The Solution is the Best Part of the Problem

I dig it when a TrenchHR pro takes the time to send me a guest post. Some are testing their writing skills, others are looking for a place to spout off, and others are just interested in being part of the conversation. Either way, I’m happy to give them the platform. Michael Danubio is one of those guys who “[leads] by rolling up my sleeves”. He has the enviable job as the Director of HR for the Boston Red Sox (it’s my dream to do this for the St. Louis Cardinals). And he has some sound advice for the Human Resources Community…and particularly those in that community who can’t quite figure out where they fit into it all. Make sure to connect with Mike – he’s for real.

The plumber fixes a leaky pipe.  The engineer redesigns a congested highway.  The IT tech eliminates a computer virus.  What do these people have in common?  They use their skills to solve problems.  It sounds so obvious and it is easier said than done, but being part of the solution is what we as HR professionals must do in order to be respected and sought out by our business partners.  Think about it – anyone can process paperwork, teach a new hire orientation or make sure that employees get paid every two weeks.  While entirely necessary, with the exception of receiving a paycheck on time, none of these transactional things really matter to the business partners we are tasked with supporting.  What does matter is helping them attract, motivate and reward top talent, manage out poor performers and providing leadership development opportunities.  Why?  Because these elements of HR create a competitive advantage that adds value to the bottom line and increases your business partner’s ability to do their job and makes employees at all levels more productive for the overall benefit of the company.

Here are some simple ways to be part of the solution regardless of the HR discipline you practice:

1. Understand the business of the people that you are supporting.  You can’t effectively solve their business problems if you don’t understand their business.  Learn to speak about it in relevant terms such as revenues, margins and KPI.   In addition to financial statements, read the books, periodicals and industry publications that are relevant to the business you support.

2. Be visible and communicate frequently with your business partners.  Don’t hide behind your keyboard.  Attend staff meetings and off-sites, set up one on one’s with key leaders and make the most of those opportunities by having and expressing an informed opinion.

3.  Learn to live in the gray.  It is likely that the business you are supporting is not black and white and your approach to HR should not be either.

4.  Practice what you preach.  Weed out poor performers and build a strong team of highly capable HR practitioners.  Coach them and stretch them the way you expect your business leaders to coach and stretch their teams.

5.  Stand up for yourself and find your voice.  Respect your business partners but do not succumb to their every whim.  Let it be known that HR has evolved from a personnel department full of order takers to strong teams of strategic business leaders.

So take these tips and in every situation always be thinking about the business problem you are trying to solve.  I have found that this has made me more effective, more productive and more valuable to the company and the talent I support.

Image Credit:  Brennan G Wills

  • Robin Schooling

    Nice post Michael and every single “way to be part of the solution” that you list is incredibly important. “Learn to live in the gray” <– love it!

  • Michael Danubio

    Thanks Robin. Good “seeing” you on #jobhuntchat last night!

  • Marta Steele

    Love #2 — don’t hide. And if not invited, invite yourself.
    I’d add a #6 – show results with tangible contributions.

  • Michael Danubio

    great addition Marta!

  • hrfishbowl

    i like to say, “if you can’t readily articulate the tangible value you bring to the organization, then what you bring to the organization has no value.” thanks for the input, Marta

  • Cornerstone OnDemand

    5 Ways Where #HR Can Be A Part of the Solution (Not Part of the Problem!) | Good stuff from @HRFishbowl: #PRSCamp

  • Michael Danubio

    Simple ways to be part of the solution regardless of the #HR discipline you practice from @HRFishbowl and @mdanubio4

  • Michael Danubio

    thx for sharing @mdanubio4's guest post @StarfieldTMS @New_Resource @sbrownehr @atlscgrad @chiragbhayani @MartaSteele

  • Michael Danubio

    The Solution is the Best Part of the Problem-Great Guest Post by Michael Danubio @mdanubio4 on HRFishbowl @HRFishbowl (

  • Michael Danubio

    Post frm @mdanubio4: #HR must be part of the solution to be sought out by business partners. Check it: #HREvolution

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  • Bert de Jong

    The Solution is the Best Part of the Problem @HRFishbowl #hr

  • Charlie Judy, SPHR

    thx, as always, Bert! RT @humanclouds: The Solution is the Best Part of the Problem @HRFishbowl #hr

  • Robert Rojo

    The Solution is the Best Part of the Problem #leadership #hr

  • Aruna Inalsingh

    The Solution is the Best Part of the Problem

  • chiragbhayani

    RT @HRFishbowl: The Solution is the Best Part of the Problem #HR #TrenchHR