Make your HR strategic using this simple concept
Almost every company of 100 employees or more has a Human Resources department.
Yet, over the decades, the role of the HR function in companies has changed. As HR Departments evolved from ‘Administration’, to ‘Personnel’, to ‘Human Resources’ and now to ‘Talent Management’, it’s clear that expectations have changed.
CEO surveys have shown that almost all business leaders want their HR departments to be more strategic. Specifically, to add ‘intangible value’ to the organisation instead of preoccupying themselves with the purely functional low value-add tasks such as processing payroll or sending procedural memos by email.
But there is a problem with this expectation. Or should I say, two problems. Two major problems.
The first is that the HR discipline itself – HR as taught in Business Schools and Universities – hasn’t evolved and is as unscientific as the days when universities taught that the sun revolved around the Earth.
The second is that because the ‘science’ or understanding is flawed, the people going into the HR function are ill-equipped to tackle the challenges of modern business, and when they do, most of their results can’t be measured.
The result: HR will never be strategic until it first understands the situation, namely, the science and understanding of what a human being is, and how it operates.
When scientists taught (for centuries) that the Sun revolved around the Earth, they did so because that was what they wanted it to do (because The Bible said so) rather than that was how it was (and is).
It is like trying to understand human beings and human doings, before understanding their beings!
Unfortunately, the HR discipline then tries to justify its doings by generating more and more elaborate and complex theorems, with little or no practical use, in the same way the scholastic professors generated more and more complex charts to prove that the Sun really did go around the Earth in medieval times.
Why understanding the human being first truly matters
The key is to understand and then conceptualise – based on research – the human being before we start to work on what we would like that human to do.
This is essential if we value the following:
- employee motivation
- effective communication
- customer experience, and
- employee retention…
…among the other factors on companies’ ‘wish lists’ that we often receive.
By creating a simple concept that brings together what we have learnt from observation, we are then able to empower our managers and employees, set up our talent management system in a people-friendly way, and deliver on the intangible objectives in the bulleted list above.
This in turn leads to enhanced profitability, better customer satisfaction, greater efficiencies and more valuable innovation, among the other factors that drive a company’s bottom-line results.
‘Character Factor’ – The human being as a concept
In the diagram below, we see four spheres radiating out.
The Human Being – ‘Character Factor’
(click on image to enlarge)
Sphere One – Consciousness and Will
At the core, we see Consciousness and Will. This is our nature to be aware or sentient, and to be able to choose which actions we take. The key theme here is choice. We can choose what we see and hear and experience. We can choose how we act every time.
Sphere Two – Personality & Talent
Unfortunately, the HR discipline’s understanding of human nature ends with the first sphere. So often, we hear again and again the erroneous belief that all humans are capable of all things.
This is why competencies are popular. Management can create a wish list of what it wants its employees to be and then… hey presto… most employees fail to be that ‘model employee’ management wants.
This is because individuals are exactly that: unique. They are not nor can they be robots. This concept may seem simple to grasp and agree with, but the sad fact is that, with so many of their competencies, corporate head offices again and again try to create that robot.
This is where the second sphere comes in. It’s a fact that, because the brain is subject to 2 million pieces of information every second, it cannot process it all!
We learn that growing older. Watch a baby. Its brain is overwhelmed by the dazzle of information it receives. Growing up is more about cutting out, not putting in. So what happens? In order to function, the brain selects, and creates synaptic ‘information superhighways’ in order to enable us to process information (a function of the consciousness) and act (a function of the will). By doing so, we change from being a ‘vegetable’ (baby state) to a functioning ‘human resource’.
This forming of the ‘synaptic connections’ in our brains or ‘hard wires’ creates our Personality and Talents. By our late teens, we have fully cut out whole areas of our potential future, but we have also refined other areas in which we are uniquely gifted.
Sphere Three – Values and Behaviours
This is where HR typically gets busy again. In most cases, HR tries to change this sphere while ignoring the second sphere of Personality & Talents. All the spheres are interconnected, in the same way that gears in a car are on a cog. Ignoring the sphere of Personality and Talents is like trying to take a car from 1st gear to 3rd without going into 2nd. The result? The car stalls.
We need to understand behaviours in the sense they are almost always and effect, not a cause.
It’s nigh impossible to ask people to ‘behave’ in a certain way over an extended period of time. But it is possible to put a person in a role (eg close to their Talents) that evokes positive emotions that in turn evoke positive behaviours, or train them to understand emotions, for example through our breakthrough Emotional Intelligence programme.
In order to be strategic in the ‘intangible’ field of behaviours, CEOs and HR professionals need first to understand what can be achieved, and how effectively, within the sphere of Values and Behaviours.
Sphere Four – Perception and Beliefs
This sphere relates most to the outside world. Because of the process of growing up involves ‘cutting out’ data and information as we have seen, we often react to the world making quick judgements in order to function ‘more effectively’.
We all know that at least some of the judgements we make, based on our perceptions or beliefs fo what we see or think we see, are flawed.
This is why it’s important to train ourselves to open up the ‘space’ between perceiving and acting, so that we can increase our choices in life. Importantly, this also helps managers and employees deal better with the stressful situations that they experience day-in, day-out as part of their jobs – stress that undermines their capability and effectiveness.
How to apply Character Factor
Over the coming weeks, we will look at ways of applying ‘Character Factor’ effectively in the following ways:
→ To simplify companies’ HR and Talent Management systems and improve results
→ To help with key corporate objectives such as employee retention ‘Stay’, employee motivation ‘Strive’ and creating a great workplace ‘Say’
→ To enable companies to identify and groom leaders early, and create meaningful and engaging talent paths within organisations
We hope this article has been of interest. As ever, feel free to comment below – we’d love to hear your feedback!
For more information on our training programmes, including Emotional Intelligence and Talent Factor, contact us here
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