From the Mouths of Babes

On July 12, 2017, in HRExaminer, by John Sumser

2017-07-11 HRExaminer from the mouths of babes photo img cc0 via pexels photo 261470 544x299px.jpg

“There are a ton of opportunities to reframe and rethink the work of HR. The HRTech vendor community produces new value at an extraordinary rate. But, the idea that HR is defective because it doesn’t embrace those ideas immediately is an expression of frustration, not truth.” – John Sumser


My son is still processing his visit to SHRM. He went as the youngest blogger on the blog squad. He seems to have learned a lot about both HR and writing.

Today, he cornered me with a deep question. He’s the kind of kid who doesn’t ask me many questions if he hasn’t thought deeply about the topic. The conversations are interesting.

“I was talking to this guy at SHRM. He said that “HR is still fighting the same battles it used to fight. So I asked him, what about HR Technology?” He said, ‘HRTechnology solves old problems by creating new ones.’ What do you make of that?”

I told him that an awful lot of people say things without thinking. It’s generally because it sounds good when someone else says it.

I told him that both things can’t be true. Either HR is still fighting old battles or HRTech is changing things. You can’t have it both ways. I suggested that one of two things were possible. “Either the fellow didn’t take you seriously because you are 15. Lots of adults are arrogant that way. Or, he simply didn’t stop to think before the words came out of his mouth. It might even be a combination of the two.”

I’m tired of the loud arguments about whether HR is this or that. I’m pretty sure that that’s what is getting old and repetitive. It rests on the ancient assumption that HR is somehow one thing.

How HR is configured, imagined and executed is a function of the business model, industry, region and phase of life of the organization in which it resides. To argue that there is one right way to execute or one proper subject for examination is to demonstrate the limits of your exposure to HR. HR is not a series of so-called best practices to be applied like snake-oil medications. At its best, HR is agile and concerned with helping is organization become the best it can.

Generally, the people who think HR is somehow stuck are selling something. They either have a product that does an old thing in a new way or they are offering some form of transformative service.

There are a ton of opportunities to reframe and rethink the work of HR. The HRTech vendor community produces new value at an extraordinary rate. But, the idea that HR is defective because it doesn’t embrace those ideas immediately is an expression of frustration, not truth.

 

 

 
  • John, I absolutely agree with your conclusion.

    I do have a problem with HR being encouraged to be ‘Agile’. Historically dog trainers and elite athletes were the primary areas that focused on Agility. To me ‘agility’ is just ‘fragility’ with a dash of hope. I’m quite happy to be known as a disagilitist!

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