Thursday, May 1, 2014

What's Holding Back Human Resources? Part 2

By Pascal Dennis

Last time I talked about the fine Jack & Suzie Welch op-ed piece on the travails of HR.

HR should be as important as Finance, but rarely is. HR leaders should have a place in the inner sanctum of decision-makers, but rarely do.

Here are some more thoughts on why…

HR leaders often lack solid Operations backgrounds. In fact, many organizations staff senior HR leadership positions with people who don’t know how to run a line of business.

It’s akin to the Boston Red Sox staffing their Player Development office with people who’ve never played baseball.

To be sure, good baseball teams use statisticians and other specialists, and all their PD staff needn’t be brilliant ball players.

But most of them have played the game. They understand what makes a great pitcher or catcher or lead-off hitter.

The countermeasure seems clear: foster good job rotation, make sure senior leaders have run a range of functions, including HR.

Caveat: please avoid the ‘get your ticket punched’ approach that’s proven to be such a failure.

You know what I mean. “High potential candidates” are put through a merry-go-round of 2 to 3 year assignments to ‘broaden them’.

Unfortunately, the ‘high potentials’ are graded on the number of times their ticket has been punched – and not on whether or not they left a footprint.

Result: hollowed up management systems, unstable processes, near misses and catastrophic direct hits all over the place.

In summary, by all means cross-train senior leaders, especially those who may end of running HR.

But assess their performance on the 4 M foot-print they leave behind – Manpower, Methods, Machinery and Material systems.

Best regards,


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