I am interested to observe from recent debates about reporting lines for HR that one aspect of the relationship between HR professionals and our finance counterparts has not been mentioned by contributors to the debate so far. And that is the respective psychologies of the two professions.
My own perspective of this is that while finance professionals tend to be averse to risk and have a relatively high aspiration for control, HR professionals are increasingly motivated by the aspects of their roles that are opportunity-led and often creative in nature. This is, of course, a sweeping generalisation, but I believe it’s fair to say this is a significant contributing factor to the tensions that often arise when senior HR professionals are asked to report to their respective finance directors.
This would doubtless have been less of a constraint in the days when personnel functions were largely tasked with overseeing policies and procedures and the ‘governance’ aspects of running an organisation. But as HR enters a new and more dynamic era in which our function is charged with developing a competitive edge through its people, the idea that this reporting relationship is a workable one becomes less and less tenable. It is a bad idea, and it should be scrapped.
Head of HR