No doubt, one of the most challenging aspects of leading a business is the people factor. Navigating employee relationships and the problems that can arise from them can be extremely challenging, even for the most seasoned professional. This is definitely where seemingly “soft” is truly “hard.”
I’m absolutely convinced that one of HR’s most critical roles is to help business leaders manage employee relationships successfully. I recall a very seasoned sales executive telling me, “I can sell ‘XYZ Corp.’ to anyone. But when it comes to dealing with people issues, I need the experts.” She was a very successful business woman who also knew when she needed additional business expertise.
So why is this a critical role for HR to play?
1 – People Issues are Business Issues.
This is the crux of the matter. Getting the most productivity out of one’s employees is the job of the leader. People aren’t robots. We’re a complex mix of mind, body, emotions and spirit. When people are healthy and satisfied in these areas, their productivity is likely to be high. But if any one or a combination of these is out of sorts, productivity suffers along with the individual. And loss of productivity is a business issue, period.
2 – HR Typically has the Expertise to Effectively Solve People Issues.
HR professionals must possess the skills to help leaders navigate the murky waters of human behaviors in the workplace. The business expects that we know how to do this and we must deliver. We also know the legal implications of actions that might be taken. We should be, in essence, the resident experts in human productivity through our expertise in helping leaders solve complex people challenges.
3 – Solving Real Business Problems Helps HR’s Credibility.
When an HR professional can genuinely help a leader solve a very real business issue, our credibility as a true business person is enhanced. Challenging people issues can keep even the most senior executives awake at night. Wise counsel in helping them manage through these issues is invaluable. HR professionals who can provide this to the business will be sought out.
Notice that I said, “wise counsel” not policy interpretation. Our job is to help leaders wisely assess the situation, consider all the options and assess the various levels of risk. This requires more than just interpreting policy. There might be times when the best decision is the riskiest one. Our job is to help guide the business leader to that best decision for the organization and the individuals involved.
Sharpen your skills. Lead the business through your expertise. Make an impact on your business.