For HR directors, earning respect can be a tough job

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					CAREER CORNER                                                                                           www.lawcrossing.com      1. 800.973.1177




                             For HR directors, earning respect can be a tough job
                             [By Michael Kinsman]
                             You might have heard this from your employer once or you might have heard it a thousand times: Employees are our most
                             valuable asset.




If that’s truly the case, why isn’t there more       placing them in the right positions, and then      struggled to gain recognition in executive
respect for the people charged with managing         providing them with a work environment that        suites because it has been a developing
those assets?                                        inspires achievement and success is integral       profession over the past few decades.
                                                     to the overall business strategy.
It’s a problem that nags human resources                                                                “It used to be personnel and then it was often
directors every day. They know how they do           Jordan suggests that HR executives have to         seen as some sort of administrative function,”
their job is vital to the success of the company,    find a way to prove their roles are valuable, if   she says. “But now you see - particularly in
but why don’t more top executives see that?          they are to be accepted at the highest levels of   larger companies - the recognition that you
                                                     the company.                                       have to include HR as an essential component
“Maybe it’s because everyone around the
                                                                                                        for strategic planning.”
table thinks they can handle the role of             Susan Guenther, vice president of Challenger,
the human resources director,” says Clark            says most companies don’t have a direct
                                                                                                        She says she expects more companies to
Jordan, assistant dean of the Rady School of         link from the HR director to the top of the
                                                                                                        acknowledge the importance of HR as part of the
Management at the University of California San       organization.
                                                                                                        general business plan within the next five years.
Diego. “Of course, they can’t handle that job, but
that doesn’t stop them from thinking they can.”      “I think people acknowledge that HR is
                                                                                                        “We have a tight job market now, but that
                                                     important and should have a voice in the
                                                                                                        will be changing in the years ahead,” says
So the Rodney Dangerfields of the corporate          highest part of the company, but no one
                                                                                                        Stevenson, who runs an executive coaching
world - human resources directors - continue         seems to know how to get HR people there,”
                                                                                                        firm for women called Lifted Fog. “The tipping
to strive for respect.                               she says. “It’s always been a problem.”
                                                                                                        point will come when the war for talent
The Rady School and the Chicago outplacement                                                            returns. CEOs will be scrambling to find good
                                                     Jordan and Guenther believe that HR has
firm of Challenger, Gray & Christmas are                                                                employees then, and that’s when a lot of
                                                     a role in setting the strategic course of the
hoping to change that. In January, they will                                                            companies will really realize the importance
                                                     companies and that chief executives are
launch a series of monthly forums that will pull                                                        of HR, not just for hiring and retention, but
                                                     becoming more aware of that.
together chief executives, board members and                                                            for being able to create a culture that is
human resources executives.                          “Just look at the venture capitalists,”            conducive to success.”
                                                     Guenther says. “Most VCs won’t put up money
“I think HR people bring every bit as much                                                              Jordan thinks some HR executives
                                                     unless the right team of people is in place.
to the table as the heads of engineering,                                                               have contributed to their failure to gain
                                                     That shows that they recognize the value of
finance or operations, but not everyone sees                                                            acceptability at the senior executive table.
                                                     HR’s role in putting together the right mix of
it that way,” Jordan says. “We want to open          people to run a company.”
up a dialogue between these parties in hope                                                             “Frankly, a lot of them just don’t see
that HR will become a more integral part of          Companies are little more than a variety of        themselves as someone who can become
corporate strategy.”                                 people working together toward a common            the chief executive of the company,” he
                                                     goal. The most cutting-edge technology in the      says. “If you look around at other divisions
Part of the problem is that CEOs often look at       world doesn’t ensure success unless there is       - operations, marketing or legal - you see
HR as reactionary, rather than as a strategic        a cohesive team working together to leverage       people who aspire to be CEOs.
business tool that can help the company at           that technology.
multiple levels.                                                                                        “But I think they bring every bit as much to the
                                                     Sue Stevenson, who has held senior HR              table as engineering, finance or operations.
The Rady School hopes to show CEOs and               positions with companies such as Elan,             That’s what we hope CEOs and directors will
board members that hiring the right people,          Novartis and Xerox, believes that HR has           come to understand,” he said.

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