When doing everything is the same as doing nothing

03rd February 2015 | Posted in Uncategorized

stonehengeOne of the problems with HR was that there used to be no single area of organisational endeavour it could truly call its own.

We created recruitment processes in which line-managers were the occasionally illogical and regularly conservative decision-makers; Learning programs drawn from the organisation’s often narrow view of the skills and abilities it needed; Compensation structures derived from how much the business thought it could afford after paying the Shareholders and the Board; policies and processes from what the lawyers said we needed. When we developed HR strategy the text books told us to make it subservient to the business strategy. We let the Facilities department design the workplace and found out by accident that some people didn’t like it and worked at home. We tolerated narcissism and empire-building from Leaders in the name of ‘the business’ and then coached them all to be identically ‘authentic’ following a model made in California. The clever Mr Ulrich and others told us we should be strategic and we tried with bags of typically earnest endeavour, but except for a few glorious exceptions, we never really managed it. Now our Recruiters are told they have to be Marketers and our diligent HR Managers are told they have to be Data Analysts.

Enough, already.

Work will look radically different in five years’ time from the way it looks now. The complex adaptive system that is any human organisation will respond to the seismic changes in the environment we work in. Successful organisations have already started. The ones that don’t change quickly will disappear. This is not a self-serving vision of the future, it’s a cold-eyed strategic analysis based on global demographic trends, increased technological capability and ultimately, market forces for the clever and committed people all organisations need. And this means that the People function in the business will, almost despite itself, have found the Purpose it was lacking. Complex adaptive systems need a central nervous system to coordinate and align the adaptations. That’s HR. No other part of the business can put it’s arms around the thousand tiny changes an organisation needs to survive.

Being able to recruit, retain and develop the people that will fuel the organisation of the future is not subservient to the business strategy; it’s a key plank in the life-raft that will keep the organisation bobbing around in the choppy seas of 2015. As I said once before: drop the introspection, HR. Seize the day to make your workplace the one that clever people want to come to and share their talent and energy.

Do that one thing. Do it really well.

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