Tuesday, 17 November 2009

HR once more questions its future

The CIPD conference which starts today in Manchester is giving the HR profession yet another opportunity to question if not its existence, then at least its purpose.

Under the heading of Next Generation HR, the CIPD is publishing the findings of an extensive research project with the aim of prompting the profession to “start thinking about what it needs to look like in future”

The project focuses on testing three hypotheses. 
  • HR’s purpose needs to shift to being about sustainable organisational performance
  • It needs to focus on building a culture of authenticity, demonstrating a balanced approach to risk management and developing organisational agility.
  • It needs to define the type of HR leadership it will need in future 
Comments from senior HR professionals who have been involved in the research indicate that not all organisations have successfully managed the transition from seeing HR Managers as enforcers of policy to that of commercially-minded business partners.

CIPD unveils its Next Generation HR study 
  • Do other professions spend as much time as HR in a search for meaning?
  • Is such self-examination a feature of a mature and confident profession, or one that is in danger of losing its way?
  • Is the need to evolve something that is peculiar to UK HR, or is it a worldwide phenomenon?


  1. Hi Graham

    Interesting questions! Personally i am tired with the 'search for self meaning'! It is not something any other function does and onluy serves to undermine the role of HR. If id have been told id need a full time therapist when i got into HR i would not have bothered!

    Ans it seems to me that all this pondering about what our HR leadership needs to look like and how we should be structured and positioned is just more of the same, and its not helping.

    We seem to think its ok spending all this time at conferences or within our organisations and amongst ourselves discussing how we should or should not be, instead of spending time actually making a difference.

    All this does is deliver new job titles, new structures and new jargon fuelled HR speak resulting in more opportunities for our functional peers to take the p*ss out of us.

    Q How many HR people does it take to change a lightbulb?

    A None. But they would like to be represented at the meeting!

    Just step up and change the goddam lightbulb!

    Keep the posts coming Graham!

  2. i'm all about a reversion back to the more simple side of HR...some of this "self-searching" has resulted, in my opinion, in what i would call the over-engineering of HR. and that's not just a UK thing - we clearly struggle with it in the US. i don't think our problem is that we do too much self-searching - that's a healthy sign of growth; our problem, though, is that we're much better at talking about the problems than we are at talking about the solutions. we need to stop engineering our responses to the world (to our critics) and start trusting in our sound professionalism and maturity to find the right balance between what's good not only for our people, but also for our company...

  3. I totally agree far too much "self searching". In my experience I think HR lost focus when it started to be driven by David Ulrich models and forgot, like any other business, to ask the customers what they needed rather than tell them what they were going to have e.g. more Consultants 'representing' HR at meetings!

  4. My post on the session from the conference: http://strategic-hcm.blogspot.com/2009/11/cipd09-next-generation-hr.html.

    By the way, shame you're not at the conference Graham, it would have been great to meet you.

    I just hope I don't get kicked out now!

  5. Hi Graham - there is too much 'navel-gazing' in HR and there are many signs that HR as a profession is insecure about its position. I completely agree with Margaret's comments on the causes. I am fan of Ulrich et als work, but there is massive gap between the Theory and its implementation. Many current HR structures don't work and need to go back to basics. Bridging the gap requires focus on the business, speaking to customers, solving problems (as mentioned by HRFishbowl) all with a huge dose of common sense. Keep it simple, and don't blame the 3-legged stool!

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