Breaking Ranks

Fast Company published an article last year, Why We Hate HR by Keith Hammond. As you can imagine, this article did not go over well with members of the HR community. I came across it again recently and at the risk of breaking ranks, I’d have to say that I agree with Keith on most of his points.

Now, I don’t agree with the generalities. Come on, not all HR professionals are drones. The HR profession, as well as any other profession, has to claim some drones but you will find that some of us are pretty darn smart. Like others, I choose to work in Human Resources because of the value I find in many of the things that we do each day. And no, for me, it is not simply because "I like people." Truth be told, I really don't like people very much at all.

The value HR has to offer is in contributing to, facilitating, or enabling an organization to meet it’s goals and objectives be it sales, new patient enrollments, employee satisfaction, manufacturing efficiency etc. The value is found sitting beside the Director of Primary Care or any other service, discussing the issues and identifying ways to address them. It is sort of a "perfect storm" of staff, services and organizational support. Our HR departments must be staffed with professionals with the critical thinking and problem solving skills who are technically and strategically proficient to identify services to meet needs. And what is the organization’s role? The organization must provide the necessary support in terms of top down leadership support and resources.

We can go round and round about what comes first, the chicken or the egg but the bottom line is organizational support is necessary for HR, or any service, to function effectively. Consequently, a non-functioning service will have a heck of a time finding much support from down the hall or anywhere else for that matter.

I work in an organization now where the culture, and subsequently the perception of HR, has been very traditional. We are drowning in administration and many days, we cannot see the forest for the tress. Fortunately, the tides of change are occurring close to home. Right now, the network HR Managers have an opportunity to take advantage of leadership's willingness to listen to us, not necessarily as individuals, but as a collaborative force. I know where the bus is heading and am clear that the keys are there for our taking.

Logic says that if we have less time devoted to administering routine, regular tasks, we will have more time to provide proactive, strategic HR leadership to the organization. But can we really? We need to take a hard look at our staff and at ourselves and ask, "do we have the right people in the right seats on the bus to get us to where we need to go?" Listening to the answer. . . .there in lies the challenge for us as HR leaders.