Wednesday, June 03, 2009

The HR Tone

Go to a Human Resources conference or read HR blogs and it won't be long before you'll hear the HR tone.

It's a certain inflection that signals the employees are dumb nuisances who try the patience of the savvy and hip HR-types. It chuckles about rules and practices most management lawyers would regard as unfeeling and harsh. It echoes an arrogance that comes from God knows where.

I know many fine HR professionals who have managed to avoid the tone and who genuinely care about the employees. Most of them work in the public sector although it is not free of the tone.

I'm not sure what causes the tone. Its origins may be found in some profound personal frustration. Moreso than other professions, HR may contain an inordinate number of individuals who do not want to be in their jobs. Perhaps the tone is a sort of defense mechanism in a job that has many demands and little clout.

Only one thing is clear: The users of the HR tone are not happy people.


Judy Clark, SPHR said...

I would respectfully disagree...after 35 years in the HR field, I find that the majority of HR professionals try hard to exhibit patience even when asked for the umpteenth time the same questions, even when employees and managers don't read most of what HR distributes and that's why they have the questions, etc. HR professionals are often the people caught between management, employees, compliance requirements, and a constantly changing business and legal terrain. Now it can be siad that all of us have placed ourselves in this environment (and that's true) so we shouldn't complain or comment on the difficulties we experience. But having said that, in my experience, HR rarely behaves as if it doesn't care about the employees or the organizational success. Sometimes, in fact, they appear to care more than the people who are so quick to dismiss their advice or observations.

But maybe this is just me having an "HR tone."

Unknown said...

You're right. That's why I blog about HR and gave up being a Human Resources generalist. I started using that tone with my family and that was enough for me.

Apolinaras "Apollo" Sinkevicius | said...

I have to completely agree with the article.

Now before I go any further, I make a HUGE distinction between admin-work heavy low value HR and high value HUMAN CAPITAL professional, who I consider more of scouts and sales people for the organization in the hunt for talent.

There is a reason why behind HR backs most people look at HR as lowest value part of the organization. Nobody says it in HR face... just when the time to downsize comes, guess who it is easiest to put under the knife.

Tone described above is real, though most HR professional don't see it. As the saying goes: "you own know what... does not stink"
The reason people don't care for HR, don't pay attention to things coming out of HR, {insert other HR complaints here] is because HR, as we know it, is on the way out. Paper-pushing, so common in HR, is now being replaced with software, benefits are handled by vendors (and software), etc.

I talk more about that in my article Time to make HR accountable! The rise of Human Capital professionals.

The new rapid-pace economy demands accountability, results, and ROI. HR people either need to retool themselves or follow the destiny of dinosaurs.

Just look at what startups to mid-market companies are doing. We set the trends at that level. Big boys and public sector will be catching up.