Updated: Sep 23, 2020
Hear from some of the foremost authoritative experts on what HR managers do and why they do it.
Voice over: Understanding how to manage human resources will be key to your success as a business leader. Believe it or not, many business people with great business strategies, plans, and products fail because they do not fully grasp the importance of human resource management.
Voice over: Thomas J. Watson, the founder of IBM, said, “You can get capital and erect buildings, but it takes people to build a business”. Managers use a lot of words to describe how valuable people are to their organizations. Human resources, human capital, intellectual assets, and talent all imply that people play a vital role in business success.
Voice over: No matter what part of the business you are dealing with, whether it’s figuring out where to put a new plant, designing a new product, formulating your strategy, or developing a cost structure, every single business issue ultimately becomes a people issue. At the heart of it, you’ve got to have people with the right skills, opportunities, and motivation to face those challenges and achieve business success. This is the essence of human resource management—to manage people in a way that drives business success.
Voice over: To drive success, human resource management involves a wide variety of activities, including analyzing a company’s competitive environment and designing jobs so the company’s strategy can be successfully implemented. This, in turn, requires selecting the right people, developing their skills to meet strategic objectives, and motivating them toward a common goal.
Voice over: So if you enjoy bringing people together for a common purpose, coaching and training people to succeed in an organizational setting, and making sure people are properly rewarded and recognized for the work they do, then human resource management may be the career for you.
Voice over: To provide additional insight on whether HR management is the career for you, we’ve gone out to ask some experienced managers questions about why they chose HR as a career. We got some pretty interesting answers…
Voice over: What do you love about HR?
Brad Taylor: I love the variety in HR. I am an HR generalist which means I work in organizational talent and training and hiring and recruiting. I work in organizational structure helping to reorganize companies and restructure them or bring in companies that are being acquired.
Mark Hamberlin: It’s actually an interesting field. I had a great mentor once that talked about why he went into the field of OB and HR after doing undergraduate work in finance and I think resonated really well with me. Basically it said that no matter what business or organizational issue you’re dealing with, that could be entering a new market, that could be designing a product that could be solving some analytical challenge or technical challenge, every single business issue or organizational issue ultimately becomes a people issue. At the heart of it, you’ve got to have someone with the right skills and capabilities to face that challenge and so it’s how do you find those people? How do you get them into the right roles? How do you motivate them? How do you help manage and unleash their performance. But ultimately every business issue is a people issue and the one function HR and OB is one that touches every aspect related to people.
Steve Cadigan: There are so many reasons why I love the field of human resources, and it’s actually hard to sort of figure it out. And if I go back to what drew me into the field of Human Resources, it’s really Sports. I was a big jock in school. I played three sports in high school. I played two in college and everything I loved about sports. I find is translatable to the world of organizations, such as organizing to win, just as if as when you’re on a team and you got to try to figure out what’s the right way that we can organize the skills and talents we have to achieve our goal, the same thing is true in an organization. When you’re in organization development and Human Resources., you’re getting a chance to figure out how do we assemble the people and the resources in the assets we have We have to win in the markets that we want to win in to put the best people in the best roles that amplify their skills and their strengths. So I found over the years the more I got into Human Resources the more I love because everything I love about sports is what I loved about human resources.
Voice over: Why would you want to work in HR?
Shiloh Roan: I knew ever since I was an undergrad that I wanted to go into Consulting and I knew I really wanted to go into Consulting around leadership development executive coaching, organizational behavior and organizational design. In my experience having had jobs through high school and through college, I knew most of the challenges in an organization with the people, you know, organizations have figured out how to make products. They haven’t figured out how to rally people around a cause.
Voice over: Of course HR is a fun and exciting area to work in, but what will you get from studying organizational behavior and human resource management in school? What skills will you develop to help effectively manage people and drive business success? What do I get from studying HR?
NJ Pesci: I think the advantage is that we’ve actually been trained with people who have spent time in this field, leaders in this field thought leaders in the field of Human Resources organizational development, organizational design. You have a chance to undo to put those theories into practice when you go out into the field.
Brad Taylor: The great thing about OBHR coursework is that will make anybody in any Profession more successful. In fact, we’ve done a study at General Mills of the things that derail a person’s career and it’s usually the OBHR competencies that are the great derailleurs. So even if I’m planning to be a finance director or a marketing VP, if I learn about the HR skills communication, collaboration, innovation organization, understanding the organization being empathetic and listening to the organization all those things that HR has kind of an upper hand and it will make anybody’s career more successful.
Voice over: What is the most useful skill you learn from studying HR?
Shiloh Roan: So for me, it has a bit of skill that’s been most useful for me in my work. It’s been a mindset. And the reason I say that is because the mindset that people have when they’re dealing with a talent is that if people aren’t doing something right? It’s a motivation issue and you know, these lazy people are have the wrong people in the job but a lot of times there are mechanisms set up within an organization. So the structure can influence, processes can influence why people aren’t successful, but they’ll look at people as you know , shame on them they’re not doing the right thing, but the really, really interesting and fascinating thing and the mindset I think you have to have is to look at an organization as a system and look at how things are influencing that system because so many times you’ll figure out that it’s that system. It’s not the individual that’s creating the outcome and if you can change the system the individual within the system will change as well.
Voice over: The theory and skills you’ll obtain while studying organizational behavior and human resource management are pretty valuable. They’ll help you think more holistically, to push against the status quo and question existing assumptions. They’ll help you examine organizations as systems and be able to change dysfunctional systems to ensure that people and organizations are aligned toward success. But such competencies are not only important for HR managers, they are vital for all people working in organizations. So how do you know if HR is the right career for you?
Dennis Shuler: Probably the test question that annoys me most when I interview people as they want to get into OBHR because they like people s that’s helpful, but that’s not really what drives to feel. It’s really the intersection of the strategy, the business has taken your ability to influence that the degree of Effectiveness you have in terms of building systems and processes that enable strategy and then your ability to translate that and meaningful terms of the broader employee population. That’s really the art of OBHR so if you have an interest in that intersection of strategy, process and people that’s where it all comes together. So it’s much broader than liking people and again, I’ve been in enough campuses around the world where a lot of HR people would attribute their need to get into HR because they like people. It helps but that’s not a differentiated. The differentiators be able to connect strategy process systems with people and a very effective in a very efficient way that drives value in the business.
Brad Taylor: If you’re thinking about it, I would say ask yourself if you are comfortable in both partnership situations and team situations where you can help build on the momentum of a team, but also if you’re comfortable in pushing back and dealing with confrontation and interjecting ideas or disagreements in places where it’s not as comfortable if you can be successful in both of those are be comfortable in both those you’ll do great in HR. The other would be Business Partnership. Are you comfortable not just as a people person not just as an amiable, but as someone who can again understand the whole business and understand how the organizational aspect fits into making an entire business situation become more successful.