Old Myths about HR?

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Human Resources Management > Forum > Old Myths about HR?

Old Myths about HR?
Changpyo Hong, HR Consultant, Australia, Member
Recently, I've known about the old myths of HR. In the six myths such as
1. People go into HR because they like people,
2. Anyone can do HR,
3. HR deals with the soft side of business and is therefore not accountable,
4. HR focuses on costs, which cannot be controlled,
5. HR's job is to be the policy police and the health-and-happiness patrol,
6. HR is full of fads, the sixth old myth that really confuses me. It that seems like HR is some temporary fashion in a organisation, but I do not know what it means exactly. Are there any relevant journal articles, theories, or cases to it? Please, anyone inform me...

8 Old Myths of HR
Park, HR Consultant, Korea (South), Member
Well, the 6 myths you've mentioned above actually are 8...
1. People go into HR because they like people.
2. Anyone can do HR.
3. HR deals with the soft side of a business and is therefore not accountable.
4. HR focuses on costs, which must be controlled.
5. HR's job is to be policy police and the health-and-happiness patrol.
6. HR is full of fads.
7. HR is staffed by nice people.
8. HR is HR's job.
For more info, they are explained in a book by D. Ulrich: "Human Resource Champions: The next agenda for adding value and delivering results".

New HR Realities (Ulrich)
Jaap de Jonge, Editor, Netherlands
Ulrich also mentioned 8 realities for human resource professionals, refuting (contradicting) these 8 HR Myths in that excellent 1996 book:
1. HR departments are not designed to provide corporate therapy or as social or health-and-happiness retreats. HR professionals must create the practices that make employees more competitive, not more comfortable.
2. HR activities are based on theory and research. HR professionals must master both theory and practice.
3. The impact of HR practices on business results can and must be measured. HR professionals must learn how to translate their work into financial performance.
4. HR practices must create value by increasing the intellectual capital within the firm. HR professionals must add value, not reduce costs.
5. The HR function does not own compliance-managers. HR practices do not exist to make employees happy but to help them become committed. HR professionals must help managers commit employees and administer policies.
6. HR practices have evolved over time. HR professionals must see their current work as part of an evolutionary chain and explain their work with less jargon and more authority.
7. At times, HR practices should force vigorous debates. HR professionals should be confrontational and challenging as well as supportive.
8. HR work is as important to line managers as are finance, strategy, and other business domains. HR professionals should join with managers in championing HR issues.
These 8 realities are at the basis of his famous 4 new Human Resource Management Roles.

New HR Realities
srinivas, Lecturer, India, Member
HR is not simply giving training, payroll management etcetera. It should develop people in a real sense at all layers of being (physical, intellectual, negative emotions, positive emotions etc).

Not Sure About Some of Those ...
Simon Raistrick, Business Consultant, United Kingdom, Member
@Jaap de Jonge: Depends on the type of business surely.. For example, point 1 is contrary to the psychological safety required for innovation.
I would argue that the more comfortable you make people some of the time, the more uncomfortable they are willing to get the rest of the time - which might explain the decor and general approach of places like Google etc...

Even Newer HR Realities
Jaap de Jonge, Editor, Netherlands
@Simon Raistrick: Excellent point, thanks. Indeed we should consider that Ulrich wrote his "new HR realities" back in 1996. No doubt the nature of our economy, work demands and role of HR in all of that have changed since then.
What changes should be made by 2019 to reflect these changes to the 8 New Realities of Ulrich?

Unlocking the Value
Marc De Leeuw, HR Consultant, Belgium, Member
For me HR is no different from Finance, Production, Logistics, etc in that our role is to be subject matter experts when it comes to people helping the organisation maximizing the value of its human capital. We should do this in the same way that our colleagues from other departments do it in their field of expertise, whilst understanding and keeping in mind the overall business objectives and requirements.

HR in an Evolving Agile World
R.D.T.M. Pape, Project Manager, Netherlands, Member
As there are more companies that adapt Agile thinking (as well as design thinking, Scrum, LEAN, etc., etc.) HR as a roll will become obsolete.
Team members are in the lead in hiring other team members, assessing each other’s behavior and work (quality, collaboration...).
Also they are in the lead in selecting their colleagues.
Scrummasters and other servant leaders will help the teams in education, training and people and team development.
As a result of these developments HR, if still needed at all, has a very small role.
In fact nowadays HR and recruitement, at least the ones I work with, have no idea at all in the evolvements in certifications, or other courses and educational developments to get the best person on the job.
Most of the times they just fill in some "radio buttons" in HR-software without even knowing what these choices stand for.
Advising management in what to ask for should be value adding to these processes. That is to say; when you know what it is about.

HR in the Digital Age
Gandhi Heryanto, Management Consultant, Indonesia, Premium Member
Indeed your HR department should not be stuck in the dark age while businesses race into the digital age at breakneck speed (Susan Walker in digital economy article, 2015)
According to a recent report by Accenture and SuccessFactors, a SAP company, HR operations need to change to be more streamlined, and more agile to keep up with today’s ‘always on’ workforce. The report, called “Building the Digital HR Organization”, states that digital technology is shaping the future of Human Resources, and it outlines three ways that technology will disrupt how HR departments operate:
1. Allows new approaches to delivering HR services
2. Makes talent management easier.
3. Enables HR customization, focusing on individual or group performance measures.
The report warns that if HR departments don't adapt and embrace some new digital technologies, they run the risk of becoming obsolete, which could deter some potential employees in today’s tech-savvy market.

Do we Need HR for the Future?
ravelomihamina, HR Consultant, Member
The services HR is offering are considered poor and of little importance to companies at present. Companies prefer to hire consultants so the problems encountered in the HR department do not affect the professional life of the company itself and stress is diminished and fire fighting does not take up the service time. The consultant has to comply with the state with respect to his taxes.
Companies with a small number of administrative staff use an external company service and outsource the processing of the salaries of their employees.
In summary, the problem of complaints of the personnel or with the labor court will not exist in the future life of the company.
The worrying point is what will be tomorrow for this staff?

HR More Important in Digital Age
Jaap de Jonge, Editor, Netherlands
I am a little bit surprised about the negative perception some of you have towards the human resources department in organizations.
I think such opinion is justified if we view human resources in the old-fashioned, low level, transactional/operational way. A lot of that work can be done nowadays through mobile and internet self service apps.
But on the other hand: knowledge workers and agile innovation teams are what it is all about in the digital age and if HR can manage those on a high tactical/strategic level I believe it has a very important role to play.

HR More Important in Digital Age
Jones, HR Consultant, United States, Member
I too am surprised at the negative perceptions some have expressed towards human resources departments in organizations.
If the human resources department is staffed by a current and innovative leader who understands the role and benefits that a fully functional and adept HR department can give an organization, the HR functions grow in value to many throughout the organization over time.
I feel that given more direct experience of a well functioning HR department within a company, some of this negativity may be reconsidered.

The Future of HR
Gandhi Heryanto, Management Consultant, Indonesia, Premium Member
It is interesting to think about the future form of HR. If the organization changes in which people work, especially in the digital era, the HR function should also be evolving. Not taking care anymore of simple administrative functions such as firing and recruiting, but also creating experiences for employees. There is an interesting article about the evolution of HR.
Let us explore how HR is evolving from the past way into the future.

Allow Relevance of HR
Helen Strong, Business Consultant, South Africa, Member
HR is only as useful as it is allowed to be. The Dept. needs to operate at executive (high) level. HR managers should be included in / have input on strategic issues. Then HR can contribute by
  1. Understanding what skills will be required
  2. Anticipating when skills will be required and
  3. Either training current employees or hiring in the right skills to meet the vision and mission of the organisation.
Furthermore HR can play an enormous role in solving labour disputes through keeping tabs on the organisation's climate and knowledge of pay scales in the industry.

HR More Important in Digital Age??
R.D.T.M. Pape, Project Manager, Netherlands, Member
@Jaap de Jonge, @Jones, @Helen Strong.
I understand that HR is seen by you in current organisations.
As I mentioned: it will become obsolete. Not only because of the digital age. But also by generations arising like millennials, and the synthetic generation (generations Z and A).
They demand more responsibility en freedom of choice and how their teams are composed.
They demand natural servant leaders and no hierarchy anymore.
Think about Laloux (reinventing organisations) or holacracy, sociocracy 3.0.
And Bob Marshall in "Right shifting".
All ways of organizing without an explicit HR function.
When HR think about itself within management-roles in companies...?
Please wake up. That IS "the past" very soon. And not the "current". There will be no classical "management" anymore.
And I am also thinking about big companies that are already moving this way.
Like Proctor&Gamble, VISA, Flixbus, Microsoft, Toyota, Buurtzorg...
They all stand for servant leaders and self organizing teams.

Dangers with Abbrevations
Borje Vickberg, Sweden, Member
In Swedish management jargon the term HR is frequently used. In the narrative of New Public Management I believed HR meant Hostile Repression.

Lets Make HR an Indispensable Function!
Sridhar Gopal, Management Consultant, India, Member
Wish I could write these off as old 'myth' but unfortunately its still a present day reality – in many regions. Recently I heard my client fume and say “… the HR folks are becoming redundant in our co.” If this is a one-off case there were too many one-offs I heard recently.
Let's not blame the HR personnel for their ineffectiveness, but on the other hand it's the collective responsibility of every single function within a business system to make it effective like a Fin or Ac management.
If one has to rearrange the corporate functions puzzle, it's not surprising to see a fissure that comes up when arranging the HR function, however best we try!
It’s not the HR function or its personnel who needs a finger pointing but the stakeholders of the business system who need to rework the HR system - which is a lifeline of a business – and make it into an effective and indispensable part of the business. Count me in on this responsibility.
Thanks to those HR who have been toiling in the rough soil so far!

To Profit Executives Need to Listen to Key HR Advice
David Wilson, Manager, Canada, Premium Member
I have watched many organizations look to downsizing of frontline resources in times of economic challenges or reduced budgets. Instead of reducing frontline services, I believe organizations need to examine factors such as structure (number of layers of management), span of control, percentage of management versus non-management staff and level of services required by clients/residents.
The end result of management ignoring these factors is a reduction in frontline staffing and fewer services being provided to clients/residents. The reduction of services and staff results in remaining staff having to work harder. Over working frontline staff decreases retention, increases turnover and increases the need to recruit new staff.
HR needs to advise senior executives and board members and shareholders that too many layers of managers and narrow spans of control may be the problem. HR needs to stand up for the interests of the company and its stakeholders (e.g., employees, shareholders, board members, investors, etc.)!

The Paradoxes of Realities
Maurice Hogarth, Consultant, United Kingdom, Premium Member
@Jaap de Jonge: To many people, HR and HRD are synonymous. For me they are distinct entities, with distinct service roles. Clarity on which ‘function’ we are referring to seems essential to the discussing of myths/“realities”.
In the ‘realities’ statements change HR to manager for a modern interpretation. In other words management professionals, NOT HR:
  • Must create the practices that make employees more competitive,
  • Are accountable for employee health and safety (physical and mental), employee competency & commitment (RoI) via challenging, debate etc,
  • Must be masters of theory and practice.
Consider the paradoxes between some of the ‘realities’ and modern thinking: HR/management-practices aren’t here to make workers more ‘comfortable/happy’ (aren’t these states of mind to do with empowerment, motivation & psychological safety, isn't a happy worker a committed worker, isn't it because people are unhappy that they leave?

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