Human Resources

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Human Resources (H.R.) is becoming an area of more and more professionalism, and at the same time is an area that needs great renewal. How could that be you might ask?

I have had the benefit in my career, in several organizations, of being outside of Human Resources, where I was often looking at the H.R. department`s usefulness as a senior manager.  Now, having spent the last four years on the inside track of human resources as an organizational development expert myself, I have seen the function from the inside. One conclusion I have drawn from being on both sides of the fence is that Human Resources can fall into a paper pushing role at times, as opposed to a position where the function is making a difference to the organization’s bottom line.

I must admit, this mix of exposure gives me a different view than that of someone who has grown up in the profession. I feel no duty to defend the status quo. I just want to know how to make things work in H.R. so it can better serve the rest of the organization.

I had the pleasure of being recently educated in the Advanced Human Resources program at the Rotman School at University of Toronto (2009/10) – an executive program. There I learned at least part of the answer to the differing views that we can have of Human Resources. Rather than paying the most attention to all of the HR policy and requirements, H.R. can actually start to offer real strategic value as its primary function.

David S. Weiss, an HR Expert who has written, among others, a book entitled High Performance HR was one of my instructors at the Rotman School. I think what Dr. Weiss has to say about Human Resources is very helpful. Without quoting David, he is very clear that the main reason that Human Resources exists in organizations is in order to serve the actual business. This is something that I think Human Resources Departments often lose sight of in organizations. Dr. Weiss points out the importance of Human Resources becoming a strategic business partner rather than just a service function.

In my profession as a consultant, I again find myself looking at Human Resources from the outside and I see many hopeful signs that HR is heading in this direction – in the area of talent management particularly.  Talent management really does register as a true strategic initiative the business must undertake if it is to continue to maintain and grow one of its most important resources, its people.

In my view, human resource people who make talent management, organizational change and developing their individuals and teams their main  strategic issues  will be those who end up helping their organizations the most.  So I am in favour of that approach to HR and to the idea that Human Resources has great potential to add value to every organization’s bottom line.  I remain optimistic that Human Resources will grow, develop and remain relevant itself if we just keep trying to serve the organization we care about so much.

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