The Most Important Things HR Should be Doing

Editor’s Note: Dr. John Sullivan has been a provocateur and strategist in the field of human resources and talent management for over 30 years. His specialty is HR strategy and designing world class HR systems and tools for Fortune 200 firms, and he’s never been shy about telling it like it is.

That’s why TLNT asked him to share his thinking in a video series titled “$#*!@ Dr. John Sullivan Says!” Look for these videos twice a week here at TLNT.

Today’s topic: What HR SHOULD be doing

Wonder what kind of questions Dr. John Sullivan gets? Here’s one, and according to Dr. John, it was a really good one: if HR could only do one thing, what should they do? What’s the most important thing?

The No. 1 thing he would do, Dr. John says, would be to require that every manager and HR person be measured and rewarded on how well they do in people management.

And what does he think people should be measured and rewarded for? Here’s his list:

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  • Hiring good people;
  • Developing talent and spreading them throughout the organization;
  • Retaining strong employees.

He also says that being a business leader and understanding the business is a critical component to being a great HR leader. In his world, he would also reward HR leaders for understanding the business and having a business impact.

Unfortunately, only about 20 percent of the companies Dr. John has visited, he says, rewards managers and HR professionals for people management. The others “pretty much ignore it.” So, he adds, their managers pretty much ignore it.

Did you miss the last segment of$#*!@ Dr. John Sullivan Says!” on “What HR Trends Can We Expect in 2011 and Beyond?” You can see it here.

John Hollon is Editor-at-Large at ERE Media and was the founding Editor of A longtime newspaper, magazine, and business journal editor, John has deep roots in the talent management space. He's the former Editor of Workforce Management magazine and, served as Editor of RecruitingDaily, and was Vice President for Content at HR technology firm Checkster. An award-winning journalist, John has written extensively about HR, talent management, leadership, and smart business practices, including for the popular Fistful of Talent blog. Contact him at, connect with him on LinkedIn, or follow him on Twitter @johnhollon.