Tuesday, 5 May 2015

Negative HR: Missing, Presumed Dead

There currently seems to be a particularly worrying trend in writing about our beloved HR Profession that should be giving us all some cause for concern. 
The defining characteristic of this genre is a tendency to describe HR in a very negative light, painting a portrait of a lumbering giant of a function, populated by sluggish employees who are resistant to change, generally have a can't do attitude, heavily reliant on policy and procedure, risk averse, out of touch with the commercial demands of the business they are in, technologically illiterate. You know the sort of thing because you've read lots of this type of stuff.
Once the ogre has been sufficiently fleshed out, the author conveniently offers us a simple solution which will rescue the profession from the edge of the abyss and miraculously transform it from ugly duckling to beautiful swan in one easy movement. The silver bullet of salvation is frequently a variation on the theme of Getting Disruptive, Getting Social, Funking up the Workplace or Doing Something Wonderful with Big Data. 
Well, there's some good news and some bad news.
First the bad news. 
As the saying goes : For every complex problem there is an answer that is clear, simple and wrong.
Rarely is there one single initiative that will Make Everything Right. Complex problems generally require a range of complex solutions to remedy the situation. 
But here's the good news:
Generally the highly negative portrait of sluggish HR is one of a function that actually died many years ago. 
I don't know about you, but my experience of 21st Century HR professionals is largely at odds with the negative view described above.
The vast majority of HR professionals that I have the privilege and pleasure to encounter are positive, switched on, smart, proactive, constructive, challenging, eager to help, keen to develop their own capability, solution-focused, innovative and open to change. And much more.
In reality, most - but admittedly not all - of those that were anything else died out like dinosaurs when they failed to respond to the challenges and changes of the contemporary workplace. There's actually no place for those matching the negative description outlined above in the present day, be they an HR professional or one from any other function.
So here's a plea : if you encounter one of the doom and gloom merchants narrating the story or painting a picture of a moribund HR function populated with uninspiring dullards, ask them how in touch with reality they themselves actually are, or what they are currently doing to enlighten the final few specimens of a bygone age and drag them kicking and screaming into the 21st Century.
Just ridiculing them will achieve nothing, will it ?