Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Human Resources (HR): What went wrong?

Q:How many HR officers does it take to change a light bulb?

A: Four. One to assess the risk of the light bulb changing process, another to consult the light bulb and its stakeholders, yet another to ensure that the health and safety procedures are being adhered to while the bulb is being changed, and a fourth to actually change it.

I need to start with a caveat. My beautiful wife is a HR Manager and is exceptional at her job. This article refers to all other HR folks out there :)

I recently advised a client on a new start-up business. I was talking about the org structure and told him that at the start-up stage not to worry about bringing in any HR personnel as they are a cost center and there would be little to no value add. On reflection I wondered if others agreed with my point of view not only about a start-up environment but also an established corporate environment.

So I did a little research and WOW some authors have not held back. Have a look at these articles:
Why everyone hates HR
The truth about the HR department
What if HR never becomes strategic?

and the grand daddy of them all (note: this article is 6 years old and has been constantly referred to in numerous articles and blogs)

Why we hate HR

There is even a PHD paper based on the above article:
Teaching Guide for “Why We Hate HR”

Finally an article about HR getting a "seat at the table" the readers comments do not hold anything back.

I am sure if I did a search on other professions / roles I would find similar articles, however I was surprised at the venom in some of the comments.

My own personal belief is that there are two sides to this story but that ultimately the execution of a solid HR strategy does not rest with the HR managers but with the CEO's who employ the function and weak managers who palm off responsibility. As blogger Suzanne Lucas at Evil HR Lady says "Why am I evil? Well, I'm not, but that's the perception of all of us in HR. Need to fire someone? Come to HR. Need to explain to someone why, even after working their rear end off all year, that their annual increase is 2.7%? Come to HR. Need to come up with new mountains of paperwork? Come to HR. So, come join me on the Evil Side."

Don't get me wrong. I have worked with a number of HR managers who could not run a bath let alone a business but to lump the whole profession in the "crap basket" is unfair. Owners, CEO etc have to take responsibility for the implementation of their corporate strategy and if part of that strategy is centered around people (i.e. the whole thing) then I suggest they shine the torch on their own inactions in the HR department. Allowing any department to become a haven for bureaucratic policing is a failure in executing the right strategy. As Einstein said, “Bureaucracy is the death of all sound work."

As for the start-up. I stand by my advice. Sorry HR but in a start-up environment I believe it is a cost the business cannot afford.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Count Your Blessings: Papua New Guinea

I recently returned from an assignment in Papua New Guinea(PNG). Before going on, if you have not been to PNG, I suggest you read an overview:

Here is the cover of the local newspaper whilst I was there:

As you will have no doubt come to the conclusion from the above pages, PNG is not the safest place on the planet. However with its mineral deposits, LNG other mining programs throughout the country, PNG is experiencing economic growth of +6%, which is not bad when one considers the operating environment of the business sector i.e. employee safety.

What really strikes me about PNG is how we take for granted so many basic activities in our everyday working lives and how business execution in a developed economy has altogether different complexity issues than a developing nation. From simple internet connectivity to personal security arrangements the chasm is daunting. I take my hat off to businesses competing in PNG and in particular the effort of many business owners who rise above the challenges.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Why I don't have a Facebook account

I often get asked why no one can find me on Facebook. The answer is simple...

Why? Well the truth is that I use to have a very active account. However I noticed that as I added more and more "Friends" so the number of unwelcome activities started to increase, such as:

  1. Photos appearing on peoples pages with a tag against my name that I was not happy with (the photo that is).
  2. Inappropriate comments attached to photos.
  3. Various inappropriate comments on my "Wall".
Note: My version of inappropriate could be very different to yours but that in itself gives a clue as to my decision to delete my profile.

Quite simply I came to realise the lack of control I had over my own profile. My ability to execute my content (profile) was determined by external inputs often out of my control. Many would argue this is not a major deal and precautions can be taken and limits implemented, but for me it was a deal breaker.

At the end of the day it is a personal choice. There is even a possibility you came to this page through someone who posted the link using the Facebook Like button. Whilst that may sound hypocritical, I in no way doubt the power of Facebook from a marketing perspective, particularly the referral method of marketing. And as delighted as I am that you have visited my blog, through the mighty Facebook Like button, I have decided that as long as I cannot execute and control my profile, a Facebook page is not for me.