On June 11, we hosted a webinar in the HR Warrior and Business Leader series that covered The Importance of Accuracy as an HR Warrior. Our business leader guest, Terry Howell, Logistics Director at Kapco Metal Stamping, talked about his expectations on ensuring accuracy as an HR partner. He also shared how his HR team was able to help resolve a major pain point for his organization by prioritizing accuracy in problem-solving.
In HR, accuracy is about identifying the root cause of any issue. To get it right you need to understand how to conduct root cause analysis. And you have to be curious. Ask what’s going on, and don’t assume that the first symptom is the real issue.
Trust is essential as well. When you are digging into an issue, people need to trust you. In the quest for accuracy, you have to get used to unpredictability. You might think you’ve solved the problem and then two months later something else pops up. Lastly, you need to respect the law – its subtleties and its ever-evolving landscape.
Accuracy in getting to the root cause is so important because if you don’t understand the problem, you can’t solve it. And if you can’t solve problems, people question the value HR brings.
There are many tools available for conducting root cause analysis. One of our favorites is the 5 Whys from Toyota. With the 5 Whys, you ask ‘why’ every step of the way. When you get an answer to your first question, you should have another question to ask. And you keep asking questions until you hit upon the root cause of the problem.
For Terry Howell, the HR and the 5 Whys played a crucial role in solving a company-wide problem. Kapco Metal Stamping is a fabrication that fills orders for customers, making them exactly what they have asked for. Occasionally, a customer will ask for an exception, an item that has some small difference from their usual order. They don’t want a new part number; they just want some small changes.
The exception orders would go through departments with no clear process in place to manage them. The result was missed delivery dates, frustration between departments and the potential for unhappy customers.
Terry worked with his HR Team to solve the issue. HR created a neutral environment to look at the issue free from judgment.
“I don’t think we could have done that without HR being the neutral ground.”
HR was the right department with which to partner in solving the problem because they were able to identify the root cause of the issue using the 5 whys.
“If we don’t keep driving the whys, we end up stopping short. Every time we end up stopping a little short and not fixing it. Somebody has to have that moxy to go ‘hey I’m going to jump in there again’ and HR was our capable team in that scenario.”
HR recommended that a new position needed to be created, a project manager to handle exception orders. While it took three or four instances of the problem before Terry consulted HR, the success of HR’s involvement means that the next time something like this happens, Terry will bring in HR right away.
This was more than just a “people problem.” It wasn’t about hiring or firing, it was a business problem. And having trust in HR was critical. Terry trusted HR to maintain that neutral space and to have the company’s best interests in mind.
If HR was easy, anyone could do it. But it takes a warrior. It takes courage to keep asking questions and to strive for the accuracy that gets to the root of the problem so that you can find a solution.
To hear the whole story, check out the complete webinar. And if you’re looking for more business leader insights on HR, tune in to our next webinar, The Importance of Courage in HR on Tuesday, July 16, 9:00 am PDT.