Reinventing Human Resources For The Human Workplace

Unless you occasionally examine your beliefs, they control you. Every so often you have to look closely at what you believe to be true, and question it. You have to ask “Why do I believe this?”

Maybe it was taught to you. Maybe there’s validity to your belief at all. I feel that way about the practice of Human Resources as it widely taught. We teach HR people to comply with employment laws, and often we don’t teach them a lot more. We view the purpose of HR this way: “Our HR department makes Acme Explosives a great place to work and keeps us out of court.”

We are obsessed with the compliance side of HR. We imagine that there are employees hiding behind every pillar and cubicle wall, waiting to jump out and sue us. That’s ridiculous, and it’s also a self-fulfilling prophecy. I worked for two startups that got much bigger, fast. I joined the first startup when sales were USD $1M per year and ran their HR function as the company grew to $180M in sales.

Then I left and joined U.S. Robotics, where sales were $15M in my first year on board. We grew to $3M in annual sales. We focused on trust and communication all the time, and had so few employee relations issues, even with nearly ten thousand team members, that I can remember each situation clearly. How does that happen? We treated the culture as a strategic advantage and a competitive weapon.

Roger was a senior leader in the Sales group when I started at USR. I asked him “How do you get customers to buy?”

“It’s a great product,” he said, “but if I can get them to come here they always buy from us.”

“Here” meant our office, with the manufacturing plant just behind it and attached to it by a long hallway. If Roger could get a customer onto our premises for a tour, the customer was sold. Why? The energy was so good, the customer wanted to be part of it. They believed in us once they walked around and saw people happy and trusting and working their asses off. Who wouldn’t?

We degrade HR when we treat it as a regulatory compliance function. How ludicrous would it be to hire a CFO to keep our customers from suing us?

Here’a CFO job candidate interviewing for a job with the CEO of Acme Explosives, Chuck Jones:

Chuck: So, tell me what you think you can do for my company.

CFO: Listen, I’ll keep the customers from suing you. I’ll keep you out of court.

Chuck: What are you talking about?

CFO: Hey, there’s a lot of laws you have to follow when you sell dynamite to customers.

Chuck: For sure, but that isn’t a big concern of mine. That’s table stakes. I want to know what you’ll do to grow our company, help us set a vision for our future and manage the finances over the short and long term.

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Reinventing Human Resources For The Human Workplace
human resources – Yahoo News Search Results
human resources – Yahoo News Search Results


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