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HR People Who Want to Blow Up HR Miss The Point...

What?  Why would someone like me say that HR people who want to blow up HR are wrong?

Because of the following statement, which is the best compliment I've ever received.  I wish I heard this one more:

"You're not like other HR people I've known."

Boom.  That's the standard we're looking for.  Take all the normal low expectations people have for HR, and deliver something different.   Make them notice.  Make them see that HR can be something upscale, positive and progressive.  Whatever that is to you, make them see that, then influence them into saying the words above.

The answer isn't to cease to be HR.  It's to redefine what HR can and should be.

Why the rant today?  I've heard some people wax poetic recently that the answer for HR is to stop being HR.  To be embedded in the business.  To know the business.  

So far, so good.  Then trouble happens as they continue:

We need to be strategic.  Stop talking like an HR person.  Be known as a business person, not HR.

That's where they lose me.  There's a body of knowledge that only a talented HR pro can deliver, and that's the reason I can't agree with those that say the best way to deal with the perception of HR is to leave the profession.

Instead of thinking you can't be affiliated with all the weak people in HR, stand up for the profession.  

Make people say, "You're not like other HR people I've known."

That's the way to fix the perception problem in the HR industry.  If you're not willing to take that on, who will?


Josh Westbrook

In general I agree with you Kris. I think the big divide between HR pros who can become HR VPs/Directors versus those who will struggle to advance pass HR Managers is whether you're a "people pleaser" or a "straight shooter".

Some HR pros, and Business leaders, mistakenly believe that being strategic is making the business leaders "happy". It actually could be the opposite. In fact being "strategic" isn't alway about making customers and investors happy. Being strategic is about understanding industry forces and organizational capabilities and from that exploiting opportunities and minimizing threats.

Once you commit to a strategy, quite often you must tell employees, leaders, customers or shareholders "no", because it doesn't enhance the strategy.


I like it when I hear a similar compliment, I like to think I'm their first experience in breaking their preconception of what an HR person is or can do. I'm not limited to being a policy pusher, I'm a business person.

Steve Youll

Kris, well said. This is my ultimate goal as a person who practices with a business focus on people, without excluding everything else in the business. Some of my experiences taught me to pay attention to what finance was doing, what IT is doing, what engineering is doing, etc, etc, etc, and be "the guy" that brings it all together in terms of people. A mentor of mine suggested this, "Learn to read a balance sheet and know what generates revenue. The rest will follow." And, he was right. Practice the business of HR and not just HR in a business.


**sigh. Hr.

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