I read a posting on LinkedIn recently with great interest. It was by Bernard Marr, titled Why We No Longer Need HR Departments, and was followed swiftly by Josh Bersin’s response.
In our role serving large organizations in the areas of Assessments, Management Development and Team Effectiveness, we interface and partner frequently with the Human Resources department. Whether mandated by the head of HR or by the CEO, we are engaged to help get the desired organizational results.
Quite honestly, we have been blessed to work with some very strategic HR leaders and departments. Having said that, we found ourselves in discussion once with an organization where an executive referred to the HR department as “Human Remains” (we chose to work with their competitor).
While the HR department has evolved from Personnel to Human Resources or the People Division, three things remain unchanged: 1) HR has its supporters and detractors, 2) HR continues to evolve and, 3) some HR departments are better than others at achieving the strategic alignment necessary to support organizational business plans.
Where there is a need, there are inevitably professionals available to fulfil it. We go to accountants for their financial expertise (some will positively impact our bottom line while others are just bean counters), we visit dentists to care for our teeth (some are highly skilled while others are just hacks in it for material gain), and we go to contractors for home renovations (some do quality work that will last for years, while others end up in lawsuits). Human Resources exists as a profession because there is a need that must be filled, but not all HR departments are created equal. And as talented as any group of HR professionals may be, their results can be hampered by a lack of empowerment. The very best HR teams have great leaders who are respected for their strategic expertise in delivering results that impact the organization’s culture and their bottom line.
We’ve always believed that “Organizations don’t achieve results, people do.” In a knowledge-based economy with embedded constant change, successful organizations will continue to require expertise in these three areas: attraction, retention and engagement of top talent. Any executive team that doesn’t ‘get it’ is missing the true value of HR – and will inevitably pay the price with their organizational results.
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