Thursday, May 15, 2008

It's Still True Today: HR People are from Venus, and Business People are from Mars

Keith Hammonds posted an article on Fast Company titled, "Why I Hate HR." It describes conditions which are typical of the attitudes and experience of companies when considering the involvement of their HR processes as profitability drivers. It is an old article, but well worth re-reading as the problems he communicates aren't really any better handled since he wrote it nearly 3 years ago.

One of the best means of immediately impacting the performance of employees (and with it, the increasing the profitability for the employer) is the performance review. As I have illustrated in a post comparing the sports world with the corporate world, effective performance review processes are tremendously beneficial to employees and companies alike. Yet they continue to be mishandled and misunderstood, therefore, ineffective.

Hammonds asks the question that is typical of management's attitude about them:

"Why are annual performance appraisals so time-consuming -- and so routinely useless?"

The answer is simple. Management doesn't really know what they are, or, consequently, how to use them.

Management doesn't understand what the sporting world does.

  • Management isn't clear in communicating objectives.

  • Employees don't know how their work impacts the company.

  • As a result, nobody knows how to tell exactly how performance aligns with either.

  • It naturally follows that there would be no resource to improve performance, because no one knows exactly what to improve.

I know how to fix it. So do many others. But management doesn't seem to care.

Why not?

It's the age old, nagging problem. The HR teams don't know how to connect with the business teams. The business teams don't know how to connect with the HR teams. And, this connection is critical to the success of both. HR is irrelevant without the ability to connect to business.

For 20 years, I have researched this problem. In that research I have discovered that most of the thinking about these issues comes primarily from the ivory towers of think tanks and universities. Their revelations may be true, and their conclusions accurate, but the information is too generalized and difficult to apply. To be of much use to most companies, someone needs to connect these discoveries to the streets, where the rubber meets the road.

I will do that with my new book, The Squaredime Letters, to be released this summer. Squaredime will provide real guidance for business and HR groups alike. It is a must read for both HR professionals and management alike.

The good news is that when the HR/Business connection is finally made, productivity and profitability will be substantially improved for everyone involved.

You know what that means? More earnings for all.

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