The Website and Blog of HR Author and Speaker Lori Kleiman

HR at the Table

According to the Harvard Business Review, it's time to blow up HR!

Here we go again… Everyone is talking about HR and how it adds value to the organization. Thanks to the July cover of the Harvard Business Review titled “It’s time to blow up HR” – I have been flooded with calls. The conversation is one that is critical, and I appreciate the historical perspective found in the article. What I take away from it is that HR as a profession is just not changing fast enough.

The article paints a historical picture of HR departments, and how they ebb and flow in their value to business based on the economy. Essentially, when talent is hard to find, leadership relies on HR – but when things are good, leadership has the opinion that HR isn’t as essential. The truth is – HR is always essential, but the way HR managers go about engaging the rest of the organization can be ineffective at best.

I began this conversation with my first book Fire HR Now: Working with HR to Shape Up or Ship Out. I was recently approached at a conference by a business owner asking if I would consult with them because they just fired 3 HR people, and the leader of the department still couldn’t figure out what the problem was. He appreciated my straightforward approach and the “shape up or ship out” process. The point is – he didn’t have an HR function that knew how to lead – his HR function considered itself efficient if they just got the administrative pieces completed.

In 1996, the book Human Resource Champions highlighted the need for HR leaders to be strategic partners, employee champions and overall change agents for the organization. Sound familiar? In my presentations, I talk to HR professionals about finally taking the initiative and empowering themselves and their HR functions to just do it already. It is equally imperative that the leaders in business embrace the skills of their HR leaders and allow them to participate in the business in a meaningful way. This means giving HR authority to act independently – and then expecting HR to assume the responsibility for their own actions as they impact the business goals.

I consider myself a thought leader within the HR community – and rally the troops to take the leadership step – stop talking about it already! I am so tired of hearing how HR doesn’t add value and we are not focused on the strategic needs of the business. HR leaders need to be business people first – embracing the talent management issues that will drive our organizations forward. My newest book – Taking your SEAT at the Table – encourages HR professionals to stop sitting around waiting for the invitation to lead and take a seat. The article in the Harvard Business Review seems to ask for the same initiative – so HR professionals unite and let’s show our organizations what we are really all about!

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