HR Leaders shift focus from 'motivating' to 'engaging' employees - HR Nitty Gritty

by Duncan

1. How has HR changed since you first entered the sector?
The focus of many HR leaders has moved from 'motivating employees' to actually engaging them on an emotional level. Many HR leaders are realising that if they want to benefit from the discretionary effort of employees where they 'go the extra mile' through genuine desire rather than simply obligation, they need to equip managers with the requisite skills and tools to achieve this. An increasing focus on developing Emotional Intelligence skills is a very positive step here.
The automation of information services has, in many cases, added value to organisations. Rather than paying the traditional daily rate for an external consultant, accessing up to date, relevant information online is a wonderful step forward in terms of ease of access and cost effectiveness too.

2. How are HR departments managing / promoting employee engagement nowadays?
Some organisations wrongly believe that plastering posters on each and every wall will magically create an engaging environment. Others invest their training budget in sending managers on employee engagement training courses, but unfortunately, few actually realise any lasting and meaningful value from their investment. This is because hoping that a training course will deliver the required outcomes is at best misguided, at worst, a complete waste of money, time and energy.
To generate a worthwhile return on investment in employee engagement development, leaders must lead by example, set a clear context for the reason for the project and, proactively reinforce the skills, tools and principles learned on any training course, in the days, weeks and months following such a programme.
Employee Engagement remains at risk of being the next flavour of the month rather than a strategic tool to boost organisational effectiveness, reduce staff turnover and promote a more accountable, collaborative and results-focused environment.

3. What's the most common HR mistake you see?
Appointing new managers on the basis that they were 'excellent technicians' in their previous role rather than critically analysing their suitability in transitioning from getting results by themselves to getting results through other people. Appointing new managers without undertaking some form of worthwhile assessment is a financially costly and risky approach to take. This is akin to an airline promoting a cabin crew member to the position of pilot purely because s/he was excellent in their cabin crew role. Complete madness!

4. What's the future for the HR department, what does HR's role look like in 10-15 years?
Few HR Directors hold a position on a board of directors. At least in the UK. More accountability and demonstration of the real value HR can add to an organisation is vital if a HR department is to become and/or remain credible.
HR is usually mentioned when things are going wrong. Rarely is HR mentioned in terms of how an organisation truly benefits from its knowledge, expertise and input. Developing a more commercial focus so that a clear link can be established between HR and organisational success would be beneficial.
More automation of information such as legislation, principles and professional standards can be a positive move. Enabling organisations to become more self-reliant rather than simply relying on external, in-person support will be another positive move.
If in ten to fifteen years, HR leaders continue to believe that sending employees on training is the magic wand that will change everything, the industry will have moved backwards rather than forwards.

5. What are some of your favorite websites for HR news?
HRBullets is a low cost HR news portal I really enjoy. It's to the point, with no 'fluff' and provides timely information you can use.

6. What does your company specialize in?
Summit Consulting & Training Ltd specialises in developing highly effective leaders, managers and teams. With a clear focus on Emotional Intelligence, clients enjoy the hands-on, thought-provoking learning....which doesn't include any Powerpoint slides!

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