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The Business of HR

Source | LinkedIn : By Roopank Chaudhary

What ails the quality of HR today? Why can’t we find good HR Heads who can understand and align to business?

It was a simple, innocuous question asked by a very senior, seasoned banker client one afternoon when we were discussing notes about what was wrong with the (HR) world. It got me thinking and I reflected on what I had seen and analyzed over the many years spent in this industry working with and learning from the best HR professionals in the country.

What struck me was the lack of mobility I had seen between business functions and HR, a specialized area that in most cases was as remote from the front line revenue generating functions as an academic degree is from practical work experience. Enough has been said and ranted by voices across the globe about the changing role of HR, how it needs to be more strategic than before and be a business enabler rather than a support function. All fair points but has this been practiced in terms of managing the roles of business and HR in tandem? How many cases do we see where senior business leaders move into HR, or vice versa. If HR needs to better grapple with and align to business, shouldn’t HR have the experience of actually getting their hands dirty in the field?

There are some best in class companies who invest in career tracks for their potential CEOs, who are mandated to manage HR before they hit the top spot. There are others who are so business driven in their DNA, that they struggle to find business aligned HR Heads and move people from within business to manage the human capital aspect. In either case, there are only a few examples of how top performers in business see (or are made to see) a stint or even a career in HR as something to aspire for. It may be argued that many in the business don’t fancy a move to HR either because the propensity to earn (especially on the variable component) diminishes considerably or simply because HR is less about leading a business and more about managing the fuzzy and grey world of human emotions and expectations, which more often than not translates into mundane transactions.

In a country that is hurtling towards economic prosperity on the back of a raging young workforce and which is the envy of most of the world on the basis of its super productive population, it is ironic that managing this workforce while labeled as ‘strategic’, still has little contribution from the business side of organizations. Perhaps it’s time that we stopped blaming HR for not being a business driver and visionary thinker, but start to encourage and push our top performers from business to move into a function that can better manage the most critical asset the company has, by having business experience at the helm.

Long back when I left the world of high profile corporate banking and joined HR consulting, I went through a period of doubt, indecision and ‘post purchase dissonance’ especially when riled by colleagues and friends who saw the move from business to HR as strange, inexplicable and counterproductive.

Read On…

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