HR needs to change its attitude and act the part

HR’s image is a subject that crops up again and again at conferences and seminars. This year’s HR Forum on board the cruise ship Aurora was no exception.

In a panel discussion, we heard the questions: ‘Why isn’t HR valued more?’ and ‘Why is HR perceived as having less influence than other functions?’

The answer has to be because HR doesn’t value itself highly enough. It has been apologising for itself for long enough. The time has come for it to make its voice heard, and to stop believing that it is less important than other parts of the business.

Nearly 60% of respondents in an on-board survey said the finance function was seen to exert more influence than HR. But how much of this is reality, and how much is perception?

In a seminar about moving from HR to CEO, Ashridge management school said that achieving success was 80% attitude and 20% skill. Broken down further still, 10% is what you do, 30% is how you do it, and 60% is the perception of how you are doing it.

Suggesting that HR should concentrate more on its image than its skills certainly puts a new spin on things.

In a rousing speech to forum delegates, -futurist Larry Hochman said that the culture of a company was its genetic code, and that HR is responsible for mapping it. He explained that HR must live and breathe the vision and values of the company, and be prepared to rise up and fight for them if necessary. This means making brave decisions and acting like a leader, second in importance only to the CEO.

Sounds unachievable? If you follow Ashridge’s advice and start acting as though HR is the most important function in the company, you’ll already be 80% of the way there.

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