Why I Write

windingroadI have been invited to submit my blog for an award, and as I answered the questions I realized that I have never really stated the purpose of my blog here. I began the blog in November 2012 and as of today, have published 124 posts, and hosted 282 comments. My followers are international, and I have been humbled at learning just how much I don’t know about the world outside the U.S. So I thought I would remedy that omission now.

Here’s what I wrote on the submission:

My blog is intended to challenge the status quo in HR and push HR professionals to think about their value to the business.  With the highly negative press that HR receives these days, we cannot afford to keep building programs and processes that do not actually contribute to the bottom line. It takes thinking collectively about our customers’ needs, and that is the focus of my posts.

At this point, HR’s contributions are questionable however the opportunity is enormous. HR is the only part of an organization, besides the CEO, that has a 30,000 foot view of the people – what they are doing, how they are contributing, and the collaborative nature of the workforce.  Given this unique perspective, HR can influence effective organizational change and culture so that the goals and values espoused by the organization can be realized.

I stay on top of current trends because I read everything, and have news feeds set to deliver anything related to HR, leadership, culture, change or innovation in the people part of business. I then take several articles and weave my own perspective into a blog post. I learn a great deal from the comments of those that follow me.

Fine-tuning my message

Looking back at some of my earlier posts, I realize that I played around with several different topics, and would be hard pressed to say what my message really was. As I wrote, and as I read and responded to comments, I realized that I do have a focused message – help the profession of human resources be all that we can be (apologies to the Army)

I wonder sometimes if HR professionals are aware of what their organizations and operational leaders think of their work. We only have to open publications like Harvard Business Review, Fortune, Forbes and McKinsey’s journal to get a sense that the value of our work is not held in high esteem.  And these articles I note have emerged only since April of 2015.

I finished writing my book, Repurposing HR: From a cost center to a business accelerator in December 2014, and dedicated the entire third chapter to “The indictment of HR.” During the time I was writing the book, articles by Ram Charan, Bernard Marr, Josh Bersin had emerged, and began to take a harsher tone about the value of HR.

But remember 2005 and Fast Company’s “Why We Hate HR?” I do. I was in an HR executive role back then, and while peeved at the content of the article, I didn’t see the reality of the indictment. Ten years and another organization later, I get it. We are too slow, not agile, not responsive and not adding value.

What to do?

The first thing we need to acknowledge is the need to change. Change gurus suggest that “a sense of urgency” is the first step in organizational change. Read the headlines – if that doesn’t grab you, I’m not sure what will.

Then, we need to take the bold step of asking our customers what they need from HR, how the current programs and processes are helping the business, and what must change to truly add value. This is not an easy assignment, particularly if HR is seen as a necessary evil, an administrative function that adds work. But it is the only way to truly understand “what is.”

Figure out “what needs to be.” Take the feedback and use it to form a critical look at everything we do. Prioritize closing the gap using the rule of thumb “the most potential to positively impact the business.” And then make the change.

Sell it to the leadership as an outside vendor would do. Create the cost/benefit projections so they know what they are buying, and what to expect.

Then monitor outcomes. Everything HR does should have a measurable business outcome. It won’t be perfect and that’s okay. But the candid dialogue about what worked and what didn’t is a means to organizational learning – a critical competency for any organization.

Can we make the change?

We can. We had better.

So I have come around to the purpose of my blog. It is to challenge the status quo on the people part of the business, and provide a forum to challenge and push the profession of human resources to think differently about their mission.

We can do this.

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