Personnel professionals would do well to remember their main role, says Malcolm Finney, or else face being cut out of the equation
HR is “the least understood” profession says Pam Calvert (Personnel Today, 4 April), and it is this which, she believes, lies at the heart of the sector’s problem.
Not so. The problem with the personnel profession is that its members are far too concerned with their status or lack of it.
Instead what practitioners should be doing is trying to help managers do their job better.
Whether personnel managers and directors like it or not, their prime role is to support front-line management. Unfortunately, however, they often see themselves as free-standing from management, with their own agendas. All this does is breed antagonism between the personnel function and general management, making the former's job impossible.
Having their own agenda also leads to the production of information important to the personnel department but of irrelevance to management.
Just as management has to meet the needs of its customers, if a company is to survive and prosper, the personnel department should seek to serve its customers - that is, the in-house managers.
Failure to do so will mean the department will quite simply remain unused and its staff unwanted.
Navel contemplation also often seems high on the personnel agenda. The current debate in the profession about whether to call itself "personnel" or "HR" is a prime example. All that this type of debate does is reconfirm that the profession is far too concerned with its own ego than offering a much needed service.
Achieving chartered status, while not unhelpful, will not result in immediate and automatic equality with their accountancy or legal colleagues. Such equality has to be earned the hard way.
And what about the "break away" training group? This group now seems to want its own separate profession, no longer wanting to be part of the IPD which it seems has "failed" them.
Perhaps much can be learned from the insurance industry. Many years ago insurance was perceived as a "cost" to companies. The in-house insurance manager and their department were seen as cost centres.
Enter the risk manager. Agreed, same person different label. However, much more importantly the name change also heralded a new and proactive a