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HR Warriors: How To Operate With High Accuracy

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March 13th, 2019

- Updated on

March 18, 2019 - 2:52pm
We were fortunate to have Dr. Keri Olhrich as a guest on HR Studio Podcast earlier this month (See Episode 74: What it Takes to Be a Successful HR Warrior). We are very grateful to Keri Ohlrich and Monica Frede for this excerpt from their latest book and for the complimentary copies for two of our podcast subscribers.
Monica Frede & Dr. Keri Ohlrich - The Way of the HR Warrior
In The Way of the HR Warrior: Leading the Charge to Transform Your Career, Frede and Ohlrich lay the foundation for what it takes to be an HR Warrior. They introduce readers to their acronym "CHARGE," referring to the following key qualities they believe are essential to achieving HR Warrior status:
  • Courage
  • Humility
  • Accuracy
  • Resiliency
  • Goal-Oriented
  • Exemplary
In addition to devoting a chapter to each attribute with 'check-in" questions, they provide two assessments to help you determine how you operate in the HR profession. This practical guide is designed to help HR professionals to develop the core skills needed to make a difference in their organizations.
The following excerpt is from chapter five - Accuracy.  Accuracy is achieved by finding the root cause of any issue with which you are confronted.
"When you operate with accuracy and find a specific solution that may help only one person, you can slowly change the landscape and, eventually, have an impact on many lives."

Layoffs are an unforgettable experience for most employees. Human Resources is at the forefront of planning and executing these layoffs, and Monica has certainly experienced her share of these contentious times in a condensed time frame. 
One specific layoff stands out more than any others for Monica, mostly because of how a seemingly impersonal situation became personal. Word came from a director that a small team of front-line employees would be laid off due to low production. This layoff would occur, unfortunately, in December and could not wait until January. With a quick assessment, a handful of employees were selected, and Monica sat in on these conversations with the affected employee and their manager. The reactions were all different—ranging from anger to silence to tears—but after one full day, all conversations were executed according to plan. But what Monica learned after the conversations became an opportunity to make something better. And to make someone much happier. 
Sometimes departments in large companies work in isolation, with one functioning independently from another and a lack of communication between teams. As an HR Generalist, Monica not only helped with hiring, onboarding, and promotions, but performance plans, terminations, and layoffs—the full employee life cycle. When these the layoffs occurred, Monica quickly realized that another department offered a solution.
When one department was laying off employees, another was hiring. Unfortunately, the process was rushed so these dots were not connected prior to the layoffs.
Monica reached out to the hiring department’s leader. What positions are you hiring for and what are the qualifications for those roles? What made those open positions difficult to fill was the need for an employee to be forklift certified. Monica checked the files of all the layoff employees and discovered that one had achieved this certification and had even picked up additional work hours driving a forklift in that department! A few calls were made and a new job opportunity (with a higher hourly wage) was offered. Although this solution was not a fix for everyone who was laid off, it helped one employee and his family. 
Helping one employee is sometimes all you can do in HR, but that is just as important as any other work you accomplish. When you operate with accuracy and find a specific solution that may only help one person, you can slowly change the landscape, and eventually have an impact on many lives. 
Honing your ability to be accurate in your work can make a big difference in your success as an HR professional. Here’s what to do to achieve a high level of accuracy in your work:
  • Identify the pain points of any situation and remove them. You are hired to identify the heart of any issue and come up with a lasting solution. This process is called a needs analysis.
  • Be curious. Often the truth of any issue is buried far below the surface problem, and great HR professionals, who we call HR Warriors, prefer to find the core of the problem rather than cover up the symptoms.
  • Build trust with employees. Warriors make a personal connection with employees and deal with very real emotions—good and bad—and the vulnerabilities they share are in hopes that we can help alleviate the pain. 
  • Remain precise in the face of troubling times. Your days in the workplace may be unpredictable, but don’t let that rock you.
  • Take the time to find the right solution (not the easy or the quick solution).
  • Respect and understand your work boundaries. Acknowledge existing boundaries (employment law, company procedures, department objectives, and individual roles) while you are problem-solving to come up with creative and effective solutions. You can’t break the law. But be creative!

Frede & Ohlrich quote from The Way of the HR Warrior bookThe Root Cause Analysis

Accuracy begins with understanding the root cause of any issue—whether it’s poor performance or financial struggles. It’s the job of the HR Warrior to find the root issue, and this is usually accomplished through a root cause analysis.
A root cause analysis is when you carefully identify the problem and determine the best solution. A root cause analysis can happen every day in the office when a problem arises: what is the pain, and what’s really causing that pain?
In the business world, employees, leadership, CEOs, and clients can feel the pain. And the short-term high of a large paycheck or an invoice paid subsides rather quickly. The best course of action for any organization is to get to the root cause of the pain—and eliminate it. And that requires strategic effort and accuracy.
Here’s an example of how a root cause analysis works. 
HR receives a lot of requests for training. Problems exist, things aren’t going well, business is not strong. Keri has heard this request often: “This team needs X, Y, or Z training now.”
But do they? Keri prefers to get to the root cause of the problems. Rather than immediately agree to spend time, money, and to allocate resources for a training program, the first step is accurately diagnosing the root problem affecting team. Sometimes the results surprise us!
Dig into the team’s culture. Interview employees and leaders that work with this team. Ask a lot of questions, clarify what the team’s expectations are, analyze the gap in perception. Keri performed this process when she received the request for “communication training.” What she discovered was that the issue had nothing to do with team communication—the issue was one employee, critical to the success of the entire team, who had created a toxic environment with his behavior. 
Keri recommended placing this employee on a performance plan instead of training for the entire team. Hers was an accurate response because it pinpointed the specific problem with the team’s communication issues.
A root cause analysis takes time and effort. However, keep in mind that a root cause analysis is not a one-time solution. It is one tool that Warriors can use, just as a surgeon uses a scapel, among other instruments.

HR Warriors Book JacketExcerpted from THE WAY OF THE HR WARRIOR: Leading the CHARGE to Transform Your Career and Organization by Monica Frede & Keri Ohlrich, PhD. © 2018 by Monica Frede & Keri Ohlrich. All rights reserved. Published by LifeTree Media.
About the authors:
Monica Frede has worked as an HR manager and strategic consultant for Fortune 500 companies, and as a re¬cruiter for start-up ventures. Dr. Keri Ohlrich brings more than 20 years of success and HR leadership to her role as CEO and cofounder of the Abbracci Group. She holds a Ph.D. in Human Development and Organizational Systems.