The Head of HR: The Good and the Ugly

With almost 30 years of experience, I had the opportunity to work with many HR professionals and have met both side of the spectrum. My judgment is based on a prerequisite statement that: ‘’People are your most important assets’’

So why the good?

A good HR and luckily they do exist, is:

  • A strategic partner in:
    • Recruitment – M/A and or team integration – Talent & retention programs – Compensation policy – Training programs and work shops – Succession planning
  • Passionate about people issues and its impact on the company results
  • Able to manage or implement change including communication
  • Competent or has the breath of skills to perform such a function versus the front and support functions and therefore gain their respect

So why the Ugly?

Many HR’s lack some of those competencies but unfortunately also:

  • Are in that position by default
  • Are mostly an administrative agent of senior management
  • Are lacking product knowledge with among others:
    • No direct experience in the functions they are supposed to be involved with
    • Not enough understanding or knowledge of the business
  • Poor communicator

The possible way forward

Although a number of the changes required are probably within the HR reach, not everything can be blamed on the HR lack of competencies. It is imperative that the senior management recognizes the role of the HR, the importance of Human capital and accepts that HR should have truly the same importance than their revenue generators or key control functions and not just act as their executant agent.  In other word, there is a need to implement a clearer correlation between reward and accountability

As explained by Jac Fiz Enz – the ROI of Human capital, 2000 – the HR should lead in acquiring, maintaining and retaining the human capital investment i.e. creates value and filled the gap between what the senior management need and what HR can truly deliver in terms of bottom line.

The good news, according to research from major consulting firms specializing on human capital, is that senior management is moving in the right direction and although HR is increasingly aware of its shortfall, they will need to work on:

  • Improving their product or cross-departmental experience and knowledge.
    • The optimal solution would be to attract front experience senior officer to the Head of HR function.
  • Developing broader skills to earn credibility from their counterparts. This can be achieved in two ways:
    • Management rotation, as seen with one of my previous employer
    • Attract front experience management as team HR leader
  • Becoming the employee champion and the strategic partner.

Although improvements have been made, it remains a challenge mostly because of a long historical heritage and poor perception.

Senior management will need to continue recognizing the role and positioning of the senior HR function but undeniably HR will need to continue the development of their competencies in order to become a true ‘’strategic agent’’ and be truly accountable for their contribution.