...the more we learn about different countries, the greater the opportunities are to break stereotypes and reclaim HR. - Laurie Ruettimann

— Exploring And Breaking Stereotypes In The HR Department

HR has always had something of an image problem, so who better than to tackle this head on than a top corporate HR professional with a penchant for punk rock, tattoos and piercings?

Enter Laurie Ruettimann and her brand new book, ‘I am HR: 5 Strategic Ways to Break Stereotypes and Reclaim HR‘.

Perception and reality

In her book’s opening, Ruettimann illustrates the gap she experienced between the perception of the HR department and its people and the reality.

While the common stereotype was of a dowdy and bloated function run by middle-aged women with cats, Ruettimann explained that many of her colleagues were intelligent and caring, with nearly half pursuing graduate degrees and over ten per cent in possession of PHDs or the equivalent. There were even a number of men working in HR.

But perceptions can take a while to break down; many people still see HR as an obstructive force – and of course they usually do the dirty work of sacking people!

A changing landscape

So are things changing, in terms of the perception or the reality?

The HR function of progressive companies now has to operate on a global scale and make use of the power of analtics software, but it appears that large numbers of companies do not have faith that their HR departments are up to the job.

Surveys have revealed that 42 per cent of companies believe their HR department are underperforming, 45 per cent say their HR people are not ready to manage global HR talent management while a staggering 57 per cent admit they do not think their own HR department can make full use of talent and HR analytics.

But, as Ruettimann reveals in her book, there are plenty of corporate HR departments employing talented specialists such as risk managers, transformational leaders and other ‘big picture‘ people.

So what will it take to shake up the dated perception?

It’s all about you!!

Ruettimann is typically direct when it comes to answering this question.

In her opinion, businesses need to employ people with the skills and attitude to perform their role. In terms of the HR department, employees must love HR or go elsewhere. Only those who are deeply committed to the HR function can change the stereotypes that exist both within and outside of the department.

Ruettimann explains that HR people need to be self-motivated and develop the arsenal of skills a modern HR professional needs. These skills include the ability to speak publicly, to research trends in the field and to keep up to date with technology. There are also typical HR skill-sets that individual employees already possess and can be refined for the greater good of the company.

Some people are born organisers, some are ‘stewards of culture‘ who can ensure the company’s ethos is protected while others are change activists.

Some HR employees will emerge to become invaluable in areas such as business, management and board strategy, workforce planning, labour relations and risk management.

© New To HR


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