This Week's Herman Trend Alert

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  The Herman Trend Alert

June 11, 2003

Emerging Roles for Human Resources

A considerable amount of research has been done into the future of human resources-as a profession and as a critical component of the corporate leadership team of tomorrow. In the 350 words we allow ourselves in these e- advisories, it would be impossible to present all the details of this forward-thinking. There are some issues to explore, however, as we consider the roles of human resource professionals and chief executives.

Let's start with the chief executives, since they have the responsibility, authority, and accountability to assure that every one of their team members performs at a high level. We forecast a shake-out over the next few years; expect the departure of a surprising number of senior executives who lack the critical skills of mentoring, coaching, confronting, and weeding. To be successful, tomorrow's top leaders must have the courage to demand high performance from every member of their executive teams.

Standards must be high, with deliberate cross-education and collaboration at senior levels. Instead of competing or protecting their territory, functional leaders will teach each other about their areas of specialty. In the most successful organizations, they will share their results, their shortcomings, and their needs. In return, their colleagues will respect their achievements and strive to help them overcome their deficiencies as individuals and as organizational components.

The common thread will be people, so human resource executives will play an increasingly important role. While serving as advocates for employees, they will concentrate on providing a high level of service for their customers--- management. With questions like "what keeps you up at night" and a drive for more meaningful measurement of performance, these people professionals will leverage their knowledge to guide future-focused staffing, training, education, and corporate restructuring.

In the years ahead, an uncomfortable number of executives will be forced to outsource human resource services because they will not have sufficient expertise in-house. This trend suggests more opportunities for more proficient people strategists to form their own businesses, growing the human resource consulting profession.

In-house or outsourced, well-educated, business-literate human resource executives will be increasingly valuable. Wise executives will help them grow.

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