HR Manager's Effectiveness: 21 variables to aspire to

HR Manager’s Effectiveness:

I had been Director of HR for just over 5 years in a human services agency. Just after winning a promotion to a senior executive line management position the newly recruited Director approached me and asked me for my perspective on what makes for an effective Manager of the HR function. This is what I gave her:

1 Work hard to build, foster and sustain a special relationship with your CEO. This must be based on –
• trust
• personal integrity
• frankness
• openness
• honesty
• mutual respect

2 Provide absolutely fearless advice even when this might be ‘against the flow’

3 Keep your CEO safe: keep your CEO safe even from himself/herself

4 Walk the line as between, on the one hand, providing technical counsel to the CEO and on the other, being a compassionate listener to the voices of the organization

5 Ensure that the CEO has the full range of options on the table re any matter that impacts people and that the CEO understands them and acknowledges them as being comprehensive and relevant

6 Think always of the ‘worst case scenario’ and be prepared to articulate it as and when required

7 Build respect within and across the organization and if possible even beyond it; always as an honest broker and as a fearless advocate for what is right

8 Provide wisdom

9 Never allow anyone to capture the HR mantle or to hijack people issues

10 Secure and sustain the collective confidence of the senior management team, even those who all of a sudden become the vanquished

11 Build respect and trust with the unions – remember, this is different to affection, infatuation, ingratiation and remember too who’s running the place

12 Understand the frameworks and technical stuff that govern and underpin the operation of the HR activity

13 Build a network of confidants external to the organization that you now serve; these you may need to access for wise counsel in times of great difficulty

14 Build great insights and get a good sense of ‘What the #*@^ is going on around here?’ Pose this question to yourself frequently – answer it honestly. If you have to ask this of others you have no idea as to what’s going on around you.

15 Get and keep significant HR agendas re people on the corporate governance table – remember, people are critical to organizational success

16 Never allow the integrity of HR practices and processes to be compromised – warn the CEO of the consequences of such behavior

17 Secure insights into the corporate psyche – be in touch with the spirit and soul of your organization

18 Ensure accessibility to the CEO even when the CEO is under siege or bunkered down

19 Be alert to those in high places or places of influence who run with secret or hidden agendas and/or who seek to promote themselves or their agendas at any cost

20 Remain respectful but be apart from the ‘in crowd’ or the ‘crown princes or princesses’ for to join with them is to be factional and factionalism is fatal

Later, as more learning came to me, I added one more:

21 Don’t be the canary in the coal-mine!

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