Human Resources: Winning Hearts and Minds

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Despite the importance of human resources to businesses in handling the critical functions of recruitment, retention and developing the workforce, many of those in other departments look at HR with less than friendly feelings. Many managers perceive their company’s human resources department to be inefficient and more of a drag on progress rather than a contributor to it.

Business consultant Ron Ashkenas asks why this happens, and proposes that much of the conflict arises as a result of the transformations that are taking place in human resources today.

Companies are spending a lot of money to improve the basic functions of human resources and to develop the information processes involved with it. Naturally, it takes time to do all of this and (not unsurprisingly) there may be glitches now and then as the transition takes place. Moreover, companies are trying to give their human resources departments more of a strategic role in the business, taking over such things as assessing worker skills, developing leaders within the company, managing change and effectiveness in the business. This also takes considerable time.

Part of the challenge also stems from the role human resources plays and what managers expect from the department. The problem lies in educating managers about the need for them to step in and take the role in the development of their staff members. It is essential for managers to understand that they are accountable for things such as the assessment and growth of the employees in their own department, as well as rewarding and recognizing those workers.

By having department managers take over this kind of role, human resources is then able to focus on company-wide strategic planning, looking at problems that might crop up, seeing how business plans will affect employees and making sure that the best people are working on the most critical needs.

One way to help change department managers’ perception of human resources is to rotate people between human resources and management jobs, Ashkenas says. This will help whittle the perception that the human resources department is something separate and isolated from real business concerns.

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A career in construction administration and management can be (and for me has been) one of constant transition. It’s rather common that employment with a given company starts and finishes with each successive project; you’re a new hire as it’s just getting “out of the ground,” then finished and looking for a new project (and Read More…

Greg Wangler, Pentagon Construction Management Division

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