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So I reread the Fast Company article from December 19, 2007 on Why We Hate HR by Keith H. Hammonds. The article had the same effect on me today as it did back in 2007 – felt like a smack upside the head! It is clear that Keith does not like HR and he lays out pretty damming arguments of why we [HR] suck! What hit me the hardest is his contention that “after close to 20 years of hopeful rhetoric about becoming ‘strategic partners’ with a ‘seat at the table’ where the business decisions that matter are made, most human-resources professionals aren’t nearly there. They [HR] have no seat, and the table is locked inside a conference room to which they [HR] have no key. HR people are, for most practical purposes, neither strategic nor leaders.

POW! to the right and left of the head!

He argues that:

  • The HR profession does not attract and keep top talent.
  • “HR represents a relatively low-risk parking spot.”
  • HR professionals aren’t “interested in, or equipped for doing [the real work of ] business.”
  • HR delivers the “administrivia” [of payroll, benefits, hiring, compensation, learning & development] because it is easier.
  • HR doesn’t understand any approach to policy beyond one-size-fits-all.
  • HR’s goal is sameness [compliance] vs. delivering long-term business value [talent].
  • HR can bring “strong technical expertise to the party” but no/little understanding of business strategy and how HR drives that strategy.

So I am sitting here looking at the list of arguments and feeling angry at us [HR] – we have not built The Case for HR! In many cases, we [HR] have defaulted on the opportunity for delivering competitive advantage to the business “through the lens of people and talent” and instead, have provided compelling evidence for Keith’s complaints against HR.

So I am back to the original invitation to a conversation. I know that we [HR] are smart, capable of delivering short-term/long-term business value, and understanding/engaging/delivering on the business strategy of talent! And I am confident that we [HR] refuse to be “stuck” in the box of “Why We Hate HR.”

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