If HR had just been invented…

getty_rf_photo_of_baby_boyOne of the biggest challenges with change is that you are so often stuck with the old view of things.  How many of you out there had to change organizations because you were still seen as the office junior, who photocopied and made tea, even though you had been there 10 years and were completely in charge of the recruiting function?  First impressions stick and then solidify, making it twice as hard to have people treat you differently.

The whole HR profession has this problem and has been working on it for over 15 years.  Hardly rapid progress.  We have tried a bunch of soul searching – complaining about strategic status – requesting strategic status – getting strategic status etc and yet the HR function remains maligned, mis-understood and under-valued by the majority of our peers in the business community.  A strategy that has not been tried is to disappear and re-appear as something else.  This could work.  I am serious – let’s collectively take a month off (my vote is December) and then come back with a clearer structure, compelling value proposition, strategic drive, and most importantly of all a new name.

If the current impression we are making is not the right one, nor the one we want, why not create the opportunity to create a new first impression. It works – as someone who has changed jobs every 3 years and countries twice – I know it works.

We have most of the answers when it comes to structure, value proposition and strategic drive – so what do we call ourselves….. any ideas?

Guest editor:  Ian Cook


3 Responses

  1. This is a question I have been contemplating for several years now. I have had many conversations with a variety of people over the years that have expressed dissatisfaction with their perception of the disconnect between what HR produces and what the organization needs. Having the answers to structure, value proposition and strategic drive is academic, using that knowledge to drive business results is required. Can HR Professionals really prove that their programs/actions drive business results in the same clear cut way that employees in production, sales and marketing, accounting and IT are able to? Changing titles will only last as long as it takes for results to occur or not as the case may be.

    • The challenge is that even though many HR departments are called Human Resources, they still get called “Personnel”, so we have tried the name change, not terribly successfully.

      I wrote about an organization that has aligned their HR with marketing/branding on my blog http://sparkyourinterest.wordpress.com/2009/09/16/goodbye-hr-hello-people-and-brand/ and I think it is a fresh way to approach the “people” function. Maybe instead of trying to stand out as the sole department that can manage the people function, HR should consider allying themselves with like departments.

      I think the reality is that it suits the rest of the business functions just fine that HR gets all the bad press.

  2. I think that the change must begin with us as HR professionals. We need to communicate very clearly to our organizations as to what our roles are and what benefit we bring. I like the idea of having marketing come up with something in conjunction with HR – but the alignment must go further than with marketing – it must also align with the executive. Until we truly are a voice at the table; I don’t see a lot of change coming about regardless of our name…as they say…a rose by any other name…

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