Blinkered HR does not mean business

first_img Comments are closed. Previous Article Next Article The CIPD is responsible for HR’s poor image. Having set itself apart as atechnical profession, it is seen as an insular, business-shy functionA number of recent research studies have reached the conclusion that HR isnot very effective. Guest and King report that the vast majority of senior managers are unawareof evidence linking HR activities to the bottom line. Furnham, however, strikescloser to home, claiming the root cause of its poor image is that a significantproportion of HR executives lack professional competence. Unfortunately, both studies bear critical scrutiny. In a time of tremendouscompetitive pressures when there is more need than ever to create value throughpeople, the HR function is often seen as an impediment rather than a drivingforce. Why is this? It is not as though there is a shortage of talented people in theprofession. Competition for jobs in HR means that departments can be selectiveand pick some very capable individuals. The problem, therefore, appears to lieelsewhere. The heart of the problem is that HR lacks business skills – in its desire tobecome a profession HR has focused too heavily on increasing technical skills.The result is that the decisions and activities of many HR departments are notseen as aligned to corporate goals and too few HR directors are perceived byCEOs as key colleagues in the drive to create shareholder value. This can become a vicious circle whereby the board’s expectations of HR arelowered and this breeds complacency among HR executives to deliver businessperformance. A lot of the blame can be laid at the door of the CIPD. For years theinstitute’s training has focused on technical skills and covered businessskills in only a perfunctory fashion. This has resulted in HR executives whoare experts in personnel matters but lack the financial and business skillsessential to influence their organisations at the highest level. CIPD training may now have core management as a compulsory component, but itis not until people study for the new Advanced Practitioner standard that thevalue-adding role and potential of HR is really explored. IPD members were rightfully proud when their professional body was awardedchartered status. However, this served to increase the specialist nature of thefunction. Membership requires considerable formal training as well as time in therole, and few departments will hire managers without CIPD membership. Those whohave spent years acquiring HR skills are loath to move into a different roleand managers elsewhere in the organisation are unable to transfer into HR. This means that the HR function all too often grows apart from othercorporate departments and loses alignment with business objectives. Thecombination of specialist training and professional insularity is a majorproblem that must be addressed. Training and experience are not the only cause of HR’s difficulties. Assomeone who specialises in the field of assessment and job content, it isapparent to me that there is a paradox in the HR role. Increasing legislation has meant that a significant component of the HRfunction is to control process and ensure compliance. This creates a mindset ofcaution and risk management. Meanwhile, organisations responding to external pressures are having tochange and develop at a faster pace than ever before. Therefore the HRdepartment is all too often regarded as the team who will prevent and hinderrather than initiate and facilitate. There is a need to improve CIPD training for those entering the professionand encourage existing managers to develop business skills through practicaltraining and exposure to a broader work environment. By Richard Alberg,  chiefexecutive of Psychometric Services Ltd Blinkered HR does not mean businessOn 19 Mar 2002 in Personnel Today Related posts:No related photos.last_img

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