By Pavitra Menon, Senior Consultant, Community Resource Exchange (CRE)
On February 19, I was privileged to moderate the Pathways to Excellence workshop on Excellence in Human Resources. The panel comprised of HR representatives from three organizations that exemplify what it means to have instituted and exercise excellent HR practices. The featured panelists were Nicole M. Ellis, Associate Vice President of Human Resources at Graham Windham, Jen Chau Fontán, Director of Talent Development at Harlem RBI, and Morenike Williams, Director of Administrative Services at Community Access.
The key takeaways were:
- HR’s role in the organization is focused on the mission of the organization.
- Community Access lives this by ensuring that a high percentage of its staff is hired from the communities served, resulting in staff being fully committed to the mission.
- Successful HR management requires buy-in from executive leadership.
- Harlem RBI has robust performance management processes involving 360-degree feedback for all managers. The executive leadership makes clear that a culture of feedback is important and a core organizational value.
- HR’s role involves planning for the future.
- Graham Wyndham has sophisticated talent management and succession planning processes across all levels of the organization. At the line staff level, they experience a high degree of turnover for a variety of reasons, but they maintain robust databases of candidates at that level for critical positions they can call on in case a vacancy arises.
- Effective HR is supported by creating and leveraging appropriate systems and structures.
- All the panelists shared examples of recruitment and on-boarding systems that involved orientation of new employees stretching beyond the first day.
- Panelists discussed their organizations planning for employees to have defined career paths with opportunities for upward mobility as well as lateral movement (cross functional).
All participants took an HR assessment to see how well their organizations did on a variety of HR best practices and engaged in strategy sharing with each other and a Q&A with panelists to think through how to put excellent HR practices in place in their own organizations.
The author, Pavitra Menon, is a senior consultant specializing in human resources management and leadership development at Community Resource Exchange, a nonprofit consulting firm.