HR Development: Making HR Better

by Michael Haberman on April 5, 2010 · 0 comments


Several blog posts in the last couple of days stimulated my thinking about talent, skills, job security and development of HR professionals. I recommend these three posts to you and then offer my own thoughts. These three great posts are:

  1. Want to Build a Winning Foundation? Don’t Forget HR Development by Kathy Rapp of hrQ, post at Fistful of Talent. She talks about the importance of making sure your HR people are being developed.
  2. A Fundamental Shift in Talent Management: Will “Active Job Security” Replace “Passive Job Security”? by Ann Bares at Compensation Cafe. Ann talks about the balance beam that employers must walk in order to stimulate workers, make them realize that they have to engage in “active job security”, yet keep them at the company. She contrasts this with “passive job security.”
  3. HR Should Get Out of the Talent Game by Paul Herbert at Fistful of Talent. Paul points out that “talent”, which is the big item discussed in HR, is not the most important thing HR can focus on. Rather HR should focus on developing skills to best leverage the native talents that employees have.

So what deep thoughts have these three posts prompted in my little brain?  (I feel like the scarecrow … ‘If I only had a brain….’)

  • The changes in the economic situation in this country have prompted a change in the mind set of employees. No longer do they want opportunity, rather they are interested in job security. Unfortunately the “old days” are gone and the traditional “passive job security” is gone. Employers no longer let you stay “just because.” You have to perform. And employees know that they have some responsibility for their “active job security” yet they feel unprepared to deal with it.
  • Companies need to seize this opportunity and do a GREAT DEAL MORE skill development. Take the “talent” that has been recruited and spend time and money on making them better at what they do. Impressing on the employees that improving their “resumes” on an annual basis is the best way to engage in “active job security.” “And they reason you want to stay with us, is because we provide you with the opportunity to constantly get better and more valuable.” I am a big fan of Tom Peters’ idea of improved resume as performance evaluation idea.
  • To faciliate this skills improvement, and to deal with the ever-changing, topsy-turvy world that HR is today, we need to have better HR professionals. Yet few, very few, HR departments demand that their professionals get better. Sure they may offer some encouragement, such as tuition reimbursement or extra money if you get a PHR, but few actually require this kind of development. I teach PHR prep and over my 12 years of doing so, most attendees are there on a volunteer basis. Some get their money back if they pass. Some get more money if they pass. Some employers even arrange for a class to be taught especially for people in their organization. But even then attendance is voluntary.
  • To me, the CEO of an organization should demand that his/her HR professionals be the best in the business. In an economy where most of the companies assets are the tied up in the brain power of the people working for the company, having an HR department that can handle this is of utmost importance. Thus HR at all levels needs to be developed, not on a voluntary basis, but as a requirement of continued employment. Don’t want to learn and improve? Then leave and make room for someone that does!
  • Not everyone can earn a PHR/SPHR. You have to hold an exempt position in HR to qualify. But that doesn’t mean non-exempt HR should be ignored. Classes can, and should, be structured to give EVERYONE IN HR, a learning experience to make them the best. All professional, exempt level, HR should be required to achieve the PHR or SPHR designation. Beyond that,  if there are other professional designations that can be earned, such as CEBS, then these should be required as well. The good news is that if for some reason you are ever let go, you are much more employeable as a result of this training.

I know this is pretty intense. But if an organization is truly committed to having the best HR pros, in order to have the best employees then this is the kind of committment needed. I have not yet run across any companies yet with this kind of committment to HR.

Do you kow of any? Wish to profile your company’s committment to professional HR?

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