Every now and then you might read an article that gives you genuine food for thought. This happened to me last month when I read the one page HBR article, titled 'It's Time to Split HR' by Ram Charan. To be honest though I think I may be in the minority when I viewed the various defensive and HR apologists comments on the online article.
With the apologists in mind, I am most likely being optimistic in suggesting that my proposal, that I will call 'Building On Charan's Idea 2.0', is also given due consideration.
Charan's proposal is to eliminate the Chief Human Resources Officers and split the HR function into two, namely:
- HR-A (for Administration): "would primary manage compensation and benefit. It would report to the CFO"
- HR-LO (for leadership and Organisation): "would focus on improving the people capability of the business and would report to the CEO"
I agree with this!
And because I agree with this I am proposing a potentially more radical solution - merge the HR-LO into the line management and not have it as a separate reporting line. The Chief Marketing Officer should take the responsibilities of the HR-LO for Marketing. Likewise the National Sales Manager should take the responsibilities of the HR-LO. Don't pull line managers out of their operational role, bring the HR Leadership and Organisation into their role. The role of the HR-A will be an administrative support function. It does not get a seat at the table. However the capability is critical in making sure those line managers with the HR-LO responsibilities have the available tools to execute the role efficiently. This proposal is a high level outline and no doubt the naysayers will be vocal.
A number of organisations have tried this in parts however I have yet to see it successfully implemented. Issues I see around the reason for failure are that CEO's are often reluctant to let go of their CHRO due to the fact that:
- The CHRO is often seen as a "trusted adviser".
- The thought of making line managers responsible for the LO function is politically unsavory due to the backlash many may see as a burden on their already strained workload.