Poor human resources. Every 10 years or so, someone calls for it to be destroyed. Obliterated. Or at least drastically reinvented. In the most recent salvo, some big-name thinkers weighed in by way of a special section in Harvard Business Review. The cover headline? “It’s Time to Blow Up HR and Build Something New.” Unfortunately, the challenges and solutions the authors presented haven’t evolved much since Fast Company ran a story entitled “Why We Hate HR” back in 2005: rewrite the contract with the CEO, discover how to add value, become a strategic partner, align people with capital and business priorities more effectively, and so on.
Of course, the issues are real: HR is saddled with a lot of compliance responsibilities, many of which are not of its own making or liking. It can be process-driven and, often, neither employees nor managers find the processes particularly useful. HR is given problems it alone cannot fix, such as improving an organization’s culture or softening a CEO with low emotional intelligence. (Please let me never see a senior executive scooping ice cream for the “little people” ever again. Those who are good with people don’t need to do it and those who are not simply look silly and uncomfortable.) Worst of all, HR executives can be given the task of maintaining the façade of a benevolent organization when the power rests with people who are focused on cutting costs and minimizing head count in order to boost short-term results.
Read more: Put the Humanity Back in Human Resources