WHILE HR managers are generally good at networking, engaging and collaborating with business peers, recent research has found that 67 per cent of HR professionals lack what it takes to influence outcomes in their organisations.
A study of more than 1,500 middle and senior managers across Australia also found that HR professionals are also less adept at getting stakeholder buy-in when dealing with conflict.
One of the key reasons HR professionals fail on these two fronts is the fact that they have a service mentality and see their internal stakeholders much in the same way as a customer service operator views an inbound customer, according to Peter Zarris, CEO of OPIC, which conducted the research.
“They have a pronounced desire and drive to give the customer what they want and they are less inclined to stretch their relationship with stakeholders by challenging them and really pushing their point of view when it comes to identifying new opportunities,” he said.
He said that HR practitioners must learn not to shy away from conflict. “They need to see it as a normal part of everyday business and if handled well, it can create new and better ways of doing things.
The effective use of conflict is critical to influencing strategically and to pushing forward with new opportunities and to partnering with stakeholders at the frontline, he said.
“One of the most commonly stated frustrations from frontline executives is that they would like their HR colleagues to be more than just administrative support. They’d like them to be more of a partner — even if it requires the occasional jousting.”
Undue emphasis on day-to-day transactional activities accounts for HR managers’ failure to influence strategically. “As a result leadership issues simply fall by the wayside.”
Failure to act will mean that HR professionals will continue to be seen as administrators who simply respond to requests and not as leaders capable of driving change, he said.
Managers should devote at least 40 per cent of their time or 10 hours a week to influencing, Zarris said, with the amount of time devoted to these activities increasing incrementally with seniority.