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Show Them The Money - Marketing HR Services to Other Managers

Show Them The Money - Marketing HR Services to Other Managers.

By Stuart Ayling of Marketing Nous

Note: Although this article discusses the HR function it applies equally to other corporate services.

"HR systems only have a systematic impact on the bottom line when they are embedded in a firms management infrastructure and help it solve real business problems."1

Within most corporate environments there is a focus on achieving tangible results. Internal activities that support the achievement of results, but do not produce results directly, are often overlooked and undervalued. The Human Resource (HR) function can often be caught in this situation. As an HR professional how do you ensure other managers appreciate your contribution?

From a marketing perspective it is important to accept the adage "perception IS reality". The issue of perception is always relative, and the customer is always right (because it is their perception that matters).

Customer groups for a human resources manager may be as varied as trainees, executives, board members, employee representatives and general staff. It is important to recognise the different needs of each customer group and manage their expectations and perceptions.

It is a fact of corporate life that 'getting the numbers' is important. Managers accept this and often judge corporate activities by how they contribute towards achieving business objectives.

How many HR practitioners can identify the "real business problems" that are being targeted by their activities? Are these problems important to senior management? Can you quantify the results? HR services will be more highly valued when they can clearly demonstrate a meaningful contribution towards 'getting the numbers'.

In a former role I was fortunate to have an experienced staff trainer reporting to me. Let's call her Sue. One day Sue approached me with concerns about the perception other managers held about the value she was providing to the organisation. Sue had trained hundreds of company personnel and customer's retail staff but still could not articulate how her activities related to achieving the companies objectives. This doubt had started to affect her own perception of her services and adversely impact her self-esteem.

After some discussion I helped Sue develop a simple model that could show - in dollars - the positive compounding effects of her training sessions. Sue then had some real answers to those who questioned the value of her services.

An important element of marketing your work as an HR practitioner is to realise you must effectively communicate the benefits of your work in terms other managers can relate to. This really means selling HR to the organisation. A regular positive message will help position your services in the 'must have' category for senior managers.

And remember… selling is not a dirty word, it is a communication process.

How do you sell HR?

Here are some easy steps:
1) First understand the needs of your customers - in this instance the management team in your organisation. Gain an understanding of their business objectives and the pressures they face.
2) Prioritise their needs and determine how your services help them. Why and when do they need your services?
3) Determine how you can communicate with them. Different circumstances will require different methods. For example, use the monthly
management meeting to explain the correlation between good HR practices and the achievement of corporate objectives. Be specific.
4) Be prepared to answer objections to your 'good news stories'. Some managers may need additional information to accept the impacts you present. Cite results, case studies and statistics that relate to achieving specific objectives.
5) Follow up with members of the management team to ask for their comments on how they are benefiting from HR services. Get their perspective. Be proactive in helping them achieve their goals.

"Ultimately your organisation wants you to add value. By involving your executives in the process of change and gaining their commitment to implement your HR initiatives, you will better serve your executives, your organisation and the entire HR function."2

Sources: 1. Becker & Gerhart 1996:794. Asia Pacific Journal of Human Resources. Vol.38 2000. 2. Marshall Goldsmith - Executive coach. Workforce Magazine May 2001.

Stuart Ayling runs Marketing Nous, an Australasian marketing consultancy that specialises in marketing for service businesses. He helps clients to improve their marketing tactics, attract more clients, and increase revenue. For additional marketing resources, including Stuart's popular monthly newsletter, visit his web site at www.marketingnous.com.au
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