HR should get back to basics

Apr 18 2007 by Nic Paton Print This Article

If HR professionals think they "own" the people side of a business, they need to think again. Because senior managers want their HR teams to stop spending so much time on employee development and put more effort into improving how their workforce deals with and attracts customers.

"Let us sit on the board," is HR's constant refrain. But what HR professionals think is important is often very different to what those who are running organisations view as priorities.

Research by training and development firm The Ken Blanchard Companies has found a continuing gap between HR's priorities and those of the wider business, calling into question the whole notion of whether HR can ever truly ascend to become a board-level "business partner".

When it came to employee development, the poll of the more than 1,000 HR and training professionals found that HR ranked executive development as a higher priority than senior management itself did.

Management's concerns, by contrast, were more around information technology and sales skills.

Top management also ranked customer relationships skills as their most critical employee development need, something HR thought only warranted a fourth placed ranking.

And while top management ranked creating an engaged workforce as their second most important management challenge, HR felt it was selecting and retaining key talent.

Overall, developing potential leaders remained the number one management challenge facing organisations, the research concluded.

Over the next three years, it predicts that industry consolidation and global competition will intensify.

Issues around technology would also become more important, as would the need to focus on the selection and retention of key talent, succession planning and increasing innovation.

Conversely, issues around leadership capacity and creating an engaged workforce would become lesser areas of focus, the research forecast.