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Traditional human resource departments – those that are transactional in their approach – are like the once popular MD 80 airplane – inefficient and out of step with the times.

What was once the transformational darling of airlines chasing efficiency in the 1980s – one less engine and one less crew member in the cockpit – is now considered a fuel guzzling asset that customers hate and airlines cannot operate profitably.  If your HR is more about administering benefit plans, overseeing employment, producing the employee newsletter and warehousing records, it is out of step with the times.

Businesses that are not looking at the HR operations with a transformational eye run the risk of losing an important competitive edge, especially if they actually believe their annual reports, that “our employees are our most important asset.”

[Tweet “What is the difference between transactional and transformational human resources?”]
There are a number of characteristics but the most important are:

  1. Best-In-Class Recruitment
  2. Onboarding
  3. Employee Engagement
  4. Team Development

Let me explain why I think these are critical.  They are tied, in one way or another, to recruiting.

Best-In-Class Recruiting – Last week, on Monday and Wednesday, I addressed this function so I am not going to waste time and space repeating.  If you missed those posts, click the Monday and Wednesday links.  Let me add a couple of thoughts, though.

First, good enough is not good enough.

[Tweet “The goal is to hire people who believe in what the organization believes.”]
The goal is not to hire people because they need a job and you have an open position.  The goal is to hire people who believe in what the organization believes.  That starts with the CEO.

One client makes all applicants watch a video from the CEO on the organization’s culture.  He clearly, and passionately, describes the culture, explains why the organization’s vision and values are so important and then, with enormous candor, tells the applicant that if they cannot buy in to those values and will not try every day to practice them, they cannot work there.  If they do not fulfill their commitment, he adds, they will not stay.

[Tweet “Onboarding is NOT employee orientation.”]
 – First, lets clear the air.  Onboarding is NOT employee orientation.  The typical employee orientation is where you go to learn all the ways you can lose your job – that is to say to be told the rules and regulations.  That stuff is important, but so much of what is covered in these one, two or three day marathons, can be handled in advance of the employee’s first day.  A lot of it is transactional.

[Tweet “Onboarding begins –should begin – before the recruitment process is initiated.”]
Onboarding begins –should begin – before the recruitment process is initiated.  It focuses on what the job will be about, what the performance expectations are and how they will integrate with the other managers and/or executives.

Onboarding activities should be carried through the whole of the recruitment process, reinforcing how the organization values people by how they are treated.  By the way, if you use outside firms to help in recruitment, you must insist that they replicate your values during their recruiting process.

Top talent will not be keen to work for a company that begins the abuse during the recruitment phase. Chief complaint among candidates:  poor communication.

When the candidate is selected, they should be assigned a Navigator who will be responsible for ensuring there is a smooth transition – questions are answered, values reinforced, etc.  The Navigator should stay with the new manager or executive for up to six months.

Employee Engagement – This, too, begins with the start of recruiting and must be integrated with Onboarding.  Author Simon Sinek says hiring people just because they can do a job means, in reality, it is all about the paycheck.  “But if you hire people who believe in what you believe, they will work with blood, sweat and tears.”  You have to engage candidates to ensure you are attracting the best and the brightest, and this must continue forever, to keep them.

[Tweet “If you’re not investing in your team you can’t hope to sustain a high level of performance.”]
Team Development
– If you are not investing in your team, providing them with knowledge and skills that will help them grow, you cannot possibly hope to achieve and sustain a high level of performance.

Yes, times are tough.  Yes, you have to squeeze out unnecessary costs, but if you consider employee development as an expense that is not necessary, that you cannot afford, then your organization will face even darker days ahead.

[Tweet “Leaders make tough choices. Successful leaders make the right choices.”]
Leaders make tough choices.  Successful leaders make the right choices.