The Story: Why the HRvalue Report was Developed and is Needed
The HRvalue Report™ survey was originally developed as a customised solution for a client. I was approached by their HR Manager who wanted to understand what the people in their organisation perceived of HR’s performance.
I immediately realised this was a great idea not for this client only.
For decades I worked in different roles and projects with HR or on the periphery, and across organisations, functions, industries and management levels.
I often heard HR being criticised or leadership’s frustration with their HR function.
I have also seen how HR was scrambling to do everything that was asked of them, and more often than not what was of strategic importance or even what motivated them to enter into the HR profession originally.
It was important that HR gets a clear understanding of the expectations and perceptions of HR in their own organisations (and not what the latest article or guru thinks the role of HR should be) and not only from a few (which often tends to be the people with the loudest voices or the most dissatisfied with HR).
HR needs a tool to help them understand what the expectations and perceptions of their key internal stakeholders are.
HR’s stakeholders need an opportunity to voice what they expect and perceive, and think of the role of HR in their organisation.
The concept of the value-adding business partner role of HR was first presented by Dave Ulrich in the mid 1990’s, yet few HR functions are perceived to be adding value or acting as a strategic business partner.
This role was never supposed to be restricted to those who hold the job title. It is a mind-set and focus, and applies to every support function.
Everyone who understands that the HR function is central in supporting the business in how they manage and bring out the best in people, would want to discover where HR can improve and what HR should focus on.
It is difficult to be strategic or be involved in the value-adding roles of HR, if continuously asked to meet numerous operational requests, and without leadership support for the role you want to or know you need to play or without the necessary technology or budget.
HR continues to be pulled in different directions, and having to deal with all things people-related.
I often observe the HR-leadership relationship as one of dependency on each other (leaders shift their people responsibility to HR, or HR delivers on what is asked to feel relevant and needed) rather than an interdependent relationship.
I was determined that it would not be a survey where HR themselves reflect on priorities or their performance, nor a dipstick survey which never provides all the insights needed.
What was needed was a survey that allows an opportunity for HR’s stakeholders to think deeply about HR’s role in their organisation and how HR can be supported, and that would focus on the value that HR adds, help HR to focus on their internal strategy and improvement areas, and start a much-needed dialogue between HR and the leadership team about their respective roles.
“Value is defined by the receiver more than the giver … it requires that HR professionals focus less on what they do and more on what they deliver” (Dave Ulrich, The HR Value Proposition).
I reflected on:
- What are the questions I would have liked to ask leadership as an HR manager or that I think HR executives should ask?
- What are the questions I would like leaders to think about?
- What are the emerging roles of HR that we should be looking towards (while still understanding that there are traditional roles that HR is required to fulfil depending the organisation, its leadership, HR maturity and available HR technology)?
- How often and what kind of interaction do management actually want from HR?
- What are the competencies required of HR to be able to add value?
- What are the questions no-one asks? For me it was important to determine what the factors are (inside and outside HR’s ‘control’) that negatively impact HR’s ability to add value.
While living and working in the Middle East with people from around the world, it became even more evident that HR is scrutinised globally and need this tool and the insights it provides.
I tapped into the latest global thought leadership on the emerging roles of HR (including Dave Ulrich, John Boudreau and Ram Charan) again, and had the survey peer reviewed by HR professionals, executives and researchers.
An improved HR Client Perception Survey emerged, and the HRvalue Report™ was born.
When I read Ram Charan’s article in the Harvard Business Review “It is time to blow up HR and build something new” I decided that I wanted to use the HRvalue Report™ results to also give recognition to HR functions who are adding value according to objective opinions (and not HR awards subjectively determined by a judges panel) and hence started the HRvalue Champions™ List.
Although it was developed with large companies and HR functions in mind, it is interesting that there has been a few smaller companies with small HR functions who wanted to and have benefited from participation.
Another spin-off that is much needed right now, is how people see the benefit of data and analytics for better decisions by participating in the HRvalue Report™, including benchmarking themselves with merged results or their own results from previous years.
It remains wonderful to hear and read the feedback from HR Executives, HR teams, Exco and Boards when they get or discuss their results and know what they should focus on.
A summary of feedback received:
- HR Executive after feedback on their report: “Our results were not as bad as I thought it would be.”
- HR Executive after feedback on their report: “It asked all the questions HR should be asking of leaders about HR’s role.”
- HR Executive after feedback during an EXCO meeting: “HR’s role in Performance Management was our biggest gap in how important it was for our leaders, and how (poorly) HR performed in this role. The feedback opened up a frustrated discussion between EXCO and the HR Executive about the appropriateness of our performance management system and how HR was managing the process.”
- HR Business Partner during feedback to the HR team when Leadership Development jumped out as the highest priority: “This gives me the mandate to focus on Leadership Development next year.”
- HR Executive following feedback during EXCO meeting: “I am thankful about the much-needed pointing out that everything related to people management is not the responsibility of the HR function, and that it should be a collaborative partnership between HR and our Exco.”
- Senior HR Business Partner at a large company who has participated for 3 years in a row: “Our Board Chairperson was completely against surveys, but after feedback on results in the 1st year where he thanked HR for being transparent with the results, he now insists on running the survey every year and joins when results are discussed during the Human Capital Board sub-committee. The VP of HR, also against surveys, insist on running the survey every year to track HR’s improvement and his own performance as HR Executive.”
Other than providing data-driven insights, it remains a great tool with the end in mind – improving HR’s value-add and the interdependent relationship between HR and Leadership.
About the author:
Liezel Pheiffer Blignaut is the developer of the HRvalue Report™ survey, and is often asked to contribute articles or speak at conferences on HR and leadership topics. She has also bee hosting weekly Think Tanks for a year until March 2021 which focused on the impact of COVID-19 on HR and businesses.
She is the Founder, Chief Vision and Executive Officer at HCBsolutions, and holds a Masters’ Degree in Commerce (specialising in Organisational Development and Organisational Psychology, HR Management) and is a registered Master HR Professional with the SABPP and a member of the Institute of Directors of South Africa
Liezel has 29 years extensive experience in HR, OD, people and team development, and business and have worked across functional areas, industries and countries.
For more information, visit https://hcbsolutions.com/hrvalue_report/