Why is HR the “Cobbler’s Children” in the World of Talent Acquisition?

HR has created an entire sub-function within its world that focuses on Succession Planning, Workforce Planning, and People Movement. The goal is to work with their various departments throughout their companies to prepare them to know where they will need to hire in the future based on the internal movement of employees, anticipated turnover, and planned increase in headcount. There are charts, numbers, and plans to address hiring for the coming year.  Yet, while HR does it for all of their internal clients, they are less likely to do it for themselves.  Why?

Is it because they don’t see the value of it?  HR definitely sees the value. They know the real cost of open positions and the impact on productivity.  They know the criticality of smooth transitions from one employee to the next employee.  As a client-based operation, HR supports all employees and when a role is left open for time, clients lose support and at times, do some of their own HR related work. There is a risk in that both from impacting the client group’s productivity and the risk of doing work they are not trained to do.

Is it because HR is too busy doing this work for their internal clients to focus on it for themselves? Finding anyone in business who is not fully engaged and busy is almost impossible to find.  HR has time to focus on a number of new initiatives and projects on an annual basis.  They have their Strategic Plan for the year and some even have 3 Year Strategic Plans.  Many larger HR organizations have their own Program Management Offices who create a calendar for all HR related events/deliverables for the year. They know what needs to be done and when.

Or is it because we don’t see ourselves as important/valuable to the organization as we perceive the Finance Department or the Technology Team?  HR, as a function, for many years, has never wanted to be the center of attention and has always focused on those who produce the revenue or product.  Yet, HR also knows that it’s the work HR does that enables the revenue producers and the product makers to do their work. And so, it’s incumbent on us as HR practitioners to be diligent in our succession planning and talent pipeline development.

I recently worked on a project with a client where I assessed their team utilizing their own competency model and developed reports to discuss the strengths and weaknesses of each member of the team.  The goal of the project was to ensure that the CHRO was aware of how to best leverage the overall team to drive their strategy and to begin the process of determining where the flight risks could be. The utilization of an independent third party helped to reduce the stress felt by the team going through the process and brought a very objective point of view to the process.

The output from the project involved individual reports for each member of the team, a succession plan for the CHRO, and recommendations on focused pipelining work to prepare for potential movement within the team.  The goal was to approach the HR team and do the diligence in assessment and planning that we, as HR professionals, do for our team.  The output was actionable just like the work that is done for the Finance, IT, and Marketing departments and allowed the HR Team to have an external point of view on the state of their talent.

Human Resources as a function continues to evolve and the ever-changing state of the employment market, the overall financial markets, presents challenges like we’ve not faced in the past.  Preparing the HR team for talent movements, gaps, assimilation of new team members is more critical than ever. Being planful in our approach, as we do for our colleagues across the enterprise, will ensure smoother transitions and reduce the time to fill critical HR roles.

And so, while not all HR departments are the “Shoe-Maker’s Children”, many of us are. And we have the tools, processes and knowledge that allow us to produce beautiful shoes for ourselves.