Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Next Shift In Blog Direction

My post on the Netflix HR job posting yesterday is the last time I will post on this topic. I thought I was finished with that several months ago but several things I have read recently prompted me to put up my thoughts just one more time. Done, that feels great because I am at an end point with seeing exactly the same issue arise every year for at least the last 12 years. Either HR changes radically and quickly or it will become something else altogether and I am not talking about a name change.

I will still talk about HR stuff though, when someone asks me a question I will respond, when I encounter a situation that someone asks for help in resolving, I will respond; I just won't post about HR as a profession needing to change anymore. It has been said too much already.

Here is a question I was asked a couple of weeks ago and the topic has come up a few more times since then: Do you think companies in Canada are practising ageism? The first person who asked me felt that she had been turned down for at least 2 jobs she had interviews for based on her perceived age once she arrived at the interview.

Yes,human beings that do hiring as part of their role in companies are practising ageism; not all of them but more than you might think given our Human Rights Act. It isn't hard to 'get away with it' either. So, is there a solution to this? The simple answer is yes: stop it, just stop it. Unfortunately the solution needs a solution, because people do this based on ill-advised beliefs and often are so convinced of just how accurate or relevant those beliefs are that there is nothing you can say to change their minds. Which leads to the next solution, conduct research on companies you are interested in working for and find out if they practice ageism (or any ism for that matter); if they do not, then apply there. If they do, they don't deserve your awesome contribution, they just don't.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Is It Too Late for HR? Maybe Not

It is time to speak up and share what you are doing if you are one of the HR people that are reflected in the 'want' list rather than the 'don't want' list.

I read a job posting for a management position in human resources with Netflix recently, this is the text of the posting:

“We are looking for a very Senior HR Business Partner at Netflix. This role will report to our Chief Talent Officer and will be an essential part of our success as we expand globally.

What we are looking for:

Someone who thinks business first, customer second, team and talent third. Someone with a profound understanding, respect and admiration for the craft of engineering and analytics. This person must be extraordinarily candid and possess demonstrable common sense. They will have read the Netflix culture deck and been drawn to the concepts. They will ponder and be able to discuss how they might put those concepts into action from an HR perspective (and consider what traditional HR practices may not apply).

The position(s) support several Technical Vice Presidents and their respective teams. The focus of the job is to define, coordinate and manage the talent in those teams to efficiently affect the business and customer goals. Leading, demonstrating, redefining and modeling the Netflix culture is job one. In addition there will be plenty of hiring, firing, coaching and organizational alignment work.

Candidates will likely have had experience in a large, global company as well some start up experience. Must have influenced management at the VP/C level.

What we are not looking for:

A Change Agent, an OD Practitioner, a SHRM Certificate, a People Person, a policy or guideline writer.”

The list of what they are looking for is important to Netflix, but the list of what they are NOT looking for is important to human resources practitioners. This will increasingly become a familiar list of wants and don’t wants in positions for human resources practitioners. Several people tweeted out comments regarding this posting in which they clarified that “they” meet the above criteria and some reiterated the old “HR doesn’t get it” theme.

Then a few days later I read a blog posting by Lance Haun who blogs about human resources in which he discusses why you should rethink your career if you want to get into HR because you are a people person. The comments below this post are somewhat amusing as several people jump in to say that “they” of course are both people persons as well as business focused people; or ensuring that all readers know that this blog doesn’t apply to them, without actually adding anything helpful to the discussion. And no discussion about HR can escape the inclusion of at least some of the assertions that: HR people are bullies, siloed, not business oriented, bureaucratic and more and this commentary is no exception. Okay, that last sentence while accurate is not one that I agree with, as in any profession there are people that will display all of those characteristics, and your encounter with one or two like that are not indicative of everyone in that professional group.

Yes, I have been known to post about human resources practitioners needing to step it up and make the necessary changes to start providing the type of service that the businesses require and that the profession is simply too slow to change. What I think now is that the executives have decided they are tired of waiting for human resources to make the changes and so they are going to make the changes. They are going to start hiring people that can do what needs to be done and it is quite possible that many practitioners will find themselves left out of the playpen.

So, what are human resources practitioners going to do? Some are going to find they are working with career coaches to determine what career is best for them; maybe a lot of practitioners will be doing this. Others are going to continue doing the ‘right’ thing because they already are and some are going to find they are increasingly feeling like they are being pushed out. Just like everyone in any profession that doesn’t adopt a continuous learning + application of learning perspective and that doesn’t adapt their current thinking to what they really need to do. Oh, and by the way, if you are in HR you really, really need to start bouncing ideas around and looking for resource materials outside the HR realm-that is where your clients are and you can’t provide what they need unless you know what they need and how it will work best in their business.

So, don’t put your hand up and say “not me, not me” but do share your most brilliant ideas that demonstrate how you, in your HR practice are making the kind of difference in your organization that companies like Netflix are demanding. In other words, share your leadership.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

HR & The Seat At The Table Conundrum

I just really wanted to use the word 'conundrum' in a post although the whole HR identity crises is a conundrum. On the one hand articles stating that HR wants "a seat at the table" (translation: they want to be seated at the boardroom table with the "C" executives) have been popping up pretty consistently over the past dozen years; on the other hand employees and employees that are managers often comment that HR spends too much time in their seats and not enough "out there"-taking in what is happening operationally.

It is true that the profession is changing albeit slowly but the question is: Is HR on the right path? Is the profession chasing after the right goals?

Consider that a couple of recent articles based on surveys (Price Waterhouse Coopers) of CEO's indicate that while said CEO's are clear about what they want from HR-that HR still isn't getting it and thus still are not providing the deliverables. So where exactly is the disconnect between the CEO's and HR coming from? How is it that two roles that require "excellent or strong" communication skills can't seem to get the service wanted/provided discussion on track?

What needs to happen to get Human Resources professionals and Chief Executive Officers talking with each other? The fact that this same disconnect has been going on for so long leaves the question open as to why the CEO's aren't demanding that HR deliver or take action to ensure they are getting what they claim to need for the future of the business. What do you think? What are you doing in your organization to meet the needs of the business going forward?