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Posts Tagged ‘The Case for HR’

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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I have just started a new book, The Case for God by Karen Armstrong (full disclosure – one of my favorite authors!), and this morning I woke up with this phrase running through my head…The Case for HR…crazy what the brain does during the night.

Anyway, I am intrigued by the idea of The Case for HR, because I am not sure I (nor the broader HR community) could articulate The Case for HR in a powerful, convincing way that matters to organizations, to employees, and to HR professionals. I certainly have read a lot about HR during my career, I have pulled together proposals that I presented to senior leadership on why this/that as part of the broader HR organization, and I have attended many conferences/workshops to learn about the latest and greatest thinking about topics such as workforce planning, succession planning, leadership development, etc…we know this stuff because we talk a lot about HR these days. But underlying all the functions/initiatives of HR is The Case for HR. Let me state that I believe that this topic is hard and complex and our collective arguments for The Case of HR have, at times, seemed very underdeveloped even arbitrary despite the growing education levels of our profession and the acknowledgement by organizations that talent is one of the key ingredient for success in the 21st century.

So this blog is an invitation to everyone, whether you are a business leader, a student of the HR profession, an employee of an organization, currently unemployed, or an HR professional in any capacity to journey with me as we collectively examine, discuss, disagree/agree, and ultimately build The Case for HR. I believe that if we are willing to share our knowledge freely and then let our expertise go with the goal of learning, we will be able to collectively build The Case for HR.

Two requests; first, that all discussion is respectful and second, that each of us approach this topic with an openness that furthers this discussion.

I look forward to our conversation!

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