The World of HR in Rawden’s eyes, head and actually my heart…
Apr 28, 2015
By Jane Rawden
At least three times this year I have heard my Managing Director, Dr Howard G. Awbery say to a client, 'the worst thing we ever did was to start appointing HR Managers! They mitigate the culpability of general managers to manage their people effectively, transfer the responsibility of duty of care and distance general managers from their real task, that of performance through people.'
As a HR professional I feel the pain of his statement, but sadly I tend to agree with Howard. I believe there is a lack of clarity in the role of HR and a dearth in quality HR leaders in the market place to take the boardroom by storm and influence organisation's strategic direction.
What comes first, clarity on the HR role or the individual HR Leader who creates that clarity? A HR colleague has recently spent over six months trying to find the right HR Director for a fast paced, growing organisation… the dream HR opportunity. Why is this breed of professional so rare?
In researching the new HR model IC2 being launched later this year by Awbery, I have found, without question, it is the HR professionals who need to start from a point of clarity on the strategic performance drivers of the business in order to stand shoulder to shoulder alongside the Financial, Operational, Marketing and Managing Directors tackling the organisational challenges.
I have recently read Sparrow, Hird and Cooper’s (2015) book, ‘Do We Need HR?’ and received another prod in the ribs whilst reflecting on their perspective. Do HR leaders start with the organisation’s numerate business objectives when developing their HR strategy for the business? Can they coherently articulate the HR link with innovation, customer focus or the role of lean within the organisation? Do they have clarity on the necessity for high levels of engagement, well-being, fairness and talent management? My conclusion continues to be reinforced; the role of HR is one of leadership exercising a multitude of commercial judgments.
I was reminded of this recently when considering the HR strategy of an innovative organisation with planned rapid growth. The organisation wanted to know how they could develop commercial and innovative employees, what culture and climate did they need to create which would support the desired rapid growth? Was their talent mapping and performance management system sufficiently robust to embrace this culture…? I concluded the current HR strategy and processes were pedestrian at best and not in kilter with the business direction or the culture required.
The linkage between Business Objectives, HR Strategy and Leadership is clear but the reality is that many HR professionals start in their own ‘HR’ world, not even their organisation’s world of today and certainly not their organisations world of tomorrow. Dynamic HR professionals with broken noses and black finger nails from commercial experience with good sound business judgement are a must for today’s climate. The need has never been greater for HR professionals to earn their places at the board table as a Business Leaders of the future, despite what my MD says!