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Five signs that you aren’t getting the best out of your people

22/06/2011

Last week, I came across an interesting article written by Suzanne Lucas on the BNET site entitled “9 signs your HR manager is terrible“. In a nutshell, it’s about how a commercial HR function doesn’t always help the business achieve it’s goals.

If you take a look you will immediately notice that it’s fairly commercial and yes, a little USA-centric but there’s a lot here other sectors and cultures can learn from. I’m no HR expert but like many, I’ve led and managed plenty of people and worked in lots of teams across commercial and non-profit sectors.

Consequently, the article got me to thinking about how some of the organisations I’ve been exposed to over the last 20 years have maybe missed the ‘people’ point. Here’s my top five tangible things we don’t always seem to do to focus on our people as the best way of helping us to meet our bottom line objectives, whatever they are. (Incidentally, by “HR”, I mean the people in your organisation who are responsible for HR-type tasks – I know we don’t all have a dedicated HR department)

1.  We all delegate general ‘people stuff’ to HR! Our people are everyone’s responsibility. Every manager, every colleague and every director should have an eye on the broadest people issues. Motivations, gripes, how we communicate etc are all things we each see and can positively influence every day. Business girl lounging in a chair

In the simplest sense, it’s not HR’s responsibility to put their arm around the shoulder of a team mate when they’re down or volunteer to help out when it looks like things are getting on top of someone. That would be all of us.

2.  We delegate recruitment to HR. Why? Surely it’s not someone else’s responsibility to recruit the best people into your team. You know what you need to achieve, you know your team dynamics and you know the kind of skills and personality which will add to the team’s ability to deliver. If you don’t know this, find out! HR can’t tell you (although they can help with some people profiling and personality testing if you want to go down this route).

Linked to this, how many of us have had formal training on how to conduct a truly effective recruitment process? Being honest, can we all say that we know how to conduct a totally objective interview and associate the outcomes with the outcomes we need a new recruit to deliver?

3. The introduction of a new HR policy is supposed to mean we know what we’re doing in a particular area. Wrong – policies tick boxes and that’s it! The crucial element is communicating why we need the policy, what benefits it brings to the organisation, how it helps everyone deliver their objectives, what our roles are within the new policy and why it makes the organisation a better place to work for everyone.

4. We publicly state that ideas are welcome from everyone in the organisation but we say ‘no’ more often than ‘yes’ when it comes to considering and implementing. This is as close to a cast-iron guarantee as you are likely to find of ruining your people’s commitment and creativity. Good ideas don’t respect internal silos and job titles and nor should they.

Effective organisations aren’t structureless anarchies; they simply put the right mechanisms in place to encourage and channel contributions from their teams and then, most importantly, ACT ON WHAT IS SUGGESTED. It doesn’t matter that some ideas aren’t viable as long as the rationale for decisions is objectively shared. Your people will learn what works and what doesn’t and improve their ideas for next time.

5.  Great internal communications support all of the above! Genuinely 2-way and engaging communications between an organisation and its people might seem like a pain but in the medium and long-term they produce greater commitment, more directed effort and ultimately better results for the organisation.

Put your hands up if your organisation doesn’t want that?

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