HR needs to equip themselves with the knowledge, methods, and frameworks that will allow them to be strategic - but organisations need to enable them to use these tools.
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Mars One is an initiative to create a human settlement on Mars, with the first crew expected to depart earth in 2024. Although I can't imagine applying to go on a one-way mission to Mars, I'm fascinated by the concept and intrigued by the process.
Needless to say, taking a job like this is no small commitment - you are literally giving your life to your job, and the first crew of four's commitment and preparation will determine the success of a program to colonise another planet. (No pressure).
What's particularly interesting to me is the selection criteria - although there are some age requirements and no doubt health requirements, the five key criteria are Resiliency, Adaptability, Curiosity, Ability to Trust, and Creativity / Resourcefulness. Technical skills can be taught, even on a scientific mission - but the right persona is critical. We see this playing out in all different industries, all round the world - what differentiates a competent member of the workforce from an exception performer is rarely a technical skill - but we typically source for and develop on technical skill alone.
What are the competencies, skills, and personas that separate high performers from everyone else in your workforce? Knowing that, what are you doing to build HR initiatives to stack the deck towards high performance?
Embrace innovation - and a touch of the bizarre - by thinking like Howard Hughes. Because there is no box to think outside of when you're Howard Hughes.
Your workforce strategies and practices may be elaborate, expensive, and hauntingly beautiful. For many organisations, they are guided by the "spirits" of best practice, case studies, and history. But it pays to remember, it's the employees, not the spirits, who have to live in the house that HR builds.
The field is often referred to as “workforce planning and analytics”, but in fact, workforce planning and workforce analytics are two distinct, but related, fields. Often ‘workforce planning and analytics’ is the term applied to an approach that is analytics alone. While it’s true that analytics are critical to generating the insights for a strategic workforce plan, it is only one of several integrated steps that also includes ‘futuring’, environment scanning, and, most importantly, integration to business strategy.
Back in 2005, Fast Company published an article called "Why We Hate HR". Amongst other things, it named and shamed a conference speaker for a presentation that was difficult to understand at an HR Conference (crime of crimes)... The article is thick with hatred for HR - the opening paragraph suggests that the conference topic, "strategic HR leadership", signals "a conceit that sounds, to the lay observer, at once frightening and self-contradictory. If not plain laughable." While it's true that many HR professionals aren't there yet, even 8 years later, I'm not sure why we should be criticised for trying to get there.
There's a lot of HR bashing out there. Here's some that I uncovered in about 15 minutes today:
- Reddit: "F*&$ing Recruiters. Especially ones named Ryan"
- Reddit: "Recruiters. F*$& them, seriously. I swear they create entire jobs just to get your name on a database."
- Twitter: I hate HR folk
- Twitter: Hi my name is Ryan and I hate HR. You can't verify I graduated high school? And because of this you're skeptical I'm in college? Come on.
- Twitter: Reason to hate HR number 10345: apparently they think the break room is their new cubicle
- Twitter: Some big Cos online recruitment systems really are absolute CRAP! Bet it was "HR Professionals" who designed it! I HATE "HR Professionals"
- Twitter: I can get to the Passport Unlimited interview on the bus, then a 10-minute walk. Yay. I think I hate HR ladies.
- Twitter: The human resources department for New Haven sucks ass, pick up or call me back.
- Twitter: I've decided to refuse to listen to negative a#$holes, so now HR is sending for a hearing test.
- Twitter: What is called when you drunk call your job solely on the weekends? I'm asking because these a#$holes at HR won't tell me.
- Blog Comment: "There's a special circle in hell for HR people"
So why the hatred for HR? In every profession, there are good practitioners and bad practitioners. But a bad corporate accountant, marketer, lawyer, project manager, IT professional, etc. can't affect your life to quite the extent that a bad HR professional can. We're working with people's livelihoods - it's a responsibility we need to take seriously.
Ultimately, the article concludes that HR has a unique potential to discover things about the business through the lens of people and talent, and in doing so to create competitive advantage. The reason that the author claims to hate HR is that "in most companies, that opportunity is utterly wasted". Does that describe your organisation? What are you doing to align your workforce strategy to your organisational strategy and unlock competitive advantage? Have we moved on from the criticisms made of HR 8 years ago, or are we still, as the author puts it, "stuck"?