To some businesses Human Resources is a necessary evil. In a previous role I took on the challenge, as Human Resources Director, to change that perception. I fulfilled my objective of showing the Executive Board that Human Resources is a value-add function.
The clue is in the name. The function exists to help the organisation ensure the right people are on the right bus – and that they haven’t hopped on the wrong vehicle by mistake! And once on the bus that everyone is sitting in the best possible seat.
And just because you’ve recruited the best person for a particular job; doesn’t mean they’ll continue to be the best fit. Any significant change: a new manager; a departmental restructure; a change in team priorities (let alone organisational ones) can render an employee unsuited to the role. That is not the employee’s fault. And it needs to be handled with sensitivity and skill.
Of course, then you need to think about the bus driver. You need to make sure that the driver is qualified to drive a bus (a standard driving licence won’t do). Also, they must have ‘the knowledge’. You can’t make the assumption that every driver will head off in the same direction; take the same route or even arrive at your intended destination.
An effective Human Resources Director will manage succession continuously. They will know the employee potential that exists in the organisation. They will also know where it is and they’ll have mapped out different career path scenarios for each job role.
Done well, Human Resources teams show the way. The HR Director will have gone through the same process in appointing their team members. They’ll have clarity on the skills as well as the potential that exists in the team. And they’ll enable those ‘specialists’ to do their best work; whilst making the biggest difference to the lives of the people they serve.
Remember, succession planning has to start at the top. In addition, each director has to take responsibility for cascading that down. There is little point in your managers having discussions at grassroots level, if they have no genuine idea of the different career opportunities available.