Will the real HR stand up?
The field and profession of human resources was something that I became very passionate about in the early 2000s, firstly in human resource management and then human resource development. Over the years I have seen human resources evolve and change to meet the ever-changing business climate and needs of organizations. Even what human resources, or HR, is referred to has changed: from personnel, to HR, to people, talent and culture. No matter the changes, there are some basic characteristics that identify an effective HR practitioner and department.
Suzanne Lucas created a blog called Evil HR Lady in an effort to help people get a better appreciation for the role that HR plays in an organization. Believe it or not, HR is way more than the popular perception:
• Hiring people – usually their friends and relatives of friends;
• Firing people – usually the people who disagree with their friends and relatives of friends;
• Suppressing competent, independent thinkers to maintain the status quo for friends and relatives of friends and management;
• Having confidential conversations with everyone so that your information becomes the secret everybody knows;
• Being so out of touch with the business operations and the sentiments of the team that everyone questions their relevance.
The HR Certification Institute in 2017 posted an article outlining nine essential human resource competencies found in the book Victory Through Organization capturing the results of a 30-year study. The article wrote:
Of the nine categories of HR competencies identified, the researchers defined three as core drivers:
Strategic positioner: Able to position a business to win its market.
Credible activist: Able to build relationships of trust by having a proactive point of view.
Paradox navigator: Able to manage tensions inherent in business (including long-term and short-term tensions, and top-down and bottom-up tensions).
Three categories of HR competence were defined as organization enablers, helping position HR to deliver strategic value:
Culture and change champion: Able to make change happen and manage organizational culture.
Human capital curator: Able to manage the flow of talent by developing people and leaders, driving individual performance and building technical talent.
Total rewards steward: Able to manage employee well-being through financial and non-financial rewards.
Finally, three HR competencies were defined as delivery enablers that focus on managing the tactical or foundational elements of HR:
Technology and media integrator: Able to use technology and social media to drive and create high-performing organizations.
Analytics designer and interpreter: Able to use analytics to improve decision-making.
Compliance manager: Able to manage the processes related to compliance by following regulatory guidelines.
If these are the benchmarks or standards for HR effectiveness, how does HR measure up in your organization – as a department and as the individuals that comprise the department? Does it pass? Fail? Are they star performers or marginal? Are we hitting the targets or not even close?
This isn’t intended to bash HR – I am HR too. I just know my heart breaks every time I hear someone say, ‘HR? It’s a waste of time going to them for anything.’ This shows that HR has lost trust, value and credibility. We have great opportunities to grow the profession, to trail blaze on legislation, policies and practices and to be a key driver of success in organizations around the world. Let’s take a stand to do right by our profession, and by extension our teams and our organization.
• Simmone L. Bowe, MSc, SPHRi, is a seasoned human resource and organization development consultant & trainer, speaker, author, mentor, and activist who focuses on helping business owners, leaders and professionals diagnose their people and performance problems and implement strategic solutions. For comments, queries and bookings, email firstname.lastname@example.org.