Why Human Resources is often missing from crucial decisions and projects

We all know it, a project is underway that is vital to the company and the future of the entire organization depends on it (or maybe not, but we don’t know yet). Everyone who has a say in the company is there. And Human Resources? That’s missing from the table. Eventually, the project gets to the point where it’s done and needs to be implemented and suddenly it’s discovered that it won’t come that easily. But why was Human Resources missing from the table when it was all brewing? Because it doesn’t have a say or trust or both. And what to do about it?

It’s often about Human Resources people not thinking strategically. They can’t see the future, they can only imagine the obstacles that stand in their way. Instead of being able to imagine how they’ll get from point A to point B, they’re great at imagining why it’s better not to embark on the journey at all. And who wants a Mr. No in the project who can dismiss and criticize everything but is unable to offer an alternative path to the future.

Often the cause is also the inability to take responsibility. Power always comes with responsibility, and responsibility is always two-sided. You have to be able to make decisions and often you don’t have all the information you need to make a decision. But still, you have to make a decision because others are waiting for it. And then there is a risk that you make the wrong decision and that someone will point the finger later. And that’s why many people are more comfortable waiting and not making a decision.

It’s just that, with that attitude, no one will take you on a strategic project because you won’t be useful. Implementation is then the place to be, but by then everything is done and the metals have long since been handed out. You just don’t get praised for good execution.

HR people tend to close themselves into their shell - I’m here over the HR people. They don’t understand how the company works and how it makes money. What is really critical to its functioning. It’s just that if you can’t understand exactly how the company works, no one will hire you for a strategic project because you’re a risk.

You may make a decision that will hurt everyone. Contributing to the discussion will often elicit a smile and a raised eyebrow. HR employees simply have to learn how the company works and how it makes money.

And then there’s a common problem that occurs in many HR departments. And that’s the rule - don’t blab. It’s so hard not to blab about every secret project. All you have to do is confide in one person outside of HR and there’s a problem, because then the rumors immediately fly through the company.

Human Resources needs to learn how to manage secret projects and how they need to make sure no one knows anything is going on. Openness is in our blood, but when working on a strategic project, the communication rules need to be clearly managed. Everyone needs to know only what they really need to know to complete their task.

In order for HR to get to the strategic projects, it must earn the trust of those who can invite it to the table. It’s a long-term activity; it’s not about one good, precise hit.

HR staff need to focus on doing critical activities correctly and without mistakes, they need to be able to keep their word and their mouth shut. They must learn to think actionably and be proactive in their day-to-day dealings with line managers.

And pray that it works out over time.