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Jane & Harriet 
Great Human Resources
HR = Human Resources in most people’s understanding, but we’ve heard a few other interpretations of the acronym HR, and not all of them are very fair or particularly kind – how about “Human Remains” or “Hardly Relevant” – that’s what a contact of ours joked that his company call their HR department! Rather than let that annoy us, we started to think about why that opinion might be held. 
As we have moved through these last few challenging years, the answer we have come up with is simple…. there are many superb HR practitioners out there, but there are still a lot of very average HR people operating in companies, doing decidedly average work. 
So, what is the difference between average and great HR? 
woman with bullhorn
Great HR people have courage, they will make a bold call on things – they will offer a range of options to their stakeholders which they should be confident to nail to the mast and tell the business what they think the right decision is. Not the safe one or the politically correct one – but the right decision for the business and sometimes that might mean a settlement agreement or redundancies or it might simply be telling management to do just do nothing if that’s the right thing to do at the time. 
Great HR people understand the business ecosystem, not just their little part within it. They get how everything fits together (like pieces in a jigsaw), the risks, the history, the future, the personalities & the technical issues. They understand the implications of events today and the likely impact on the future. This means they also stay agile, ready for and able to anticipate change. 
Great HR people don’t need to be asked. They go out and do it. They come armed with suggestions, ideas backed up with theory. They push their opinions forward and argue the case with colleagues & senior stakeholders. They understand there is a world outside their office, they seek out the key managers and decision-makers rather than waiting for them to drop by. They have a healthy dose of realism & understand that they shouldn’t take offence if the majority of their suggestions take a long time (if ever) to get implemented unless an immediate bottom line impact is evident. 
Great HR people will ensure that whatever data outputs are reported on each month, that they are analysed, translated into language other managers understand, risk assessed, and courses of action are planned before they are sent out to the masses.  
They will also re-evaluate their usefulness on a regular basis – statistics for the sake of paper generation and creating ‘busy’ work are what “average” HR people do. 
Great HR people also understand reality. They understand that people make jokes they shouldn’t. They understand that the use of the word ‘stress’ can be utterly authentic or mischievous.  
They understand that 100% employee engagement is a great target to aspire towards but that 70% is likely as good as you will get and that some people just want to do a day’s work and go home. 
Great HR people will always find a way to quantify what they do in business terms. They will be able to demonstrate how they affect the bottom line, in language operational people understand. 
The average HR folk – well… they will always run the risk of being seen as ‘hardly relevant’. 
About The Author 
Jane Middleton
Jane Middleton is one of the founders of Trapeze HR. 
Jane is a CIPD-qualified HR and recruitment professional with 20 years of client-side experience. 
Outside work, she’s a dutiful mum, chef and dog walker. 
If you want to secure your business's highest calibre HR talent, then Trapeze HR is superbly positioned to support progressive SME businesses. 
Get in touch if you’re thinking about hiring: jane@trapezehr.com 
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