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…)

Let’s be brutally honest…

hr director gossipFast Company has a very cute article, “Brutally honest versions of your job titles.”  I smiled through “Brand Ambassador = Professional Conference Attendee,” and “Social Media Strategist = Person with the Twitter password.”   I suppose that since I do not work in one of those professions, I could chuckle a bit, understanding the subtle poke at their work.

Then I came to “HR Director = Gossip Coordinator/Instigator.”  Aw no – that’s hitting below the belt.  That is the antithesis of everything that anyone in Human Resources hopes to be.  Our world revolves around confidentiality, and here is a popular business magazine calling us gossips and instigators.  There are a lot of “names” I can rationalize because I know we sometimes fall into the trap – Party planner, Evil HR lady, and “oh oh, here comes HR – someone’s gonna be fired.”  But not “gossip.” (more…)

So What If He Lied About His Degree…

diploma_hat_graduation_800_clr_8164The New York Times ran an article about yet another successful, high profile sports coach who has been caught lying about his credentials. NYT writer Juliet Macur interviewed Coach Steve Masiello a few days prior to the revelation that he had lied about having a college degree. He got caught, as others have, with a background check as he started a new job.

During the interview, Masiello preached accountability and described how he had learned the importance of accountability from an early mentor. So my question is, “what, really, is accountability,” and “to whom is one accountable?” (more…)