©2019 by Miguel Premoli.

It’s time to rethink HR

An Innovative Solution

HR is a new field, and as such it is continually evolving, incorporating new thinking, processes and tools.
However, I believe as HR professionals we could do a better job in selecting the practices we implement, whether they are practices that have been established long ago or emerging tools and processes.

Old tools.

As for many of the existing practices that have become a sort of a "minimum standard" that any organization should have: Performance Management, Job Evaluations, Leadership Development and so on; there are three issues to consider when we look at them:

  1. Most of the HR tools we use today emerged in the post-world War II era based on work done in large corporations like AT&T, General Motors, General Electric and IBM. Those were the times were “personnel” grew up to become “Human Resources” with the emergence of Managing by Objectives, Job Descriptions, Career Tracks and Succession Planning.

  2. The organizational research created a body of knowledge that was the basis for many of those tools. Maslow’s theory of motivation was published in 1943, later adapted by Herzberg in 1964, and the Theory X and Theory Y of McGregor was developed in 1960. This became the academic underpinning of practices like Leadership and Management Development, Assessments, Recruitment and Selection tools. These theories were also based on research done in those large Hierarchical corporations off the post war era.

  3. The employer- employee relationship was that of employment for life, you would join a company, work up several layers of management during your tenure and retire from that same organization.

New tools

As for new tools and practices we also make some mistakes, as we all jump in the wagon of the new practices regardless of what industry, company or strategy we have.  The “I have a hammer so every problem is a nail” syndrome becomes prevalent.
This happened when Jack Welch described forced ranking performance distribution in his book “Winning”, many fortune 500 companies went to forced ranking regardless of their strategy, industry and other HR practices.  The same can be said of many tools whether they are strong research based practices, or the last fad. 

Most recently, since the first publications about the “problems” of Performance management many companies, again irrespective of their industry, culture or strategy have either gotten rid of numerical based performance management or have scrapped the entire system overall.

Another problem comes with complexity, we find great tools that make a lot of sense from a research or theoretical perspective, but are difficult to manage when put in practice. A great example are the competency models of the 90’s and 2000, that are impossible to sustain and update in an ever changing environment. 

Suggestion

First understand very well what your company needs today and tomorrow, what’s the strategy and unique competitive advantage, what’s the culture today and what should the culture be in the future.

Then define what are your talent and capability needs.

And then what set of tools, practices and HR processes you need to have in place to attract retain and develop your talent cohorts, build organizational capabilities and shape the organization’s Culture.

And always, always keep it simple, as things .......will change again.