Sunday, September 09, 2007

Human Resource Management - Professionals or Parasites

The good part of being a MBA from a premier institute is that you always have decent and multiple options to change jobs, the bad part is we tend to avail it more often that probably we like to, and the worst part is that you have to deal with people who “specialise” in this field called Human Resource Management.

I for one have always been at a loss of reason to justify professionals in these field, except for those doing clerical jobs like payroll processing, getting joining formalities done and typing out appointment, termination letter etc. The more organizations I change and the more organizations I meet, I get more and more convinced of redundancy senior personnel in HR. The best HR person is someone who keeps his focus on systems and systems alone, and keeps away from so-called core HR jobs. I guess its time for some objective reasoning:

Reason 1 – Who does HR in a b-school? Invariably the people taking up HR in a b-school are those, who are not smart enough to understand Finance or IT and are too laidback to meet the challenges that Marketing (Read Sales) poses. They want a cushy comfortable time in the b-school, to generally have a ball of a time in the b-school and cushy comfortable no-nonsense job thereafter. So basically the very pool that HR draws from is full of lazy incompetent people.

Reason 2 – What exactly do they do? They possess absolutely no skill, no specialisation, from entry level to senior most, what they do is just talk, and talk nonsense. Let’s look at their sub-functions and what exactly they are supposed to do:
  • Recruitment – How would they interview or screen a candidate, when they anyway don’t understand the requirements of the business and skill sets.
  • Training – this is the funniest, they don’t know jackshit themselves, and what will they train you on. If someone else has to come to train someone else, your role to the best of my knowledge is limited to admin and logistics work. And when you are not meeting resources on a regular basis, don’t understand business, how do high sounding things like “assessment of skill gaps” and stuff happens. Beats me. Completely
  • Compensation Management – What happens, if you give less competent people, who are supposedly “as educated” as other resources, the responsibility to decide compensation and career growth of other resources who are in the line function and obviously HR people are totally incompetent to judge that. As a result they tend to consider Human resource as a commodity, try to short-change their own prospective and incumbent employees, create discomfort and in many cases force good resources to leave. And what they do show to the management for their efforts, the pennies they save on salary, and what does go unaccounted is pounds they loose on training and creating another resource. Quiet a sorry state of affairs it is.
  • HR Systems – I think this is the only area they can really contribute, but unfortunately most lack competency to correct and set that up. ICICI is one exception, where they have managed to put up brilliant systems in place, so that inspite of lower salaries compared to multinational banks, high attrition rates and general talent crunch, they have been able to meet their recruitment targets, retain people at higher levels and grow at a heady rate. Unfortunately, most other organisations have failed there. Anyways a systems guy is better equipped to take care of that.

Reason 3 – What habits they inculcate – When line people slog and work to build their skills competencies and network which are critical to their performance, HR people are a pampered lot, who are pampered by various institutes, who are pampered by prospective candidates, and also candidates who finally get recruited. Then they get to arrange fancy training programmes at fancy locations and party when there when line people are getting trained. Man am I jealous… I guess a wee bit, but would still prefer not being there.

Reason 4 – Empty mind is a devil’s workshop – What happens to people who do not have anything productive to do and are supposed to sit on a chair all day long. Well mind doesn’t stop. So their innovative mind starts working overtime to find ways and means to make their presence felt in the organization. So then they start generating a slew of useless policies like, people who lunch for more than half an hour will be penalised, attendance should be monitored through bio-metrics. Lets start having training sessions on Saturdays to spoil people’s weekends, all off-sites and other activities should be on weekends to maximise the working hours. Bonuses should be delayed and be paid in instalments, so that the Company can save the bonus when people leave, the notice period should be increased to 3 months to make the relieving painful, the list could be endless. The problem is, all this creates a bad brand value for the organization, and employers start becoming vary of organizations like these. Result – over a period of time the Companies have to pay more to attract talent, and then they struggle to give the required growth, people quit, then same cycle repeats. This is probably the single most reason why I would never have a HR “professional” in my Company when I start one. Only HR clerks would be good enough for me. Anyways HR is too serious a business to be left to HR “professionals”.

I could have taken this opportunity to share my trysts with HR, and had initially thought so, but then realised that the pandemic is of much larger proportion and I would be doing criminal injustice to this Herculean problem, if I limited it to my own experiences. But would surely love to listen to yours…


Anonymous said...

My my..that does come across as ravings of a maybe you have been rubbed the wrong way by some human resource professional or maybe by an inhuman resource what?? does that make the whole profession bad & useless & unproductive??
Maybe you are not competent enough to get a job in a great organization where they do have sound hr practices & whre HR does contribute to people development.

I am not surprised to hear that in case u run ur own company, u will only hve hr clerks dont think any sane, talented hr professional will come & work for u anyways.

Tke care

Lalitabh said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

Not bad. Not bad at all.

Let's face it - the majority of the actual functions of HR that are necessary to a business could be outsourced and done better. And we're seeing a lot of that happening because HR now want to be a 'Strategic Partner' in the business.

Human Resource professionals all feel that they have vital and worthwhile input to help make the business better. The only problem is that isn't what they were hired for, isn't what they are paid for, isn't what they are qualified to do, and isn't what we need from them.

HR and Finance departments that keep trying to step outside their roles because they mistakenly think they value as Strategic Partners are the most dangerous obstacles to a business running properly.

Yes there are some HR and Finance professionals who CAN do this and do it well - they are worth their weight in profits. But the majority are, at best, barely competent at their actual jobs and should be treated as such.