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May 23rd, 2011    Subscribe to comments on this post

HR Professionals the Swiss Army Knife of the Organization by Al Gorriaran

By Al Gorriaran

Human resources professionals work hard to serve their internal clients, but we don’t often discuss the difference that varying organizational roles create for us. In the typical organization we have front line employees, first line supervisors, managers and executives.  Each of these groups has a very unique set of needs.  Employees have individual professional goals, benefits concerns, and expectations of service that are narrowly defined but often come with some really big expectations from their HR office. Some years ago I worked with a colleague who had the experience of being the court appointed executor for an employee who had died without next of Kin. How much can we give and how much should we do?

Supervisors work hard every day in thousands of different kinds of workplaces to lead and manage effectively. They depend on HR professionals for advice on performance management, training and conduct issues.  Many supervisors today are inexperienced because flat organizations lack the structure to afford them the chance to progressively develop skills and look to us for guidance on leadership issues.  Managers have big challenges that deal with job design, recruiting and selection, just to name a few. These areas demand a great deal of our time and are core competencies for our field. The work we do in these areas will form the organization’s future workforce and contribute to its success.

Finally, executives need strategic guidance on compensation issues, succession planning and diversity. The advice we give to this small group will define the future of the organization and is so very different from what we provide the front line employee.  All four of these clients are important, but they are all different and serving them all well is tough. We must be cognizant of the differences in each group and work to insure that we give the right advice and information to each.

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