Monday, February 1, 2010

HR Practices that should be Practiced More Often

Starting off in the world of Compensation … I will defer to Ann Bares and her Compforce blog for this first HR Practice, as I don’t think anyone could have said it any better. Regarding the best way for HR/Comp Managers to handle line manager requests for job upgrades, salary adjustments and/or incentive awards …

“Are there days you feel as though your entire professional legacy is built around saying "no"? Rather than see our role as beginning and ending with the act of guarding the pay dollar coffers as though our lives depend on it, we should commit to understanding the root issues underlying these pay requests in order to help managers see and solve the real attraction, retention and motivation issues."

According to Bares ... "These issues often have little to do with cash compensation, including (but not limited to): poor management, communication problems, lack of growth/development opportunities, trust issues and systemic and/or organizational obstacles to performance. In my experience, managers pursue cash solutions to non-cash problems for a host of different reasons. Sometimes they just don't clearly understand the real nature of the problem. Sometimes they are merely following an unspoken protocol that employee issues are always addressed with compensation. Rather than just putting up a wall and issuing the standard "no" in response to a manager's compensation request, join them in an effort to understand and find an optimal solution (for all parties) to the real problem at hand.”

In the world of HRIS … Based on my (often trial-and-error) experience heading-up Global HRIS functions for 4 investment banks in the 80’s and 90’s … before various best practices were being widely shared -- formally or informally, I determined there were some essential business (vs. technology) practices for HR Systems groups to be successful. In my view, these HRIS business practices include:

- developing business cases that are compelling, data-driven and realistic
- using decision-factor matrices to prioritize potential HRIS initiatives
- proactive HRIS marketing … to build support for and increase adoption / proper usage of the new HR/HCM system
- determining the best way to influence/align with HCM solution vendor product roadmaps
- influencing HCM solution vendors to operate with SLA’s (Service Level Agreements) on aspects of the relationship they control
- addressing the non-technology aspects of business process optimization (in conjunction with the technology aspects)

And within the HR profession overall … I offer the following suggestion: “Don’t over-conceptualize the profession.” In an effort to make HR more about science than art (which is generally a good thing as it increases the predictability of outcomes), we should not wipe out the art component altogether. There are times when standard models get in the way of clear, rational thinking dictated by the situation at hand. An example I’ll cite is a prominent HR consulting firm’s application of a model which distinguished Attraction Drivers from Retention Drivers from Engagement Drivers.

According to their conceptual model, Attraction Drivers included a flexible work schedule and a reasonable workload; Retention Drivers included a good relationship with my supervisor and ability to input to departmental decisions; and Engagement Drivers included the sense that Leadership was interested in my well being and the organization encourages innovative thinking.

The downside of applying this very professional-looking conceptual model, as I see it, is that it reduces human behavior to very simple and universal ‘cause and effect’ principles; and human behavior (in the context of the workplace or anywhere else) is neither simple, nor universal. It also took far too many years for the right amount of HR and Corporate attention to be focused on employee attraction, engagement and retention; so let's not "split hairs" between these 3 very intermingled HCM areas for the sake of adding another interesting paradigm to the annals of HR theory.

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