White Glove HR: Adding Value by Learning and Understanding People
Our job at Udemy for Business is to always stay ahead of the market and help our customers be at the forefront of workplace learning and employee development. Last Thursday, August 11, we hosted a People Innovators event that brought together an all-star panel of People Leaders that included: Annette Reavis, HR Director at Facebook, Doniel Sutton, VP of People at PayPal, Flora Fiorillo Head of People Operations at Beepi, and Matt Frost, People Growth Partner at Medallia.
The discussion was eye-opening, with fresh people management and HR perspective from the panelists. An interesting topic that came up, that we haven’t come across before, is the idea of a “white glove service” for HR.
White Glove HR
When you hear “white glove” typically, you may think of high-end furniture delivery. But, that’s not what we’re referring to. White glove HR service is really about three key things. First, it’s about developing a hands-on relationship with key business leaders to better understand not only their business challenges, but also their personal challenges. Second, we must become familiar with our own products and services in order to help our businesses grow. And lastly, we cannot be afraid to take the necessary steps, however uncomfortable they may be, to fix what’s not working.
Learn and understand the person
HR is often working in a separate part of the office, meeting with other HR folks, conducting exit interviews, dealing with payroll issues, or developing new training curriculum. What’s wrong with this traditional model is that it’s not personal. Doniel Sutton of PayPal states, “At PayPal, the People team is focused on understanding our employees on a much deeper level through analytic segmentation. In the same way we seek to understand our various customer segments, we endeavor to do the same with our employees. Understanding what they value, what motivates them, what influences how they work, enables us to respond to their needs in a more direct way.”
Doniel and other people leaders realize that people are the solution to real business problems. Today’s HR teams must not be afraid to get closer to the business, which means getting closer to its teams and its leaders. Who are the leaders you need to be talking to on a regular basis? Make your conversations with them hands-on, meaningful and helpful.
Get to know your products and services
Understanding the business requires a curiosity to know your own product and service. What is on the upcoming roadmap? Do you know how to use the product? What makes your product or service similar to, or different from the competition?
While it is usually the customer service or product department that knows how your products and services operate, in today’s workplace, you can add much more value to the business by being an HR leader who cares about the actual products and services that are being sold. Flora Fiorillo of Beepi says, “I am focused on making sure that people feel the mission of Beepi across all regions so that there is no development gap. One of the things I’m working on is getting people into the HR role who get the business, want to be part of the business, and are ready to partner with people.”
Don’t be afraid to fix what’s not working
There’s no need to wait until something is broken. If something isn’t working as effectively as it could, fix it. For example, if you’re having trouble building a strong relationship to partner with a key business leader, have a candid conversation about why. Not being proactive will damage your effectiveness at the company. If you’re finding that the business is measuring things the wrong way, speak up. Matt Frost of Medallia states, “HR needs to realize that true learning happens on the job. It’s a very easy metric to put people in a room and say that training happened, but that’s not necessarily the right metric.”
When it’s all said and done, HR is all about people. We recently rebranded our long-standing HR Innovators Events series to People Innovators, in an effort to more broadly encompass a larger trend we see in the space – that it’s all about people. Our rebrand to People Innovators is not only an evolution of our business, but it’s also an evolution of the HR space.
At Udemy for Business we know that when done right, learning is the key component that will drive people to get better, in turn making business progress in the short and long-term. Acting as a hands-on, white glove service to business leaders is a real path towards HR creating business impact.
So ask yourself, what color are your gloves?