Balance in Human Resources
- How does my organization work in terms of absolute priorities, and how do these play out in the short term, and in the long term?
- What are the inherent conflicts that exist between the interests of my stakeholders (eg. profit v quality, customer v cost)? In which situations do I or HR get caught between these interests?
- How can I anticipate conflicts and difficulties, and proactively manage them – so that we minimize risk and maximize opportunity for HR, and for the business, and so I feel better about it?
Building Balance strategically
This involves taking a real step back so that you can get the full picture. Take a deep breath from daily pressures and book time in your diary to scope out three key areas:
- Context – how clear are you about your political and ethical landscape, and your own values as well as your organisation’s? What conflicts exist between the different interests or values?
- People –most conflict isn’t actually personal, although it can feel like it. What are the sources of conflict (eg. policies or resources) in your key relationships? What is the common ground?
- Process – what regular steps can you build into your routines, meetings or planning cycle in order to ensure you include the right people at the right time?
Within Balance we talk about inclusion, ie. being inclusive as a person and a function, rather than looking at diversity or inclusivity as a corporate activity or policy. We’ll leave that to specialists in that area.
Building Balance tactically
By this we mean managing our behaviour and activities ‘in the moment’ in meetings and conversations. These are the moments when we can be seen (or heard) to role-model the organisation’s values and rise above parochial interests (eg. functional or personal goals) while respecting them. We can often feel like ‘piggy in the middle’ and this can be a privilege as well as a burden – people will listen to us and allow us to help. Being inclusive in meetings means using our facilitation and questioning skills to ensure everyone has input and that everyone is heard. Where conflict becomes apparent, we can also deploy our skills and objectivity to help our colleagues to find a path forward towards their, and our, shared goals.
Aligning Values and Behaviour in HR
Human Resources professionals are expected to role model the organisation’s values, even when it’s tough. Values are often very helpful as a way to explain our position, or what is best for the business in the long-term. Research shows that people at all levels of the organisation look to HR to uphold values, and feel let down when they don’t – especially at Board level. In addition to promoting values, in what we say and in the policies we develop, we also have to ‘live’ them, every day, all the time. It’s a heavy responsibility, and some HR people don’t manage their behaviour consciously in this way. For those who do, however, it adds to their gravitas and credibility.
An added challenge is to be flexible in different situations, without being seen as political. This is why it’s important to check out our own personal values and how well they’re aligned with organizational values. They’re often not contentious, and we can see ways to ‘live’ them in our own way. Consistency is viewed as reliable and is therefore a key element in trust.
Balancing Correctness with Collaboration
This is another particular challenge for HR professionals. There are many occasions when we have to enforce policy or law, or insist on good practice, against resistance. Often the resistance comes from commercial or financial pressure, and we have to demonstrate that we understand this too. This is when our relationships, or Connections, are truly tested. If we have built their trust and respect, and confidence in our advice and judgement, we can work together with our line colleagues to find an effective solution.
There are some situations where we feel we can’t compromise, and yet we have to continue to challenge our own position. Things move so quickly, and demographics have changed so significantly, that traditional approaches can often be moved forward in new ways. We earn respect when we try to navigate a new path and innovate. However, we also have to judge when to stand firm. It really is a Balancing act.
How the 7 enable-HR Facets provide a holistic framework for success in Human Resources
Whatever level you’re working at in Human Resources, we’d love to help you in your role and your career.
Whether you are a Human Resources Director, HR Manager, HR Business Partner, HR specialist, HR professional or CIPD student, Contact us for a chat about what you’d like to achieve.
- Our HR Team Workshops provide a stimulating and focused intervention to engage you all in discussing together the kind of function you want to be and how you want to operate, and how to get there.
- Our specialist HR coaches work one-to-one with you, usually using phone or Skype, at times to fit into your busy day.
- If you want to engage your key stakeholders in reviewing what you do, we offer a 360-degree Evaluation Tool that can be tailored to your particular situation. This feedback can then be compared with your own perceptions in a way that will truly drive added value to the business.
- Alternatively, go straight to our online Self-evaluation Tool. A 10-page Development Report will arrive in your Inbox immediately to inspire you with fresh ideas for your development. You can take it from there.