Do you walk the HR walk and talk the HR talk?

It is now summer and residents of Florida are once again telling children and tourists about the Stingray shuffle. It is a pure example of risk management. You have a choice either you shuffle through the sand when you enter the water and chase away the stingrays or risk getting stung by the barb in their tail when you accidentally kick one.

The purpose of the example is that demonstrates the power of walking the walk and talking the talk. I hear all the time HR professionals bemoaning that they are not heard, are not at the partner table and are considered second class citizens within the corporate hierarchy. So my question is do you teach and practice the stingray shuffle within your organization?

In this highly competitive, global workplace we function in every day the ground rules are changing. We can no longer say we want a seat at the table and expect we are going to get it. The days when we were judged on what role we play in the organization has basically died. What we need to do is change our focus from asking to showing why we need to be in that strategic environment. We do this by walking the walk and talking the talk.

Here are some strategic thoughts on how to place yourself in the new environment that is our organizations:

1) Do you hear what the customer hears – Have you taken steps to really understand what the organization’s clients expect from the organization. Surprise management and ask as a HR professional to tag along with the outside sales people and while there ask the client representative what they expect from their dealings with the customer service representatives of your organization. May very well change your recruiting efforts.

2) Do you hear what management hears (or doesn’t hear) – HR, based on what Dave Ulrich calls the HR deliverables, is a vital part of the organization. But this is only true if you are the voice for the utilization of human capital. We don’t mean that you tell management how to handle benefits or compensation. Rather we are talking about knowing and understanding the overall business and its strategic initiatives and how the human capital assets of the organization assist in bringing the strategy to a successful completion. We also do not anticipate that you are the employees best friend. we do expect that you are comfortable enough in your expertise as a human resource professional to tell management when they are right and just as important when they are wrong.

3) Can you measure your deliverable –  The key to the changed role for HR is to be able to document the outcomes through the use of verifiable, accurate data. It is just as important that you be able to present these data points in a way that is easily understood. The data needs to be presented in not only raw data but in terms of financial metrics which clearly demonstrate the contribution of the human capital assets.

So here is your challenge for today and going forward. Are you asking for a seat at the table or are you walking the HR walk and talking the HR talk in order to demonstrate that you need to be at the table. That you need to be at the table not because you asked but because the data you bring to the table enhances the strategic objectives of the organization both internally to the culture of the organization and externally to the needs and demands of the customer base.

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