I was recently promoted to handle all human resources at our 100-employee company, but I also still serve as top assistant to our company president. This has sparked a debate, with some senior leaders arguing we don't need a fulltime HR function. Our president now isn't sure whether to keep the HR function or just keep me as his assistant. How do I convince top brass that HR is more than just keeping track of personnel files and benefits?
— Caught in the Not-So-Friendly Crossfire, HR director, publishing/communication/advertising, Owosso, Michigan
If 360-degree reviews aren't working, which other methods could we use to get honest feedback on how our leaders perform?
—360-Degree Turn, recruitment adviser, healthcare, Salem, Oregon
What should we do with short-list candidates who don't get the job? I believe it is important that candidates invited to a job interview be informed of their status and the outcome of the recruitment process (even if they aren't the one selected). I think it gives the potential job holder a sense of accomplishment and self-confidence, but might it not also be important to our reputation as an employer? To say nothing of getting a head start on recruiting top candidates in the future? How do most organizations of any size handle this?
—Tough Choices, human resources management adviser, integrated professional services, Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina
How direct is the link between rewards/recognition and higher retention? We are in the midst of revamping our rewards and recognition program and want to focus our efforts on keeping our best people. But we're not sure how to connect the dots.
—Numbers Game, HR director, Construction/Trades, Madison, Wisconsin
The last decade has seen lots of changes in human resources. Looking back, it seems hard to predict that social media and other emerging trends would have taken hold. What's in store for the future of human resources and are there steps our HR organization should take to prepare?
—Looking Backward So We Can Move Forward, HR consultant, technical services, Columbus, Georgia
How do we make our managers better at having difficult conversations with our employees? Sometimes it seems easier for them to gloss over tough topics rather than engage employees in discussion and uncover problem area. How do we convince them to probe below the surface without interrogating employees? We'd prefer to avoid mandating it as part of a manager's performance reviews.
—Touchy Subject, executive assistant, health care, Sydney, Australia
We want to boost our retention of new hires. What we most want to know is what it will take for new employees to commit to staying with us long term. Are there any secrets to learning this in advance of hiring?
—Missing the Link, HR generalist, architectural/engineering, Miami
How should we divvy up responsibilities for talent management? Our feeling is that if it resides solely with HR, how could we hold managers accountable for execution? On the other hand, managers aren't really cut out to develop strategies for talent acquisition, workforce planning. I guess what I'm asking is: Is there a dividing line in talent management and, if so, which responsibilities do our managers have for helping us catch the vision?
—Too Many Chiefs, Director of strategy, technology, Cincinnati
Which elements are most critical to an effective performance appraisal?
—Performance Boost or Bust, services, Dhaka, Bangladesh
We are a sales-driven organization with approximately 50 employees. What would be the ideal type of performance appraisal for us to use?
—The Cost of Money, construction, Pune, India