Harvard Business Review posted an article titled “Stop Bashing HR”. It’s a very interesting read – especially several of the comments. So interesting in fact, I can’t resist adding my own thoughts to the conversation.
One of the things that struck me about the HBR article was the title. As a human resources pro, I’ve never in my career had to ask anyone to quit bashing my department. If someone criticized HR, we either:
- Deserved it and fixed the issue, or
- Explained our position and usually found some common ground.
I hate to say it but it seemed rather odd to read a “quit bullying human resources” article. HR should be able to stick up for itself.
That being said, if there’s a whole lot of HR bashing going on, HR pros should ask themselves who’s doing the bashing. We will never make everyone happy. So are the bashers that percentage of the population who will always be grousing about HR? Or are they people who want to see HR succeed and are dispensing their own version of tough love? Oh, there’s also one other category –the faction of people who want to ridicule HR for entertainment purposes or as a marketing tactic. Those people have their own agenda and we should probably just forget about them as serious discussion.
Once the “who” has been defined, then ask “why”. What’s the gripe with HR? If you believe the HBR article, it’s the classic “HR isn’t strategic enough” excuse. I’m starting to wonder about the validity of this argument. Hear me out. Why would any successful business wait 15+ years for their HR department to become strategic? Seriously?! No successful business would wait 15+ years for their sales department to become strategic.
If you want strategic HR and don’t currently have it, then by all means go get it. It exists. There are plenty of companies, consultants, and people looking for work who can deliver strategic human resources. And any good strategic HR professional will pay for themselves – whether it’s on your payroll or via consulting. After all, that’s the best strategy.
I do agree with the author of the HBR piece that organizations are facing some of the most challenging talent issues ever. And it’s only going to get tougher. But I don’t think the answer is just an edict that everyone should “be nice to HR”. The profession needs to step up to the challenges ahead and know that if they don’t, their company will react accordingly.