Your Editorial Comment (Personnel Today, 5 February) raised a number of questions about what is good, and not so good, about the HR profession.
The human resources function (and shouldn’t we refer to it as HRM, for human resource management?) is no longer required, is it? Surely we can do without this cumbersome cost-centre completely, can’t we? If we cannot, surely we can at least outsource it? Let us be rid of it.
If this were true, why is it that not all UK organisations have followed the perception outlined by Luke Johnson? Perhaps it is because they do see some value in HRM, because, apart from being a cost-centre, this demanding role can lead to a reduction in overheads via improved management processes: not all line managers are good at managing people, gifted though they may be in their respective fields of expertise.
However, HRM is not so good at reinventing itself. Do we hear marketers, engineers, or accountants coming up with one new courtesy title after another for themselves? Yet in HRM we have invented ‘business partners’ (as if they were not already a part of the organisation), ‘relationship managers’ (why?), ‘talent development’ and ‘organisational capabilities managers’.
With all this going on is it any wonder that a business leader such as Johnson takes the view that he does?
Have we meandered to such a point where we have forgotten that the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development is the national body that enables people to study for, and become professionals in ‘people management’?
We should, as one former prime minister put it, “get back to basics”. We do not need to reinvent ourselves. We simply need to get on with the job and, in doing so, remember that we play an important part in managing people within organisations – and, as your editorial put it, in “legislative compliance”. Experience has taught me that line managers are generally too busy to take on this latter onerous task – regardless of their capability.