Monday, June 21, 2010

Can HR be Strategic Without C-Level Support?

I read one of the best blog posts last week, that I have read in a long time.  Bill Taylor, at the Harvard Business  Review blog wrote, Why We (Shouldn't) Hate HR.   He recounts the infamous Fast Company article, Why We Hate HR with a totally new perspective.  (One that I happen to agree with).   One of my favorite quotes from his post is:

As this provocative essay approaches its fifth anniversary, perhaps it's time to change the debate. The real problem, I'd submit, isn't that HR executives aren't financially savvy enough, or too focused on delivering programs rather than enhancing value, or unable to conduct themselves as the equals of the traditional power players in the organization — all points the original essay makes. The real problem is that too many organizations aren't as demanding, as rigorous, as creative about the human element in business as they are about finance, marketing, and R&D. If companies and their CEOs aren't serious about the people side of their organizations, how can we expect HR people in those organizations to play as a serious a role as we (and they) want them to play?
Recently, I have seen the situation described above play out in living color.  You can TALK about employees being an "asset" or a "competitive advantage" but if you don't put your money where your mouth is..then it is just that...TALK!

Today, I had the privilege and honor to speak to 140 HR individuals in transition in the Atlanta area for SHRM-Atlanta's HR Helping HR program.  We had a room full of very intelligent, motivated HR professionals.  I was discussing the trends that I see in HR and we began talking about Mr. Taylor's comments.  Everyone in the room agreed that there is a shared responsibility for an HR department to be strategic:

1) The HR professionals have to have the competencies to pull it off AND
2) The C-Suite has to have the vision and support the effort to make resources available

What are your thoughts on Bill Taylor's article?  Agree or Disagree?
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