Tuesday, 20 August 2013

Is it time to assign HR to the history books?

This post is triggered by an article from a colleague HR: 'about as helpful as a hole in the head'
The comments that follow the article are perhaps more insightful than the article!

Here's the problem as I see it.
Referring to people as resources, as assets, or as capital, the other dreadful yet common expression, suggests that people don't matter, only the organisations balance sheet matters. Of course this is not the feeling, intention or message of genuine HR practitioners.  Such people are for the employee and the organisation.

This is all a nasty hangover in many organisations from the industrial revolution and particularly the Fredrick Taylor (March 20, 1856 – March 21, 1915) idea that people are replaceable cogs in an organisational machine.  Unfortunately 100 years on some people still think this way.

Human Resources is actually an oxymoron. We are not resources, assets, or capital. Rather we are flesh and blood beings with needs, wants, fears, and aspirations. What is unknown or being ignored by many leaders is that when we are respected and treated as the one-of-a-kind being that each of us is, we respond with remarkable performance.

Some wise folk have dropped HR from their position descriptions and replaced it with People and Culture and other more dignified titles. I think this is part of the solution. In the Talent Enhancers Tribe we believe that the number one role of leadership is to enhance people’s gifts/talents – in yourself and in the people around you.

The full solution in my view means assigning HR to the history books. We need to get back to the fundamentals of treating people with respect and dignity with the understanding that the results we want are a consequence of such intention, attention, and action.  As my colleague Mike Lowe puts it we don't need human resources rather we need resources for humans.

I know a lot of great people who have HR in their career title who don't deserve the criticism like that made in the comments after the article referred to at the beginning of this post. We have a serious problem here though and perception is reality. I am very interested in your thoughts.

Be the difference you want to see in the world.
Ian
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