Re: Future of HR in LOs LO2970

Barry Deutsch (
Thu, 28 Sep 1995 07:50:07 -0700

Replying to LO2962 --

Art wrote:

>The new magazine Fast Company has commissioned me to write an article on
>the Future of Human Resources in a world of reengineering and learning
>organizations. The premise we are working with suggests that HR will be an
>increasing power base in many organizations -- it is the place where teams
>are made and brought together. Particularly when employees are hired on
>temporary or project-specific bases, this is vital.
>However, HR (as the function is traditionally set up) is ill-prepared for
>this role. So the role may fall instead to executive recruiting firms from
>the outside...
> ... and I'm equally interested in provoking a general discussion here,
>and hashing out whether the Human Resources function is truly under
>siege/on the crest of an opportunity.

I would pretty much say that it seems that HR is under siege. We are doing
more HR replacement searches at senior levels than ever before. The reason
is typically to replace someone of an "old mindset" school of post World
War II HR. Most of my client functional organizations don't want HR to be
order takers, they want them to be internal consultants. Unfortunately,
most of my functional department head managers are disappointed in what
they see in the HR department. They see a lack of focus, a lot of talk,
heavy handed control and position power game playing, and finally, a
tremendous lack of proactivity. Most of my clients tell me they want HR
people who are dominantly proactive in moving business issues forward, not
constantly reacting to who stepped on their turf.

In our HR search work, it is very hard to find top notch, forward looking,
proactive HR leaders. Even when we offer a solution in seminar training or
software products (I am a little biased here -- but will submit everything
we do to intense scrutiny), HR throws up roadblocks. To me all the excuses
come down to one thing: we didn't create it here in HR, so how could
anybody do anything that would add value to our function.

My solution is to not work with HR, but rather with the President or
functional executive directly. I will work with HR if the manager wants to
bring them into the picture for our search services, seminar programs, or
software solutions. Many of my functional clients would rather not involve
HR in projects where they have their proverbial neck on the line for a
result to be achieved. They will only involve HR as a last resort when
forced to politically "bring them into the picture." This is a very sad
general indictment of HR. There are exceptions to this generalized
statement, but not many.

The light at the end of the tunnel indicates that this state of affairs
does not have to continue. It can change. However, if most HR functions do
not change fast, they will be left in the "reengineered out" line.


Barry Deutsch
The Adler Group
  Staffing Strategies and The Managers' Edge Seminar Programs
  World Class Staffing Software for Hiring Managers
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