Home' HR Monthly : September 2015 Contents CEO MESSAGE
BRIDGING THE GAP
I had the good fortune to hear Ram Charan give the
opening keynote address at our national convention in
Melbourne last month. Charan is a widely respected
international adviser to boards and chief executives, and
in recent times he has turned his mind to HR, in particular
to the role of chief human resource officer.
In association with McKinsey's Dominic Barton and
Korn Ferry's Dennis Carey, Charan wrote an article in the
July-August Harvard Business Review, entitled 'People
before strategy: a new role for the CHRO'.
The authors start with the premise that CEOs
understand the proposition that "businesses don't
create value; people do", and for that reason they
depend on HR. In their next breath, the authors cite
research by McKinsey and the Conference Board
showing that CEOs rank HR as "only the eighth or ninth
most important function in a company", a verdict that
appears to fly in the face of a consistent finding, which
they also cite, that CEOs from around the world "see
human capital as a top challenge".
I take a couple of things from those apparent
contradictions. The first is that these findings
from observers outside HR are sending a
message about the opportunity that is being
presented to the profession. The CEOs are
saying they need HR to perform well and
to be effective. The second take has to be
that CEOs are disappointed. It is hard to
avoid concluding that the reliance they
want to place on HR to achieve results
is not being met by a commensurate
As it so happens, AHRI has
been doing its own Australian
research in the same area. During
the first half of this year, we began
working with our sur vey partner
Insync on measuring 'inside HR'
data -- that we took from our 2014
research -- against some 'outside
HR' data derived from the views
of Australian CEOs and public
sector senior executives.
The 'inside HR' data resulted
in 10 attributes that HR
practitioners believe to be
fundamental HR skills and
behaviours. In no particular
order, they are as follows: influencer, credible,
collaborative, courageous, resolver of issues,
solutions driven, professional, critical and enquiring
thinker and the capacity to understand and care.
Using a seven-point scale, Insync asked 800 survey
respondents to rate each attribute on its importance and
how well HR performed against each one.
Around half of the survey respondents were CEOs
and executives, and the other half HR practitioners.
The responses reveal two interesting results:
One is that on seven of the 10 attributes, the
CEOs and executives gave ratings of six or higher
on 'importance'. On all 10 attributes, they rated
'performance of HR' lower in the 5s and 4s.
While that might sound somewhat dispiriting, it has
an upside: the corresponding HR practitioner view on
'importance' rated nine of the 10 attributes at 6 or higher.
However, all the HR practitioner ratings on 'performance
of HR' were likewise appreciably lower.
What that tells me is that Australian HR practitioners
do not lack insight with respect to their own performance,
and are largely on the same wavelength as their CEOs
on the potential importance of what they do. The
gap, then, is not what the HR practitioners 'know'
about their role; it turns on what they actually 'do'.
While it's always comforting to know you are not
delusional, it would be much more satisfying to
know that you and your senior leaders are on
the same page when it comes to how
you are actually performing.
And that is the central reason
why AHRI has set in motion the
certification initiative I have been
writing about this year. The primary
aim of that initiative is to enable
HR practitioners to objectively
demonstrate what they can 'do', so as
to enable AHRI to confidently inform
the leaders of business how they can
find those practitioners.
HR certification is a long road and
this is not the last you will hear of it.
I invite you to keep listening and to
join us on the journey.
Chief executive officer
In a bid to become the
world's human resources
capital, Indian Prime Minister
Narendra Modi launched the
Skill India initiative in late
July to provide 400 million
Indians with HR skills training
by 2022. Indian corporations
and industry have often cited
unskilled manpower as a big
hurdle to filling jobs -- roughly
2 per cent of the population
has received formal training
to fill skilled positions.
"Today China is the world's
manufacturing hub and with
this scheme, playing to our
strength, India can aim to be
the world's human resource
capital," Modi says. No word
yet on where funding for this
program will come from, but
Modi says he expects heavy
private sector backing.
Meanwhile in China, the
demand for qualified
Chinese executives grows
more intense. Shortages
of talent have put pressure
on HR departments that
compete by trying to lure
experienced staff from other
large organisations. Hanging
on to employees is a big
problem. Many multinationals
report turnover rates among
their Chinese employees
some cases, 30 per cent.
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