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Big Hat no Cattle – is this still HR?

In doing some research I came across an article back in 1981 in the Harvard Business Review.

The story struck me in that I continue to think there is still too much conversation in the HR coffee houses about the need to be an “executive” without having done the grunt work.

How many HR folks have run anything.  Like the guy with the big hat, probably never had run a cattle farm, but that hat looks Oh so cool!

Is this why most HR folk continue to “hide behind” the safe practices of working on being “employee” compliant and handling day-to-day administration?

Its solid work of that there is no question. It always was and always will be.

It is a sucky role and will never be of significant value.

It will not develop a business strategy or make your business or people grow exponentially.

It will not make you a leader and it will never make you the best in anything.

Too many conversations are about HR wannabe conversations and expectations without earning the right through having done the “grunt” work.

Or of actually having done the job themselves, too many HR folk continue to want to tell other people what they need to do and yet have never done it themselves!

It’s not about expectations to be in the executive role it is about earning the right!! When you do that you never have to apply for the job or even ask!


H.R.’s Wake up call!

I Recently saw some more articles on this subject. Yawn!!!!

For those who read my blogs one of the highest responses (over 1000 hits) was when I wrote.

“HR folks just don’t get it and it’s getting old!”

I also commented recently perhaps harshly that if after 80 years of the profession moving from a welfare and benefits function to a strategic positioning partner we still ponder the need for  “HR to have a wake up call” we have simply lost our way.

It’s not just the issues of having, good people who are simply misdirected or misguided in the profession, it’s also the problem of the profession that is encouraging folk to join without a vision of HR themselves.

Am I being harsh? Perhaps. Am I being realistic? You bet.

More importantly am I asking the courageous question? YES.

There are too many folks who want to give answers. That’s the easy part. What are the questions that drive the answers? Too often we talk about re-engineering this or that business process.

Do more with less people, higher quality etc. etc. Old as the hills. Did it make a lasting sustainable stakeholder difference?

We need folks in HR who ask the questions that no one else asks or wants to ask. How do we INCLUSIVELY DRIVE our intentions to the SOUL of the organization and bring life to that SOUL.

It’s tough and we need tough. There is no place in HR for those who say they are all about “the people” when they continue to lay them off or “downsize etc. etc.

Do what I did, I joined an organization and said “we must agree we will never lay anyone off! And that happened!

How? Well let’s say there was no questions or discussions about there being a “ seat at the board table”, or “having a wake up call”, or all that other stuff! It was hard and it was stressful but we did it!

What will your boss miss about you when you leave?

Is  it the policies and procedures that you developed, is it  the performance management process or succession-planning program…

or is that you were willing to push the tough courageous question and you were prepared to have honest and authentic conversations that made a REAL difference in the lives of those around you?  And you never relented.

To have the  conversations that has high risk to your own position for the purpose of what your real role in HR is to your organization is  what you must do and as much as anything else it challenges whether you do indeed have courage, passion and intent. Look in the mirror and see who you really are.

HRMexplorer August 2012


Is HR still really full of Crap?

It seems there is an article every day about “HR won’t get a seat at the table. blah blah blah!!”

I wonder what those writers are on!

I have written my own blogs about “HR doesn’t get it” but I feel I can legitimately say that having been in the profession and seen the kind of people the profession continues to attract. However I also know many more who come into HR do a great job in spite of the naysayers!!

Don’t generalize makes you look stupid!

There is little doubt that the perception of what HR was (and is?) continues, “to dog” those of us who “get” what we need to do for a business.

I for one never wanted to be at any table. Mostly because there is too much damn talking and not enough decisions made and actions taken.

I always wanted to build a successful and thriving business. So happens I made the connection that unless we are a “one man band business ” there is no way I could achieve that without having lots of superb people who want to be there and give their hearts minds and soul.

Oh by the way…I have also consulted with the sole trader. They need people too!!

Perhaps the perception still lives on because many in the HR profession are not:

Creative; or have little if any business sense; don’t understand a P&L from a Balance sheet; not strategic blah blah.

Well I have found there are many folks in other profession who lack these fundamentals. Some run the corporation!!

What I do know is that whatever profession you are in, you’re in business to add value so you better know what the fundamentals are.

It is not about legal constraints or economic or technological constraints’. Every business has those to face.

It is those of us who have a clear idea about strategic positioning (not planning) that will create a business that will beat the crap out of our competitors.

We are in business to achieve our mission but remember there is no mission without margin!

Business is pretty simple as a wise production manger once said to me. “Peter you need to concentrate on only two things revenue and expenses!” Simple may be but work it out!

So lay off HR and let me ask you what did you ever do to create wealth and economic growth for your business and community.

I for one know what that is like and oh by the way I am in HR…never did it from sitting behind any table either! And I get offended by those who throw out blanket statements about my profession. Go figure out something useful to write about, build a company never lay anyone off, build a brand new state of the art automotive factory and more. I did all of those now what were you saying?


The real role of HR folks – A CEO’s Checklist

 1. Influence and develop the business strategy

2. Make the Business success

3. Make the people a success

4. Develop people and the processes

5. You are business first

6. Understand that you need to be able to connect the business dots

7. Understand that you role is to uncomplicate the business world for all around you

8. Understand that your job is to give your knowledge away

9. Remember that the reason you got into HR was to create and develop and build the business and the people

10. Remember that leadership was never about you

Always remember you are business first and people first in that order.

Always remember there is no mission without margin

Always remember that your job is to build a business all else will follow.

Always remember to speak business and not techie HR.

And always always remember understanding people is always more important than polices and procedures. Those are givens.

You will never be great in what you do until you lead greatness in others.


With all the talk about loss of confidence and trust of senior leaders. Is HR part of the problem or the solution?

I asked this question and had the following comments. They varied as you can see what would your comments be?

1. The HR function should assume a role of being the custodian of the business strategy and associated Values and Behaviors and never vary the standard even if it means a job loss.

2. HR practices should be applied consistently to make sure that the current generation of leaders be replaced systematically by a new generation of emerging leaders with no trauma for an organizations’ viability.

That way entrenchment does not occur.

3. A mentoring culture where experienced leaders work share the consistency of the values and behaviors to the next generation of younger professionals. Mentor –Custodian- Champions are created.

4. HR should handle *only* that which they are best suited to handle: recruiting (getting the human resources in) and benefits. (So to directly answer your query – nothing.

5. I think HR is responsible only in that perhaps they hired the wrong person into a leadership position. (However, the individual who accepts that responsibility is ultimately responsible for his actions.)

6. HR “As change leaders” is responsible for developing the culture of the organization and understanding why this is occurring. We “HR” may be part of the problem!

Well there you have it what do you think? Is HR part of the problem or the solution and what would you do?



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