My Love/Hate Relationship With HR

Larry MillerArticles

Sometimes, I think I have a love / hate relationship with HR. I love HR because people are at the center of the retail success model. I get frustrated with HR because of all of the empowerment, enabling, engagement and “buy-in” happy words that come out of HR brain rooms. So, I mostly love HR, but I hate some of the inevitable warm and fuzzy distractions from driving profit through people.

To be clear, I am 100% about growing the business and to do that I am 100% focused on growing profitable sales. To do that you must respect the power, influence and importance of educated, trained and engaged store teams. I think we all get that.

HR’s Role in Profit: To build a great company culture of profit-focused, dedicated and happy people, you first have to start with a crystal clear Vision of what your great company looks like, how your great company behaves and what its Mission is. Do not confuse Vision and Mission. They are 2 different things. People want to be a part of something. They want to “belong” and they need to know where we are going and why. Then, you must have clear and definite Standards of Practice that will help to cause and lead the company to its Vision destination through people.

These pillars of success take root and germinate into Culture and must begin in HR during the hiring process. They continue in new hire training and orientation, store manager and department manager best practices training, and the expectations the company has of its teammates. This frames your “People-to-Profit” Model and how HR and Operations must actively collaborate on the vital messages needed to produce the desired culture and daily behaviors. This demands a very productive and continuous training process to cause the people to do what they should, to act in ways that are in total support of the Vision, Mission and Standards of Practice and in doing so, places people at the center of the company’s profit model.

Five ‘Quick Start’ Steps to Profit By HR:

1. Be Operationally “present.” Get involved to understand and support the business model, the profit model, budget vs. actual vs. desired sales and profit performance, and help crystallize the vital impact of people on your current performance and the gaps between current and desired performance.

2. Be certain that your store-level Job Descriptions are simple, clear and written with purpose and clear operational intent.

3. Conduct a People-to-Profit SWOT analysis. Think “Good-to-Great.” If current behaviors are good, what would make them truly profitable-great? What are your current people’s Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats that are the cause of your current People-to-Profit model.

4. Make a Training-to-Profit Training Plan. Start with your new hire’s hiring and orientation/training practices. Be certain that you are hiring and training to infuse the stores with new blood that understands their role in the sales, profit making and shrink control parts of the business. I would avoid 3rd party incentive programs until your hiring, training and best practice standards are in place.

5. Score or quantitatively measure your People-to-Profit impact.

I urge that we view HR as a service partner to the business and most importantly to Operations. HR should be in service to the profit model by taking an active role in educating all players to understand personal image and responsibility, the profit model, excellent service, shrink control and more. When you educate your staff and reinforce excellent behavior with active recognition, you grow positive culture at the “root system” of your culture and incent more and consistent positive behavior every day.

Store teams must be trained to understand, be engaged and be positively held accountable to actively support the business of profit making.

Bottom Line: I certainly love HR and don’t hate it at all. We just have to work together better. People need a clear picture of where they are going. They need and want to know the rules of play. They want a strong leader that talks about and lives the Vision and the Culture and requires and expects everyone else to do the same.

With that, you will get all of the HR vitals you want without having to over-think the happy words of empowerment and buy-in. These will result.