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. http://rehaul.com/love-helping-people-dont-go-into-hr/ 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.

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