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Relationships are personal – choose wisely

HR needs to decide which are the right relationships for it to focus on and then decide how best to nurture and develop them. You see relationships are very personal things – we all have our preferred ways of working with others. However, for the HR Function to be credible, capable and courageous in what it does and how it behaves, it is essential there is a consistent way for how HR engages and works with the business. The business needs to know who it is dealing with and what is expected from them and of them – it is not all about HR giving and reacting.

HR has a number of choices in how it builds relationships across an organisation depending upon how it views its position and purpose. For example:

  • Is your HR Function focusing more on the efficient delivery of an administrative service and less on strategic organisational change? This will affect the type and style of relationship with the business.
  • Does your HR Function realise that it is not credible or capable enough and wants do something about it or is it happy to continue to be sidelined from the real power? This will affect the type and style of relationship with the business and determine what actions HR needs to take to build the right type so relationships with the right people.

What are the relationship choices for HR?

HR has choices as to the type of relationship it wants with the business. What are its choices? Well, at CourageousHR we believe there are four relationship pathways it can choose depending upon the type of strategy it is following.

Are you offering more of a Personnel Service or is it actually creating demonstrable strategic value? This is a complex question that cannot be answered simply however the relationship model your HR Function adopts needs to reflect what it is doing for the business. Whilst it seems most HR Functions recognise that it needs to work more closely and partner with the business the reality is that most limit themselves to:

  • Increasing HR efficiencies = doing more for less. The emphasis is on: standardisations, HRIS, outsourcing, self-management etc…
  • Improving HR effectiveness = achieving the same goal in a different way. The emphasis is on ‘added value’ through copying best practice and benchmarking.
  • Our view is that such a limiting remit for HR will result in nothing more significant than a window dressing exercise – eye-catching and maybe even memorable but simply hiding HR’s fundamental weaknesses. At CourageousHR we contend that HR has a distinctive contribution to make to organisational life in the form of creating an organisational culture which will enable all employees to feel both engaged and able to positively contribute to their organisation’s success.
  • The choices on offer for HR means it is so important it matches its relationship building model with the service it is offering – Personnel, HR Management, HR Business Partnership or HR Strategic Partnership.
  • Managing your expectations and the expectations of others is a key to HR’s success. In the following chapter there are some exercises which will help you to determine if your HR Function’s approach to relationship building matches what it is delivering to the business.

Next steps – what you can do now

Here are a few hints and tips as to what you can do immediately to enhance your relationship building skills:

  • Identify new stakeholders, key decision makers and change agents to build relationships with
  • Actively support others to develop their relationship building skills
  • Actively look to expand your ‘zone of influence’ and profile beyond your immediate area
  • Seek out HR colleagues who are excellent at building relationships and shadow them
  • Find ways to enhance your credibility through what and how you deliver
  • Take more risks by challenging behaviours and processes which stop collaborative relationships
  • Develop your understanding of how to build productive relationships
  • Spend more time and effort on building your own effective network

Research shows that the most successful HR Professionals are able to build strong and enduring relationships with their leadership teams. Their high credibility enables them to influence the way people are managed as well as implement HR strategies which are aligned with organisational objectives. This is why, the ‘people skills’ aspect of modern day HR Professionals is now so critical. This is because it is about HR being able to build and sustain effective relationships across an organisation and with HR colleagues.

In a nutshell, building strong relationships involves collaboration, partnering, influencing, communicating and sharing knowledge and / or information. However this does not happen overnight but it is worth persevering at it because the cornerstone for developing excellence in HR is the quality of its relationships – get this right and you’re on the road to success.

To find out how CourageousHR can support the development of your HR Function please email [email protected] to arrange a call to discuss your specific development needs.