As with individuals, organizations would like to believe they are sound, structured and a prime candidate for success. Also like individuals, unless organizations change, they will continue producing the same results. Albert Einstein is noted for describing this type of mentality and behavior as insane – doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. So, what is the role of human resources administrators in this transformation process?

The Role of Human Resources Administrators

The transformation of public education in South Carolina is drastically impacting our role as human resources administrators. It is evident by the ongoing issues surrounding teacher and principal performance evaluation, the Affordable Care Act, social media, globalization and the economy; that human resources administrators will assume a more proactive role in the overall decision-making process as our role continues to evolve. Suggested strategies for moving human resources administrators from an industrial age to a transformational information and knowledge worker age include, but are not limited to the following:

Strategy 1.

Employ the right leaders to foster a learning organization. The days of choosing an applicant because they dressed the part, responded intelligently to a question and attended a well-known institution are no longer the only key ingredients for staffing successful learning organizations.

Human resources administrators must also be able to identify applicants with a greater potential to move the organization forward. Learning organizations create cultures of inclusion and not exclusion. Ideal employees are lifelong learners and should be afforded opportunities to be innovative through trial and error. There should be some margin of error as mistakes can provoke thought, and opportunities for learning should be nurtured and built upon in order to affect change.

Strategy 2.

Educate leaders on the importance of creating an environment where diversity is viewed as a strength and not a weakness. When stereotyping happens, negative perceptions are formed and attributions are distorted.

Leaders who fail to manage diversity create an environment where stereotypes abound, morale is damaged, turnover rises, and significant problems regarding communications and conflict escalate. Therefore, leaders must understand that valuing others and what is important to them enriches employee and employer relations. Human resources administrators should take a proactive approach in identifying ways to ensure diversity is not just tolerated, but celebrated.

 Strategy 3.

Prepare to foster learning that allows you to better assist others. Too often, human resources administrators resolve issues, employ others, and revise or implement policies using antiquated information from yester years’ seminars and lectures. Learning affords learners an opportunity to put into practice what they have attained and puts greater responsibility on the entire community.

For example, conflict is inevitable and is expected to ensue in some form or fashion. However, the methodology for resolving conflict nowadays differs vastly from how conflict was resolved in the industrial age. It is imperative that disparities or disagreements are resolved quickly, but not at the expense of the organization. Lifelong learning teaches us that productively handled conflict can create meaningful—and positive—change.  

Strategy 4.

Understand the role of technology in your organization. Advanced technology is revolutionizing organizations everywhere. To stay abreast, human resources administrators need a general understanding of what’s’ happening with computers, the Internet, and telecommunications. Technology can be viewed as both a blessing and a curse. As human resources administrators across the nation continue making a mad dash to implement and enhance current technology to ensure compliance, they should keep in mind that what works well for one organization, may not work as well with your organization.

As human resources administrators, our leadership role is critical in the transformation of public education in South Carolina. Therefore, we should find our voice and inspire others to find theirs as we prepare to move from effectiveness to greatness.

Human resources administrators can make the transition from effectiveness to greatness by being proactive regarding our role in the evolutional trends impacting public education. These trends include, but are not limited to career readiness, growth, development and advancement; optimization of teacher quality, recruitment, retention and evaluation; technology advancement and globalization; health and retirement benefits; salary disparity; workforce diversity; and compliance with Federal and state mandates. As human resources administrators with innumerous talent, skills, intellect and experience, we must better position ourselves to utilize our voice and inspire others to do the same during this inevitable paradigm shift from an industrial age to a transformational age.

Dr. Gwendolyn Conner is Director of Lancaster County School District. Among Dr. Conner’s numerous prestigious honors are serving as President for the Personnel Division of SCASA; Chair of the Board of the Directors for the Committee on Human Relations for the City of Rock Hill; as well as Chair of the Minority Advisory Council for the Lower Savannah Areas, 2nd Congressional District. Organizations, like individuals, require systematic change to make progress. So how can human resources departments best change in order to support and promote best practices around diversity hiring?