Sunday, 1 February 2009

Less is more??!!

As we try to package up 2008 and career into 2009, one wonders what this year has to offer the Human Resources profession and what better time, in my opinion, to start commenting on it. If you have been in HR for longer than 10 years you will have seen the population (if not the popularity) of the profession explode in that time. Where once there were a handful of generalists, sitting in a hierarchy of similar folk, there now stands an army. Alongside the introduction of the much maligned business partner model, the function exploded with specialists popping up all over the place. Nice. But perhaps a tad over the top??

It would be nice to think that during the last 15 years business leaders have finally realised the value of their people and the growth in the function was a result of this great bit of forward thinking and insight by those at the top. But perhaps this is not the reality they would have us believe. The average CEO hasn’t changed, so don’t kid yourself. Most of them don’t have enough emotional intelligence to fill a thimble, let alone get the fact that the employees are the ones that deliver the goods, not their own brilliance as their ego’s often suggest.

No, to a large extent, this dramatic increase was largely fuelled by leaders allocating more and more resources to the function in the name of the ‘war for talent’ amongst other things (Don't get me started). Well why wouldn’t they, some wag at McKinsey said it was a ‘business imperative’ so they all jumped on the bandwagon. (You have to say that with an American accent as it sounds way more impressive.) I wonder how many of those C level execs ACTUALLY read the McKinsey report?!

The game is up though. With a tanking economy, those at the top of the organisation are looking decidedly worried and I suspect their ‘total commitment’ to their people will, in many cases turn out to be lip service. All of a sudden, those ‘critical’ specialists in OD, Resourcing, Talent Management etc to name but a few will start to look like a luxury the organisation can ill afford. Figuring that most people will be ‘grateful to have a job’ they will be keen to put investment in their ‘most important asset’ on the back burner, you mark my words.

Perhaps it will be a good thing. Not necessarily for the people in the organisation, but for the function. No better time to go away and re invent yourself than a recession. And of course the HR function is just so good at re invention don’t you think? Me personally, I can’t wait to see what new job titles we can create for the next wave of people indulgence.

Am I talking bollocks? What say you?


P.S. If you have a CEO with more than their fair share of emotional intelligence do let me know as they are a rare breed and I think we should celebrate them. Oh and you can let me know if you have one that isn’t also! Always good to have a balance.

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