#transformHR day 2 - Margaret Morford

by Matthew Stollak on Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Margaret Morford had the tough task of following Billy Beane with her presentation "HR Fiddles While Organizations Burn!"

Starting off, working HR, she notes, should be measured in dog years, given the challenges HR managers face on a daily basis.  To meet this challenge, Morford discussed her strategic six things HR needs to do: be different in your thinking, ignore fads, get brave, develop talent & skills, outrun the pack, and get out of HR (temporarily).

The HR reality today Morford cited was that only 23% of corporate leaders see HR departments as playing a crucial role. Further, HR was seen as the least agile function by 31% of global respondents.  HR services need to change regarding leadership development, onboarding, and recruiting, the supposed strengths of HR.

"Being different in your thinking" is the familiar criticism of HR- not seeing yourself as HR but as a business professional in HR. To wit, one needs to discuss issues in terms of the financial impact on the organization, a challenge some HR professionals do not want to adopt.  Similarly, outsource appropriate functions to save money and build expertise. And, develop an HR strategic plan that underpins the organization's strategic initiatives.

As noted above, the second of Morford's Strategic Six is to "ignore fads."  Too often HR gets involved with items like metrics without truly understanding their proper use.  HR shouldn't use metrics to justify the presence of HR; instead, forward the organization's agenda.  Instead, HR should let the specific needs of the organization drive training needs, for example.

Third on Morford's list - "Get brave."  Quit saying, "You can't, we'll get sued."  Further, as with Tim Sackett's talk yesterday, Morford says to stop focusing on equal treatment and focus on performance and equitable treatment.  HR should instead view legal issues in terms of the likelihood of getting sued (for statistics fans, what is the expected value?).   Further, HR should make "it" happen for managers by eliminating obstacles that stand in their way. HR should also figure out how to change their "two-legged liabilities" if compliance is not working.

Morford then discussed her fourth item - "develop talent & skills." One cannot buy talent, it has to be built.  You can recruit talent, but you build skills.  To address this, Morford argues HR needs to keep a "talent hit list" to fill future vacancies.  In addition, a real mentoring program is warranted.  Also, HR needs to fill today's jobs with what they'll need 10 years from now.

Fifth, Outrun the pack.  HR MUST stop benchmarking.  Those we are benchmarking against started off with a whiteboard.  Hence, HR leaders need to screen HR hires for innovative thinking, including hiring non-HR people into HR.  Further, change policies that employees routinely work around.

Finally, one needs to get out of HR.  Know the financials, products, strategic goals, ROIC, margins, etc.  HR should read non-HR business publications and books, as well as develop HR staff for other organizational responsibilities.

In sum, Morford echoed much of the needed HR changes that were found in the SHRM Foundation video "HR Heroes" published several years ago, but provided a strong follow-up to Billy Beane.

Coming up next are those Talent Anarchists, Joe Gerstandt and Jason Lauritsen.

If you are not in attendance, you may follow the conference on Twitter at #TransformHR or follow it live where it is streaming at http://transform.tlnt.com/2012/live/

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