HR folks just don’t get it and it’s getting old! This blog has the HR world talking!

I have recently been speaking to CEO’s and this is what they want! (And it’s rare that they get it).

  1. HR folks who understand the business.
  2. HR folks who understand what the needs of their customers really are.
  3. HR folks who have run parts of business and therefore have credibility when giving advice to line managers.
  4. HR folks who “feel” the economics of their business environment and act and think like a CEO.
  5. HR folks who are not all about policies and procedures and are aboutdeveloping a motivational culture and inclusiveness.
  6. HR folks who know how to develop and grow a business.
  7. HR Folks who know it’s about business, marketplace, community and product/service strategy. (Internal and external factors).

So it’s not about focusing on administration or benefits or hiring the right people!

These are givens, part of our toolkit. It’s like saying to a CFO “lets balance the books.”!!

HR is about creating, developing and implementing business solutions that increase bottom line profitability AND sustained performance.

Its getting old! We need to understand that we are Business first and Business last, that way we really are taking care of our employees and not always concentrating on cost reductions.

So lets stop talking about being business partners and start thinking business.

Understand that growing a business also grows the people.

Oh, and finally if HR doesn’t get it don’t expect anyone else!

“From small acorns do great Oak trees grow” Old saying

Picture of English Oak tree photo by John Elliott – Trees in an English Landscape

Views: 206

Comment by David Perry on November 24, 2010 at 2:22pm
yes, yes yes!
Comment by Brenda E. O'Neill on November 24, 2010 at 3:03pm
I apologize in advance to whoever wrote this and I cannot rememeber where I got it but I kept it for my own edification. I think it is appropriate to your post.

"What is the difference between a great HR professional and a mediocre one?

A great HR professional understand the meaning of the two words HUMAN and RESOURCE. That the HR role in the business is all about the people (not ALL ABOUT process, and metrics, and policies) and that the HR organization is a resource to the employee and the management. A mediocre HR professional places too much value on the corporate structure and looks to implement programs and ideas based on some overblown process that is either driven by metrics or cost and loses sight that "people are the true engine of a company, without them the company will fail".

What is the most important contribution of HR to a company’s overall mission?

HR needs to have no illusions about their role in the business. As hard as it may be to accept HR is a service organization that provides support to the business. This is most clear in that HR is a cost center and does not drive revenue. So what is the answer here? Support the business in the way that it needs support and make sure that the business is compliant with laws, rules, regulations, and policies. Help the business navigate through those areas to move forward. Do not set up road LOCKS rather provide road SIGNS.
Comment by Peter Lanc on November 24, 2010 at 3:47pm
Thanks David, You make some great points here. I do not agree though with the "service" idea.( only because it has always given a support theme. I have run all my departments based on Dollar outcomes and hard driven metrics. Also I believe the admin side can always be considered to be an outsourcing potential. Great comments and the discussion goes on.
Comment by Randy Levinson on November 24, 2010 at 3:56pm
Interestingly enough I think this is why recruiters make potentially good HR people. Looking at your seven points above:

Recruiters must understand the business.
Recruiters must understand what the needs of their customers really are.
Many recruiters have run parts of business and therefore have credibility when giving advice to line managers.
Recruiters do “feel” the economics of their business environment.
Recruiters are not all about policies and procedures and are about developing a motivational culture and inclusiveness.
Most recruiters know how to develop and grow a business.
Recruiters must know it’s about business, marketplace, community and product/service strategy. (Internal and external factors).

I find a lot of companies I spoke to when on the job market could not see the true benefit of a recruiter-HR crossover/hybrid like myself and so many others. As far as motivating and inspiring - this is a core competency of any good recruiter. We need to motivate and inspire to get people to take that next career step

I think you are spot on about focusing on the business and getting people to consider that in their decision making process. It was the film "Office Space" that included in it's parody of business today the line, "but is it good for the company?" There is a balance to be found that encompasses both good for the company and good fro the employees. Strong effective HR can embody that when it includes your point above. Great observation.
Comment by Peter Lanc on November 24, 2010 at 4:12pm
I agree and it is not helpful to the recruiter to have an HR person who does not understand the business. That is one reason HR is often side stepped to get to the "decision maker" who understands the business. I hear you loud and clear. Thanks for comments
Comment by Navid Sabetian on November 25, 2010 at 12:04am

The points you state are brief and yet to the point.

I have an honor degree in HR and wrote several papers and practiced Human Resources while studying before I got into headhunting several years ago.

In my experience, "some" Human Resources teams are too pre-occupied with trying to manage the "process" and adding more red tape to already existing processes that they have almost forgotten that HR is about facilitating the business's success not adding to the paperwork and control.

HR does in fact play an important role in the success of the organization however some HR practitioners try to re-emphasize this importance by being obsessed and trying to control each and every process that way they see fit. I have found that in these situations there are only two scenarios that are likely to happen.


1) The senior management does not realize how the company is suffering against it's competitors and takes HR for the controlling/cost cutting machine that it is and in fact praise them and blame the lack of performance on other departments.


2) The senior management realizes what has happened and they totally restructure HR which results in loss of jobs and productivity.
Comment by Dr Simon Harding on November 25, 2010 at 2:06am
An excellent post !
Comment by Valentino Martinez on November 25, 2010 at 4:11am
@Peter...aren't you saying some HR just don't get it?

@Randy...aren't you saying some recruiters just don't get it?

I've been recruiting for the past 36 years and have worked both as a military recruiter; a corporate Recruiter and Staffing Manager; and am presently an external Recruitment Consultant and Contractor for employers in a variety of industries. I've received many awards for performance including "Business Vision" Awards for my efforts. I take great pride when someone I've recommended for hire, is hired and later tells me they've saved the company significant money; significant production time; or was awarded a patent, grew customer loyalty, improved safety, etc. I take great pride in the fact that I often hear of promotions and awards for professionals I've had a hand in facilitating their employment consideration which resulted in their hire.

While you say you have spoken to some CEOs who say their "HR folks" as not getting it—your headline makes it a blanket statement that feel is totally unfair and shortsighted. The fact is a lot of HR folks actually do get it, particularly when it is HR folks, in concert with management, who facilitate the hire of future leaders. It is also HR folks who play a key role in saving an employer from potential jail-time by training management, and rank-and-file employees, not to violate such policies that have such entities like: USDA, FDA, OSHA, EEOC, or OFCCP, to name a few, who have oversight responsibility on how many companies can operate.

Your statement that HR folks should think and act like CEOs is presumptuous when one thinks of modern day debacles freshly experienced on Wall Street; and those debacles, somewhat distant, but still fresh on the minds of many who personally experienced the fall of ENRON, ANDERSON CONSULTING, and WORLDCOM, to name a few. Unless, of course, it’s proven that HR folks were in concert with the criminal activity fostered in those companies.

Finally, it’s ludicrous to assume that HR professionals must come from business to speak to business leaders. If I’m not mistaken, good and great PEOPLE make a business what it is and what it can be. “Human” Resources is wholly dedicated to supporting the Human Factor. Some even get degrees in HR and specialized training in related disciplines, e.g, Training, OD, Safety, Employee Relations, Labor, Staffing, Health, Compensation, Benefits, and Security. It is the HR folks who have the full-time job of embracing the PEOPLE perspective in any business. HR folks, in concert with management define job descriptions, and job challenges, and work together to fill those positions with the best available talent (and by the way that’s not a given). HR folks, in concert with management, devise necessary training and developmental plans called SUCCESSION PLANNING to bring fourth future leaders for the company. HR folks protect employees from abusive managers, and, in concert with management, extricate non-performing employees.

I can go, but it seems to me you must be speaking to some very remote and unique CEOs who have a problem with their HR folks. I’ve not heard of one Fortune 500 company who publicly says that their HR folks suck to the point that you imply. HR folks are integral to top performing businesses and the true rarity would be for a business to achieve “most admired” status without a viable and response HR team in place.
Comment by Peter Lanc on November 25, 2010 at 8:54am
Thanks Valentino!
I loved the passion of your comments.

Here is the thing, many of the comments both here and Linkedin and on twitter have affirmed my views.
HR needs to stop whining about being at "the strategic table" It needs to get a grip of what their purpose really is. What do they want to be famous for?

I have seen too many HR people succumb to working on lay offs and cuts in benefits etc. The challenge is what have they done to expand their business, grow it and in turn jobs!

While my statement is blanket, that is my experience, too many focusing on admin. and transactional work.

I have followed the debacle left and the remnants of “employees do not respect HR”.

I asked and that is what I found. Perception is reality. I asked many and by the way I asked HR folks and they confirm what I say.

Are all HR folks the same? Off course not, however when you get the same theme from the majority that’s what I write about.

It is also a reality that there have been many “departures” from HR e.g. Talent Management, Compensation and Benefits etc. They were all once all under HR. They are respected more I am told when they are not under the all inclusive “headline of HR.”

As I say if HR does not get it I cannot expect the recruiting-hiring manager to get it!

And so the truism of “if you always do what you have always done you will always get what you always had ” goes on. We need to break out of it and really understand what HR is REALLY all about.

Finally if HR is not about the business it does not serve any purpose. Indeed it is taking value away!
Comment by Peter Lanc on November 25, 2010 at 9:00am
Thanks Randy,

I have also come across recruiters who do not understand the “business role of HR” and as such they are “simply” listening to their client without challenging on behalf of the client and their business what they should really be hiring for. This is not true of all recruiters but I have come across a few.
Thanks for sharing your experience and it is great to hear your business context


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