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Enough is Enough! HR doesn’t suck!

It seems to be an in vogue thing these days to bash HR. What with the myriad of experts out there that continue to weigh in on how HR should be done differently, or that it is time to change HR or basically how HR sucks. Go ahead, Google, “why HR sucks” and you will get 8.5 million hits! Better yet, if you search on, “making HR better” you will get 296 MILLION hits! Yes, everyone has an opinion on the matter, or so it seems.

Human resources picAs someone who has been in “the biz” for many years, I am a big fan of “good HR.” I believe in the value that HR brings to an organization – whether from a strategic perspective or from a good old fashion making the trains run on time perspective (i.e. making sure people get paid accurately and on time, making sure managers treat their staff right, etc.). Either way, when done right, HR brings tons of value to an organization and is a worthy profession. I blogged about this subject, about 18 months ago, when I referred to it as the HR Identity Crisis. My intent was to get HR folks to change their mindset a bit about how they view themselves and the work that they do.

So let’s start doing ourselves, as a profession, a favour. Let’s stop bashing each other and what we do. There are enough folks out there that will do that for us (see reference above to Google hits). You don’t see accountants and lawyers going around trashing their profession, so why do we have this self-deprecating approach about what we do?

Let’s also acknowledge the fact that doing good HR involves doing things, that for some reason, HR says they don’t want to do anymore. I mean, we have become so fixated on “getting that seat at the table” and being “strategic” all in the name of being taken seriously as a profession. The problem being, all the “real” HR stuff that needs to get done we (as a profession) have been washing our hands from doing. So if we aren’t being good organizational custodians, who is? If we aren’t the voice of reason and good conscience for the companies we represent, than who is doing that? Bottom line, you may be working yourself out of a job!

At the end of the day we are in the people business, hence the term “human” resources. Yes, I get it that it is all about talent and talent management, but wrapped up in all of that is the people that we deal with day in and day out. We have created such a crisis of conscience for our profession it is maddening. I speak with and hear from so many HR Pros that question themselves day in and day out about their chosen profession and they wonder if they are doing “good HR.”

So, what exactly is it we should be focusing on then? Well, if you truly want to be known as a consummate HR professional that does “good” HR, than you are doing some (or all) of the following:

  • Anything that relates to the attraction of people to your organization
  • Anything that relates to the retention of the people you have attracted
  • Anything that gets people communicating and collaborating
  • Helping your employees work through organizational change
  • Making sure your organization conducts itself ethically
  • Ensuring that positive employee relations are maintained – i.e. organizational stewardship
  • Helping your managers become better leaders
  • Ensuring compliance with laws, regulations, etc. Not because you “have” to, but because it makes good business sense.

That’s it. Those are the broad categories. Now think about all that you do as an HR Pro. I bet 90% of it falls under one of those categories, if so, than you are doing “good HR.” You can probably stop doing the other 10%. Now, there is one caveat to all of this and that is, everything will ultimately come down to execution. This, in turn, ties into your internal HR brand. In other words, how well you communicate, get buy in, apply a business lens and sometimes even stand your ground, will define how well you execute in doing “good” HR. This is the difference in being the policy police vs. doing “good” HR.

So, as HR Pros, let’s all agree to start giving ourselves a break. Let’s lighten up on the internal HR bashing. Let’s focus on service delivery excellence and providing value to our customers (managers and employees.)   Make sure that what you are doing has a purpose – whether strategic or tactical. This is especially true for those of you in smaller (do it all) HR shops. Most of all, give yourselves, and each other, a break. As always, I welcome your comments and feedback.

Image courtesy of 89studio/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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5 Responses

  1. if you read my post back in early may – http://www.charliejudy.com/you-do-not-suck – you’ll see how much we think alike. scary.

  2. Charlie – I hadn’t seen/read that post of your but it is fantastic and very well put (better than I wrote it!) Thanks for commenting…I really like your quote “If you want mind-blowing HR Strategy…than f-ing pay for it!’ I was also inspired by a couple of Laurie Ruettimann’s posts where she was weighing in on this subject. Nice to see a senior level HR person like yourself firing back!

  3. I love what you have to say. Too bad I live in an area where it is SO hard to get one’s foot in the door though. I strongly feel that those most able to ‘stand their ground’ or know what they are talking about, are those with some life experience behind them. Unfortunately it seems these days, those of us born in the mid 60s are the forgotten generation in that we are lumped in with those ‘baby boomers’ (which we are not) but not considered as valuable as the ‘wonderful’ up and coming and creative Gen X, Y or Millenials (which we really are if given a chance!). HR can only do as good as possible if it truly values ALL generations in the workplace, and from my experience in Ontario, Canada, two things HR managers and directors are not doing enough of to help the HR cause, is being more open to diversity and not just paying lip service to it!

    • HI Anna – unfortunately I hear of stories like yours far too often. HR Pros, for some reason, tend to eat their own. The entire concept of diversity is still a difficult one for HR folks to wrap their heads around, that is, understanding diversity in race, gender, thought, socio-economic background, etc. There is a lot that goes into it, including, as you say, generational background. I am a big fan in HR Pros giving HR Pros a break. In order to do that, we have to practice what WE preach. Thanks for commenting and sharing.

  4. […] some perspective to our upcoming HR Pros. Part of the mission of The Armchair HR Manager is to dispel some of the myths and fallacy in thinking that HR Pros have about themselves and their profession. I have written […]

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