Recruitment & Retention Opinion

The HR Puzzle

By Emily Douglas-McNab — October 31, 2011 2 min read
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Let’s start this blog off right, with the 100 percent truth; I am a HR person. I would expect 50 percent of the people reading this post to cringe, 20 percent to picture their favorite scene from The Office and another 20 percent to just stop reading. I’m hoping that at least 10 percent of you will give me a chance. Don’t worry... I’m not offended, I’m used to it.

I have found during my career that people don’t always understand why HR exists and how it can make or break an organization. Even my own parents questioned my choice to study HR in graduate school. “Why not logistics or operations?” they asked. My response? “Mom and Dad, I think success in everything comes down to supporting, growing, and appreciating people. If you can’t do that right, you’re in trouble.” They laughed, agreed with my response, and have supported me ever since.

Years later, I’m now used to the bad-HR jokes, eye-rolling, and HR department horror stories. I even laugh at Catbert, the Evil Director of Human Resources in the Dilbert Cartoons, who personifies every bad practice in the history of the profession. While some see the HR department as a group of party planning, data-ignoring, financially-adverse, paper pushers, I’m here to say otherwise. I don’t plan parties. In fact, I’m bad at that. I love data and talking finance, and I’m not a fan of paper.

A strategic, supported, creative and integrated HR department, whether you’re operating a Fortune 500 company, a non-profit or a school district, is key to the success of any organization. However, getting to that point isn’t easy. It takes time, money and people who truly understand HR.

Creating a comprehensive and strategic HR system is like building a puzzle. Everyone has a different method to get to the final product-some people start with the border and work in, while others put it together section-by-section. In the end, no one is wrong when you’re arriving at the same solution.

It is hard to construct a puzzle, let alone implement a successful HR strategy without focusing on all the pieces in your organization and figuring out how to get them to work in an integrated fashion. So what are the key pieces of a successful HR strategy? I plan to explore these in future posts, but here are a few:

Sourcing Staffing Planning Recruitment Selection Hiring HR Branding Onboarding Development Evaluation Succession Planning Performance Management & Measures Compensation, Benefits, & Recognition Internal and External Customer Satisfaction, Engagement, and Loyalty Risk & Safety Management

Re-imaging one of these pieces is not sufficient to create long-lasting effective change. You can’t hire anyone off the street as a teacher, pay them $100,000 a year, and all of the sudden, every student is getting straight A’s and scoring a 30 on the ACT. Likewise, you can’t hire the best and brightest and expect them to succeed (or stick around) without a support system that includes regular feedback, professional development, rewards, and opportunities to grow in their career. A strategic and comprehensive HR plan is critical to selecting, developing and retaining the right people in business or in our schools.

How do you look at your HR function?

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