The challenges faced by HR

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Working at a HR consultancy, the best part of my role is seeing all the different people challenges in a multitude of industries and environments, from small startups to large corporations; no two days are the same for me and it’s that variety that makes me enjoy my career so much. Every day is different with our clients, but one thing I have clear visibility on is the impact HR can have upon these organisations and how it can either enhance or damage people’s experiences of the world of work.

Having worked in operational roles prior to consultancy; looking back, sometimes it was a real struggle to see how HR could detract from a “service delivery” or processing function. There were all sorts of hurdles to overcome, who had influence upon the HR function, office politics, failure to see the value in valid suggestions, leadership struggles and even management capability to name but a few.

There is an overwhelming perception that “anyone can do HR” this is a view I have come across many times in my career and it can be really disheartening so it’s up to HR to take accountability and demonstrate it’s  contribution to the bottom line.

The hurdles not only exist in the organisation, but they are also present within our own HR departments. HR practitioners overall are excellent at giving advice to others but are not always the best at following best practice approaches ourselves for fear of rocking the boat. I spoke about this at the CIPD Midlands Student Conference back in March, you must exercise that courage to challenge even when in our own departments; this is absolutely essential, yes it can be uncomfortable to face these situations head on, but we are not in the business of saying things that people want to hear. If we don’t challenge, then we can damage our credibility in the long term to protect other people’s feelings when it’s just not the right thing to do.

There is a lot more to HR than simply winning hearts and minds, you need to have an ability to influence at all levels, for example, if you walk into a situation where you know that a decision has already been made. If this is the case, building and strengthening existing relationships is vital to securing HR’s ability to influence, being proactive and having the confidence to have those conversations before decisions can be made can allow HR to truly demonstrate its value within the organisation.

Despite the challenges faced by the profession overall in it’s quest to enhance the world of work; challenges shouldn’t be seen as a negative, ultimately its the variety that attracts most to the profession in the first place, after all when you work in a people profession, only one thing is guaranteed – unpredictability.

 

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