In Defense of HR


Since we do work that flies under the heading of “Human Resources,” we’ve always treated HR like family. Because we love our family, we are typically overly critical of them. We want our family to do well, so we dish out the feedback and share ways that our family members can get better. And, like most families, we don’t tell those closest to use that we love them enough. That brings me to the reason for my post.
Human Resources, as a profession, is evolving. We started out from a disadvantaged position from our very creation and have been clawing our way to respectability ever since. In many places, HR is still clinging to past at their own expense, but I also see a lot going on within HR that makes me really proud. And, if I was a business school graduate coming into the corporate world today, I don’t think you could find a more exciting place to start your career than in HR. Here’s why.
  1. Self-awareness. We teach leaders all the time that self-awareness is the foundation of leadership. If this is true, then HR should be developing great leadership skills. I don’t think that there’s another profession out there that spends as much time talking about what it means to be in it’s own profession than HR. We know how we are viewed (there’s seemingly a new survey punching us in the face with it every week). We know that we need to get better because our business peers don’t seem to have any problem telling us when we suck. There’s a lot out there about where our gaps are and how we need to get better. And, I think that HR has largely embraced this feedback. What we do with it is the key.
  2. Commitment to Development. I am floored every day by how many blogs exist out there that are written by smart HR professionals who are sharing their war stories and lessons learned with the whole world. We spend a lot of time not only talking about our own profession, but also sharing information and taking in information to try and get better at it. This sharing and learning dynamic is closing the HR skill gap quickly.
  3. Momentum. While some may argue that HR hasn’t changed all that much in the past 20 years, I think they need to take a closer look. In HR, we didn’t need a change, we needed a revolution. We need a complete paradigm shift from viewing ourselves as managing the personnel side of the business, to leading the strategy of the organization. A revolution doesn’t happen overnight, it’s starts with a few courageous visionaries and a groundswell starts from there. There’s a lot of evidence that this is taking place within HR. If you peek in on the conversations between HR pros on Twitter, you feel the movement. You also see gatherings like HRevolution beginning to happen where the purpose of the event is to bring those on the fringe together to weave the social fabric required for a revolution (I’m proud to say that we are involved in this event).
We aren’t always the nicest when it comes to our HR family. We poke and prod, we challenge, and we criticize. So, today I want to be very clear. HR, we love you. We believe in you. We know that you are up to the enormous challenges we are called to meet. That’s why we are so tough on you.
Okay, now let’s get off our asses and go make it happen. There’s work to do.

1 comment

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published.