Monday, February 26, 2007

From the desk of an HR guy!

After more than five years of corporate time, I am quite used to the glances, not-so-polite jokes and regular comments on ‘HR Guys’. Am also quite used to ‘Why HR is hated?’ discussions in HR forums. And for the first time am putting a post on my work area. (This is definitely not a technical discussion.)

Often HR is seen as a choice for those who really do not have any other. However I (and many others like me) have chosen to be in this field because we see HR as a healer and a helper in an organisation. Also as a contributor to people development without which organizations will come to a standstill. However much we bring in robotics and chips to do our bit on shop floors and software development centres, I believe Hawthorne’s experiments are equally valid today. I also believe that each one of us have this innate need to grow and develop as programmed as a plant goes towards light or a wasp towards a flicker. So the correct initiatives in people development can never go waste.

I do not contest that in India we, HR folks, have definitely left a lot to be done, we are far from where we ought to be. To the extent that I often get to hear that it is a surprise that being an HR person I need to work for such long hours while in reality most of my friends in the fraternity work for extended hours everyday and often over the weekend too. Have we sold HR poorly or is it that, as a friend from the line puts it, we lack expertise? I just look upon it as gross mismatch of expectations.
While few of us contain ourselves within the fencing of this function, it is actually 50% of a line manager’s and 80% of a leader’s job. However people look upon the HR Department as the doer of all decisions---the face of Devil! Which brings me to conclude that probably we couldn’t align ourselves with those for whom we exist. We are still ‘they’ who dole out the bad numbers, ‘they’ who mess up stuff; ‘they’ who have no work and DON’T deliver.

This year, Talent Management, has been voted as the greatest challenge for organizations worldwide. (Workforce Magazine, Jan 2, 2007)And talent is as potent as a bomb. In the shrinking world, choices are plenty and organizations will remain organized till they can keep their key people.
The second greatest area of concern is Succession Planning. Until and unless leaders are developed organizations can’t grow. But leadership development has five major dilemmas [Leadership Development through corporate universities, J Storey (2004)]
1.The extent to which and the way in which leadership can really be taught
2.The changing nature of leadership
3.The comparative nature of leadership
4.The measurement and evaluation of leadership development interventions
5.The integration of leadership programs with other organizational systems—such as career development or reward systems—and the degree of linkage with business strategy

The survival and success of HR fraternity depends on whether we can pull through these challenges in keeping with the needs of the business. We will succeed only when others see value in what we do. This is a much clichéd statement. One which we cannot ignore. However much I tell you that am one who really believes in the purpose behind this existence, am sure people even of my own organization would still think that not me as an individual but the function as a whole has no right to be here.

To create value we need a holistic approach, not one of stunted initiatives here and there with a short term view. And there will be a way to show the purpose behind our existence.

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