How to be taken seriously as an HR person

This is another gem from Beth Axelrod, head of HR, eBay and the types of conversations HR people should be having with their clients.  Unfortunately these don’t seem to happening anywhere near enough.

“While I do think that the business world now understands intellectually the role that HR should be able to play in driving business results, so few companies are leveraging the HR function as they should. …

If you had a great HR partner, here’s how the conversation would go: You’re trying to drive ad sales from X to Y. You need growth to come in these particular areas. And for the growth to come in these areas, let’s talk about the implications for talent and for the organization. Then, let’s talk about what capabilities you have today—where you’re good and not so good. So, we’ll have to fill out those capabilities. In addition, you’ll need a different cost structure because your margins are going to start to be squeezed. Let’s talk about where you have people and why you’ve got so many of them in high-cost locations.” She looked at me and didn’t say anything at first. Then she said, “Well, I’ve never had a conversation like that with an HR person.” It just breaks my heart that the HR function hasn’t changed that yet.

Despite years of conversation, I don’t think the HR function has done a good job of attracting enough business-minded professionals into HR. And until we do that, until we make HR a desirable career, or at least a valuable segment in the journey of one’s career—one that has real business impact—we won’t raise the caliber of talent in the function. And until we do that, HR will not have the impact that it ought to have.

I also think we have a little bit of a chicken-and-egg problem when it comes to HR. Because there are many people in leadership-operating roles who have never worked with a good HR executive, they don’t understand that what they’re getting is not good enough. And so they don’t demand better.”

Do you know of anyone out there in HR who is having those types of conversations????

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