This week’s letters

Letter of the week
More to us than tea and toilet

I think one of the major reasons why the HR profession is not regarded as a
serious partner in business is because, in many instances, failed managers from
other disciplines have been moved into the sector as a way of getting them out
of the way – they cannot be regarded as HR professionals (News, 15 May).

This occurs because it may be felt by senior executives that to move a
problem manager into HR, will help protect the business because "not too
much harm can be done by them in HR". This in turn has had a really
negative impact on HR as "tea and toilet" issues then become the

I feel HR qualifications and experience are necessary to be truly effective
and to be able to add value to the organisation. The two are interdependent as
the theory provides the framework within which to respond, while the experience
gained on the job dealing with situations (industrial relations, wage
negotiations, consultation on company closures, for example), all constitute
learning that separates the outstanding practitioner from the ordinary.

HR professionals need to move away from an administrative support focus to
one where they understand the business they are in, in order to provide
proactive strategic support and add value to the business.

With regard to qualifications, I find it very limiting and frustrating that
so many advertised HR jobs will consider only CIPD-qualified applicants. Coming
from another country, I have reputable HR degree qualifications – up to Masters
level – as well as having been fortunate to be in environments where I gained
good exposure and experience to support them. As I am not CIPD qualified I
cannot progress beyond the starting block.

Sue Watt-Pringle
Group HR coordinator, Portico Housing Group

Two more for the top 40 power list

I enjoyed Top 40 Power Players (Feature, 1 May) and I hope that few readers,
if any, will be churlish enough to try to remove anyone from the list – after
all, we live in an inclusive century.

It is of interest to debate if HR has power or influence, and the list threw
up some names I had not come across, as is often the case with influence.

However, one name I would add would be Craig Conway, who is the president
and CEO of Peoplesoft. The recent release of version 8 and readiness to become
Web-enabled is what makes any prospect of successful outsourcing or progress by
the likes of Exult possible.

In addition, Conway turned in a pretty successful financial result in a very
turbulent year – that’s real recognition of success and, in my view, power.

Secondly, while he keeps himself to himself, Jim McKenna at Logica certainly
has set a real standard for HR and for his business, and he is rightly at the
real top – he can exert power like few other HR professionals.

Robert Bolton
Vice-president HR, DACG

Life’s too short to agonise over job

Work to Live?  Surely it can’t be
that difficult to decide not to open an e-mail (News, 15 May,
"E-revolution is extending work hours"). I know that lots of people
would then complain about the volume of work, in which case you are either in
the wrong job or you have got the wrong manager.

My advice would be to change your job. I am not saying that people should
not work hard, but they should also work smart. Let’s get some perspective –
life is too short.

Nick Flint
Personnel assistant, University of Sussex

There’s no need to give your age

I agree with some of the points made by Vic Bohanna in his letter (15 May),
but I would like to say that often in small companies it is not only the
personnel departments that sift through applications. I am often amazed at how
many managers ask for an applicant’s date of birth. It is the duty of a
personnel officer to point out to colleagues who may want to know the age of an
applicant that this is totally irrelevant.

I teach on a range of courses and work in HR, and when it comes to writing
CVs, I strongly advise students not to include a date of birth. The more people
do so, the less employers will be able to use such an irrelevant piece of fact
as a criteria on which to interview and appoint.

Sandhya Sharma
HR manager, Harro

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