Tuesday, 10 May 2011

Need the Professionals? Call for HR.

As part of some research into HR Business Partnership, I've recently been undertaking in-depth interviews with senior business managers and directors exploring their experience of HR service, and also their vision of what effective HR delivery would look like.

One word has been used over and over again, but not always with the same meaning:


It seems to be used to indicate two entirely different meanings.

On the one hand to be professional (or, to be precise to be "a professional") is to be thoroughly grounded in your area of expertise, up to date on best practice and legislation, competent at building relationships and understanding the wider needs of the business. It seems to imply getting alongside managers as an equal, and influencing business decisions by ensuring that the people agenda is addressed. Such a professional is Someone Who Says Yes.

On the other hand professional is sometimes used to mean slow, ponderous, over-concerned with process and risk avoidance. It implies form-filling and adherence to an established way of doing things. It seems to imply a rule-based approach where the business manager is required to do things the HR way, regardless of whether this enables the business to fulfil its strategy and achieve its objectives. It's HR as policeman. Such a professional is Someone Who Says No.

One obvious question really:

What sort of professional (regardless of whether you're in HR or not) are you?

1 comment:

  1. Mmm, this is a tricky one. A ‘yes’ girl or a ‘no’ girl? Well having listened to Woman’s Hour recently there are apparently young men at Yale who believe that ‘No’ means ‘Yes’ so this is a difficult one. I’m the kind who exchanges her professional services for money – so you decide!