HR: The Great Facilitator
Updated: Oct 5, 2022
Christine Wzorek | Forbes Councils Member
The evolution and transcendence of HR is a simple one. The trust placed on individual contributors (ICs) in organizations during the pandemic created the space for individuals to have a larger voice and presence as stakeholders. With this voice came an upheaval rooted in years, decades and centuries of workers gaining rights and representation.
It can be argued that, pre-pandemic, individual contributors and workforces had it good. With the rise in VC- and PE-backed investments and funding, certain sectors had it really good. Take the tech sector for example. The inflated org charts, overflowing snack rooms and lively game rooms, sprinkled with a few massage chairs, were relatively short-lived (by way of perceived meaning and value) and soon became tired examples of impulsive measures to attract talent.
What was missing were the sustainable measures to grow a company (and fundamentally attract the right talent) and the understanding of talent’s impact on an organization’s value.
Seminally unfolding in the background years prior to the pandemic was the ESG movement, grounded in a foundational paper titled “Who Cares Wins,” prompted by the UN Global Compact Office and sponsoring entities. According to Georg Kell, the argument was made that "embedding environmental, social and governance factors in capital markets makes good business sense and leads to more sustainable markets and better outcomes for societies."
The formidable reluctance of executives running corporations—large and small—to trust their individual contributors and first-line management to engage in the already existing remote work capabilities at a larger scale is a representation of the divide between two and three groups within an org.
The inherent problems and divide became exacerbated by the economic wage-price feedback pressures during the pandemic until it reached a tipping point of the Great Resignation hashtags, memes and viral dialogues across social platforms.
The primary connective groups within an organization are as follows:
• Executive suite
• Individual contributors
• Human Resources
HR—largely misunderstood (in some ways through its institutional historical beginnings) and discredited—shifted to crisis responder at the beginning and throughout the pandemic. Companies and executives failed to incorporate HR into their strategic plans, getting blasted over the years with articles like “Why We Need to Blow Up HR” and equally as destructive perceptions and mindsets around it.
In a way, you could say I am taking up cudgels for the HR profession, yet I also hold to fastened standards of bi-directional accountability and responsibility. Academic business and finance programs, executive training centers, organizations and executives can do significantly better in utilizing HR as a force multiplier to their organization’s value. HR professionals can increase their contributions as strategic partners by enhancing their business acumen, financial literacy, project management and data skills (e.g., gathering, analysis and insights.)
Yet HR's shining resilient moment was its contributions to organizations’ response to the pandemic. Subsequently managing crisis and prolonged trauma, this moment gave rise to the next evolutionary life of the role because HR became the conduit of connection. It connected the multiple groups within an organization fundamentally, then collaboratively and cohesively supported these groups in a new frontier of remote work. Through innovative virtual management, HR drove performance toward growth and value.
HR's Role As 'The Great Facilitator'
HR as "the Great Facilitator" supports the other connective groups in the following ways:
• Strategically, through full integration
• Training and development of each group
• Measurement and reporting
HR can measure outcomes of success based on the specific connective group:
Outcomes For The Organization
HR runs in a decentralized capacity:
• It directly and actively supports growth goals and initiatives (short term and long term).
• It enables an equitable and inclusive culture.
• The HR department helps the org run optimally and efficiently (KPIs).
Outcomes For People Leaders
Highly capable people leaders work with HR as a strategic partner to
• Act on feedback for continuous improvement in systems, processes and tools.
• Inform and collaborate on development needs for their team and individual contributors.
• Convene for strategic org design analysis (e.g., scaleable growth, career pathing).
• Develop know-how for providing fulfillment opportunities, conducting effective 1:1s and enhancing performance management.
• Analyze KPIs and suggest performance indicators.
Outcomes For The Executives
Executives are highly engaged in an equitable and inclusive culture and work with HR as a strategic partner to
• Identify and define inspirational leadership and its permeability throughout the org.
• Identify and define workforce demographics to understand employee needs and tooling for each connective group. Workforce demographics have a far-reaching impact.
• Understand optimal systems, processes and tools.
• Identify and define KPIs and performance measurements.
• Set expectations for data analysis and reporting to glean insights for informed decision-making.
• Develop know-how for engaging with individual contributors, demonstrating care and concern, and guiding risk management and liability mitigation.
Outcomes For Individual Contributors
Individual contributors are happy, fulfilled and safe. They work with HR as a strategic partner to
• Inform of life events or personal conditions impacting reliability and predictability on the job.
• Explore fulfillment opportunities in the org.
• Have a neutral sounding board to share experiences, thoughts, ideas and sentiments as they relate pragmatically to the company, leadership and management.
• Provide communications to ICs that offer transparency into company initiatives, programs, growth opportunities, survey results and state of the state.
In a state of transcendence, we as humans have stepped up to support others beyond ourselves because we have taken progressional steps to improve ourselves to a state of well-being. The same principle can be applied to key functions, departments and stakeholders within an org—specifically, in this case, HR.
The HR department—leader and team—are high performers running efficiently and demonstrating moderate to high levels of business acumen, financial literacy, project management and data skills. The evolution of HR from transactional to strategic transforms it into an innovative state as "the Great Facilitator."