Editorial: HR in 2015

Feb 12, 2015

IMG_1267Are you getting all you need from HR today? Three suggestions from Mark Zweig.

Human resources management often gets a bad rap. That isn’t without cause. In my experience, too many HR managers forget whose side they are on. They often are in the job because they “like people.” They can often be easily seduced away from their role as a company manager and are instead tempted into filling the role of employee ombudsman and labor representative against “evil management.” While I am not going to say there is no such thing as an “evil company” (Does Doctor Evil have an evil enterprise?), I can assure you I have never run into one in the A/E/P or environmental consulting business. Yours are good companies, by and large run by good people who are genuinely trying their best to give their people good jobs. The other thing HR managers do that hurts their effectiveness is to focus too much on employment-related liability issues. Their fear of lawsuits surrounding discrimination or sexual harassment claims drives all of their input to management. Management then dislikes them and sees them (the HR people) as their problem – more so than the problem itself. This reduces their opportunities to make meaningful contributions to firm strategy and management and relegates them to a second-class role. Then, even if they do have good ideas on how to do things, they have no audience to voice them to. So what should the role of HR management be, right now, today? Here are my thoughts on the three “big things” HR people should be working on today:
  1. Recruiting. Show me a business that isn’t having a hard time finding enough quality people to fill every opening and I will show you one that either isn’t growing or has low standards. Recruiting has to be one of the top priorities for HR. Recruiters literally feed the business every bit as much as those who sell whatever the business creates. It’s an important job, and HR needs to do it!
  2. Career development. Providing meaningful training and growth opportunities for your staff is critical because you need your people to grow and adapt to a changing field. But beyond that, good people want to feel like they are learning and if not, will become disenchanted and leave. You cannot count on your technical and professional staff to do what they need to do to train their people. They are busy and usually have other priorities. In some cases, they will even resist training people because of fear they won’t be needed if someone else knows what they know. HR needs to help here.
  3. Morale/turnover. Good morale is essential to productivity, teamwork, and good client service. If you don’t have it, people become demotivated, work less, care less about quality, and hurt your profitability. HR has to provide input on the state of employee morale overall as well as specific strategies to make it better.
So the bottom line is that we need GOOD human resources management. In fact, it is essential today. Are you getting what you need from your HR people today? Mark Zweig is the chairman and CEO of Zweig Group. Contact him with questions or comments at mzweig@zweiggroup.com.
This article first appeared in The Zweig Letter (ISSN 1068-1310), issue #1091, originally published 2/16/2015. Copyright© 2015, Zweig Group. All rights reserved.

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Zweig Group, three times on the Inc. 500/5000 list, is the industry leader and premiere authority in AEC firm management and marketing, the go-to source for data and research, and the leading provider of customized learning and training. Zweig Group exists to help AEC firms succeed in a complicated and challenging marketplace through services that include: Mergers & Acquisitions, Strategic Planning, Valuation, Executive Search, Board of Director Services, Ownership Transition, Marketing & Branding, and Business Development Training. The firm has offices in Dallas and Fayetteville, Arkansas.