Yes, I know what are the first thoughts that are crossing your mind, even as you read the title! No this is not about fault finding with the HR aspect of business neither this is a glorification of how business and HR need to work together and contribute- enough of unwarranted positive shit has been written about that and it seldom works! This is about knowing what really helps or strops from that critical integration from happening and is there anything at all that can be done to ensure true synergy which translates into individual empowerment to the people on the floor and at the desks, irrespective of the product or service that they collectively create!
The genesis of the today’s HR came through the dark allies of the industrialized world, where the given dictum was that the owners of the businesses were out there to exploit available resources (people and material), unfortunately some businesses did live up to that dubious label and with that saw the rise of the union movement which provided the much needed collective voice and put a plug to stop and arrest unwarranted exploitation form time to time across different sectors and industries. Certainly over time, few of these unions too lost their grounding – since they too were run by humans- add to that the element of greed and you have the right recipe to completely compromise business exploits and you reach a point where you really don’t know anymore which side is more wrong! Even as these aspects were unfolding businesses were busy working on scientific finding and technological break through to modernize and make processes and services more cost effective and thereby more profitable and just as businesses learnt to manage products and processes they soon understood that they could also manage people and there is the birth of the modern day HR! Sadly though the struggle of complete end-to-end integration of business and HR has always remained a challenge- at times for the right reasons- where businesses require that sterile distinction or segregation to function and more often than not, because of sheer incompetence either with one of the entities or both of them, in today’s context it is a heady cocktail of incompetence which keep shifting from one end to the other in a cyclical manner which results into a “dynamic yet static space”- hence many a times when you go back to organisations even after few years- seldom things are different! Nothing wrong or right about that- at times that’s what is needed and at times that’s exactly what limits the organisations! So what’s happening here, where’s the catch?
It all starts, with like everything else- right in the beginning, even today, in 2020, there would be hardly a few, maybe less than 1% of entrepreneurs who would want to look at HR as a strategic investment which will provide an ROI to their firm with regards to the qualified talent that it can get in and even more importantly manage and ensure that the ” talent”stays and grows with the organisation- sometimes leading it (at senior level), at times staying in-sync ( at mid-levels) and at yet other times, developing a followership (at the junior level). This foundational mistake of discounting the true value and essence of HR right at the begging- when a business starts afresh, or a new business unit is thought of causes more damage to the entity than anything else! I don’t need to explain I am sure about what price an organisation may end up paying for the wrong people at the wrong time, at the wrong place and at a wrong price! Importantly always remember people are never good or bad, it is their “contextual settings” that either make them shine and excel or dim and fade away! You may have an average intelligent person among dumb idiots and that person may end up looking like an angel to your eyes, out the same person against the backdrop of qualified hotshots from top A schools, you may might as well want to kill yourself for hiring that kind of an idiot! It also than says something about your ability to judge and hire people- well but I will leave that for now and maybe some other write up on that- some other time!
Unless HR is at the table with the business to understand and soak in every aspect of what the grand plan of business is and what’s the whole idea and importantly be listened to- there will never be a true integration! Sure enough in today’s times, even having people stick around at their own positions within the organisations- by itself is a challenge- and that just goes on to compound the integration challenge!– Even today,the normal brief always to HR can look like this- “The organisation would want to have an overhaul or a massive change once a CEO or a A level person moves on or just because the exiting one wants to have the HR do some work!”- you may ask “Why?” well you will almost always never get a sensible answer to that and with no “real HR” to question- the organisation will simply go into an overdrive to reinvent the same old wheel! Everyone will be happy doing that because it keeps everyone in the job and busy- but the fact remains , this unwarranted overdrive often ends up being the classical case of visiting history and needless to say- the results are always the same- “Nothing!” and every few years this nonsense continues and we have people coming and leaving and everything seems to stay exactly where it is! This is the fallacy of the much hyped integration of HR and Business when not carried out in a well thought and objective manner! So you may want to ask how does it look when it works and does it really work?
Well, when done right, HR can empower individuals, teams and business like nothing else can! You may want to ask me now, what is the right way, well the right way is the way of common-sense! If your business is heavily reliant on people and people are the reason for your businesses success or failure and if you don’t start your day without wishing “Good Day” to your HR Head, trust me no matter how big or small your business is, you will falter sooner or later and the reason for that faltering will be the disconnect with your people! So if you are a CEO, running a people centric business , make it a point to throw away your ego( which anyways is good to loose) and learn to walk out of you cabin to spend time with the person responsible for getting you the right people for your team- because when discussions happen here and the more often they do, you will begin to experience magic– magic in terms of the positive rub off that will happen within the existing people across your teams and the new ones that come to join your journey! You don’t need long meetings with endless one-sided communication expressing your dreams, fantasies or frustrations, you don’t need endless boring mails with subject lines reading something like “Form CEO’s Desk” or “It’s your HR” kind of gimmick! All that you need is a simple cup of tea or coffee once a day with the person who is responsible to get the right people for you day-in and day-out!
Now, don’t rush into patting your back, thinking that all the work to hold on to this integration lies only with the CEO’s or the business leader’s the HR leader’s too have to play their part and their part starts by behaving and acting like a business leader- who is leading the business of people! This approach seemingly deceptive but if played right, can make all the difference between having a HR and having a great HR! Awesomeness of HR comes not by knowing the rules and regulations and theories of HR, they do matter, but the real fun happens when HR understands and assimilates the business challenge as if they were their own (because they are their own problems- manifestations which are created by HR!) How?, you may ask, well here’s the simple test, When people leave when you least expect and business suffers, the question “How was this person evaluated and selected even?”, When a person leaves because he gets paid twice and more at the other place- “Why are we paying so less? are we?”, when the person destroys a million dollar machinery because of incompetence- “How did this person clear the evaluation and get in!” Well the lists and situations can go on and on- the fact is a HR disconnected with business problems and business plans is equally liable to fail as the business and what’s more a HR disconnected from it’s business can do more harm than a business that’s’ disconnected with HR!
True integration between HR and Business happens only when there is mutual respect and appreciation about what each of them do and how each one of them contribute to build and develop each other to ensure that the organisation keeps progressing with the right tools, both material and human! Unless Business teams stop discounting HR- assuming they don’t understand or see the point of business and until HR doesn’t stop hiding themselves away in files, operations and social media posts pertaining to job vacancy- this problem will persist! If you always wanted to understand why the HR never called you back or gave you an update for your hour long interview of multiple rounds of hour long interviews- well I presume you would have found your answer somewhere here! A disconnected HR with no insight into business revenues and business action plans- will try and continue the old classical way of reaching out to hundreds of candidates- when it is not required and eventually get stuck when the real time comes to hire- because by then externally the genuineness of the organisation has taken a beating!
There are and there always will be reasons and explanations for every connect and disconnect; some real and some are made up, irrespective of what they are, the fact remains that as long as people are involved and businesses require people, there will always remain a compelling need to to have people specialists and business aces to work together collaboratively in a transparent and purpose driven manner! This alone, If you ask me, this the real essence of integration, driven by purpose and proactive collaboration each playing to their strength, understanding the other team’s requirement!
I will leave you here, with these thoughts, depending on which team you are on- the business or the people team- do reflect on what worked and what didn’t and how can you make what matters work for you and the other team!
Ciao for now, will be back soon with another article!