How People Works With Other Functions

If, after reading my conception of an ideal People function (in a previous post), you are thinking, “Holy smokes, this person thinks the People team should run the company!”, let me clarify:  in many cases, we ultimately aren’t decision-makers, so no, we don’t run the company.

Instead, we act as program managers who:

  • Frame key questions about the organization — who are we, what values do we stand for, what approach do we want to take on feedback/performance assessments, what approach do we want to take on compensation, etc.?
  • Glean best practices and ideas from other companies/industries, from inside the company, and/or generate new ideas
  • Syndicate ideas, gather feedback, highlight pros/cons, and formulate recommendations based on company values, design principles, etc.
  • Lead the discussion with decision-makers (typically Execs, but might include others) to arrive at agreed-upon approach
  • Crystallize methodology/what’s been agreed, and communicate that out to the broader company
  • Embed this into day-to-day processes, i.e., act as the steward of the agreed-upon guidelines
  • Monitor success, and propose changes as needed, potentially starting the cycle all over again; as we test out new ideas/principles, changes are inevitable

Once we have a set of principles or agreed ways of doing things, it’s our job to make sure we are ‘governing’ fairly, and considering exceptions and precedent-setting situations carefully.  We want to avoid making any arbitrary decisions, and will work in consultation with leaders across the company.

A CEO asked me to very explicitly lay out how I / my team would work across functions a little while ago, so I created the diagram below.  This is somewhat specific to the company in-question, but demonstrates visually the level of overlap the People team has with other functions, and the types of collaboration/decisions that need to be made together.

Responsibility for the People team’s success isn’t relegated to just the people who sit on the team.  It requires the collaboration, buy-in, and supporting actions of other leaders.  We can’t do this alone.


Screen Shot 2018-03-11 at 3.02.43 PM


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