Hot or Cold: the two faces of HR

HR is about

In september 2018 we had the G50 meeting of HR in Belgium. And when I presented a definition of HR i got two kinds of reactions hot and cold.

This is the definition: 

HR is about making sure that people are willing and able to perform sustainably to create value for all stakeholders.

The first reaction was: this is a cold definition. HR is about more than that. HR is about connecting people with the purpose of the organisation. It is about supporting and developing people.

The other reaction was: of course; HR is about performance and results. So it must be at the heart of the definition.

These reactions are typical. They represent the two faces of HR that make it into a difficult profession.

The context

HR will be what it needs to be in the context that presents itself. So if the environment is hot, HR might be colder. And if the context is cool, HR can be warmer.

Just when you take a bath. You'll add hot water when it's freezing; And when there are scorching tempartures you will add cold water.

But you'll never take a bath that burns your skin, or that freezes your limbs.

It is - as always - about finding the right balance between supporting and directing, between enabling and enforcing compliance. 

There is not just one take on HR. And so as a profession we need to take both sides into account.

Hot and cold

I believe that HR makes a mistake when it starts to identify itself with only one of both sides. 

Organizations are there to create value for all stakeholders in the right balance. But we know what happens when we lose sight of the performance paradigm. 

How the organization achieves its targets can be variable warmer or colder, depending on its context.

Let's not forget that.

 

 
David Ducheyne

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