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Hating HR - Do I Really Need to Get Worked Up About What a Professor Thinks?

Remember that Fast Company article entitled "Why We Hate HR"?    Man, did we talk a lot about that one.

Guess what?  Some are still less than enamored with us.  Need Evidence?  Just check out the following article from, where Rutgers professor Richard Beatty is using the old lightning rod strategy to increase his personal revenues:Hate_hr_2

"Addressing a crowd of about 300 financial executives this morning, a professor of human resources soundly denounced the corporate HR profession for being mostly unable to provide analytics that are useful in making workforce decisions that build economic value.

Most companies today spend too little effort on attracting and retaining top strategic talent and too much on satisfying the rest of the employee base, asserted Rutgers University's Richard Beatty, who spoke at a general session during the CFO Risingconference in Orlando. In fact, he claimed that typical human resources activities have no relevance to an organization's success. "HR people try to perpetuate the idea that job satisfaction is critical," Beatty said. "But there is no evidence that engaging employees impacts financial returns."

By the way, the title of the article is built to get you worked up - "Memo to CFOs: Don't Trust HR".

The pattern is pretty simple to understand.  About every 6-8 months, some entity (Fast Company, a consulting shop, or in this case, a professor) comes along and attempts to take a big shot at HR.  Why shouldn't they take a shot?  We tend to react to the charges like we need to defend our worth to all around us.

Except, we don't.  The folks around you know whether you are any good or not as an HR pro.  I guarantee that.  For those of you who are strong, your business peers know the value.

Let's stop wringing our hands and start acting like we belong.  Please.  Every time you comment on a story like this one, you guarantee five similar studies/articles will come along in the next year.

So be different - don't whine, don't lash out.   Put your energy into cramming the stereotype down the world's throat by being a different type of HR pro.  Be better than you were last month.  Add a value- added project that someone in your organization didn't expect.  Rinse, repeat.

Get better and be different from the HR pros you know whom you believe are mailing it in.  Period.





Okay.... So you've got your panties all up in a bunch because someone took another shot at HR. I'm pretty sure that was his intention. But what exactly did he say that is wrong?

I'd bet that if you looked across the entire HR profession, Beatty has accurately described the average HR pro.


I have to agree with Chris. In the Fortune 500 HR world (which is the one I'm familiar with) you can literally count the number of world-class HR organizations with one hand (GE, IBM, Pepsico, J&J and P&G come to mind).

Kris' argument is similar to the Knicks complaining about how they get no respect. The truth is that these articles come out because in general as Kris says "the folks around you know whether you are any good or not as an HR pro. I guarantee that" - and in general HR doesn't like what it hears.

Kris Dunn

Chris -

So you're a long time reader, and I encourage HR folks to take accountability for the value THEY provide rather than reacting to articles like this, and you tell my my panties are in a bunch? Really?

HR people are like jr analysts at research firms (ring a bell? That's your profile, right?) There are good ones and bad ones, just like every profession.

Matt - You're more fair. I'll live with the assessment of those who rely on me. So will most good HR pros. Regardless of what the average indicates.

The message of the post is don't worry about what Fast Company or a professor with a Mic says. Just focus on getting better.

Joe - word..


Kris - in rereading your post I think I completely agree with your point. If you're delivering value to your organization it's pointless to get worked up over these articles.

That being said, the reason these articles keep appearing is because too many disfunctional HR organizations exist, and drag down the reputation of the entire profession in their wake.

Funny enough, BusinessWeek ran an article this week on the exact topic Prof. Beatty was addressing - HR metrics - IBM is prominently mentioned:


I like the positive spin you put on this - and turned it into a coaching opportunity.

I find it interesting that the entire article was a speculation with no convincing data to back up his argument - which is, ironically, the same behavior he criticizes.

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