HR evolutionIn preparing for the HR West presentation this March entitled “Tying Conscious HR Leaders to Conscious Culture,” I took this opportunity to reflect on the stages of HR evolution.

I vividly remember my first internship in the undergraduate college Office of Personnel many years ago. I spent the entire internship sorting and filing paperwork. I am not sure why I said “yes” to the profession after that experience, but I did. During my 32-year-old HR career, I was lucky enough to be part of the many waves of change in the breadth and width of the HR role.

Phase I

Phase I of the HR evolution was focused on the administration responsibilities, including staffing, compensation, and benefit plan administration…similar to my internship work. Success was defined by effectively delivering these narrow services. HR was seen as simple profession with modest impact on business outcomes.

Phase II

Phase II involved more significant and complex HR laws being integrated into the workplace. This started in the 1930s with the Labor Standards, and over time incorporated the EPA, CRA, OSHA, PDA, COBRA, ADA and FMLA, and others. These laws required greater sophistication in the profession and led to a higher level of complexity in policies and decision making.

Additional HR responsibilities included legal decision-making, sophisticated compensation plan implementation with stock complexity, talent management war, acquisition integration, training and development impact outside the classroom, and HRIS data that drove decisions. There was a feeling that HR needed to demonstrate value and effectiveness in these newer tasks before having the opportunity to be trusted with a higher level of influence.

Phase III

Today in Phase III, HR leaders are expected to be in the greater level of influence as strategic partners and a member of the C-Suite. There is more focus on data-driven results, employee engagement, diversity and inclusion, and organizational culture.

The expectations are that HR leaders know the business as well as Finance, Sales, Engineering, and Operations. To be successful, HR leaders must influence individual leaders and understand how the whole organization can be successful through an intentional conscious culture.

David Ulrich provided insight into HR in Human Resource Champions when he described the from/to state as:

  • Operational to strategic
  • Qualitative to quantitative
  • Policing to partnering
  • Short term to long term
  • Administrative to consultative
  • Functional to business oriented
  • Reactive to proactive
  • Activity focused to solutions focused

In your role and organization, are you leading the HR shift into a strategic, quantitative, partnership, longer-term thinking, consultative, business-oriented, solution-focused, and proactive role? Where are your strengths and leadership growth opportunities? It is too easy to get drawn into the day-to-day and not invest the time and energy into growing yourself? Would you benefit from executive coaching to further your leadership competency?

I invite HR leaders at every level to reflect on the development opportunities in front of them. If executive coaching is a desire, have the confidence to ask for what you need. Take a stand to represent yourself as you would for any business leader. Conscious Culture Group would love to partner with you on your journey as your executive coach, helping you to become better and to influence more.

Feel free to reach out to me at [email protected].