Getting leadership to listen to HR is critical for the success of your HR department as well as for the success of your organization. But it can be very challenging to get them to really hear you. We discuss this, aligning goals across leadership, avoiding and correcting silos, and much more with our guest, Ed Muzio.
Below is a partial transcript of this episode. For a complete transcript, go here: https://hrdailyadvisor.blr.com/2019/08/07/getting-senior-leadership-to-truly-listen-to-hr/
Jim: Hello, everyone, and welcome to HR Works, the podcast for HR professionals. We really appreciate you taking the time out of your busy day to join us. I am the host of HR Works—Jim Davis—and the editor of the HR Daily Advisor.
Today, we are joined by a strategic HR expert, Ed Muzio. Ed’s mantra is higher output, lower stress, sustainable growth. He is also the author of a number of books, including his most recent, Iterate: Run a Fast, Flexible, Focused Management Team, an Inc. Original publication, and that was published in 2018. Ed has also been featured in national and international media, including CBS News, Fox Business News, and the New York Post, and has contributed regularly to CBS, Monster.com
, and the Huffington Post, among others.
Jim: Ed, thank you so much for taking the time to join us today. We are really excited to have you here.
Muzio: Jim, thank you. It’s great to be here.
Jim: Why do so many of us in HR have a hard time making ourselves understood to senior leadership?
Muzio: You know, I think the answer has a lot to do with language and the language we use to talk about the work and the output it produces. Senior leadership, in my experience, and I do a lot of work with middle to senior leaders and executives; they’re focused on what they’re focused on, which is producing output for stakeholders, and a lot of times in HR, we have some language problems with that.
For example, here’s one that I talk about in my book Iterate. I like to say we have a deficit of language around managing. We have what I call managing with a capital ING, and that is if you have direct reports, you are managing them, with a capital ING. You’re setting goals. You’re helping them develop. You’re modeling policy. You’re dealing with issues. I think HR is very good about talking about those kinds of things and has a lot of good tools for that.
Often, you’re also doing what I would call change management, with a capital CHANGE, which is major shifts in structure or purpose for the whole organization, shepherding large groups of people through those shifts—again, an important thing to do, just like managing, and HR has some good tools and some good language.
But there’s a third part of the equation, and it’s what I call management with a capital MENT, and that is that anyone who’s in management, particularly true in middle and senior leadership, is part of a system of people who are together working to allocate and reallocate the resources of the organization in pursuit of its output, to keep adjusting it back on track toward the output we need it to produce.
We don’t have, a lot of times in HR, good language for that, and so we end up talking—whether it’s about tactical things like hiring and firing or whether it’s even about strategic things like talent strategy or succession planning—we end up using a lot of language that’s sort of internally focused, whereas what our clients care about and what they’re hearing about from the other people around their sort of metaphorical and physical leadership table is they’re hearing about their output. What am I doing? What are you doing to support their output?
I think when HR has a hard time drawing that line, when we don’t do a good job of saying, “Look, I’m here in support of your output, and here’s what I’m doing in support of your output,” I think we have a hard time honestly getting taken seriously by the people we’re trying to serve.