Wednesday, February 21, 2007

The HR function...

What are we, as HR professionals trying to achieve? I had a heated conversation with a friend today, another HR professional, and he used every logical argument at his disposal to convince me that ours is a highly dispensable profession. To be honest, the thought has occured to me quite often too. That HR as a profession requires no specialized skills that a sufficiently evolved line manager could not learn with the most basic coaching and/or reading and some practice. Why, then, do organizations have an HR dept?

The constant complaint line mgrs have about HR is that we do not understand business. A very small example. If I ask you, what does it mean if your attrition rates are higher than the industry average, what would your answer be as an HR professional? How would you view that question? That there is talent shortage, engagement issues, compensation issues--that you will have to turn up the steam or recruitment & selection, building an internal pipeline etc. If your answer has any of these phrases, we as HR have already lost the battle for a seat on the executive board.

Ask a sales guy what it means, he'll tell you that having a sales officer post vacant for a month will mean the loss of Rs XYZ crore value as business, as there's no one to sell. Ask a logistics guy, and he'll tell you that having a planning manager's position vacant for 2 weeks will mean delay & blocks in delivery of goods worth Rs LMN crore and added strain on an already overworked team. The business is looking for tangibles and HR is there to ensure those tangible results are obtained smoothly.

I'm not saying HR as a function is dispensable--the need for HR processes and systems still exists. But not the need for a dedicated set of individuals to perform the job. I say, hand the job back to line, make it a part of their regular targets and allow them time for HR activities. They understand the immediate impact & benefits of retention plans, succession planning and motivating the team, within the context of their business, much better than we do.

HR jobs have been created somewhat the same way as Keynes explained it. Someone in line decided to start digging up a hundred pits everywhere to jumpstart the economy, and HR was established as a function to fill the pits. And now, the pit diggers are so used to the fillers around that they don't want to, maybe even can't, stop digging the pits. The question I ask myself is, how long before the corporate world wakes up and realizes this, and what do we HR professionals do then? Start looking for an alternate vocation, I suppose... writing, maybe- another generalist profile to satisfy the 'generalist' in us.


Nihal Fernandes said...

With due respect to Dave Ulrich the Role of HR was summed up very well by a client of mine who said ... "HR is like the Sun, it does no work on the ground but it provides light" ... I didn’t think much of what he said when he said it, but in hind sight it explains so much..

Anonymous said...

Well, try leaving HR to sales people and see what happens. Most sales guys do not understand much beyond monthly numbers.I think HR should be a separate function provided it is closely integrated with business, otherwise it ends up being a joke that no one takes seriously.

Btw, this is an interesting blog you have started:)


Namita Arora said...

Hi Abhilasha

I have been researching for quite some time on the Live web to find answers to a very fundamental question pertaining to the HR industry. Having read your blog, it seemed that you may have a perspective on the subject.

The boom in the web2.0 space has led to heated discussion of its impact on critical organisational functions - PR/Corp Comm/Media. What i am looking to understand is, that as an HR profesional, what are the challenges that are faced when operating in this networked era of social media. Would be glad to get a view.


Abhilasha Krishnan said...

Hey Namita,

That's an area I have been thinking about quite a bit... for my view on it, watch out for my next post... :-)

Anonymous said...

Who knows where to download XRumer 5.0 Palladium?
Help, please. All recommend this program to effectively advertise on the Internet, this is the best program!

Anonymous said...

Please, give me link to download XRumer 7.0!!!

Always yours,
miss MW