HR can only be an effective influence if it is seen as core to the business in which it works. According to Shani Naidoo, enough has been said about whether HR should ‘sit at the table’. We now need to look at how HR can impact once seated at the table. In this article, she shows us how we can influence, impact and even direct business thinking.
by Shani Naidoo
The copyright of this article belongs to Shani Naidoo. None of the text may be used without the explicit permission by the author.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Shani Naidoo has spent the last 20 years in Human Resource Practice. She joined the Foschini Group in 1990 and developed competence in Recruitment and Selection; Psychometrics; Counselling and Training and Development. She then joined BMW South Africa as GM Human Resources. During her career she has led small; medium and large teams; worked across multi-level international and national organisations; and led projects from Performance Management to Remuneration and Transformation. She rejoined the Foschini Group in 2005 as GM of the HR Division and was appointed to the board as MD HR in 2006. She is known for her well-developed technical expertise in Human Resources; for her vision in developing world class solutions and for pursuing a sound understanding of the business she works in to deliver these solutions.
As a senior Industrial Psychologist; she mentors psychology internships candidates and continually pushes the boundaries of HR practice in business. Not willing to wait and see what business requires; her motto is to predict and develop solutions before it is needed in business.
She has served three years as the Chairperson of the Retailers’ Association; which is a body comprising large retailers in South Africa. Her work with the Retailers Association involves developing sound HR practice in retail and engaging retail stakeholders on transforming business and HR policy.
So, you have heard that there is a party, and you’re not sure if you’re invited? In this case, there is only one solution, if you want to join the party, you need to gatecrash it.
Effective influencing in HR can only occur if HR is seen as core to the business in which it works. Enough has been said about whether HR should “sit at the table”, I think we all know that HR should. Less has been said, however, about how HR can impact, once seated at the table. It is now time to influence, impact and even direct business thinking.
Lead-lag The role HR plays in business has transformed. As a functional area with varied modalities, HR has struggled to emerge from what it was to what it is, and to evolve into what it should be. As the world of work has changed, so HR has had to change.
Unfortunately, this change was partly encouraged by a number of key external socio-economic and political trends. The preparation of HR practitioners by institutions for the world of work did not necessarily keep pace with these factors, and neither did the function of HR attract the right people into its halls of study. Simply put, high customer demand, primarily due to external forces, has placed a greater demand on HR services and HR service providers. Yet, the HR factory has not yet produced sufficient people of the right quality. There is a significant lag.
Through the ages, HR practitioners have done the mopping up and dealing with the less measurable areas of the corporate world. Often referred to as support functions, HR has taken on the brand of supportive, caring and encouraging homemaker. Often highly administrative and focused on mainly social issues, HR managers have lagged in the development of the necessary business skills to join the party and effectively participate at the table.