Connecting an (HR) Disconnect

Back in the 1980s, I thought HR was disconnected. At that time, I was starting out in compensation, writing job descriptions (yippee). This was back in the days of point-factor evaluation plans where details of what the job did, what/who it was responsible for and how it influenced in the organization determined the salary grade and pay level.  Job descriptions were pretty standard, and a quick look at shrm.org says they haven’t changed much….identification data, general purpose, duties, tasks, functions, qualifications/KSAs, special requirements, ADA information.

I didn’t quite “get” the purpose of job descriptions back then (it may have been because I really didn’t like to write them). But it seemed that they were written, graded and stuffed in a drawer never to be looked at again until someone wanted the job upgraded.

After I became a hiring manager, the recruiter sat with me to create a “hiring profile”. As I described what I was looking for, it struck me that pretty much nothing I told her was reflected on the job description for the position. That seemed odd to me, but she explained that job descriptions record “jobs”, while her profile process reflected the actual “position.”

Okay, intellectually I get the difference. But I had this nagging feeling that there should be a connection somewhere. After all, aren’t we talking about the same people – those who are hired who then fill the jobs that were described?
Here we are many years later, and it feels as if there is still an opportunity to connect the various information needed for the “job”…the side of the equation that represents what the organization wants the employee to do and be. And with the knowledge work in most organizations today, we can’t afford to put people into a neat box by telling them exactly what to do.

To complicate it more, we add yet another set of criteria in the performance appraisal. Now, the employee was hired to one set of criteria, doing the job of another, and held accountable for a third. It’s enough to confuse even the most diligent employees. Learning and development may add yet another layer as they design learning objectives for training programs.

So how do we connect the disconnect? I think that there is an opportunity to collaboratively (meaning all areas of HR) come together to define the job side of the equation. Recruiting, compensation, performance management and learning should work from the same model – a model based upon a set of competencies that are shared.

I question the need for recording job duties at all. When jobs were scientifically graded based upon a point-factor process, that information formed the basis for the grade. Today though, compensation departments rarely have the staff to support effective point-factor analysis, and typically use a “General Purpose” statement to match the job to the market job. Additionally, comp staff usually work to make job descriptions more and more generic, so the duty statements become less and less relevant.

Investing time in creating effective core and functional competency models can be the linchpin that will allow all of the various HR areas to work from the same starting point. Getting all the parties in the same room to define what the job data will be used for, and then looking at commonalities can lead to a very integrated process that will make sense to the end user – the employee. After building a good competency model, based upon the organization’s business, operations and strategy, each HR discipline can use.

Let’s play that out using “Builds relationships” as a core competency.

  • Talent acquisition focuses on assessing the candidate’s experience in collaborative planning and execution and experience in working within a team environment.
  • Compensation needs to differentiate between two levels of the same job, so defines the higher level in terms of the criticality or complexity of building relationships.
  • The performance management process identifies “building relationships” as a critical success factor for those in the role,
  • And the learning and development team builds curriculum at an employee and leadership level on team, collaboration and communication.

The employee sees a consistent and holistic picture of how they are expected to behave and develop as a member of the organization. The leader coaches to help the employee build the skill, using practical examples of relationship building as it relates to the projects and processes in which the employee participates.

Can it work that way.  It absolutely can, but takes strong alignment on the part of the HR stakeholders to the ultimate vision – creating a unified road map for the end user – the employee.

3 thoughts on “Connecting an (HR) Disconnect”

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