Recently, I heard a panel of respected HR executives from Texas Instruments, Tenet Healthcare, Pizza Hut and Trinity Industries present their "HR view from the top." The one common thread throughout their comments had to do with the importance of operations experience for those in the people profession. This piece of wisdom may be logical to some, but come as a surprise to others.
So what do you do if youíre in the middle of your HR career but havenít yet had the benefit of operations experience?
The easy solution Ė
albeit a difficult one to implement Ė
is to leave your HR job and spend a year or two in operations. For most people, however, this simply isnít an option. So here are a few practical ideas to consider:
- Devote a portion of your time to visiting with operations people.
Have them explain what they do and describe the challenges they face. Ask for their opinions on issues such as quality problems and customer demands Ė
not from the people perspective, but from the operational perspective.
- Make certain someone on your HR team has operations experience.
If thereís no one with those qualifications currently in your department, be sure to give this criterion major consideration when it comes time to fill your next opening. In addition, consider giving an existing team member some operations exposure along with his/her HR duties...itís that important!
Knowing the business of the business, and understanding the way your organization develops and delivers products and services, is essential if HR is to be a true partner with other functional areas. Empathy for those outside of HR may very well be one of the most important skills you can develop.