Insight article

So that…?

Anyone who attended last week’s HR Leadership Alliance in London will know what I’m talking about.  This is a phrase coined at the conference by HR Guru Dave Ulrich, who gave some fascinating insights into the role of HR in business today.

I must admit, I was really surprised after two days to feel that the HR Community represented at the conference gave every indication that it still isn’t focusing on its contribution to the wider business.  HR is often accused of navel-gazing – a comment which no doubt will be met with gasps of indignation and horror – yet when Dave asked the floor what their biggest business challenges were, the response came back as ‘retention, talent management, recruitment….’ and so on.  Excuse me, but the question was “what are your biggest business challenges today?”, not “what are the biggest HR issues today?”.  And for each answer given, Dave’s phrase “So that…..?” challenged each and every individual until they got to the kernel of the question.

We may have been in a conference setting that day, but those two short words ‘So that…..?’ are what we should all be asking ourselves.  Every day and indefinitely.  Why are we doing what we’re doing?  How is it contributing to the success of the business, and how is it addressing the challenges the business is facing? It struck me that although it was an HR Conference (so yes I forgive you, folks), there was little discussion or debate about the role of HR at the board table, and the interaction with the senior executives (in particular the CEO).

Thank you Dave Ulrich for picking up on such a serious issue and ensuring that the message came over loud and clear.  And, by the way, for telling everyone to turn their strategy into a Story.  I’ve said it once and I’ll say it again, put the spotlight on the benefits and not the process, and you’ll be perceived in a completely different light.

Nailia Tasseel