Your Workforce by Roger Herman

Human Resource Profession Building Leaders

Smart senior executives are insisting that their human resource professionals partner with them in the strategic decisions that will drive the future of their organizations. This demand places significant responsibility on human resource specialists, challenging their knowledge, capabilities, and career opportunities.

Faced with these new challenges, these specialists are turning to their professional association, the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM).

These people are stretched far beyond the compliance and keep-everybody-happy tasks, especially when you consider that the majority of the 170,000 members of SHRM work at facilities with fewer than 2,500 employees. With all the laws, regulations, and now strategic issues, human resource specialists are under siege. Their role is shifting around them; they don't know if they're standing on sand dunes or quicksand.

In past Herman Trend Alerts, we forecasted that human resource professionals who can perform at senior executive levels will be in high demand. A small, but respectable, percentage of professionals is heeding the call. SHRM leaders are setting the pace through partnerships with prominent business schools, including Cornell and Harvard; an academy to provide education in Finance, Marketing and Strategy; and instruction on how to measure the value of human capital.

In spite of these advances, a dangerously large proportion of human resource professionals will grow, but not to the level where executives need them to perform. They won't collide with a glass ceiling-to bounce off or smash through. This lower ceiling, Business Literacy, is softer---like a cloud. These people drifting in a fog won't know what they don't know…unless their senior executives coach and mentor them.

While it would be easy to charge the human resource profession with inadequate growth, a substantial portion of the responsibility lies with corporate senior leaders. If they want highly competent human resource executives by their side, these leaders must let go of old perceptions of "personnel" and embrace strategic people strategies.

Development of the human resource profession cannot be done entirely from inside; senior colleagues of these professionals must share in their development. Now. Internationally. SHRM already has over 2000 international members…growing.

Roger Herman is owner of The Herman Group, Greensboro, NC and is a specialist in employee retention.

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