We Don’t Like You Either

Keith Hammonds of Fast Company has something to say about HR.

The article is so insulting that I don’t even know where to begin.

Mr. Hammonds indicates that HR professionals are “not the sharpest tacks in the box”. This in itself is a laughable statement, as the HR people I know are well educated, well spoken and possess strong business acumen. The HR department that Mr. Hammond refers to may be the “Personnel Department” of yesteryear, when the department’s sole purpose was to keep the company staffed and make sure that employees had a shoulder to cry on when they were laid off.

That is not the HR of today. HR, in many companies, is considered to be a business partner with management. This means that HR personnel is expected to not only be aware of what the business does, but how HR is expected to lend to the company’s mission. HR is not solely about “being a social worker” as the article indicates. HR is expected to sit on the management team while walking the fine line of protecting the company and ensuring that employees follow policies and procedures and delivering training so that they may perform to the best of their abilities (not just training for training’s sake per Mr. Hammonds). HR’s duty is to also make sure that employees are treated equally at all times, work with managers who don’t necessarily understand what is required of them, navigate the maze of constantly (and consistently) changing employment laws (particularly in California), manage LOA’s and benefits all the while making sure that the turnover rate does not increase and departments are sufficiently staffed. Most of the HR professionals that I know understand that employees are what drives the business in concert with the company product and a strong mission. To state that HR performs performance appraisals every year so to protect the company in order to “protect themselves against their own employees” is ludicrous.

The allegations that Mr. Hammonds makes in this article are completely unfounded and should be laughed off by anyone who has worked with a good HR department. Unfortunately, I have heard horror stories by those who have dealt with a less than capable HR deparment. I have dealt with one myself and in fact, learned what not to do from those people, but again, I truly believe that those are becoming fewer and farther between. Organizations like SHRM go a long way in creating professional standards and training opportunities for HR professionals.

It also amazes me that Fast Company, a business magazine that is trying to make a sincere comeback since the dot com days would take such a bold step by insulting a large part of the business community by not only publishing this story, but by making this story a cover story. This is not the way to win new business.

Personally, I’m cancelling my subscription and suggest others do the same.

6 Replies to “We Don’t Like You Either”

  1. Ugh, that is a horrible and terribly badly written article. It is full of contradictions and presents absolutely no logic to support most of its statements. I’d be angry too if I were you and I’d have the same problem: where to start when so much is wrong in an article?

    I like the new layout BTW!

  2. I thought it was a great article. I have been in the HR world since the late 80s: with a Fortune 50 corporation, the leading HR outsourcing/consulting firm as well as my own 12-person consultancy.

    I have seen a handful of HR people who are capable business people. I have seen many who are glorified order-takers.

    I made the decision to focus on recruiting after seeing too many worthless HR programs get forced down the throats of line managers and the employee population. Rarely does HR (except in recruiting) demonstrate the ability to write a business plan, execute the plan, report the results, modify the plan and provide on-going value to the organization.

    Too frequently HR does not function as their client managers are required to function. Until HR managers learn to conduct business like business people do, they will be the subject of the sort of criticism seen in the Fast Company article.

  3. I have never laughed as hard as I did when I was reading the article. All I can say is that he needs to get a better research team to feed him his material for his articles. As a Certified Human Resources Professional (CHRP- in Canada) and someone who has been in the profession for many years I was greatly insulted and hurt by the comments made about us….the perception that he left readers with was that we where stupid and could not add value to any organization. As a HR Consultant, one of the reasons that I went out on my own was becuase I got tired of working for companies that did not understand what HR was all about and did not see our value. Now on my own I am hired for my expertise, I give it and go and whether the client follows through on whatever it is I was hired to do I do not worry about. I still get paid.

    It is sad that a profession such as ours has been looked upon this way. Yes we do need to continually upgrade our skills but we do that through the recertification process and by ensuring that we provide the best service we can.

    I am also an instructor in the HR certificate program at various institutions and I make sure that my students understand how HR can add value and what that means to an organization.

    Please get the next issue of Fast Company and read my response which I was told would be published and hopefully it has not been changed to much.

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