Saturday 20 December 2003

HR Departments - Homo Rapprochement departed

Would HR become the Rock Stars of the Age of Talent?
This tome is hardly a whipping post for HR Departments but a radical assessment of what function they serve.
In all the organisational upheavals that have characterised changes in organisational behaviour, focus, goals and results, one can say Human Resources or Personnel Management Departments have been the dinosaurs that have held back the winds of change.
Generally, HR represents every negative impression of resources they engage for the bringing value to the organisation. Think retrenchment, reorganisation, downsizing, rightsizing, outsourcing, offshoring and so on, quintessential HR black arts aplenty.
Reform of personnel management
There is no doubt that the context of Personnel Management is in need of radical reform. They set the parameters on which employee value is quantified and remunerated.
One has yet to see a letter from HR that recognises employee value apart from the initial employment offer letter occasional promotion or salary increase notice. HR never drives those aspects of recognising employee value.
Quoting liberally from Tom Peters' Re-Imagine!.
HR people are a classic example of "staffers" who are looked upon with suspicion ... as the ultimate paper-pushing, form-demanding, "just say no" bureaucrats.
Maybe they have earned that reputation. Maybe they have mostly behaved bureaucratically. But that is ancient history. (I pray).
We acknowledge (right!?) that this is an age where value will be created on the basis of Intellectual Capital. And if that is duly acknowledged, then we must also (obviously) acknowledge that it is an ... Unadulterated Age of Talent.
And to continue this incredibly pedestrian logical chain ... if it is an Unadulterated Age of Talent ... WHO IN THE HELL OUGHT TO BE LEADING THE PARADE, ENERGISING THE ENTIRE VALUE-CREATION PROCESS?
The HR people.
If they conceive their jobs correctly. If they understand the monumental nature of their opportunity.
It is an interesting point that the board of directors recognises that their HR departments are too staid for the job of headhunting the next CEO or senior partner in an organisation.
Supposedly, to attract talent one has to be talented. Do not get me wrong, there are many talented and valuable people in HR, they are also caught up in the absurd organisational barriers we all experience that sap talent and value in haemorrhaging quantities.
The change the HR department has to under-go involves changing from law-enforcers (police officers) to lawmakers (leaders). Law enforcers need a quality of subjectivity to profile the lawbreakers.
Lawmakers are supposed to be more objective, visionary and forward-looking, shaping society in such a way that citizens are encouraged to be adherents of the law.
Lacking impetus
One recognises there involves a leap of faith to contemplate such a career realignment. However, HR should recognise that they should be at the forefront of talent resourcing, realising the potential that brings value to the enterprise.
They should create the visionary concept that makes management understand that productivity improvements come from engaging the employee in all aspects of their lives - making them happy at work whilst being considerate of their lives outside work.
HR has tried to be radical with the employee recommendation programme where an existing employee can recommend someone else for a job in the firm.
Where the recruitment processes are objective, talent involving people who have worked together before can be invited into the organisation; abuse however can be incestuous as to recruiting similar dead-weights killing value and productivity.
As pedestrian as Victorian
Enough of the notices informing us of CCTV recording possible reprehensible behaviour and codes of practice and conduct. If HR had been in the job of emancipator 21st Century value recruitment, those notices would not see the light of day.
There is no doubt that if all HR does is wrapped up in Dickensian practices of work and pay robotics, they function does not belong in the enterprise, rather it should be outsourced to Professional Service Firms that are experts to seeking useful talents that contribute to the bottom line and company profile.
One place where HR is in peril of corporate irrelevance is where permanent employees are treating so differently from contracting and short-term employees. There is some need for differentiation, but not where the firm is acknowledging value and contribution.
Not appreciating value
Typically, only permanent employees are invited to Christmas parties or functions like that, whilst through out the year, the contractors put in as much toil and sweat to bring value to the enterprise.
They are part of that whole productivity chart, bringing in fresh thinking and ideas that could be lacking in permanent staff.
They at times prevent creative teams from fossilising. An infusing of such temporal talent in HR departments might just make a whole world of difference.
Once again in the paraphrased words of General Eric Shinseki...
"If HR hates change, they are on the way to irrelevance"
The New HR Department.
The Company policy is to recruit talented and creative minds, allow ideas to flourish, recognise and compensate employee value, inspire independent thought.
Dissolve unnecessary corporate barriers, listen to reasonable comment, promote excellence and condemn sycophancy. Encourage everyone to give their best and understand why their fail to improve.
Outlaw empires within the enterprise, expect commonsense to rule in decision making whilst being objective. We galvanise change and respect the uniqueness of our talent base.
Finally, we appreciate everyone who works for this organisation in whatever role, you are really our most valuable assets and we would do everything to keep you realising your ambitions and career goals for as long as you as you work for this company.
I acknowledge the phrase Rock Star of the Age of Talent is an idea from Tom Peters in his book Re-imagine. ISBN UK 1 4053 0049 3

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