Create continuous process flow to bring problems to the surface.
This really goes to one of the core Toyota principles that they are best known for – Just In Time. One of the key principles is the discarding of waste through any process. There are many areas in HR this can be applied from payroll processes, performance reviews, transferring employees, or simply trying to obtain a report.
In many HR processes where a decision is required, we attempt to obtain 2-4 approvals as the recommendation goes up the management chain. While picking an HRMS solution that could cost millions of dollars might make sense to apply that approval process to, I often see similar approval processes for new hires filling an unbudgeted position or mid year salary increases. While it is important to ensure the proper governance in decisions and policy changes, Toyota would argue that much of this time spent is “waste” versus “value added” and I agree.
A company I once worked for allowed their president of a large division a signing authority of $50K. Anything above that had to go to the corporate offices. What could you buy in the ‘90s for $50K? But this is the type of waste Toyota is talking about. If you have hired the right HR managers, you should be able to entrust them with making the right decisions based on sound business facts. Forget about HR practitioners who allowed an inequitable raise to a single parent who cried during the request, or increases in headcount that are not based on sound analysis.
Our HR managers and practitioners should be experienced business professionals. They should have the capacity to understand their business – they are after all often the link between corporate HR and the business and are assumed to support the actual operations. If this is true, they should have sufficient business acumen to make certain decisions based on defined parameters you give them. We could also look at the performance and compensation review cycle – often which go all the way from bottom to top for approvals. Governance of this process should not necessarily be each consecutive manager up the chain checking the prior level’s work.
The point is that there is an abundance of waste in the HR field. Your process should define where the best use of time for your high cost employees is and eliminate processes that are wasteful. Ensure your employees are properly trained to make the right decisions and you’ll eliminate the need to escalate minor issues on a constant basis.