March 8, 2011 by Neil
I was interviewing for HR business partners not so long ago, when I realised that throughout the interviews I’d used the phrase “light touch” on numerous occasions. I wasn’t making a point of returning to this phrase nor using it in the same context each time, but I kept on coming back to the same sentiment.
What is light touch HR? Let me use a metaphor.
Anyone who has ever been to a really good restaurant and experienced really good service will understand. The waiters are present, they anticipate your needs, they provide you with the things that you want but they also delight you. However, they do it without ever being over bearing or conspicuous. There are no steadfast “rules” but there is an attention to individual need. Everything is controlled, organised, well thought through and impeccably delivered.
At the other end of the scale, you have fast food. And actually the offer here is no bad thing either, delivering basics in a quick, efficient and timely manner. What you see is what you get. There are HR departments working on these lines across the country and they are hugely successful within their businesses in providing the level of service and support that people need.
Somewhere in the middle, you have a glut of offerings that range in their quality,
- Those that try to be in the top-tier but over-engineer their service delivery and become intrusive, inflexible and unwelcoming
- Those that promise exquisite treasures but cannot provide the basic infrastructure to support it
- Those are both mediocre in terms of service and product
I don’t know of many, if any, HR teams that are delivering a level of “light touch” perfection on a regular basis, I’m sure they exist. But it is achievable, as long as we get the right focus, the right skill sets and the right approach to our customers then we can make sure that we delight each and every one.