We have finally arrived at the point where it is adieu to the Human Resources Department as we now know it. Certainly not necessary tasks performed. The HR department itself is now the elephant in the room.
I have spoken with numerous executives who are quietly frustrated in their human resources department. Faced with business outcomes they would ideally prefer to use their chief human resource officers in precisely the way they use their CFOs; as sounding boards and trusted advisors who understand real-world business implications. They want HR people to use their abilities in linking people and numbers to recognize and diagnose weaknesses and strengths within the organization, find the correct fit between employees and jobs, and advise on the talent implications of the company’s strategy.
But it’s a rare chief human resources officer or HR employee who can serve in such a vigorous role. Most of them are process-oriented generalists whose primary experience is in benefits, compensation, and labor relations. They're centered on internal matters such as engagement, empowerment, and managing cultural problems. What they can’t do very well is relate human resources to real-world business needs. They don’t know how major decisions materialize, and they are cumbersome in analyzing why people or the organization aren’t meeting the business’s performance goals.
Among the few chief human resource officers who do understand, I notice an identifying quality: they have worked in line operations—such as sales, services, or manufacturing—or in finance.
About Jim Woods
Jim Woods is a business adviser, leadership speaker to CEOs and corporate boards and the author of 2 books. Jim is married to his business partner Lucy Kovalova-Woods. Please visit here to learn more about Jim.