a maximum of 1 ½ hours, the manager and employee should know if the employee is in the right role and has a realistic development plan. The employee is accountable for their own destiny. This reduces multiple meetings and approval rounds for two processes within the Human Resources arena, creating the capacity for HR to focus on the strategic side of the business, while truly coaching managers. It eliminates the need for Performance Improvement Plans, or the newly introduced stay interview. The organization knows constantly why an employee is at the organization and what the organization needs to do to keep the employee engaged.
When HR is able to realize a culture where there is a mutual responsibility to manager the human capital they are able to deliver services that their customers (the workforce and the board room) are asking for. Time will then be available to focus on coaching managers and employees, creating a strong connection between business drivers and human capital, strategies and elevating engagement throughout the organization.