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<i>Dear Workforce</i> How to Win Over Managers Wary of Human Resources

October 8, 2004
Dear Eggshells:

You have two options. Number one: use brute force. Get your boss and/or several of the other top executives to declare that your newly minted policies are mandatory. Then train managers on the new processes. Provide them with job aids where possible. Hound them relentlessly to make sure they follow the new policies. Work with your boss and senior management to develop ways to hold managers accountable for using them, and put those accountability measures into action by rewarding managers who comply and swiftly addressing those who don't.
Option number two: start building relationships immediately by plucking the proverbial low-hanging fruit off the branches. Find out what you can do to make the managers' jobs easier. Spend some time interviewing each of your internal clients, especially your most resistant ones. Are they spending too much time interviewing "no-go" candidates? If so, offer to develop a systematic approach to prescreening prospective employees.
Each time you deliver on your promises, people's receptiveness will rise. Patience and persistence are especially important in developing your relationships. Managers will need to see results over time to be convinced, so don't expect everyone to jump on board right away. It helps to find managers who do buy in and start there. Others may jump on the train later.
Keep in mind that the brute-force option may work for a short time, but you can't wield the big stick indefinitely or in every situation. As your question indicates, in the long term you're more likely to alienate managers with a dictatorial approach. Blending the options will likely be the most effective in getting both immediate and long-term results.
And remember that no matter which option you ultimately pursue, you'll have to build a business case for your initiatives by delineating the tangible (measurable) and intangible benefits of these programs and processes. Show individual managers the benefits of complying with the new policies: better hiring decisions, improved productivity and less time dealing with poor performers. Also, quantify the risks of not complying with your policies: increased turnover and greater risk of expensive discrimination charges. Build a concrete business case that resonates with executives and line managers. Over time, it will help you more than prove your worth to the organization.
SOURCE: Kevin Cuthbert and Carol Fitzgibbons, Capital H Group, Chicago, November 3, 2003.
LEARN MORE:Seven Steps Before Strategy.
The information contained in this article is intended to provide useful information on the topic covered, but should not be construed as legal advice or a legal opinion. Also remember that state laws may differ from the federal law.
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