A survey of senior HR professionals by the profession itself is something we
very rarely see. The results should be taken seriously.
Unveiled then debated at the HR Forum on board The Aurora, the survey paints
a sorry picture of a profession feeling bad about its own image, of a function
confused about its real role and worth, and out on a limb from the hub of the
organisations in which it operates.
HR believes it lacks glamour, that its seen as reactive and the bringer of
bad news. Crucially, it thinks it is seen as a cost centre that adds little or
The list of self-criticism and the lack of self-confidence is staggering. But
what’s changed over the last 10 years or so? Way back when, people were saying
exactly the same thing, bemoaning that HR was seldom represented on the board,
that few took it seriously.
It’s time for radical change. HR had better define its own turf right now,
or someone else will step in and do it for you, like the finance or marketing
Spruce up, quit navel-gazing and take the type of action that will change
the negatives. As Charles Darwin once said: "The species that survived
were not the most intelligent, they were the most adaptable to change."
If ever there was a case for a change management programme and to walk the
walk, it is in HR right now. Company chief executives and organisations’ boards
don’t want to know about scientific processes and route mapping, couched in
terms only understood by HR. Instead they want to know how HR is going to help
deliver the organisation’s big picture, how it’s going to power the
organisation with talent, how its going to help build know-how and knowledge,
and how it will adeptly match investment with cost control.
Change expert Larry Hochman put it in a nutshell when he addressed the
Personnel Today HR Directors’ Club on precisely this issue in London last
week. He said that standing still was
a terminal illness.
"The most pertinent question you can ask yourself now is ‘what ideas do
I need to target to move forward with my business?’ Concentrate on a handful of
things that are important to your business and linked to the bottom line. And
become free of denial and nostalgia. They hold you back." Exactly.
this week for the full story on how prepared HR is for the Information and
By Penny Wilson, deputy editor