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Posts Tagged ‘Trench HR’

Tuesday in the Trenches: Integrate vs. Adminstrate

February 9, 2010 5 comments

This week’s Tuesday in the Trenches guest post is from Steve Browne, Executive Director of Human Resources for LaRosa’s Pizzeria. In business for over 50 years, LaRosa’s has grown to 63 locations in the Ohio, Kentucky, and Indiana region.  Steve has the daunting task of building and maintaining an environment and career experience that keeps LaRosa’s employees engaged in this highly competitive multi-location business.  Steve is also the editor-in-chief for a weekly HR Email, HR Net, that has 5,500 global subscribers.  If you want to join the distribution, let him know. You can follow Steve on Twitter or catch his guest blog posts which crop up from time to time (e.g. a recent post on Rehaul). 

Recently Charlie asked for posts from the “HR Trench” and this intrigued me.  There are literally thousands of HR people who may take this term literally everyday unfortunately.  I know too many HR folks who are miserable in what they do as a profession.

In looking at this, I had to ask myself the question – “Why are they miserable and I’m not ??”

The answer was pretty clear only because of how I have been encouraged and “allowed” to perform at my Company.  About a year ago, my boss, the COO, asked me to draw a picture of what HR should be at our company.  I honestly was a little baffled because he literally wanted a picture of what I’d like HR to be.  After some deep reflection, and many cups of coffee, I came up with a picture and went back to present it to him.

I followed the “before and after” model that you see in those weight loss commercials because I wanted to express how HR was being utilized now and what it should be.  The “before” model showed every department as silos – including HR.  HR was only used if, and when, people needed it primarily for administrative tasks or employee relations problems that were now teetering on legal action.  In contrast, the “after” model took HR and spread it in a row that spanned all of the departments.  I explained that HR should be integrated throughout all departments and levels of the company because all of them have humans !!

Seems simple, but it worked.  He agreed that HR should be integrated vs. administrative.  Strategic on a regular basis vs. processing paperwork.

This frees me every day knowing that HR is expected to be integrated to move the Company forward.  I wish HR professionals everywhere would follow an “integrated” approach !!  If they did, they would see that the “trench” that we’re in is actually very cool and exciting !!

Tuesday in the Trenches: A Groovy Kind of Love

January 19, 2010 9 comments

This week’s #TrenchHR post is from Robin Schooling (@RobinSchooling).  Robin, an SPHR, is VP of Human Resources with a statewide organization in Louisiana and has over 20 years HR management experience in various industries including health care, banking and manufacturing. Robin is a Past President of the Greater Baton Rouge SHRM chapter and serves as Professional Development Coordinator on the Louisiana SHRM State Council, and as VP Membership with ASTD Baton Rouge. She is a board member of the Louisiana Business Leadership Network (LBLN), a non-profit network of businesses which values persons with disabilities as customers and employees. She encourages everyone to cheer for the Saints in the NFC Championship game…..Who Dat!

When I entered the HR profession circa 1988, we wore jackets with huge shoulder pads and acid-washed denim.   SHRM was soon to change its name from ASPA and the word “personnel” was being banished from the nameplates, office directories and (ideally) the vocabulary of folks the world over.  We were working to change the perception of HR from paper-pushing-party-planners to organizational partners. 

We KNEW we had the insight and knowledge to transform our organizations by harnessing the power of people’s capabilities.

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Most HR professionals believe that people are amazing, and nowhere is individuality more apparent than when viewed through our eyes.  We see people at their absolute best and their absolute worst; they can be frustrating, maddening, or inspiring.  We laugh with them and we laugh at them.  Gather any group of HR professionals together and invariably we talk “shop.” We don’t talk about 5500’s, FMLA or the latest software conversion – we talk about applicants, employees, managers and executives.  We chuckle and find solace in sharing our observations and reflecting upon the absurdities of human interactions.

Deep down, of course, HR professionals know that what makes people unique is what makes them fascinating.  We enjoy finding out about people’s personal stories, motivations, and their goals and aspirations (or lack thereof).  This, I believe, is what draws many of us to HR – tapping into the strengths of individuals by helping clear obstacles and creating the path for their journeys.

While I don’t want to hand-hold, babysit, or do for employees – I DO want to support them.

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But in order to free up our time to support employees and lead them to personal and organizational excellence, we must become better at tackling the un-sexy aspects of the HR function – process improvement to increase quality and reduce costs.   Learning, understanding and applying some basic process improvement techniques can lead to dramatic results at the departmental and organizational levels.

Reflecting back on the low-tech era, my day was filled with laborious HR tasks:   I created a monthly employee newsletter using a typewriter, clip art book, and a glue stick.  I shared a PC with 6 other HR employees (MS-DOS, thank you very much). I made 6 copies of every single Employee Action Form for my co-workers.    When personnel files were destroyed, I typed up Employee Record cards which were stored in a recipe-card box. I planned the picnic.

And since it’s easy to take the path of least resistance, many HR Departments TO THIS DAY utilize 15-20 year old processes.  Just as with any business discipline, we must continuously strive for improvement, efficiency, quality and value.  We must banish phrases such as “we’ve always done it that way” and “we have to do it that way for the auditors” (my personal favorite).  

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Continuous improvement can directly lead to HR enhancement in providing value to the organization.  With every HR process that is eliminated, streamlined or re-engineered, we free up time to spend on talent management, employee development and working with other departments to meet organizational goals.

I would rather spend my time brainstorming with the VP of Sales regarding how to grow revenue than making extra copies of the medical insurance invoice in case the auditors want them.

Looking for Guest “Trench HR” Bloggers…

January 17, 2010 2 comments

So much of what we do in HR is behind the scenes.  I was referred to the other day as the “wizard behind the curtain.”  Still trying to figure out if that was a compliment or not…doubt it, though.  I’ve always said that we could write a book based strictly on the interesting experiences we have in the world of corporate HR…most of it, after all, comes from “the land of you can’t make this shit up.”  I’ve also noticed that there still aren’t many HR bloggers out there.  Let me clarify: There are lots of people blogging about HR, but very view of them are currently practicing in a corporate environment.  The theory, the strategy, and the direction provided by subject matter experts and consultants is really important.  But hearing from those in the trenches is a perspective we need more of.  So let’s marry the two…

If you practice HR in a corporate environment (private, public, small, large), and would like to share your perspective on:

  1. What it’s like to be in the trenches these days
  2. Crazy stuff you encounter, crazy stuff your people do, crazy stuff you have to do to fix it
  3. Things you’ve done to simplify your HR practice
  4. How your career in HR has evolved and lessons learned along the way
  5. Etc.

then send me your post – shoot for 400 words or less.  I’ll gladly post it…and promote it…on HR Fishbowl.   There are lots of people who would like to see more Trench HR out in the blogosphere and maybe…just maybe…this would help.  Just Email me at cjudy@charter.net. #TrenchHR