Few organizations boast of a strong Human Resources that is their competitive advantage. They are partnered with the business finding and developing the right talent to produce in a high performing work environment that they helped enable. Unfortunately, this is an exception and not the norm. Human Resources has historically taken the role of referee instead of the player, opting to watch the action taking place and judging if the rules of the game are being followed by the letter of the law. This is a very safe position for an organization to be in where the risk is minimal. By codifying policies out of legal best practices, their intent shifts from enabling business success to protecting the organization from lawsuits. There is a great deal of value in this service, but it comes at a cost of separating itself from the mission of the organization.
Once Human Resources decouples from the business they will never be able to provide the value that the organization needs. This typically ends with isolationism where Human Resources will be engaged only if permission is needed or if something has gone wrong. This sentiment is best captured by one of my first bosses, “you wouldn’t give your taxes to the IRS and have them check it for you, you try to slip it in without it being noticed.” Ethics aside, it resonated that there must be a better model for Human Resources than resorting to policy enforcement.
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