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Whirling Chief

HR Management

Nº 8

Should we really “split” HR? continued…

In our first post on this topic, we presented both our agreements and disagreements with Dr. Charan, and invited folks to comment.

The comments received confirmed to us that our colleagues agree there is a push and desire to shift how we do HR and yet, we are unclear about the next steps.

From our perspective, as a function it may help to recognize we are a relatively new field of study. In many places, especially developing countries, our field is still not being taught in major universities or, when it is, not in great depth. Many of my colleagues, whom I have witnessed running administrative tasks smoothly and managing client requirements beautifully, entered HR through administrative roles. Some made the move out of curiosity; others were pushed into it. Either way, the move is nothing to be ashamed of, nor is it something to be looked down upon. After all, changes of career and discipline shifts are pretty commonplace these days. It would help, however, for us to acknowledge our talent has yet to learn a ton of new tricks.

Take, for example, the October 2015 study published by The Society of Human Resources Management (SHRM). It reported that 60% of 1,030 HR and non-HR US business leaders at software management company BambooHR claimed HR spends more time performing administrative and maintenance tasks than strategic tasks.1

I feel obliged to ask: Why is that? Is it because HR professionals perceive more value in managing administrative tasks? Are they pressured by their clients to focus on these tasks? Are they not comfortable taking on strategic tasks? Or, do they not know what tasks are considered strategic, etc.?

And probably the most important question: What are we, HR professionals, doing to help one another become more impactful on the job? How clear are we in what is needed from specific HR roles? How consistent are we when defining what key knowledge, skills and experience are ‘must haves’ for those specific roles? Are we recruiting the right talent – despite all the clichés about ivy league schools, diversity issues, age differences, et al? Are we holding each other accountable in pushing the bar forward?

These are the questions that keep Whirling Chief up at night. Once again, what say you? We would love to hear your thoughts!

See more at shrm.org


  • 1 July 2016

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I believe the reason why HR is seen more as a administrative tool is because the admin task results are more visible in a short period of time when compared with results in other tasks such as reorganizations, change management etc. Organizations need to understand that results in initiatives associated with employees will be observed in long term.

Nevra says:

Excellent point to raise, Nevra, thank you for commenting.

Sesil Pir says:

In all professions and all roles the fundamentals matter. Can you imagine a professional basketball player whom has a deft ability to find his team mates in best scoring position, or a profound ability to hit 3-pointers, but lacks the ability to dribble the ball? Can you imagine a “strategic” Finance officer whom lacks experience and understanding in basic accounting? The answer to both of these is…of course not. So why would HR be any different?

You simply cannot just launch into some sort of divine strategy without an end-to-end understanding of the supporting processes required to achieve such a result. This is long understood and well-stated by Sun Tzu “Strategy without tactics is the slowest route to victory.”.

So the question should be more focused on the capabilities of the individual to be able to develop a coherent and sound strategy that is then able to be executed, monitored, and adapted to the changing business needs with strategy and tactics working in concert vs. how to you parse and view the two as being independent and distinct things. Therefore the ability of a leader to be able to make clear the connection between the strategy and tactics will be able to better demonstrate and MEASURE the value and accuracy of their strategy.

Phil Gillingham says:

Excellent points, Phil. Thank you so much for taking the time. Just shared a new article on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/future-hr-sesil-pir?trk=prof-post, check it out!

Sesil Pir says:
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