I believe that the job of the HR function in any company is to be human above. Being human becomes HR's priority above all other things that the HR function has to handle.
When we hire people, we hire intelligent, fitting, skilled, and talented people. If we have to enforce processes and micromanage them, then the point is lost. This is especially true for software / IT companies.
I believe there are few simple concepts that HR should focus on when they focus on humans. They are
People join a company because they are motivated to do a job and build their careers. When we look at the company and find that motivation is lacking, even with at least a few people, then there is a problem to be addressed.
I think the HR function needs to spend more time on understanding motivation and creating a culture that fine-tunes everyone’s motivation to work.
There are few factors that lead to employee motivation
- Kind of work they do
- Amount of responsibility entrusted to them
- Kind of recognition they receive for their work
- Advancement possible based on the experience they gain through work
- Achievements associated with work and progression
People love opportunities to learn, grow, advance and excel. Providing opportunities needs to be facilitated with trust. Sometimes, we are reluctant to provide an opportunity for a junior person because we are not sure if they would deliver. We are also reluctant to provide opportunities fearing business impacts. Trust people to deliver and discuss the trust factor and expectations clearly with them and they will deliver on opportunities given to them.
I believe that the HR function should always be on the lookout for creating opportunities for every employee. The model of opportunity provisioning must be well understood by all employees and the model must be open and transparent.
Everyone should have an opportunity to do meaningful work.
When everyone is busy, no one has time to mentor or be mentored. Senior people need to have time to mentor junior people. The HR function needs to ensure that they make room for this. Junior people need to have cycles to attend mentoring sessions.
Senior people also need cycles to be mentored themselves by either peers or by external mentors.
Mentoring is a critical pillar in people training and development. The HR function must ensure mentoring is cemented into team operations and collaboration. Feedback cycles need to be frequent and need to have enough room for mentoring.
For employees, their career journey matters the most. It expands well beyond the current job that they do.
I think the HR function needs to facilitate every employee’s focus on their career journey. When designing the HR processes, policies, and functions the orientation towards empowerment, insight, and inspiration to facilitate career development and growth is essential.
For example, annual appraisals need to have more focus on the year-on-year growth of the employee. Some examples of growth evaluation we can include are:
- What was your growth last quarter, last year?
- What is your growth plan for next year?
- Did you meet your growth expectations?
- What can we do better to help you meet your growth expectations?
Note that the more the people grow, the more the potential for the organization to grow. Hence, the focus on the people growth model by HR function is completely in line with the business growth aspirations of an organization.
Note that, sometimes we ask people about their future plans. But we never mentor them or discuss with them the growth angle embedded in their plans. Junior people need more guidance to help frame their plans with a growth mindset. HR needs to facilitate this growth mindset.
There are 8 key lessons in the above video on HR and the following is the summary:
Lesson one: Your employees are adults.
Lesson two: The job of management isn't to control people,
Lesson three: People want to do work that means something.
Lesson four: Everyone in your company should understand the business.
Lesson five: Everyone in your company should be able to handle the truth.
Lesson six: Your company needs to live out its values.
Lesson seven: All start-up ideas are stupid.
Lesson eight: Every company needs to be excited about change.
In summary, the ‘H’ in HR is the most important thing. Be human, and the HR function would be able to deliver exceptionally above expectations.
I would like to think of HR as customer service. HR’s customers are the employees. For customer service to be successful, we need to focus on customer success and satisfaction. For HR to be successful, we need to focus on employee success and satisfaction. And, when doing that, we got to be human.