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What does 2015 hold for human resources? Honestly, I don’t know. I worry a bit about our future: will it bring more of the same or will we step up and make a change in order to create real value?

We need a shift. We are under fire and often seen as a necessary evil. We function as an overhead department and are pressured to reduce expenses. We devise programs that are dreaded and implement technology that is clunky. If we were a business, would our customers be buying?

Rather than make a prediction for 2015, I want to make a wish. I wish that human resources would use this next year to make a dramatic change in their approach to work — moving from an overhead department mentality, to that of a business provider.

I have a lot of years invested in this profession, and I truly believe that HR professionals have the ability to add tremendous value to organizations. But what does it mean to “add value”?

When I became an independent consultant and started reading and talking with others in the field, one message was consistent: we must create products and services that satisfy a need and provide value. This means doing a very good needs assessment, reporting back about what you hear and confirming the validity, and then devising a plan to fill the need. Once you implement the plan, you begin the process of evaluating effectiveness — gaining candid feedback from users about whether it addresses the need, and whether it is a feasible and workable solution. If it is not, then you tweak the solution until the need is met.

We don’t do that in HR. Instead, we tell the client (aka employee) what they must do, but rarely do we ever ask them for feedback. I know this for a fact because I have been one of those HR people who really didn’t want to hear any negative feedback because I felt powerless to do anything to fix it.

What if we used 2015 to do a really good needs assessment on one or two of our products or services?

Let’s take “talent management” as an example. What does talent management mean to your organization? Can you answer that question? Would your answer mirror that of your executive team? You probably have a talent management program in place. If you can’t answer the questions about what it is supposed to do, how do you know if it is the right solution?

Make 2015 the year that you commit to adding value to your organization, find out what value means, and assess your current programs for their value.

That’s a lot to do, all while keeping the wheels turning at the same time. However, just asking the questions of your executives and leaders shifts the paradigm. It says, “HR really wants to work with the business to make a difference to the business.” Once you turn that corner, I predict that you will gain significant credibility.

Let me know how it goes.

Photo: Can Stock