I have 40 years of experience as an HR executive, authored a book about Repurposing HR, and have a healthy following in social media on my articles related to positioning HR as a business partner. Heck I even got an “HR seat at the table” article published in hbr.org. My experience and study tells me that HR has an opportunity to dramatically influence organizations both in business and in the human aspects of the organization. I don’t think we are doing that; at least I hear that from colleagues.
But I’m beginning to sense that there is a semantics issue for those that do have “a seat at the table.” I’m pretty sure that the CAO/CHRO for Wells Fargo had a seat at the table. She was actually listed in their proxy, meaning that she is one of the top executives in the organization.
So assuming she had the seat at the table, and held the influence that denotes, why are all the stories coming out about how HR let the employees down, and ultimately, let the company down. I’ve talked before about the HR role being a dual advocacy – for both the employee and the organization – because at the end of the day, a damaged organization isn’t much good to the employees. Continue reading You’ve got the seat at the table; what are you doing with it?
For most of my long HR career in service industries, my colleagues and I believed our role to be an advocate for the employee. Those who spent their HR career in a collective bargaining environment may feel they advocate for the employer.
In Repurposing HR: From a cost center to a business accelerator, I highlight the role of Advocate as one of eight StopOvers on the RoadMap – the process for becoming a business leader rather than a service provider. Here’s how I explained it…
“The HR profession struggles to emerge from the “people person” image. Many of us went into the field because we liked working with people. The reality is that human resources plays two advocate roles, which often conflict:
- HR is an advocate of the organization. Are the people decisions the best decisions to be made for the organization?
- HR is also an advocate of the employees. Are we treating our employees consistently and fairly? If we are not, it will have a detrimental impact on the organization.”
Fast forward a couple years. Let’s make it really powerful – we are fast forwarding beyond a time in US business’ history for which we should have been exceedingly embarrassed and learned the hard way about organizational ethics – the scandals of Enron and Worldcom, which set the stage for the 2002 Sarbanes-Oxley Act which, among other things, protected whistleblowers. Continue reading For whom should HR advocate?
An article titled “These Ten Policies Are An Embarrassment to the HR Profession” appeared in my newsfeed yesterday. Posted by Liz Ryan in Forbes, I devoured the content and tweeted it to my network saying, “Right on! Absolutely! Embarrassing is a good word!”
I read it again this morning, and had a slightly different reaction. I really like Liz Ryan’s writing; she says it like it is – no words minced. And what she says always makes sense. I nod my head and go, “Yup.”
But then I came back down to earth and realized that, while the words resonate, thar’s danger in them, thar waters.
In the post, she slams policies like progressive discipline, doctors’ notes for absences, funeral notices to justify bereavement leave and reference policies that prohibit managers from providing references for their employees. There are others, but these I mention all share the element of trust. If trust were present, there really would be no need for policies such as these. Can’t argue there. Continue reading Don’t be embarrassed…