Report card for HR - 8 areas for improvement

In our work we get to speak daily with both HR professionals, and with Business Leaders around the world.  Here's an interesting summary of the top frustrations we hear from Company Executives when discussing their views on HR teams (in no particular order):

1. Lack of commercial awareness

We all work in the same company and we are supposed to share the same overall commercial objectives so why is it that I always feel HR has its own agenda and that commercial success comes second at best? I understand that HR has to make sure we do people things legally and properly, and I will do everything I can to meet those obligations, but I what I really want are:

i) HR business partners who understand how and why I make money for the company

ii) HR initiatives that create and support an environment in which I can do my best commercially

iii) An HR function that works alongside me and not separately

2. HR restructuring

The HR team is constantly changing!  I think they should find a way to deliver the best service and stick to it. Find a model that enables me get what I want from HR in a clear and consistent way and which enables HR to get the same from me. I understand the need to change things from time to time, to keep up to date with technology and business practice, but the changes cannot keep disrupting the service and support levels I should be getting

3. HR or Personnel

I really don’t care what you call yourselves and it seems to worry you more than anybody else. Maybe you won’t sort this out until you decide what it is you do or what it is you want to do

4. Business Partner or HR Executive

The same with your job titles. I know corporations have a habit of creating complex and complicated titles to add (apparent) meaning and status, but this is rarely the outcome. Maybe this is something we all need to take a look at

5. Strategy over delivery

What we really value from HR is the ability to get things done today to meet our immediate objectives.  I'm not interested in your conceptual thinking about the future, unless you can link it to profits or market share or real threats.  And I'm only going to discuss strategies, once you’ve got the basics right for me and my people. I know this doesn’t sound very exciting but it’s true

6. Having a seat at the table

Do your job well, be commercial, demonstrate your relevance, be commercial, get the basics right, be commercial, speak the language of the business and be commercial. You’ll get invited to every business leadership meeting, if you are actually a business leader

7. Who does what and where?

I like having an HR person I can meet with when either of us wants to see the other but, if we have to have technology in the way, then make sure it’s simple to operate. I don’t want to spend my time navigating your HR labyrinth, so make sure any outsourced/insourced/near-shore/offshore solution works efficiently and effectively gives me what I want as simply and quickly as possible

8. New performance management systems

Frankly, I feel the same way about all your new HR initiatives that need help from me in scoping, testing and delivery. I appreciate that you need our input but timescales need to be tighter, delivery more certain and planning and execution much more professional. I’m happy to help but I have a day job too.  Yet another new HR idea that chews into hours of my time isn't going to be a priority when I have real budgets to meet.