The Role of HR in an Evolving Workplace

*Today I’m thinking about people who are leading in HR and Mike Grindell came to mind.  Mike is the EVP and Chief Administrative Officer at 22squared and serves on the board of SHRM Atlanta (Board Chair 2011-2012)  and will be hosting the SHRM national conference this summer.  I’d like to share a guest post he did for me a couple years ago.   Be sure to read to the end so you can connect with Mike on Twitter.

Lately I have been thinking about what makes organizations and people successful – my own company, girls soccer teams, boards, communities, etc.  As some one who spent a number of years in Human Resources, and is helping shape the direction of SHRM-Atlanta – I wonder what role HR leaders play in today’s new environment:

I believe it ultimately comes down to a straight forward equation:

Better HR leaders and efforts create great leaders, great leaders create better companies, great companies create great communities in which to live and work.

So, how does HR get there?

A few suggestions/questions:

Be a student and expert in your business/area of expertise

  • allocate time to read about your organization, its category, how money/success is made, competitors – do you truly have time blocked on your calendar?

Be a killer business person

  • Know the P&L better than the CFO, track the equities markets, track competitors, visit operations of your organization and those of competitors – does your time allocation reflect being a killer business person?

Engage in the development of the HR discipline

  • SHRM (national and local), HRLF, conferences, follow experts – are you regularly involved with your discipline?

Coach, mentor, develop

  • There are mentoring organizations everywhere – they are always looking for mentors – are you a member, do you allocate time every month to offer advice, counsel, provide real feedback, a supportive comment?

Many HR leaders manage the largest budget items in any organizations P&L – what are you doing to drive different results with those budgets?

  • Salaries, benefits, training dollars, and other budgets often represent the largest set of investment/expense dollars for any organization – are you bringing innovation and new ways to invest and drive results?

Accept that the rules have changed forever

  • HR is not about programs and processes anymore (yes, there will be recruiting, compensation, benefits, talent management, etc.) – it is about driving sustainable business results that matter – you must be able to answer the question „we are doing xxxx in order to drive yyyy results“
  • and, I am convinced the decades long practices of driving engagement through compensation, rewards, talent practices have changed – it is simply not a given or assumed anymore that salary increases, affordable benefits, great training and other efforts are part of the employment deal – do you have a point of view and a business agenda you are advancing at your organization in the context of today’s new realities?

Are you nourishing your own soul, spirit, health?

  • I truly believe each of us must flourish as an individual before we can help an organization be healthy
  • Are you making time for health, for learning, for love, for culture, for laughter?  Are you a more fulfilled person today than last year?  Are having the life you planned?

Offer your point of view and thoughts – its an interesting and challenging world we find ourselves operating in every day.  The HR discipline must develop its own great leaders so we can drive the results required.

So, what do you think?  Let us know in the comments.

Thanks to Mike for this thoughtful post.  Mike is a senior change, strategy, and operations executive focused on driving business results through organizational capabilities and by building processes and operations that matter. Serving in a variety of executive and management roles, Mike has a history of leading change management and process improvement initiatives that drive sustainable business results.  As EVP, Chief Administrative Officer at 22squared, he leads Finance, IT, Human Resources, Office Services, Campaign Management, Real Estate, Media Buying and is helping shape the agencies Digital strategy.

Previously he lead his own change and leadership consultancy, and was a 16 year executive of The Coca-Cola Company holding a variety of executive roles focused on building organizational capabilities and driving talent management initiatives. Prior to Coca-Cola, Mike held positions of increasing responsibility with Citigroup and Federated Department Stores, respectively.

and Quality Care for Children.

You can find Mike at:

Twitter @mgrindell

The Evolution of Music and Human Resources

Today I am traveling to Corporate University, so I thought I would share a post I wrote in early October for Halogen‘s “The Lighter Side of HR“. I have made a few tweaks to the original post and sharing it for the first time on my site. I’d love to have anyone with ideas about HR technology comment at the end. Cheers!

According to, evolution is “a process of gradual, peaceful, progressive change or development.” Many things evolve: organisms, language, technology, music, and industries, just to name a few. Thinking about how evolution is directional progress made me think about how an industry, like HR, would compare to the evolution of something else. In this case, music.Music

Human Resources has been around for generations, it just has not always been defined in the same way. As early as the 1800’s, there has been some thought given to employees and what motivates them to work. Back then and into the early 1900’s, employees were viewed like machines: they were a necessary evil to get the job done. Employees were thought to be motivated only by money, therefore it was not necessary to consider their care. This was the main school of thought.

From the 1920’s through the 1960’s, there were many changes. A movement began that focused on the needs of employees, the desire to treat employees fairly, and not to discriminate. Laws were put into place that shaped the way companies had to treat their employees. By the 1970’s, human resources, or “personnel” as it was known then, was beginning to evolve, much like music.

LP’s and Personnel

There are many similarities of how technology helped the music industry and the human resources industry evolve. Each decade, musical styles evolve and so do the delivery methods of the music. In the 1960’s and 1970’s, LP’s were the way that people bought their music. At the time, it was great. But, like everything, technology was improving. LP’s could be easily scratched, could warp or break, and could not be transported easily or played in a car. Personnel departments of the same time were much like the LP. As a practice, it was new. It was about making sure companies met the criteria of the employment laws that had been put into place. It was a predominantly compliance and administration driven industry. But, it didn’t take it to the next step of really caring about the employees. While it was an improvement from having no real protection for employees, there were certainly some “scratches or warps” that could be seen in the personnel departments of the 1970’s.

Cassette Tapes, HR, and Choices

By the 1980’s, music and HR were noticeably evolving. Technology brought synthesizers to new styles of music. LP’s were on the way out and even the short-lived 8 track tape was not going to see a long life. The cassette tape was the new music delivery method. It not only allowed portability of the music, it gave users the ability to make choices about the music they wanted to record. HR was evolving too. The term “Human Resources” came into fashion pushing “Personnel” aside. Not only were these HR departments handling paperwork and compliance, they were beginning to promote compensation strategies, health and wellness, and working with managers on employee relations issues.  Employees wanted the ability to have choice in their benefits, compensation, and other HR areas.

CDs and Slick, Targeted HR Pros

As the 1980’s came to a close and the 1990’s rolled in, CD’s, the latest and greatest technology came on strong. Cassette tapes could unwind, tear, and crease. CD’s were sleek, thin, and provided better sound quality. HR was changing with the technology too. Leadership began to shift its view of HR as more HR departments hired college grads with specific degrees in HR Management, Organizational Development, or Human Resource Development. HR departments were investing heavily in technical solutions for ATS and HRIS. They were also pushing the notion of having a “seat at the table” or being part of the C-Suite.

MP3s, Downloads, and Flexibility in HR

As the end of the century rapidly approached, the changes in technology once again hit the music scene. CD’s, while still available, were becoming less popular thanks to MP3 players and downloading music. It was customizable like never before. HR was adopting some of that strategy too. Benefits programs were offering cafeteria style plans to meet individual needs. Companies began to focus on work/life balance. Flexible schedules, telecommuting, and job sharing were all possibilities now due to advances in communication technology.

So, here we are nearing the end of 2009. What will 2010 bring? As social media becomes more popular and HR professionals consider alternatives to “traditional” HR approaches, how will we use technology to support the evolution?

There are many theories out there now. Share your ideas to keep the profession moving forward.