Credibility, Audaciousness influence the future of an HR professional: Summer Experience of a Welingkar Grad.
| July 27,2012 11:38 am IST
Since the beginning of the Masters of Business Administration, I had been reading that the most challenging task for the HR professional today is to be accepted as a business partner, to be seen as people advocate and to be the light house directing the executive decisions in sync with the values and objectives of the organization. How true this hypothesis was what I wanted to explore in the two months of my internship.
Luckily I got a project that was on a strategic role of HR wherein I got a chance to understand how the HR and the functional management are hand-in-glove to influence the commitment of the employees to stay or leave the organization. In this situation, it becomes quintessential that the two of them share the onus of things that go wrong and take an initiative to work together to make things better. But, practically the things were totally contrast to what I had expected it to be. There happens to be a constant blame game between the two parties fights tooth and nail to prove that its the other party at fault and that the improvement measures are needed from the other parties end. The result is that the problems are exacerbated further.
Since I got a chance to work very closely with the HR Business partner team, the major thing I wanted to explore was how equipped the HRBPs are in making decisions and are they really considered to be the partners than just a support staff, as was supposed earlier. To my surprise, the reality was hard to grasp at the first place. The HR business partners are still restricted in their decision making. Despite being aware of the fact that certain practices within the organization were causing the rise in attritions, especially of the high potential employees that every organization focuses to retain, the corrective measures could not be taken because the HRBP was curbed and the issues even when repeatedly raised by the HR professionals were unheard. But as I delved deeper into the matter, I realized that the reality was different. The onus of being accepted or being ignored solely depends on the HR professionals. Credibility is a game changer. The HR professionals need to take this very seriously. Until they develop the credibility in the organization, they cannot be accepted as the business partners. That involves being more involved in the business, understanding the intricacies so that they can speak the business language and every analysis and recommendations are not just from the employees perspective but business as well.
The picture uncovered uptil now was half sided. The employees expectations of their HR professionals were also included in my learning. Through discussions with the employees, it was observed that their engagement is highly influenced by the interaction levels with the HR. It doesnt just involve asking them about their concerns and then hibernating for weeks or months. It involves sharing with the employees the action plan based on their feedback, apprising them about the measures undertaken. So there comes again the concept of developing credibility through communication and being fair. A lack of credibility would simply mean that the employees begin to be skeptic and may not even want to share their experience and expectations with their HR professionals. It becomes very essential for an HR professional to be true and transparent in what he says and does. A good job done takes you one step ahead in the career ladder, but a wrong one, descends 5steps down.
Lastly the most crucial observation, does the HR have the right to challenge the decision of the executives and say: This is not how it should be done!!. If asked to define my biggest learning from this 2 months internship, I would say Dont tell your boss what he wants to hear, but tell him the reality, however bitter it might be. This becomes particularly important for the HR professionals. It is essential to bring across the table the facts and the truths, without the fear of the consequences. I did that and believe me, the more audaciously I put forth the hard realities, the more I was listened to. In the final presentation to the functional team, when I represented the face of the HR team, I didnt fear to challenge the top executives with the work policies that were detrimental to their team. Instead they showcased the trust in my analysis and also accepted it in their future action plans.
At the end I would conclude that the experience made me realize that credibility and audaciousness are the two areas that influence the future of an HR professional. Its not just about people skills but the HR profession encompasses its own set of challenges that need to be mastered. The HR is no longer a support staff, its metamorphosis as the business partner has begun but at the bottom of it still lies the personal qualities that makes it very subjective concept.