Three Questions HR-people Need to Be Able to Answer (but typically can’t)

In the beginning of the 1990s, in business school, Human Resources had a bad reputation. The best and the brightest would not go there. In many ways, this is still true today. If you like to read more about this, read this article. CAUTION: If you are working in HR please make sure you are ready to receive some tough love. 

Since I will be speaking on Talent Acquisition tonight, HR has been on my mind… I find it to be true that so often HR in companies is not at all a “strategic partner”. Partly this is because Executives don’t back their written and stated people strategy with the behaviour which should accompany it. Perhaps more importantly, though, is the general lack of business, strategy, and organisational change understanding you find in HR departments.

Fortunately, there are exceptions! Think Procter & Gamble, General Electric, and also Cardinal Health.

Anthony Rucci, who is EVP responsible for HR at Cardinal indicated that any decent HR person should be able to answer the following three questions:

  1. Who’s your company’s core customer? (Have you talked to any of these lately?, Do you know their challenges?)
  2. Who is the competition? (What are they good at? what not?)
  3. Who are we? (Objective appraisal of what we do and don’t do well)

Something Rucci does monthly at Cardinal is to measure engagement (which accounts for between 1% and 10% of earnings). Here are some key questions:

  1. Do you understand the company’s strategy?
  2. Do you see the connection between the strategy and your job?
  3. Are you proud to tell people where you work?

Interestingly, these key questions of engagement are the reason we at Maxilliant offer company-wide strategy workouts, because we often find people are not able to answer these questions. How would your company do at this?

2 thoughts on “Three Questions HR-people Need to Be Able to Answer (but typically can’t)”

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