Knock Knock! >> Who’s there? >> Your CFO!

No joke.  Your scary CFO is here and he’s taking over.

There was much buzz online when CFO.com posted the article “Memo to CFOs:  Don’t Trust HR” back in March.  Rutgers University professor Richard Beatty lambasted HR for “having no relevance to an organization’s success”.  He then went on to say that “HR isn’t very good at data analytics” and stated that since analytics is the CFO’s job anyways, Finance should see to it that it gets done. 

Fast forward 4 months and CFO Magazine is at it again, building Finance’s case for supremacy in the business universe.  They write about the need to finally apply HR metrics to help focus and track the outcome of activities on the bottom line.  I’m not going to argue with this one, nor am I going to argue against their dislike of using job satisfaction as a measure of corporate health. They’re right, there is no proof that happy employees make for happy and therefore free-spending customers. But I digress, that’s a discussion topic for another day…. 

The clincher to this article is secretly hidden in the middle, kind of like those warm, gross pickles in the middle of a perfectly good hamburger.  Here’s what they said: 

“It’s one thing to measure; it’s another thing to act. One possible solution… is to staff senior HR positions with people who have come from finance or other areas where ROI analysis and multivariable correlations have long been studied. Other companies may choose to restructure so that the head of HR reports to the CFO or to a chief performance officer.”

Are you offended yet? 

If you’re one of many analytical HR people, you should be.  If your organization is using HR metrics to make business decisions, you’re probably royally offended, too.

If you aren’t measuring, get ready to start reporting to the CFO because they are building the case that they are more competent than HR to get the job done.  There is no argument that Finance folks are analysts by nature.  But while they may help HR use their calculators, do they really think they are going to know what to do with that information?

I previously covered some ground about whether or not non-HR people can or should work in HR.  The conclusion:  yes they can and they should because other professions may have a lot of skill to offer HR.  However, I would much prefer to invite them in and hand them their agenda, not have them forced upon us.

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7 Responses

  1. […] Helen Luketic pushes back on the notion that CFOs should own the management of workforce data […]

  2. i don’t know Helen – I’m not convinced that there are that many analytical HR people. I consider myself fairly analytical and business oriented but I work alongside guys who could be CFO’s and I am kind of a fluff cake. I think there is an opportunity for HR to partner with finance here – you just can’t win this argument… they have all the models 🙂

    • Finance is looking to take over HR because they are not analytical. There are analytical HR’ers but not enough.

      The case I’m making in this post is the need for HR to become more analytical. I’m encouraging HR to welcome Finance’s help with the caveat that HR owns the results and advises on the best plan of action. Ultimately, Finance folks aren’t people experts and they shouldn’t be writing articles as if they are. Own your expertise and work with it.

  3. Hey, did you read the workforce article about GM appointing a non-HR leader in the lead HR role after dumping HR from the exec committee? http://www.workforce.com/section/00/article/26/57/72.php?src=wfw090804b

    Classic diversionary tactic isn’t it? When people are pointing fingers at you, point at someone else and make a stink about them.

  4. Yup, there is certainly a lot of commentary out there, both on the fact that GM promoted someone internally (why???) and chose someone without HR experience. It’s a scary combo in a situation where both fresh ideas & solid cred are needed. Perhaps even scarier now that the union owns the company.

    Check out this other blog post which suggests that in this case, hiring internally was a worse move than hiring a non-HR person:
    http://www.hrcapitalist.com/2009/08/hiring-a-new-hr-leader-for-a-dead-company-.html

  5. Hi Helen:

    Not sure I agree completely agree with your point of view. I have a non-HR background and am practicing HR. I have over 20 years experience managing sales teams and building organizations from the ground up. I learnt along the way that great talent management practices are important and later decided to move into HR full-time. I find that some HR colleagues I work with are very analytical and advise on what managers “could” do. Most HR colleagues I’ved worked with haven’t led teams of people or been accountable for driving revenue and profits.

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