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No blog post I have ever written received so many responses as my recent post on 'Why HR Doesn't 'Get It.'" The passion exhibited by the responses was overwhelming and very insightful.
I can't begin to summarize all the comments I received without writing a book! But, a number of things stood out to me so let me highlight them.
SOME HR organizations DO "get it" -
and I agree. There are some exemplary HR organizations who really understand their role in advancing the organization toward its goals. To them, I tip my hat. Unfortunately this was a minority view.
The large majority of the comments affirmed that HR REALLY doesn't get it.
On this point I would have liked to be proven wrong, but instead most agreed that HR is out of touch with organization realities. To quote one response "they need to understand that if they aren't creating profits or reducing costs then they are not contributing."
The problem with HR is really a failure of leadership.
I completely agree. If organizational leaders aren't DEMANDING that HR "get it" then they are failing as leaders, and failing their responsibility to their organizations. Leaders really do set the tone.
Where is the accountability?
As many pointed out, HR is simply not held accountable for contributing positively to achieving organizational goals. I have learned the hard way that most HR organizations HATE being held accountable for real business improvement.
The general theme is NO!
Many pointed out that HR seems to relish its role in saying "NO" to as much as they can in the organization. Rather than being a positive force for change, they love to block organizational improvements.
HR and learning should be embedded in business units.
Many made compelling arguments that the ONLY way HR would "get it" is to be embedded in business units and report to operating management. I tend to agree. I used to believe in centralized HR but now I'm not so sure any more.
Performance improvement is more complex than HR "gets."
Many emphasized the partnership that has to occur between HR and operating units if performance is to improve. My experience is that HR hates the messy world of collaboration and influence rather than control. The comments were right and HR has to get out of the box if they want to improve performance and contribute to the bottom line.
Change is needed.
My read of the comments is that HR must hear the message that they need to change. While reasonable people can disagree about the exact type of change, the overwhelming message was that HR, as currently practiced by the majority of HR organizations, is out of touch with the needs of their organizations.
We are not an insular profession that can continue to operate in a silo. HR has lost sight of its real mission, to advance the organization towards its goals and bottom line. Think hard about where your HR organization is today. And, if you can influence its direction, think NOW about change.
Dr. Ed Holton is the Jones S. Davis Distinguished Professor of Human Resource, Leadership, and Organization Development at Louisiana State University and CEO of Learning Transfer Solutions Global and Holton Consulting Inc. He brings 30 years of experience in HRD/OD as a practitioner, professor, author, speaker and consultant. The author of 17 books that have been translated into 12 different languages, he has received numerous top awards in the profession for his research and practice and is a member of the International Adult and Continuing Education Hall of Fame. He is widely acknowledged as a global expert on transfer of learning and is co-author of the renowned Learning Transfer System Inventory, the only validated instrument in the world to measure organizational factors that impact training transfer. After 15 years of research on the problem, he and his colleagues have developed a robust toolkit of learning transfer solutions. You can see his blog at http://www.talentdr.com/
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