HR should be strategic partners

Human resource managers should contribute more to the success of the businesses in which they operate, Institute of People Management (IPM) South Africa CEO, Elijah Litheko said at a conference held in the capital last week.
Litheko pointed out that the human resource (HR) competency model is no longer the same as it was over two decades ago.
The HR position has evolved in such a way that HR managers have moved from being just basic agents involved in random administrative tasks to becoming strategic contributors of the organisation in which they operate.
“The global arena is becoming more challenging. So there is need to keep updating ourselves in this sector. One needs to keep studying and upgrading their knowledge. More importantly, an HR should have enough knowledge of the business they operate in,” Litheko reiterated.
As people managers, the HR must be able to lead change, otherwise they should just reflect of changing places. Nowadays, HR managers should be innovative, capacity builders and technology proponents.
On the other hand, he singled out the fact that many organisations still do not view HR managers as partners but rather as mere services providers. However, in market leading companies, HRs act as strategic partners who support their organisations with value creation. For it to materialise, HRs have to have a solid understanding of the key organisational issues and proactively suggest solutions.
IPM talent management consultant, Andrew Harding, echoed Litheko’s sentiments, noting that not only do HR managers not understand the business they operate in but they also do not get importance in their organisations. Harding added that every organisation should take care of their talent.
“If your organisation does not manage talents, chances are that your competitor probably does. Effective talent management should ensure operational continuity and sustainability by ensuring that the right people with the right skills are in the right job at the right time to ensure successful business results,” Harding said.
A point that was stressed during the conference is the fact that HR managers need to work as middle men between the higher management and the operational levels. Communication was rated as a key point in the smooth operations of a business.
In this regards, Litheko also emphasised that HR managers should be able to anticipate all issues within their companies and take them up before they roll out of hands.
As an example of issues that need to be taken care of by HR managers is the case of the Marikana mine strike, which he pointed out as an HR problem that should have been taken care of in its infancy stage.
Emergency Growth executive chairman, Pat Smythe, stressed that there seems to be a lack of direct communication between colleagues as it used to be in the past; a factor that could easily lead to an event such as the Marikana strike.
“I so agree with Litheko on the Marikana strike as it boils down on an HR issue as well as lack of dialogue between employees. We have lost the art of dialogue. We have evolved into the art of social media, which is innovation. However, it has taken away our interpersonal communication skills,” Smythe pointed out.
Prime Minister Nahas Angula, in his capacity as the IPM Namibia patron called upon the local HR community to make a breakthrough to a better future for Namibia and her people. Therefore, he encouraged the HR practitioners to make a difference in pulling all relevant stakeholders together including trade unions, to a positive dialogue in order to find sustainable solutions to the high prevailing labour unrest in the country.