HR: The need to lighten up

On the 15 and 16th of May Knowledge Resources will be holding the  HR Directors Conference at Mount Grace Country Hotel and Spa. At this conference renowned author, Dr David Weiss, will explore the HR leaders’ strategic role in his presentation, Leadership-driven HR: Transforming HR to deliver value for the business, which will coincide with the launch of his new book Leadership-Driven HR (2013).

It is in this book “Leadership-Driven HR” that Dr David Weiss makes the point that in order for HR Executives and leaders to focus more on strategic priorities, they have to “lighten Up”: Meaning to take a sincere look at the imbalance in the supply of available resources and the demands of the work…

Two strategies to ‘lighten up’ – fast!

Here he proposes two strategies: Increase the available resources and/or reduce the demand for work. Seeing that budgets everywhere are under strain, the reduction in the demand for work seems to be the more appropriate strategy.

Here Weiss suggest three options (1) prioritise the demand to focus on the higher priority work; (2) distribute the demand so that others outside the business do the work; or (3) simplify the demand so that it becomes less demanding.

The table below highlights this imbalance:

Resource supply insufficient:

  • Are we underutilising our talents?
  • Are we sub-optimising our ability to be an excellent team?
  • Are the right people doing the right work at the right level?
  • Should the work be done by your department or should it be done elsewhere inside or outside the company?
Work demand excessive:

  • Are the business priorities clear so work demands can be prioritised?
  • Does the work add sufficient value to the business?
  • Could the work distract people from focusing on strategic priorities?
  • Could the work be done in a simpler manner with less effort?
  • Does the work have to be done now?

The essence is to reduce the noise level in the organisation and the HR department.

Here are just two of the many examples he proposes:

  • Target work areas that have low engagement scores: An important source of noise is related to problem leaders or employees. Too often, leaders and employees who are destructive to the work environment are tolerated for too long. The damage in this situation is to the rest of the employees. HR should target the areas that have low employee engagement scores and find out if an individual is causing the problems that are destructive to the group.
  • Determine what is negatively reinforced in the business: What is negatively reinforced often has more power than what is rewarded. For example, most businesses have published values that reflect what the business wants people to consider important as they make decisions and do their work. If you ask employees to name the business values, sometimes they will not know the answer. However, if you ask employees what behaviours get people into trouble, they immediately have a strong opinion and response. These real or perceived negative reinforcers can become the noise in the system that will block employees’ willingness to change.

Dr Weiss goes further and proposes applying the 4 Ds (Delete, Delay, Distribute, Diminish) in order to lightening the work pressure. For example:

  • Delete – (Work that is of a low value. Work that is not constructive.)
  • Delay – (Work that does not have to be done immediately. Non-essential revisions of HR Practices.)
  • Distribute – (Work that another person/department can do equally well. Work that can be done as a shared service.)
  • Diminish – (Work that does not need to be at the “gold” standard. Work that can be reduced in scope.)

Lightening up is very important in order for HR leaders to really play a strategic leadership role and to make a contribution at Board level.

Click here to learn more about the HR Directors Conference and Dr David Weiss’ presentation, Leadership-driven HR: Transforming HR to deliver value for the business.


3 thoughts on “HR: The need to lighten up

  1. Very nice pragmatic and simple to implement would think that in certain markets their needs to be a renewed attempt and differentiating which practices, processes and structures create and contribute to value innovation before randomly dismissing, delaying and or deleting as in low maturity/ capability environments this happens by default.

  2. This might be covered in the book, but having a network that will share their best practices with you means you don’t have to reinvent every wheel and every HR process. professional organisations like the SABPP also provides a valuable service in this regard.

  3. This is very enlightening and makes a lot of business sense, it is time for HR to be properly business driven.

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