Saturday, February 2, 2013

Dear HR Critics and Naysayers: If You Can’t Help, Get Out of the Way

“If you can’t help, get out of the way.”
That’s a saying a former supervisor of mine used to say to members of my HR team when confronted with a large complex issue. Lately I have been feeling like I need to say that to so many of the writers and bloggers in the HR social media community.

The amount of criticism and skepticism about HR practices and its value are both alarming and demoralizing. To this I say — enough, and get out of the way. Make room for people who are living and breathing HR and making a difference in their respective businesses and employees daily lives.

HR, like many functions, is doing the best it can

Truth is they are more than likely the silent majority. Every day working class heroes doing the best they can with limited resources to both meet their daily tasks and help make employees experience just a little bit better.

Believe it or not these folks really exist, they work in HR as well as all other business disciplines. It’s not unique to HR folks, but just for the moment, we will stick to Human Resources.

It’s been a few years since the Fast Company article Why We Hate HR, yet it’s a recurring theme in the press. What makes this worse is many of the blog posts coming from former HR executives and alumni turned “consultants.” It’s as if by changing the title on your business card you get to go from doing the work and dealing with the challenges to being in a bubble protected from any collateral damage as long as you jump on the bandwagon and take a few shots.

As a practitioner and Chief HR officer for two major global businesses for the past decade, I think I have the experience and credibility to say “enough already!” I have the scars, and more importantly the experiences, to stake this claim.

Why not more about innovations that are happening?

My current and former HR teams work hard, solve problems, and make a difference. They know what’s expected of them from the line and are accountable. They are respected, valued, and viewed as important to the success of their respective businesses.

None of this is just given; it is earned over time. Unfortunately, no one wants to read about ordinary folks doing what they are supposed to when they are supposed to without much fuss. Let us be honest — it’s not that interesting.

I don’t want to be a Pollyanna, but I do want to hear and learn what people are doing that is new and innovative. I want to know what works, and why, how you tested it, and what were the obstacles along the way.

There is a tremendous amount of innovative work being done out there, not just by Google but by so many folks working at small and mid-sized companies. Maybe the real issue is the people dealing with employee relations, recruiting, development and benefits, are solving problems but just don’t have the time to write about it.

I hope the offenders out there stop, look in the mirror and then quickly move over. Unless you would like to help, I am sure we could use a hand — any volunteers?

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