Hopes for the Future of HR

Helen Tracey @HR Potential writes a thoughtful and forward looking blog about human resource management.  Her blog here challenges HR professionals to demand truth from colleagues, to encourage openness.

Tonight the CIPD are running an event about the future of work.  I’m guessing this is going to be a hopeful and optimistic event from which some innovative thinking is going to emerge.  I’m not able to make the event because of a rather lovely family reason.

I do have some thoughts about the future of HR – and I’m assuming that the conversation at this event will be about the role of HR in the future of work. Sometimes I hold back thoughts that I think may be perceived as being negative; I guess that  belongs to me.  But sometimes…….. I read a lot of very positive blogs and writing about HR and I think – I think, there is much that needs to change.

I’m using Helen’s blog as a prod to poke my own courage.

It’s a tough job HR.  It can be lonely, people can feel isolated, the work is hard, much of it invisible and I think what lies beneath many of the difficulties of the HR role is something about truth and the system in which HR operates.

The best of us will at times be in situations where we will implement something we don’t agree with; find ourselves being forced to do something counter to our own belief system, being pragmatic – it’s just the way it is.  Is that business savvy?  Am I naive?

I see it all around – people don’t say what they think, feel, believe. Sometimes that person has been me.   We’ll readily offer agreement, but less readily offer an alternative perspective.

  • Is it because we don’t want to be unpopular? Is it because we may be a minority and we have learned to keep it to ourselves? (women, ethnicity, sexuality)
  • Is it because even when our opinion is invited, it is often not valued – minds get made up, consultation looks to validate as opposed to being open to influence.
  • Is it because our thoughts about work are deeply rooted in old systems?

It can be hard to point out “what’s gone bad” when there are heavy investments in making things look good. Retain the status quo. Don’t admit to not knowing, fear. Hard not to give in to greed – convince yourself you deserve it, you have worked hard.

Around half of my working life has been working in organisations that have had some type of failure and I have been working with new leadership to re-energise and revitalise a culture. In every situation before the crash or the steady decline to below mediocrity  – a leadership individual/collusion has ignored, discounted, squashed, covered up front line/back office alarms.

Persig says it so much better than I ..

“Just as a biological immune system will destroy a life saving skin graft with the same vigor with which it fights pneumonia, so will a cultural immune system fight off a beneficial new kind of understanding with the same vigor it uses to destroy crime.”

I have some hopes for the future of HR, that it could be the change that we are looking for:

  • I hope that the future of HR includes a world where because you are a woman your perspective is more highly valued, sought out because you are a minority and not marginalised because of that.
  • I hope that the future of HR will be a move towards systemic thinking and working; an offloading of some of the transactional responsibilities that reinforce the cultural system.
  • I hope that the future of HR will include a rethinking of what is actually needed within organizations. What if the HR function had never existed – take it away – what needs would emerge from what is left?
  • I hope that the future of HR will be a move away from language and systems that reinforce distance – Human Capital, Analytics, EVP, and a step closer to designing workplaces that are focussed on our humanity.
  • I hope that the future of HR is that HR will be something different. I think that trying to change what we have – it isn’t enough.
  • I hope that the future of HR involves the re empowerment and value of management, and the moving away of the idealisation of leadership.  Good strong ethical management – it’s a beautiful thing, and the root, the core, the strength.