It’s easy to believe that only our profession is under scrutiny. I have seen many “I Hate HR!” articles regarding human resources. A post entitled “Traditional Marketing Is Broken” caught my attention the other day. I felt relieved for a brief moment. The author wasn’t saying that the marketing function was broken, but rather because the business changes affect every function at every level of an organization.
Human resources are just one example of the many conversations that are taking place within businesses. We are constantly changing our roles and responsibilities. The facilitator’s description of human resources was one of the first things that caught my attention at SHRM Education’s Business Acumen: Integrating Human Resources Across Operations. He described HR as the function that manages organizational change. Management of people is not the same as managing change.
Of course, change involves people. It speaks to the changing role of human resources and where HR can make the most impact. Fortune has an article about companies giving more power to their employees. The role of human resources is to ensure that these employees can leverage this responsibility in a positive, productive manner. Side Note: Marcus Buckingham is the keynote speaker at this year’s SHRM Annual Conference.
My view is that HR leaders must understand the operation to manage organizational change. Correct, HR must do more than understanding the operation. They need to be part of the operation. They are not just a department that people go to when they have a problem. This video is by Padma Thiruvengadam (VP of Operations at Pfizer Oncology), talking about her views on human resources.
This is where business acumen comes into play. We spent two days discussing the foundations of business acumen at the SHRM Education workshop. It’s not something I plan to recite in a blog post. This was not the point. But the point was more important than that. Human resources professionals must understand the business language of their industry and organization. We must also learn to ask the right questions to gain insight into the industry and company. One of the most important questions was, “Are you prepared to tell our company what we don’t know?”
For a moment, think about this. Are you a leader in HR? Or are you willing to admit what you don’t know, or do you plan to “fake” it until you find it out? The bigger question is: Do you have the time or patience to figure it out? Do you need to read a book, a class, a course, a mentor, or something else? To help you learn the knowledge?
Business is changing fast. All of us are being asked to adapt. We need to understand basic business concepts such as marketing mix, cash flow and supply chain. Being a part of the conversation requires business acumen. It gives us the ability to ask questions about the latest concepts that are emerging each day.