For whom should HR advocate?

Fake Dictionary, Dictionary definition of the word Advocacy.

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. (more…)

Are You Sabotaging Your Success?

rowing drillingWhat a great metaphor for today’s Human Resources teams who want to add value to their organizations, but who sometimes sabotage their own success by working in silos and focusing on product rather than customer needs.

Think about it this way. You’re in a boat and you need to move forward. To do that, everyone in the boat must row in the same direction. Sort of like an organization – you have a goal, and everyone needs to work toward that goal.

Sometimes folks get turned around or distracted. They notice something on shore, and lose sight of their goal – to go forward. Sort of like an organization – you become so focused on one product that you lose sight of the big picture. The boat (or organization) stalls, or possibly sinks. (more…)

Caveat Venditionesque Pice (Beware the sales pitch)

sales_pitchNovember HR Magazine’s Point/Counterpoint column (pp. 22-23) takes on emotional intelligence, asking “Is emotional intelligence a good measure of leadership ability?” On one side, the vendor who provides emotional intelligence tests and training, said “Yes.” The counterpoint: a professor of organizational behavior said, “No.” Who to believe?

Conflicting evidence and claims abound in HR circles these days. Human Resources has become big business, and consultants and technology vendors are jumping on the bandwagon with products and services to help HR become strategic. After all, that is what CEOs say they want from HR, and what HR says we want to be. Vendors need to sell to remain in business, and they become very good at their sales pitch. (more…)