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HR team success: Three critical hiring factors

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CHRO at Hitachi Europe, Stephen Pierce calls for pragmatism in managing HR professionals who fear change

Hiring for attitude, EQ, and hiring people better than you are the three critical factors in ensuring a successful HR team, according to Stephen Pierce, chief HR officer at Hitachi Europe.

“If even one of those is low the whole thing will be low. If you don’t have that you won’t have a successful HR function,” Pierce said during his keynote speech at the HR Strategy & Innovation Challenger meeting, organised by ExpediteHR. He added: “Everyone in HR has to have an absolute passion for mandatory change.”

Pierce conceded that a challenge is how to manage those historic HR team members who don’t share this passion for continual, strategic change.

“The challenge is: what are you going to do with those people? Because the challenge for HR is very different to what it was. So we have to be able to move people. It’s an area in which we just have to find some pragmatic solutions," he said, adding: "I'd rather spend time on those [80%] who will come with [me]."

Along with advocating the need for HR to be the “champions and architects of change”, Pierce covered other key attributes needed for successful HR, including speaking the language of the business. “As HR professionals we have to understand the P&L, the balance sheet, the customers, the pressures the business is under,” he said, asking his audience: “If you were asked to give a presentation [on the above] this afternoon, could you do it?

“Unless we are able to articulate the business in which we operate we’ll always be seen as somewhere separate,” Pierce said, adding that speaking the language of the business is crucial because important decisions “are made in the language of the business".

Another critical HR attribute is championing the impact of culture on a business’ overall success, said Pierce. “Sometimes culture is seen as a bit soft and woolly, but in my view it’s a business imperative,” he explained, pointing out the strong employee proposition and culture at the likes of Google.

“Neglecting culture is like letting aquarium water get dirty,” said Pierce. He added regarding the idea that ‘culture eats strategy for breakfast' that: “In [my] view it’s not about one or the other; you need both.”