Do HR professionals let their own personal development slide, and is their tendency to rely on HR 'tools' rather than developing business understanding holding them back in their careers? Personnel Today teamed up with Ashridge Management College and senior HR people to debate the issue. By Phil Boucher
Why would a senior HR person overhaul her approach to HR? "It was the overwhelming sense of being a fraud - which is a sense that I think many HR people tend to feel," is one answer. The comment was made by Julie Holden, founder of the Spring Consultancy and previously director of internal consulting at Ernst & Young. She was taking part in a roundtable debate, organised by Ashridge Management College and Personnel Today, on how to develop senior HR people.
So what was it about the HR profession that made Holden feel like a fraud, and what new approach or philosophy has she since adopted?
"There I was, running programmes that at the time were fairly vital and centred around managing change, and I guess I was thinking, 'There must be more to being an organisational development consultant'. It can't just be about feeding solutions that are rapidly gobbled up so that the minute you hit someone with an idea they want another one."
Holden's view that HR people can find themselves throwing ready-made solutions at business problems, was one of the central themes to emerge from the debate.
The discussion centred on whether HR managers, as the people responsible for the development of staff throughout an organisation, sometimes fail to take care of their own development.
All the participants were members of the Advanced Development for Developers programme at Ashridge Management College, and the programme director Martyn Brown talked about the need to free HR from the pitfalls of relying on ready-made HR "tools" with an almost evangelical fervour.
The consensus was that many HR professionals have not experienced a form of personal development that will equip them to respond to the challenges of organisational change.
So what philosophy and approaches should HR people adopt so they can rise to the challenge? The first action should be to stop relying on the familiar tools in the HR kitbag, containing such instruments as 360-degree appraisal, psychometrics or benchmarking, as ready-made solutions to pr