Get Rid of HR?

My last post started with a riff about rewards and ended with a sassy comment about getting rid of HR.

Well, I wrote that late last night and then did not sleep. I should know better.

I am an ex-HR wonk and current HR consultant, so do I really mean "get rid of HR?" Well, sort of, yes ( write with great trepidation).

Here’s what I see that pains me:

Performance Management: How I hate this term, as it sounds so Skinnerian. And most methods are. Our parents might have tolerated being one of Pavlov’s dogs, but our kids are thumbing their noses at any such notion. And they should. There’s so much data and information out there that tells us our processes and systems for optimizing performance are backwards. Ditto for the learning systems we use in most schools. And yet we do this stuff anyway. The vast majority of companies are using systems they likely – in their hearts and minds – know do not work a lick. And the time and resources spent is huge.

Recruiting: The recruiting function in many companies is broken. Recruiters become paper shufflers who cannot spend the important time it takes to find the right talent for the positions. And we are using a checklist that often will scare away or weed out the very best talent. This process has become so transactional when it should be becoming more and more intimate and human.

Compliance/policy: Yes, we have laws and standards to think about. This part of HR often gives the function its reputation of being in the way – not helping – business. We live in a lawsuit oriented society. That said, instead of saying what we cannot do and why, smart HR execs help companies meet their goals while protecting their backsides.

Benefits: Talk about a no-win situation. The rising costs of health care make this an ever challenging role and service to provide. I empathize with all sides on this one – corporations who are paying through the nose for health care and employees who deserve coverage. We need to explore different models for how to best benefit our workers.

Organization Development: I love the art of great OD. That said, I never go to OD conferences because they infuriate me. Many OD practitioners are so obtuse and abstract and scare away leaders with behavioral science mumbo jumbo. Sure, we need to know some stuff about behavioral sciences, but then when we work with clients, it’s all about how to get the job done. Many of the formal OD processes being used are not keeping up with the changes in what businesses need. Ironic, since this is the function that usually leads change implementation and management. One more thing about OD – OD became a separate function during a time when the industrial revolution demanded science based solutions to turning out more widgets. These days, I think that many OD functions ought to be wrapped into management and leadership development. Much of OD is really just great management.

And that brings me to training. When you look at the focus of many training departments and then you look at the needs of the organization, is there a match? I bet there are reports and PowerPoint presentations that say there is a match. Often, I disagree. The focus of our management and leadership training, in particular, needs to be looked at closely. What skills and beliefs do we want to cultivate?

This all sounds very negative, I am aware. I think that the functions within HR can serve an important role. I am not sure they all belong in HR, and I am not sure they all ought to be separate functions.

We have an opportunity to taker a fresh look at how our organizations should be built and our cultures developed. What if we took an Appreciative Inquiry approach to determining how best to serve our organizations? What would that look like?

Might be an interesting exercise. Perhaps I will think about facilitating a discussion like this and see what comes of it.