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The original article was published in 中外管理 中外管理杂志 文：曹金华 新媒体编辑：胸怀天下. The views and opinions expressed herein are those of the author. They do not reflect the views of WiseNet Asia, its affiliates, or its employees.
7 Key Influences of HR from the perspectives of a HR personnel in China
How do HR exert it’s influence to make up for the gap between the importance of the human resources department and the actual degree of attention it is getting? How should HR influence the top management and other departments?
Human Resources work has evolved from traditional personnel tasks such as checking attendance and calculating salary to more strategic roles, such as how to enhance the competitiveness of the company, how to retain talents for the company, etc. However, as revenue is a constant agenda of the company, HR is subjected to many restrictions in the course of carrying out their work. For example: communication with some business departments is not so easy; when there is a disagreement with the sales department, HR often have to make concessions in order to reach an agreement.
As a practitioner of human resources management, I often ask myself, how can we exert our influence to make up for the gap between the importance of human resources and the actual degree of attention it’s getting? How should we influence others?
Based on my years of experience in the industry, relevant theories in management, and the exchanges between colleagues, these are the recommended strategies of influence for HR:
Enlist the support of top management
To exert influence, the most important thing is to obtain top management’s trust and support. With support from the top, the influence will be greater on other managers and colleagues.
The following methods can be used:
– Help top management deal with difficult problems
To gain the trust of top management, it is necessary to initiate help in settling difficult issues, such as labor disputes, handling of “troublesome” employees, etc.
– Think from the perspective of the boss or the company
Recruitment and training all cost money, yet their impact cannot be seen immediately. Hence contribution of human resource management may be difficult to quantify for some companies’ top management team. Therefore, HR must be able to think and comprehend issues from their perspectives. They have to be able to accomplished scheduled tasks in ways that meet the stakeholders’ expectations.
– Give your boss appropriate credit
Aside from being capable at our work, we also need to be capable at managing people relationships at work. To gain trust, we need humility and know when to give appropriate credit to the boss.
– Know yourself and know others
The prerequisite for effective communication is to know yourself and know the people you are working with. When people feel that you know them, they are more inclined to listen; and more open to changes that you are proposing. To know co-workers more, you need to do these two things. First of all, you need to keep abreast of their activities and know what they are thinking. These will help you come out with more customized people approaches. Secondly, know the personal characteristics of each employee and choose different communication methods for different people.
– Use data and analytics as the basis of communication
Debate or even arguments are common ways of communication in the workplace, and the best way of justify an argument is to provide supporting data and analytics. If the data alone doesn’t attract the attention of the bosses, then we have to use facts, in addition to data support.
– Have sufficient information on hand
The more information that is available, the more helpful it will be for decision-making and good judgment. Therefore, whether we are trying to influence upward, parallel, or downward, we must have sufficient information. Especially when making suggestions to decision-makers, the proposal must be backed by sufficient information to enable them to make decisions with confidence. To have enough information, human resource information system (HRIS) or management information system (MIS) is an indispensable and important tool.
– Know who are the key influencers in a small group
Key people in small groups often influence the behaviour and thoughts of other members of the group. Respecting the opinions and ideas of key people in a small group is essential for communication and overcoming resistance.
When trying to get a buy in with groups at work, we must try to listen to the ideas of key figures in these small groups, and then communicate with them and request assistance. The key figures will feel respected, thus minimizing resistance when we are trying to push for work.
The Human Resources Department is unlike other technical units such as production or engineering, R&D, that have physical products for discussion with other managers. Human Resources mainly provide consulting and support services. Therefore, we have to make other department managers and employees co-operate willingly so that work can move ahead. It is very important to gain the trust of other department managers and employees.
– Respond quickly to the other party’s suggestions
To gain the trust of others, the first step is to quickly respond to the other’s suggestions, because this can reflect the individual’s ability and efficiency in doing things, so as to build a good reputation and trust.
– Showing personal ability
Human resource management must be valued. To this effect, our own abilities are key. We must seize the opportunity to fully demonstrate our personal abilities and establish respect and reputation among colleagues. Once there is respect, future work can be easily promoted. To show personal talents, the best way is to have a set of plans from beginning to end, think about the whole process carefully, predict possible issues and figure out solutions beforehand.
– Respect and trust employees
Respect and trust are motivating factors at work. For employees to willingly contribute to the company, it is very important that the human resource system is designed based on strategic empathy. If we can do this, our downward influence will be greater, and accordingly we will gain the respect and trust of our employees.
Make strategic recommendations to the organization
We must have some strategic thinking and ideas about the organization, and then promptly suggest or reflect upward.
– Acting as a consultant to organizational change
When the organization is going through change such as organizational restructuring, we must be able to take on the responsibility of consultants. We must proactively provide data, relevant information, take on new opportunities and not be passive human resource managers. We must understand the procedures and steps of organizational change, as well as master the professional characteristics of people in different fields of work.
– Expand your network
As our network widens, we will be able to grasp more information. After which, information can be analysed from the perspective of providing a service to enhance the breadth of thinking.
It is usually difficult for us to influence the boss, other department managers or employees by ourselves or even with one department’s power. However, we can leverage on external forces to do that.
– Cite the advice of outside experts
If we think that we are not persuasive enough in pushing for changes in HR systems such as remuneration, performance management, organizational reform etc, we can invite external experts or consultants to meet the boss or other department managers to provide opinions, and use their advice or assistance to convince the boss or other department managers.
Most people think that external experts are ‘guru’ in their field, and will generally respect the opinions of outside experts and consultants. When we raise the subject again, it will be smoother.
– Joint strategy
While drawing on the power of external experts, we also need to integrate the different internal opinions in order to create teamwork. For example: When the boss doesn’t accept your suggestions, you can form a common group to resolve resistance.
– Take advantage of training
Training is an important activity in human resource development. We can use this good resource and mechanism to indirectly influence company bosses or colleagues, that is, through training opportunities, we can stimulate everyone to learn, and then influence everyone’s thoughts and behaviours. In this way, everyone can reach a consensus, thus minimizing resistance.
Creating additional value
– Proactively take on the responsibility of knowledge management in the organization
More and more companies have begun to pay attention to the storage, sharing, transfer, and activation of knowledge in the organization. Who should be responsible for knowledge management in the organization? From the perspective of strategic human resource management, our role must move from a passive, responsive, operational manager to an active, proactive, and decision-making strategic partner. Therefore, we can take the initiative to assume the responsibility of knowledge management in the organization. If this aspect is done well, it can help the boss or colleagues to quickly obtain the correct information, make effective decisions, and thus increasing HR’s influence.
Acts of Strength
Although the human resources department is a service support unit within the company, we should still step forward and make our stance when there are impacts that will cause adverse effects. Especially when there are sufficient data to support our points, we should show our strengths, thus enhancing our influence in the company.