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I’ve talked with friends, family, and associates about human resources over the years, and it’s amazing to me the different experiences that people have with their HR departments. Sometimes, employees feel like HR scores well, and yet others see it as a department that is killing their game. So why such a difference?

HR provides a service to the employees which so happens to serve the interests of the organization as well, win-win.

All too often, I hear about managers submitting requisitions for jobs to be filled, and they literally never hear back from HR. Understaffed managers aren’t allowed to post the job themselves, but HR doesn’t seem to be making it a priority. This lack of service takes its toll on employee morale and productivity. It has negative impacts on customers and then, ultimately, the bottom line suffers. Lack of service can cost you the game.

Bear with me while I talk a little tennis. In tennis, the serve is key. A great serve proactively sets up the rest of the point. Both aggressive and strategic, it can get the job done.

On the other hand, when you are receiving the serve, sometimes it’s so hard, you can only block it back. A block is when you stick your racket out and make contact. This is not the best return; it’s total defense. You aren’t stepping back, setting up a great return with a fast swing and good follow through. You’re doing the minimum by letting the ball come to you. Your opponent can kill a blocked return.

Is this the kind of HR department you want to be? Do you want to be ahead of the game, serving proactively to your constituents or throwing up blocks and barely following through?

How to have a winning HR team:

  • Love-love

Get on the court. Games aren’t won sitting on the sidelines. Build rapport by walking around and knowing peoples’ names. They need to feel that they can come to you and that you will listen.

  • 15-love

Return calls and emails in a timely fashion – shoot for 24 hours at least, even if it’s to say, “I’m on this and you’ll have it Friday.”

  • 30-love

Listen to their needs, and reply with a solution that best eases their pain. Think, “How can I help them?” not “How am I going to say no?”

  • 40-love

Give up a little control if you must. You are ahead in the game and people know you’re busy too. HR departments are often understaffed and stretched thin, but that doesn’t mean service stops. If you don’t have time to write the job posting, how about letting the hiring manager write it? Don’t block their forward progress. Use efficient time management skills, prioritize and delegate.

  • Game

Instead of always being reactive, have a game plan that consists of allotted time in your week spent on proactive initiatives. How about training management to be more self-sufficient or researching a new HRIS that saves time? Your investment of even one to two hours a week on simplifying processes or policies that tend to block progress could really pay off. Put it on your calendar.

However you decide to play the game, remember that you are all on the same team. Each department needs to cooperatively work together to earn the win. If the tennis analogy isn’t working for you, pay heed to what many HR people tell me, “We all need to play nice in the sandbox.”  Nice is good, but try serving your team, and you’re likely to win some new fans and keep the sand out of your eyes.

Peggy Hogan
Peggy Hogan
Peggy is Purple Ink’s Vice President of Talent Services. She is passionate about helping organizations be more effective at sourcing and retaining top talent and loves the powerful effect connecting people to the right opportunity can have on their lives.

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