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O.C. Tanner CEO Dave Petersen discusses HR's role in connecting people within organizations

HR’s Role in connecting people in the organization

Interview with: Dave Petersen, President & Chief Executive Officer, O.C. Tanner Company

“Most Human Resources (HR) leaders have a strong understanding and belief in the importance of their people and how progress is made, but where I believe they could make a more strategic contribution is in providing touch points to connect employees,” advises Dave Petersen, President & Chief Executive Officer,O.C. Tanner Company. With so many tools available to fa cili ta te HR pro cesses , HR sometimes forgets what role live connectivity, person-to-person contact, can play in employee productivity and engagement, he adds.

From a solution provider company at the upcoming Marcus Evans HR Technology Summit 2012, in Las Vegas, Nevada, November 12-13, Petersen discusses why employees who work together accomplish more.

How can HR leaders contribute to their organization in a more strategic and meaningful way?

I do not believe that HR leaders do not have a seat at the table, but they can help their organization by providing touch points where leaders and other employees can connect and communicate, understand the vision of where the company is headed and the individual roles of people, and how they contribute.

This can happen in various ways, but I often find leaders detached and disconnected from this due to their heavy workload. They need to rub shoulders and work with people other than their peers to understand what is happening in their organization.

From an HR Information Technology perspective, what does this mean?

There are so many packages, software and tools that are available to facilitate HR processes. That is good. But sometimes we depend too heavily on electronic rather than live connectivity.

How could HR improve how individuals, teams and departments bond?

This has to do with how companies establish formal and informal networks and meetings, so that people work together, support each other, and know they are not in different silos. Social media can help build these connections and bonds.

The most important thing the HR leader can do is help communicate where the organization needs to go, and how every individual and team will contribute to that. HR must break down silos to help individuals help each other.

What are some of the qualities of a good HR leader?

Good leaders shape the future. They communicate and articulate where they are going, where the company is going, and make sure that everyone around them understands that direction and knows how they fit in.

They make things happen, look to the future and focus on what needs to be done to make them happen. They are also busy connecting with people, engaging talent , inspiring and encouraging employees.

Leaders do not get a lot done on their own; they get a lot done when they engage others around them. Succession planning is also an area they focus on, to build new talent that is ready to take on new roles.

Any final words of advice?

Do not leave out the human touch. I am always wary of terms such as human capital. These are people. In our quest to make things faster and better, we should not forget that people need to work together to accomplish great things. The technologies, devices and applications are tools and cannot replace people.

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