Recruiting Is Not Recruiting, HR is not HR
The other day, my nine year old stepson was referred to the principal’s office by his teacher. During recess that Monday morning, he told a number of his friends that he’d “had sex with two girls over the weekend.” While the teacher was shocked and dismayed, I had a hard time controlling my laughter.
Things look pretty different when you’re parenting a second batch.
The single largest myth about HR is that so called ‘best practices’ are somehow transferable between organizations and functions regardless of the organization and the function. In Recruiting circles, people will tell you with a straight face that Recruiting is the same thing regardless of the setting. The idea is that something about hiring a barista is somehow related to hiring a public company CEO.
Nothing could be further from the truth. It’s like saying that there is some common ground between my nine year old’s virginal naivety and Charlie Sheen’s lifetime of having sex with two women. While they both will tell you that they spent their weekend the same way, the actual experiences are completely unrelated. Charlie Sheen’s best practices will do the kid no good. While the young man’s best practices might help Charlie out, we’re sure he wouldn’t see the wisdom.
We’re moving into a very important part of the maturing of the HR industry. Call it early adulthood.
The first generation of professionalized HR is coming to a close. It was a wild, wild west show with a single professional association and vendors gobbling up market share in a war that focused on features. Today, most of the features have stabilized, the professional association is looking a bit worse for the wear and most industry events happen in very local venues (Oh, you didn’t know that?)
In HR’s early adulthood, we’re going to see
- The vendor playing field shift its focus from features to brands. Increasingly, contracts will be won and lost based on reputation and measurable cultural fit;
- The professional associations and various publications will continue their trend towards regionalization. This will be spurred on by social media (the most interesting HR events are regional Ie the ERE Meetups, HRevolution, HRandTech and TNL). Even more local brands will appear;
- Regional and industry specific ways of doing HR will begin to be understood;
- Smart diagnostics that allOW the prescription of HR practices based on organizational attributes and philosophies (size, centralization vs federation, talent acquisition vs development, outsource vs DIY) will take their place;
- Organizations will begin to be overt in the decision of whether or not HR is a strategic weapon (most will choose not)
In adulthood, organizational differentiation is the mature path. Where it matters, each company will tailor its own model of HR. Where it doesn’t matter, efficient external operators will do the grunt work while HR evolves into a program management function.
The point is that all of the generalizing about HR has come untethered from its roots. The major trade shows are increasing their emphasis on practitioner presentations. Why, because no one is able to make real sense out of the bigger trends. It’s a mosaic of local stuff buried in a blizzard of white noise.
With maturity comes individuation. It’s the path between the big talking nine year old and the big talking 40 something..