Don’t Be an HR Broker

Some trends in HR are great. TreNew-Business-Development-Strategies-puzzlends toward data-driven decision making, technology-enabled hiring, flexible schedules and paternal leave are significant improvements to the industry.

Other trends are not so great. Before we dig into the newest trend, I want you to ask yourself a few questions:

  • What are the key skills/competencies necessary for your company to grow in the next 5 years?
  • What are the skills you most need to cultivate in your next generation leaders? What are you doing to foster those skills?
  • What is your succession plan for the top 10 positions in your company? How are you preparing the next potential leaders in your organization for those roles?

And now here’s the most important question; who determines which skills receive training in your organization- managers or HR?

Those who can’t easily answer those questions are part of the trend we’re seeing, which is a lack of talent development strategy.

Let’s back up about 6 years when training budgets were slashed and key talent was either downsized or chose early retirement. Employee development became a luxury reserved for the few golden high potentials HR was allowed to identify. And even the training itself focused largely on technical skills over soft skills like leadership, strategic decision making, and communication. Without budget, resources, and empowerment, many HR organizations became tactical. They went into survival mode.

The tough thing about survival mode is it’s hard to reverse. Today, budgets are normalizing, profits are returning, and Baby Boomers are retiring, but HR hasn’t truly taken back the talent management reins.

When I ask an HR exec “What’s your strategic development plan for the year?” I’m continually amazed at the puzzled looks I receive. Six years ago, HR threw those strategic plans out the window and replaced them with a giant filing cabinet. They filled that cabinet with brochures from every vendor under the sun and wait for a manager to request training. “You want something for team development? No problem, let me pull out the personality assessment file folder and you can choose which program we purchase.” Or even worse, they say “Have you checked the LMS? I think there’s an hour long module on team communication.”

Too often, HR isn’t defining, owning, and executing the strategy anymore. They are brokers between the needs of management and the programs offered by vendors.

It’s time to take back the reins. You know what skills are lacking in your workforce (or if you don’t then it’s definitely time for a needs assessment!). You know what organization-wide training needs to take place. Now own it. Empower yourself to drive and execute that strategy. Don’t wait for a manager to tell you his team is lacking a key skill. Instead, assess the current state of your workforce. Identify the skills gaps, and institute a formal plan to address key needs.