There’s only so much you can do with people…

There’s only so much you can do with people…

I was working with a colleague of mine yesterday to pitch our firm for an HR strategic plan project for an industry sector. What was interesting was our conversations post pitch. As we were debriefing he said, the thing with HR projects is that once you’ve gathered all of the data, there is only so much you can do with people. You can:

‒   Train people

‒   Hire people

‒   Retain people

And that is pretty much it.

Hmmm. I love the simplicity of it, and the truthfulness of it. We can spend hours/weeks/months/ developing recognition/engagement strategies, delivering leadership and management development programs, talent management programs etc… But fundamentally everything we are doing comes down to training people, hiring people, and retaining people. Yes there are nuances in terms of getting the “right people in the right role at the right time”… etc but what we do can actually be boiled down pretty simply.

So tomorrow when you are deep in the depths of an “overcomplexified” HR project, take a step back and think to yourself “there is only so much you can do with people”…and check your data!


Suzanne Boyd lives and works in Vancouver and spends her days advising clients on how to work with people in a manner that drives their businesses forward. She works with very smart, quantitative and analytical guys who keep her on her toes, and prevent her from speculating without data. For fun, while not working (which is mostly fun!), Suzanne spends time on the slopes and enjoying Vancouver’s restaurant scene.
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One Response

  1. Too true. I buy the hire and train, but that whole “retain” one is kind of like HR’s version of miscellaneous, don’t you think? Could that be where things get complicated?

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