What is great HR?
Not all organizations are created the same and neither are the HR folks who work there.
Where they fit on the spectrum of HR duties—administratively focused or strategic business partners—should not be the main concern. Rather, it’s all about alignment.
What do we mean by alignment?
At its most fundamental level, HR and the individual(s) responsible for HR must be aligned with the business and organizational culture. While that requires sound business acumen, it doesn’t always necessitate having a business degree or decades of HR experience. What it does require from HR is a continuous quest to understand, learn and know more about the organization they work for and the people they work with.
Highly successful project managers don’t just end up with high-performing teams. They know how to align their teams with the overall goal of the project and how to motivate them to produce high quality work within deadlines. So too with HR. They know how to hire the right people for the right roles (knowing they have the potential to be exceptional in those roles), how to motivate people, develop them, promote them and, even sometimes, let them go. It’s all about alignment.
Great HR starts with everyone in the organization on the same page, understanding the business and helping clarify the culture.
From there, HR works with business leaders to integrate the defined culture. They align infrastructure and projects to that culture and facilitate understanding among managers and their teams. They work not only from the top down but also in reverse by including and engaging all levels of employees. They work with managers to motivate employees to be productive by aligning development and reward/recognition opportunities in a way that matters to them as individuals.
AND, they have fun.
Whether tracking vacation or sitting on the executive panel, great HR keeps your organizational culture at the forefront, keeps individuals aligned with that culture and presents suitable opportunities for fun and creativity. HR shouldn’t be your social committee, but they should be ambassadors of your people—who, generally speaking, like to have fun.
Overall, great HR helps keep all these moving parts aligned, and helps your culture be seen in what you do, how you do it and why you do it. Even by who is doing it.