I’m so bored with HR victim hang-up

first_img Previous Article Next Article Comments are closed. Related posts:No related photos. The debate is still raging over the need for HR to sit on the board. Thisissue has gripped the imagination of senior practitioners, academics and themedia and is in danger of deflecting the debate away from where it should be –the impact of HR. Complaining about the lack of HR representation on the board is victimbehaviour and damages the long-term credibility of HR. I have just finished reading a new book by Jack Welch, ex-CEO of globalgiant General Electric, and it has prompted me to revisit the debate. There canbe absolutely no doubt that Welch and GE achieved successful businesstransformation through people. Welch had a passion for people excellence and GE is uncompromising about thestandards it sets. It has a robust HR system in place, which is respected byline managers and demands the very best from people managers right through thebusiness at all levels. What is interesting about the GE situation is that the head HR person, BillConaty, does not have a seat on the GE board. But I doubt this concerns Billtoo much. He is too busy developing the GE strategy and making a difference tothe bottom line every day. I also doubt it inhibits his ability to influenceand wield the power necessary to make change happen on a global basis. Boards have a fiduciary duty to act in the interests of their shareholders,but in great companies, so does everyone else. GE has a reputation forsystematically getting people excellence driven through the business. It has afocused performance management system built within a learning and developmentculture. It is a true employer brand. Analysts on Wall Street are clearly aware of the strength of the people andbusiness processes and it affects its share price. It seems to me this is theHoly Grail for HR – direct bottom line linkages between business strategy andHR strategy and practice. Influence is about being good at what you do and having the courage to standup to the CEO – it is not about what table you sit at. The debate about HR on the board waters down the real issue for HR people,which is the active pursuit of making a difference on a systematic, predictableand consistent basis. So, let us not get hung up on where we sit within the organisation, but onwhat we deliver and what our influence is at every level of the business. If HRis good enough, low and behold we will end up on the board anyway – and notjust because of a notion that there has to be a functional representation atthat level. Let us make sure younger HR people aspire to making a difference rather thansitting at the top table, and I suspect if we do this the rest will take careof itself. By Chris Matchan, Vice-president consumer practice, Korn/FerryInternational I’m so bored with HR victim hang-upOn 5 Feb 2002 in Personnel Todaylast_img

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