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Dear HR: Stop Waiting for an Invitation

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If you’ve seen the hit TV show, The Office, you know that HR can get a bad reputation. Throughout the show, not only is Toby excluded from events and meetings, he’s completely ridiculed for attempting to reign in the staff.

Over the years, HR has had it rough. People avoid them, fear them, and sometimes act out negatively towards them. I guess I can’t blame employees, considering that they associate HR with all the “bad stuff” that the organization does (e.g., firing employees, facilitating disciplinary meetings, or telling people how to behave).

In the past, HR’s reputation has been one of compliance and structure, which is why leadership has passed over them when making strategic decisions. HR’s transactional leadership has been focused on day to day tasks that, according to leaders, were not necessarily vital to the organization. In other words, CEO’s didn’t find it necessary to offer HR a “seat at the table.”

The good news for HR is that times are changing and the conversation about getting a “seat at the table” is changing. It appears many HR professionals have managed to snag one, but still others have a long way to go. But why the interest in becoming a strategic partner in the business? Two words – human capital.

HR is learning to leave the transactional, day-to-day responsibilities up to technology, and is instead looking at big picture decision making. HR is, after all, responsible for the entire organization’s human intelligence and skills.

Now, HR has the power to really effect an organization’s bottom line. How? They influence the organizations biggest asset – employees. That’s a pretty big deal.

As the business world is evolving, competitive advantage is becoming harder and harder to reach and maintain. No longer is advantage given to the companies with better technology or cheaper raw materials. The real difference is employees and their motivation to ensure that the organization is at the top of its industry.

Because HR is responsible for the biggest and most expensive asset of the company, leaders are turning towards them more and more to maximize the workforce productivity and guarantee ROI of employees.

In fact, organizations are even beginning to use more influential job titles such as Human Resource Partner, Strategic Human Resource Director, and Director of People and Culture. Many companies even have a Chief Human Resources Officer.

What organizations are starting to understand is that HR is an advocate for employees, and employees that feel heard and valued are the key to a successful business. Employees who are satisfied with their jobs are more likely to stay with an organization longer and promote it as a great place to work.

Google (of course) is an easy example. They have been on the best places to work list for years and have claimed the number one spot multiple times.  Why? Because their employees love going to work every day, and HR plays a huge role in that.

While the award each year is a plus, it means much more. It allows them to attract and recruit the top talent for maximized ROI. And guess who is in charge of making sure that this top talent thrives – HR.

So, I recommend taking your seat at the table, rather than waiting for an invitation. You do that by being more strategic in your thinking and your actions. Measure the results of your activities and talk with your CEO about the ways in which you can make his or her initiatives better.

You have a world of knowledge that can help the organization reach new heights. You’ve earned a spot at the table.



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Catherine Mattice Zundel

About Catherine Mattice Zundel

Catherine Mattice Zundel, MA, SPHR, SHRM-SCP is President of consulting and training firm, Civility Partners, and has been successfully providing programs in workplace bullying and building positive workplaces since 2007. . Her clients include Fortune 500’s, the military, several universities and hospitals, government agencies, small businesses and nonprofits. She has published in a variety of trade magazines and has appeared several times on NPR, FOX, NBC, and ABC as an expert, as well as in USA Today, Inc Magazine, Huffington Post, Entrepreneur Magazine, and more. Catherine is Past-President of the Association for Talent Development (ATD), San Diego Chapter and teaches at National University. In his book foreword, Ken Blanchard called her book, BACK OFF! Your Kick-Ass Guide to Ending Bullying at Work, “the most comprehensive and valuable handbook on the topic.” She recently released a second book entitled, SEEKING CIVILITY: How Leaders, Managers and HR Can Create a Workplace Free of Bullying.

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