HR – Get out of the way!

HR – Get out of the way!

May 27, 2017 | WorkTango

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Maybe you’ve seen this scenario play out in your organization:  It’s annual employee engagement survey time.  The data is in and you’re eager to get moving. But there are still so many steps you have to wait through. HR finally gets the data from a third party, organizes it in a way that will speak to each department, addresses leaders and managers about the issues specific to their teams, and then mandates programs to ensure the organization reacts to the engagement drivers that really need attention.

In the three months it takes to do all this, the insights have become less applicable and your employees have concluded that you just don’t listen.  We’ve all heard of or lived through this story.

The Unnecessary Filter

There are many issues with the current process, ranging from the expensive to what I like to call ‘time insensitivity.’ But I think the biggest problem is that HR has become an unnecessary filter in many organizations.  Sometimes HR just needs to step out of the way.

What’s the purpose of this information going directly to the HR department and then filtering data and messages for each department? The all – important “voice of the employee” needs to go directly to the source that has the biggest impact on employee engagement: the leaders and managers.

If HR spent less time communicating engagement results to departments, less time mandating initiatives to remedy poor engagement, and more time creating a transparent and open environment that enables leaders to be successful.When that happens, we’ll see a better employee experience and the engagement and retention that come along with it.

We need HR. More now than ever, it can make a major impact on an organization’s success. I think it’s extremely important for the HR department to be thinking about, living, and breathing the experience of employees  That’s how you create an environment where individuals succeed. When people are consistently engaged and succeeding, there are multiple benefits for customers and for the bottom line.

All Teams Aren’t Created Equal

As our companies move more quickly and the organizational chart continues to get flatter, more decision – making is shifting to the team level. When it comes to employee engagement, we must respond to the speed of the workplace and enable managers and leaders to be successful.

When Employee Voice results come in, they’re traditionally looked at as an organization’s aggregated performance. At best, they’re split up by department or office location.  But when that’s done, actions are too often taken at a broad level.  It’s like the “spray and pray” method of marketing where we communicate the same message to different personas – it doesn’t work.  When you explain to the head of a specific department that the department had poor engagement ratings on engagement drivers such as career growth and recognition, that’s not reflective of every single leader.  It’s only when you serve the insights to individual leaders that they become more informed and accountable.

Why Does This Work For Leaders?

Leadership is about understanding the needs of the team and making them successful. When HR can enable leaders or managers to do this, overall engagement and performance improves.  This approach works for leaders because:

  • Feedback is key – not having a filter means that leaders get feedback in real-time. That real-time two-way feedback is critical in improving engagement and relationships.
  • It makes leaders accountable – whether they like it or not, having this feedback delivered to them and knowing that the data is public to the executive team builds accountability for the way they run their teams. It’s a great constant reminder.
  • It aligns leaders with their team – when done frequently, knowing the pulse of a team is key for making decisions that help a team be successful.

Now ask yourself – do you have the right leaders for this type of feedback and responsibility?  Deloitte’s  2017 Global Human Capital Trends report highlights the fact that leadership will continue to be disrupted. “This new type of leader must understand how to build and lead teams; keep people connected and engaged; and drive a culture of innovation, learning, and continuous improvement.”

A major way that you can impact the results that matter to HR is to supply leaders with the right employee feedback to help connect them with people.  You can also  re-think how you hire and interact with managers and leaders.

But Does it Work For HR? 

So why get more frequent pulses of engagement or offer feedback directly to leaders in the first place? Shouldn’t they be in tune already?

They should, but it’s also the responsibility of HR to understand which leaders are high-potentials that you can’t afford to lose and which leaders require training or other actions that will prevent early exits and retention issues.

At the End of the Day…

…it’s all about creating an environment where employees (and leaders remember, they’re employees too) can be successful.  Amidst all these changes happening in our workforce HR needs to adjust their approach to enable leaders to succeed. After all, leaders account for 70% of the variance in employee engagement scores and have the largest impact on engagement.

When it comes to responding to this changing workplace and enabling our leaders, ask yourself: are you helping, or are you in the way?



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