Practicing these two behaviors will help you graduate from “HR professional” to “business leader.”
By John Schierer
Yesterday, human resources (HR) supported the business. Tomorrow, however, HR will drive it. In fact, a 2012 survey by HR consultancy KPMG found that 59 percent of senior executives believe HR will grow in strategic importance. Unfortunately, just 17 percent say HR does a good job demonstrating its value. That comes as no surprise to John Schierer. Vice President of HR at Sanford-Burnham Medical Research Institute, he has more than 25 years of experience as a senior HR executive, during which time, he has learned a great deal about human capital. Those who manage it best, he says, have a dozen behaviors in common. Here, he outlines for Forefront how to master two of the 12, empowering HR leaders to take their organization from yesterday to tomorrow. — Forefront Editors
Enjoy Others in the Spotlight
HR is a support department. If you do not enjoy others’ success and the reflected glory of their growth, you may be in the wrong profession. Everyone has a role to play in organizational greatness. The center of the stage is finite, and the spotlight is defined.
The truly great HR practitioner is content to identify the very best performers to play the parts and make them better for each performance. HR practitioners must be the most self-assured people in the organizational structure and draw satisfaction when they create a chemistry of skills and behaviors that draws a standing ovation—even as they are not on stage.
Give People a Place to Fall
People who are wrong or behave badly or are not performing need a place to preserve their dignity. In some cases, it is not enough to win an argument or a situation—the other person must submit and admit defeat. This merely sets the stage for rounds of revenge and sets off a downward spiral of activity in the organization. Resolution to a better state of affairs must be sufficient. The best HR people understand this and accomplish their objective while allowing others dignity.
In a very stark example, I once was involved in a union negotiation in which the union badly miscalculated and went out on strike. They stood outside the gates for 13 days in a pouring rain while the plant hummed along without them. On the thirteenth day, we created a minor technical language concession and the contract was settled later that day. Could we have let the situation linger for weeks more and forced a humiliating capitulation? Likely. But at what cost to the long-term good?
The variations on this are infinite, but if you allow people to exit a job, an argument or a situation with dignity it ends up in a much better resolution and you have won an ally for life.
John Schierer is the Vice President of HR at Sanford-Burnham Medical Research Institute. You can read the full list here.