How to Keep HR as Simple as Possible
Written by Geoff Newman on 30/07/2010
The notion that simplicity - quick, basic methods - always work well, while complexity costs and confuses and disappoints will be disagreed with by few Human Resourcing professionals. So here are 6 ideas for how to make HR as simple as possible:
1. Make basic commercial business cases - these win support for their no-nonsense approach. For example, train a team to analyse waste to reduce it, rather than develop a complicated theory based on the psychology that, e.g., 'A causes people to think B, which makes them then believe C'. Cases like the latter don’t produce fast results and are easily flawed.
2. Start cases with problems - obvious solutions to current problems make the best business cases. Ask managers where the weaknesses of the business are and what should be done. Then brainstorm to find 10 ways in which HR could help to fix those problems and pick the few that are simplest and easiest to prove. These should be what your HR project is built on.
3. Simplify confusing concepts - only add complexity to ideas when people ask for it. Until then, describe concepts simply so that they are easily communicated and their relevance can be seen more quickly. Complex models and phrasing are obstacles to comprehension and engagement. A good way to describe ideas is alongside a few clear company objectives. And remember, sophistication can be added easily at request, but it’s very difficult to save a project that is being consumed by complexity.
4. Don’t waste people’s time - People have lots to do, so projects need to be quick and easy for them. Time-consuming projects, or projects that require special knowledge are unlikely to happen. Questionnaires and reports should be short and concise, and processes or any technology involved straightforward. It could be useful to decide in advance how long things should take, such as how many minutes it will take to understand a report.
5. Connect things together - Research on HR effectiveness all points to one thing: isolated projects don’t work. Consistent, connected sets of projects that support one another do though. Although not all project can interconnect easily, try to make sure that different programmes exchange information and use standard methods.
6. Make HR a ‘business’ - Try to make HR a business, with a small number of ‘products’ that can be chosen and combined in different ways to meet customers’ needs in the best way. The standardisation of ‘products’ may mean the use of less creativity, but it does make things simple.