"Lots of HR shops need rethinking. While the herd is going to head straight to outsourcing, I'd recommend hiring a senior level all star with a mandate to shake things up. The good thing about RPOs (recruitment process outsourcers) and HROs (human resource outsourcers) is that they drive change. The fear of losing your job either produces dramatic action or frozen terror.
"This is the time when HR can make a real strategic difference. Helping your organization be ahead of the economy, on top of the downturn...That's what HR's supposed to do. It's a shame that the post-layoff paralysis has turned so may operations into conservative, reactive quagmires.
"Why don't we take more people from purchasing and put them in HR? That gets at the question of expertise in managing complex contracts. I agree that the failure of many outsourcing contracts in the first wave was due to the inexperience of the customer. There's a serious shortage of people who understand programs management, project management, contracts administration and requirements development at the senior level.
"Good purchasing executives know how to do these things. As HR fragments the skills will be in increasing demand. Lots of executives are coming in from adjacent functions. The incumbents are often too ineffective.
"The best career advice I can give someone in HR right now is to act like this is your last day. Say what you mean and stick to it. Call it like you see it. Have an opinion and do something, anything.
To have a conversation with Valerie Frederickson is to enter an all-encompassing world. She's intense, easy to like, hyper-productive, focused and confident. She figures out what she wants and goes after it. No waiting around for the perfect moment, as soon as she can she starts. It's reminiscent of the cult of done.
Frederickson is the sage of Silicon Valley. A combination of headhunter, celebrity, HR consultant, business advisor and mentor, she is always in motion. Her eponymous company is a powerhouse in the HR Marketplace. A quick look at her client list lets you know who she places and coaches. Career development in Silicon Valley is harder if you're not on her list.
She recalled a recent encounter with an HR leader.
"This person was the leader of an 85-person HR team. She was trying to figure out what to do. Her people were complaining that she put the needs of the CEO ahead of the HR team's priorities. Somehow, workload was slipping and schedules weren't being met.
"I told him he was lazy. Holding people accountable, making sure that the business comes first and not letting the recession define you are critical components of making HR behave like a business. Any leader who complains about his people is just avoiding doing the hard work of being in management.
"Now is an amazing inflection point. You can either be a part of moving your company ahead of the pack or you can fail. You have to want it every second of the day and never let go. Management means follow up and understanding the details."
Valerie, who has degrees in counseling and organizational development, has created a sphere of influence in Silicon Valley that touches an amazing array of HR careers and CEO strategies. A regular speaker at HR events, a published author and an amazing organizational mechanic, she defines the essence of influence in our profession.
As part of John Sumser’s ongoing Top 100 Influencers project, in which the key influencers working in recruiting, staffing, HR, HCM and HR technology are identified and profiled, John shares additional perspectives and compelling insights from those who are profiled here in Salary.com HR Voice each Friday.
John Sumser is a member of the Salary.com Board of Directors as well as the founder and president of Two Color Hat, Inc. Contributions to Salary.com HR Voice and this Website reflect the opinions of the authors and are not an official opinion of Salary.com, Inc., or any of its subsidiary or affiliated entities.