Planning for the future
Stephanie Christopher, national director of SHL Australia New Zealand, a company which assists companies — including recruitment firms — in their recruitment activities, says that for the more technical positions HR has to fill, “it would lean toward the line manager for advice; it would be the line manager who would have final say”.
She adds that it is extremely uncommon for the HR department to override the employment decision of a departmental head.
“There is a risk with IT that people are promoted on the basis of their technical capabilities alone. IT suffers especially from the Peter Principle [that people are promoted to their level of incompetence, then stay in a job they can’t do].
“HR should be adding value in order to develop IT employees, giving them broader skills. Line managers [in particular] need commercial acumen and communication skills.”
But she adds that “blanket HR objectives are not effective. Every line manager is different, and HR needs to understand different needs.”
Read Part 1 of working with HR.
Ian Wilkins, former chief technology officer for Tourism Australia, says HR provides context to guidelines where it may be difficult to understand the reasons for certain decisions.”
“Understanding the employees’ technology adeptness identifies who needs training and in what systems.”
This applies equally to planning for the next generation of leaders, he says: “HR plays a significant role in determining succession planning and if done well then it is nothing but a positive for both managers and employees.”
Perricone says this understanding must be broader than an HR – IT relationship. It applies across the organisation, and to their understanding of the role of IT, and particularly so with new employees: “[In our organisation] IT is part of the induction and orientation process. This is essential in communicating the existing IT policy and governance framework, IT culture and manage expectations.”
Changes in IT solutions, such as Cloud computing, social media, mobile apps and devices are shifting the business model that requires not only changes in skill sets for IT teams, but technical savvy employees, he says.
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“To support these needs, and working with HR, our focus has been to place emphasis towards business analytical, project and relationship management skill sets.”
Associate professor of the Department of Marketing and Management at Macquarie University, Dr Paul Gollan, summarises the dilemma for HR and its relation with line managers generally: “HR managers aspire to be strategic, but they are required to fulfil their duties as a functional expert. In order to gain the respect of the line managers, HR still needs to build their credibility. This is a process that will continue to evolve and once line managers understand the significance of HR to meeting their business goals, then HR will become more demanding and influential.”
CEO of recruitment firm PeopleBank Australia, Peter Acheson, says that proactive HR departments should work closely with IT, ensuring they are on the same page, and to ensure that the IT department, like all departments, performs well.
“IT management should embrace HR,” he says “and not be seen as a competitor. Together they need to manage talent, get the right people for the right job, and ensure that succession planning is in place.”
Which may mean that it is as much the responsibility of IT managers to forge the relationship as it is for HR to reach out to those people it serves.
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