Thoughts about hr and management in the real world – extra information I couldn't fit in my books!.

Why you shouldn’t care about transforming HR

Every Thursday (7pm NZ time), a group of HR people from around the world ‘meet’ on line to discuss an important HR topic. The other week the topic was ‘Transforming HR’. To have a read about what we were going to discuss click here.

It was a truly fascinating, inspiring and thought provoking discussion. One of the key themes we discussed was why so many HR people don’t seem to want to change what HR is delivering, that they are comfortable with HR as it is, even though managers are unhappy with us and HR is being downsized or removed from many companies. Comments came up that many HR people lack vision. The concept of not having enough balls was raised (I won’t reveal who brought that up!).

Then the conversation got really interesting. Those of us who meet every Thursday are all passionate about changing and transforming HR, about challenging our own thinking and discussing how we can challenge our businesses. We share articles, ideas and learnings about the big HR issues. We all try and get others to participate. Because even though we are all busy, if we really care about our profession we need to spend time discussing it, challenging and stretching ourselves. After all we work with the most complicated area of any business – it’s people!

Yet week after week it’s mainly the same people.

I recently met the new CEO of HRINZ. Despite him telling me that his ultimate life purpose (his words, not mine) was to transform business and HR, he hadn’t spent any time in the last few years giving back to his profession, because he wanted to spend time with his family, on his hobbies, at his job.

So did I. Yet the last few years I have volunteered many hours every week writing articles, organising HR events, speaking at events, mentoring and giving advice – all for FREE. Because I believe in HR. I sacrificed things I wanted to do in my personal life for HR. And it was and is exhausting.

So really, it’s much easier to not care about transforming HR. To bury your head in the sand.

Is that a good enough reason?

Is being comfortable enough of a reason not to care? There are more and more of us out there who are excited and inspired about transforming HR. But we are getting frustrated that so many others don’t seem to want to change anything (although my frustration led me and the team at Elephant to get the HR Game Changer Conference off the ground so there is always a silver lining!!).

I believe we have two paths we could take from here.

Path 1: we head further towards George Orwell’s vision in 1984 with Big Brother watching everything we do. We make companies even more like corporate America – where HR ban everything, are the process police, are loathed and not respected and our workplaces continue to make people miserable, so the shareholders can make more money.

Path 2: we could create a new future, with innovative, exciting work places that don’t look anything like they do today, where HR lead the vision of the company along with the CEO. Where our companies spend time making employee’s lives and the world better as well as making money.

Path 2 is scary. It’s challenging. There will be conflict and failure. We might find we don’t have the skills to deliver. But isn’t it also the most exciting thing that’s ever happened in HR? Those of us that care think so!!

I’d like to thank the following people for caring about HR, for challenging, inspiring and pushing me further forward. David D’Souza, Richard Westney, Zoe Mousney, Shani, Perry Timms, Gem Reucroft, Lisa Hunter, Simon Jones (to name a few).

If you’d like to stretch your thinking, go and find us on Twitter or LinkedIn. Read our blogs, get in touch. And one Thursday in the not to distance future, at 7pm NZ time, go onto Twitter and search for #nzlead and join in our discussion. Do you care enough to be part of transforming HR? For more about #nzlead click here.

2 comments on “Why you shouldn’t care about transforming HR

  1. hrmannz
    June 30, 2014

    Thanks for the mention Angela and thank YOU for caring.

    You raise some interesting points. Is it that people don’t want to see change, or simply they don’t know where to start and find the thought of a different type of HR skill set a scary proposition? Don’t forget our traditional HR mindset is risk aversion.

    In all our talk about strategy, process and partnering we often forget the people factor.

    I love the fact that you are personally challenging people within the profession to think differently and putting a conference together to help them do that. That really is leading from the front and walking the talk.

    Those that want to change and see the need to “transform” will, those that don’t won’t bother. We can’t expect everyone to put back into their profession or to care that deeply about what they do. As you know, it isn’t just about HR but also about educating CEO’s and senior leaders to demand more and different things of their HR teams. That won’t happen overnight.

    But it has to start somewhere and those of us who do care about this stuff know that we’ve been instrumental in that. If we are influencing the thinking of our professional body, that has to be a good thing. And that’s the beauty of a movement like this, anyone can take part. It isn’t cliquey, there are no rules, no committees and no membership fees. All you need is the right attitude and an open mind.

  2. angelaatkins
    July 1, 2014

    Good points Richard.
    I do wonder if it also involves personality type too. The people I have talked to who are really excited about transforming HR seem to be more peacock/eagle (more extravert, open to risk, like change that delivers) and those that I’ve talked to who say the conference and the concept of transforming HR isn’t for them are more on the Dove/Owl side (more cautious, averse to change). I think this may also relate to those in more HR operations roles who are still learning about HR?
    And you’re right – our mind set in HR is to be averse. I just had a revelation on that this morning. Might be my next blog…

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