The business of HR


Many of us, HR practitioners understand the importance of having a keen sense of business awareness and acumen, allowing us to partner with our business in today’s fast changing world.

So much so, “business acumen” has became one of the essential attribute companies look in HR hires.

However, as a HR practitioner myself, I found an added level of complexity in our role as HR. It is the “human” factor.

Apart from having to perform our functional role, be it in recruitment, learning, development or compensation, we have to be “guardians” to the policies and processes that maintains the “sanity” of the organization. On top of that, we are sometimes tasked with influencing the organization’s culture and building a positive employer’s brand.

At heart of it all, employees look to us as their de-facto representative (aka champions) in making sure that they are well taken care of.

So, what exactly is the role of HR? Who do we represent?

My short and simple answer is “the company”.

As HR, I felt that our role is in the management of the human resources for the company. While there is a great deal of “decentralization” where the people managers are required to take on a much larger role in the day to day management of their employees, HR has a pivotal role in supporting and facilitating this.

I was recently asked by one of my staff who’s looking to move from a recruiter’s role into a HR business partner’s role on what are some of the key attributes that he must have to become a good HR business partner.

My response to him was, “Represent the company in the best way you can; common sense, ethics and integrity. That’s all you need”.

I am not discounting the importance of sound HR foundation, processes, policies, and understanding of employment law etc. That to me is a given which every HR person should have to do his/ her job.

I guess the ability to balance business needs, function and employees is what makes a good HR great.

Eric Wong is Head of Talent Acquisition & Development (APAC) at Polycom, and blogs about how video collaboration can benefit the HR function on Polycom’s “The View from APAC“. Connect with him on Linkedin or follow him on Twitter @ErickyWong.

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