Sunday, September 18, 2011

Why Should We Take A Survey Of Our HR Function?

Unless HR and managers have established clear criteria for success, this kind of survey could backfire on you.

 We are putting together a survey rating the human resources department. What are some questions that you would recommend we use?

Honest Assessment, HR administrator, transportation, Macon, Georgia 

If this were my organization, I would not address this situation with a satisfaction survey. Unless the human resources function and the company's managers have established clear criteria about success, this kind of survey could backfire on you in a huge way.

If no mutual agreement about success criteria is established, managers often have incorrect (or unrealistic) expectations of the HR group. This frequently leads them to score the group in odd or harsh ways on satisfaction surveys.

Then, having seen the results, the HR group focuses on the bad score. The end result: HR ends up feeling pretty demoralized. What's worse, if the HR team does make any attempt at remedial work based (even though it's based on spurious survey results), it often fails to focus on the real issues that need attention.

Here is what I recommend instead. Start by obtaining a solid set of HR metrics from your senior leadership. This gives you objective data against which to measure delivery. Use these to gauge your performance with the business group.

In addition, conduct focus groups or one-on-one interviews with key managers only. This should help you better determine their true feelings about HR services in general. This method allows for a dialogue between HR and managers gives you the ability to test for common assumptions of how work should be done and educate managers on the boundary conditions and parameters within which HR operates.

Using the data culled from these interviews, you should be able to build a list of themes/implications. Then test the themes with the managers and the senior leaders, and create gap-closing projects as needed.

SOURCE: Ellen Raim, a former employment lawyer and organizational design consultant, is vice president of human resources for Cascade Microtech in Portland, Oregon.

Thanks to WorkForce / Crain Communications Inc.

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