My name is Brenda Kowske, and I fully respect the work you
do: managing a workforce is difficult. As I see it, HR’s job is to manage the
entirety of the employee lifecycle, starting with the search for a skilled
person who is easily motivated to fulfill his or her, and therefore the
organization’s goals. After slotting the candidate into their person’s ideal
job, HR needs to make sure they are trained and are updated with any new skills
or knowledge they need. They need to empower managers to manage employees’ performance
through some combination of systems, processes and managerial skill sets. HR
needs to know what talent is busy, available, or interested in being available
and use this information to plan for business goals. Last but not least, they need to offer
incentives and programs that keep the majority of employees happy, healthy, and
employed. And the profession does all this while keeping the peace; we are the
diplomats of industry.
No small task. I think back to Fast Company’s article Why We Hate HR and I still shake my head.
In it, author Keith Hammonds casually mentioned the HR people were not the
brightest bulbs on the string. No, Mr. Hammonds, you are wrong; yes, HR occasionally
fails because our professionals lack know-how, but largely not due to an innate
stupidity. Rather, HR has the most difficult job in industry, hands down. The job is complex, dynamic, and sometimes
resembles herding cats. Take 10,000 cats, Mr. Hammonds, and herd them in each
of 5 countries, get them to all to pick a little bell that suits them and then
ring it, and then come talk to us. (Yes, employees are more intelligent and
motivated than cats - it’s just an analogy.)
I am clearly an HR sympathizer, although not an HR
practitioner per se. I’ve worked as a
consultant doing assessment centers, including role plays and interpreting
personality tests, and as a trainer and coach. I co-developed a performance
management model. Then, namely because I spent a lot of time counteracting the
ill effects of the latest fad-of-the-month, I pursued my Ph.D. in human
resource development and shifted gears. I started researching issues that
matter to HR. I started with leadership and management, some projects in
evaluation and analytics, did some work in business ethics, and then moved to
employee engagement and performance. And now, I am working for you.
In the months and years to come, I hope to shed light on
some of the mysteries shrouding HR operations: What makes a great HR
organization? What does a stellar HR leader, business partner or consultant “do”
and how do they do it? What kind of tools should HR invest in, and which are a
waste of money? How can HR use their own data to make better decisions for the
workforce and the business at-large?
In my quest at Bersin & Associates to supply HR with
better information, I’m starting with the world of employee engagement. I’m
also doing some work on the question of Millennials and their role in the
workforce: How different are they, really? And in 2012, we’re going to look at
the careers of HR professionals and the skill sets they need to succeed. I’d
like to report on the state of HR Analytics. Alongside these topics, I’m open
for suggestions. Please comment!
It’s nice to meet you, and I’m looking forward to helping
you out in the future.
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Jeff Mike leads Bersin by Deloitte’s HR Operations and Service Delivery research. He integrates rigorous research approaches with his extensive experience leading HR functions to engage diverse practitioners and to generate actionable knowledge. Jeff also teaches HR to business people and business to HR people, formally at the graduate and undergraduate levels, and informally in organizations through his boundary spanning, consultative approach to problem solving and capacity building.
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