Why HR Fails At Organizational Projects

I was watching the movie 300 recently for like the 300th time (what can I say I like Gladiator movies and yes I know what that says about my sexuality and I’m in HR so I’m trained to deal with that kind of feedback) and I was reminded about a very important organizational issue.  Watch the 1 min and 22 sec clip below to see where I’m going…

In HR we are Daxos and the Arcadian “soldiers” – we are more than willing to help by bringing what resources we have, but all to often, the resources we bring aren’t what the organization needs.  “So, Tim?” “What are we suppose to do about that – it’s all we have to give?!” , you say.

To often when we go to Marketing or IT or Finance for help with a major project – think new HRIS system, or the need for branding materials, etc. – we offer up ourselves and maybe a little of our budget to move the project forward.  Unfortunately, these departments, while needing resources, really don’t need your skills for recruitment or benefit administration – they need graphic designers or application developers – and you give them what Daxos was offering up to Leonidas – Potters, Sculptures and Blacksmiths – when all he needed was soldiers.

So, what can you do in this situation?

Try one of these next time you go asking for help within your oganization:

1.  Offer to take something off of their plate that you or your team is capable of.  Every department has certain things that really could be done by anyone with decent project management skills, or parts of your own department’s skill set, that you have pushed over onto the department to do themselves. Take some of those things back, freeing up capacity of that department to help you.

2. Go to bat for them publicly with the leadership team.  This can be done cross functionally by meeting with leaders from other departments, sending out communications speaking to specific needs of another department and how it can help the organization, and at budget times by addressing the needs of the other department.  HR has great influence around people issues, and when budget meetings happen, the word coming from HR in regards to headcount usually goes a long way with your peers.

3. Build the relationship.  Want to know why your HR department is always last on IT’s project list?  You don’t hang out with IT.  Come on! It can’t be that high schoolish!  Yes, it can – and you would be shocked at how certain decisions are made at a high level.  Go make friends, and do it fast.

Moving organizational projects forward, that are led or co-led by HR, doesn’t have a political nightmare and a huge stress, but you better bring something more to the table than your cute smile and PHR – the other departments don’t care – they’re over worked and under staffing  – just like we are in HR!  The last thing they want to hear is your fake attempt at offering up your staff as a resource to help on the project – when they don’t have the technical chops to get it done.  Save your breath and find another way.


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