At the outset I have a degree in HR. Despite this I have often said if there is one department I would eliminate it would be HR. Yes, I have taught university HR classes for years. Over the years HR leaders have been “johnny come lately’s” to use my grandmother’s euphemism. Here is why and what you can do.
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When I was growing up in Missouri it was rural laced with pockets of poverty. I worked in the cotton fields in the spring and summer. In the fall the black kids were released in the fall for two weeks to harvest the cotton. The 12 hour days were exhaustive. It seemed to me that it was common sense to want a better life. Such thinking appeared antithetical to some. My counterparts not of my race went to summer camps while I slaved in the hot fields from sun up to literally sun down.
I learned in these fields that to further my purposes I had to reconsider the value of my education. I became obsessed with growth. For the next 15 years I observed leaders in businesses who appeared to self immolate with vast opportunities surrounding them. What I have learned working with great companies comes from my struggles in the cotton fields. The profit and loss generated by action and inaction.
Ram Charan in HBR writes of an on the point article for over throwing the way HR operates. Now while some advocate slow and methodical incremental changes I vehemently disagree. A business can’t afford the luxury of waiting until the culture changes years hence. Writes Charan:
“It’s time to say good-bye to the Department of Human Resources. Well, not the useful tasks it performs. But the department per se must go.
I talk with CEOs across the globe who are disappointed in their HR people. They would like to be able to use their chief human resource officers (CHROs) the way they use their CFOs—as sounding boards and trusted partners—and rely on their skills in linking people and numbers to diagnose weaknesses and strengths in the organization, find the right fit between employees and jobs, and advise on the talent implications of the company’s strategy.
But it’s a rare CHRO who can serve in such an active role. Most of them are process-oriented generalists who have expertise in personnel benefits, compensation, and labor relations. They are focused on internal matters such as engagement, empowerment, and managing cultural issues. What they can’t do very well is relate HR to real-world business needs. They don’t know how key decisions are made, and they have great difficulty analyzing why people—or whole parts of the organization—aren’t meeting the business’s performance goals.” Read full article via HBR
I agree with Charan.
HR is typical with organization’s as a whole. They have the semblance of success. However seldom if ever achieving their potential because they fail to mobile and bring people together in productive ideas for the proliferation of bureaucratic silos that keep mediocrity entrenched.
Think about it. When you hire for HR you rarely if ever hire people who are entrepreneurial. People who will tell you to take a “Flying leap.” But that is what you should hire. The way HR and Management function are little more than hand me down ideas whose ideas of HR and leadership were created for stoic times when competition wasn’t virulent. Jim Woods
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Jim is president of InnoThink Group and Leadership Matters. He is a leader in workplace learning, productivity, performance, and leadership training solutions. For over 25 years, we have helped companies improve their performance, productivity, and bottom-line results.