If I could wipe out one department from every company it would be …

Wipe out the HR departmentCompanies thrive because of their people. The brains behind their awesome products and the hands behind their indefatigable services. While every company, as it grows bigger, tends to grow complex there are times when we just follow suite and not try to see things in the real light.

This is kind of a personal post. What I intend is not to malign any person or department but highlight how futile our system has become. As titled I would like to present what will I kill, if I have to remove one complete department from every company on this planet. Sounds pretty freaking but I derive this from my experience of a decade working in companies with a strength ranging from 2 to 200,000.

So who are we going to kill and Why?

Lets cut the crap. I am steadfast behind killing the HR department. Yes, you got me right. The Human resource department which works day and night for employee satisfaction. The ones who are responsible for the internal customers welfare.

I personally believe the HR department as a concept is fantastic on paper. You grow your employee base, you want someone to manage this team well and bang you have the HR guys. This is far away from reality. While HR execs are supposed to help us during troubled times (who needs a help when happy?) It is us who restrict this from happening.

What help does an Employee require

An employee struggles hard to fulfill his or her duties to the organization. In return she demands a competitive pay (To start with). Things like raise in salary – to leaves – to culture; all come under purview of the HR. While we would be happy to get this resolved by anyone who can, these issues are like dinosaurs and require good strength to be tamed.

Do HR execs have any strenght of their own?

During recession can an HR guy decide who shouldn’t be fired from the team? Can a HR come forth and say that while the whole organization gets a 10% hike Mr X has slogged a lot and is worth 20% ? These questions might seem stupid but every other employee has such doubts which the HR execs can never help with.

So what can they do? Like a pre-fed sluggish Windows program they can dig up data and tell you what procedure you need to follow. They can help you by mugging up a rule book. “If you complete x number of years you are worth a promotion” Says the HR guy. In no ways can you defy this rule. Your case cant even move beyond the HR. Wait. So are we saing no promotion? No, absolutely not. Wait for a critical period, than quit the organization. If you are of any worth to the company, all of a sudden you will be with a team of decision makers. Even if they do not completely agree to your credibility they will still try to settle your case on top priority!

What the HR couldnt do in ages, a manager does in seconds.

So what needs to be done in a real world

Remember the quote from the movie Spiderman – “With great power comes great responsibilities”. I dont see the above complaints as a problem with the HR. It is a problem with the system. An HR exec is devoid of any power but has to deliver on her responsibilities. This is lame.

All we are left is with 2 options:

  1. Either the HR gets more power to act rather than just coordinate in futile ways.
  2. Or every manager gets the role of an HR. A manager is responsible for employees satisfaction

I am very much in favor of the second option. An HR exec can still work with the managers, but more as HR secretaries rather than HR Managers. This seems bad, but it does good to all. This is the way the business world is functioning till date. Its time that we formalize this reality.

There will always be issues between 2 parties. The employer – employee, team mates or customer. An HR can work well as a mediator to resolve conflicts. But that requires credibility. It requires power, which unfortunately the system doesnt give to the HR.

Finally we work for managers. How can they run away from our satisfaction, our aspiration and our corporate life just by replacing all this with a talking rule book – the HR.

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Arun Kumar December 10, 2011 at 1:08 pm

This blog needs two reads, when I first read it I jumped to reply it by opening my word document, to answer out why and how the HR and the immediate boss is always seen as a villain in the corporate life.
But as I gave second pass I got enrolled to this blog, except for the final 2 solution options.

1. HR with more powers is not a knighthood which needs to be bestowed to him; rather he already has it (empowered), board of directors and MD can only take cardinal decisions from the top on business, resources and assets, but it is HR who can reach in the hearts and minds of people through his actions and behaviour.

2. A manager might not be having skills of HR, he might be a good manager but not necessary a good HR;

A manager is never responsible for the employee satisfaction he is only responsible for the results, it is the employer if they say that employee satisfaction needs to be counted and needs to be cared for then they can imbibe it through culture, policy, procedure etc. By which the employee satisfaction then becomes responsibility of whole company. HR must always ensure that the original good intention is always fulfilled whenever they stick to their rule book.

Sabari August 22, 2012 at 12:02 pm

I am not an HR executive but still i find this article to be too harsh on them.
There are some more responsibilities that our HR colleagues are involved in
1) T&D (training and development) – Every organization now a days are keen on improving the skill set of their employees. This was one of the learning companies made during the recession of 2008. Whether an external trainer needed or the skill can be developed from in house resources these activities lies with HR and project managers may not be aware of these things.
2) Recruit new staffs – How can we forget this activity of HR executives? As i feel when a company recruits a employee they expect him to stay for a long term. Now it’s up to the HR to find the appropriate resource that can match the complex requirement and at the same time adhere to organization culture.
So personally i feel success or failure of any projects lies to certain extend with the people who are associated with it. So if you have a good team with good people the probability of success rate will go high. To get good resources we need to bang on our HR team.

Himanshu Chanda August 22, 2012 at 12:52 pm

Hi Sabari,

Thanks for commenting on this post. I would like to share my views on both the points you have mentioned.

While training is something that will even benefit the employee. It is done more because the employer wants it. No employer will invest in training a resource who doesn’t require the skill to perform better or profit more for the company. Training is an expense that has to be first approved.

Same is the case with recruiting new staff. Do you think a business makes more money by recruiting ample staff for the job or by having less people stretch themselves more. That is an irony but it is true. If a business can’t afford additional resources without cutting margins they won’t even if the employee wants that.

I am nowhere saying that HR executives don’t work. What I want to say that is they are not empowered which is sad. (Whether they want to be or not is still subjective)

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