When I ask the question why they choose the HR profession to HR professionals, I get the simple answer as “I like working with people.” Why only HR professionals should like people; in team and matrix organizational structures every employee requires to work with people and it is by compulsion to “like working with people!”
For a successful HR professional, it is not relevant now to say that you like working with only People. HR expertise and managing change are perquisite qualities for HR professional. But most importantly business literacy is even equally required.
At one side, HR professionals should be expert in their functional knowledge. But they also need to thinks how their expertise compliments to the business growth. Most of the times, the alignment of HR professionals is the issues. First thing first is numbers: Set the numbers, get the numbers and promise the numbers…HR processes and foundation should be aligned towards these numbers.
HR is a unique profession where HR professionals have to handle lot of paradoxes. At one side they have to enforce management philosophies and another side they are expected to employee advocates. They need to keep the balance. Sometimes this way of working keeps HR people in dilemma. Hence developing the skill of pushing people for taking touch decisions is a challenge. You can be friendly, but you can’t the friend in the organization.
But when you are clear about the business needs, you need not to worry about the same. Our existence is for the business numbers. As rightly said by Jack Welch, “This business game is all about winning; the team that wins is the team with best players. And your job is to place such players.” Here comes the functional expertise and business knowledge. The HR professional who does not know his business, sales figures, company turnover, customers, products and dimensions, in which the business operates, will face the failure as a HR Business Partner. He will still continue to do the transactional HR jobs but will not grow as a HR professional.
It is important to know the numbers and at the end of the day HR professional should strategize the HR theme to support that numbers. It is crucial to play the role in change initiatives, aligning people towards strategy and vision, mission of the company and get the right input for ultimate output.
So what is required to get along with this all...? Seems to be tough but possible...
1) Come out from the comfort zone. HR role is partnering the business. Come out from your functional area and learn some business processes. Try to supervise some Non HR employees so that you will understand the different dimension of the business.
2) Have continuous dialogue with people on business. Relate their work to the business through HR perspective.
3) Go with the business people. Get along with your distributors and customers.
4) And off course understand the business matrix and tables, the base and from where that come. After all you have to build your theme on those matrices.