Human Resource Management – Whose Job is it Anyways? 3

An  MBA Student from Australia recently asked me – “Is HRM (Human Resource Management) only practiced by top officials like CEO’s and other policy makers of an organization, or is it – can it – also  be practiced by employees at some other level lower than upper management?” I thought it was a great question and very topical in light of what’s happening in the corporate world today.

Whose job is it? Who is responsible for hiring and training in your organization? Right sizing in recent years has put added pressure on an organizations management team to ensure they have the right person doing the right job. With the constant roll-out of new technologies, rapid change is becoming the “new normal”. In the past – HRM – was a function of the human resource department. In some respects HR was seen as a necessary evil. They completed the paperwork, walked the new hire through the orientation process and then passed him or her over to the Department Manager. Today, HR is seen as an equal partner – often given full status afforded all Executive Vice Presidents, including a seat around the board room table. HR must play a key role in an organizations long-term strategic plan because they need to understand where the organization is headed to ensure that the workforce has the skill set capable of reaching that goal.

However, it’s a catch-22. Here’s the billion dollar question; How do we as a company provide the training that our workforce will need to ensure its long-term viability, yet do it in the confines of a limited budget? Answer; Become a learning organization. Make training everyone’s responsibility – not just HR’s. Managers, supervisors and team leaders need to become coaches. A portion of every managers’ compensation package needs to be tied to training. It shouldn’t be – “What have you done for me lately” it should be “What have you learned lately”.

Jack Welch – legendary retired CEO at General Electric – felt that part of his success at GE was attributed to what he called the “Vitality Curve”. His managers had to promote the top 20% of their staff annually. They got to keep 70%, but they had to terminate the bottom 10%. I make it a point to talk about Jack’s 20-70-10 rule in all of my management and leadership development workshops. It always makes for a great debate. Whither you agree with his policy or not – it certainly drives the message home that your role as a manager is to teach someone something. If you’re not teaching someone something – then you aren’t doing your job as a manager. I think it also sends a message to the employees that they best hit the ground running and keep learning if they want to be part of GE’s future.

Shareholders need to realize that generating profit for short-term gains doesn’t guarantee the company’s long-term viability. Employees need to understand that their only guarantee of job security is their level of knowledge. The more they know the more value they are to the organization. The question management needs to answer is – “How much of your company’s future are you willing to give away for short-term gain by not spending the training dollars needed to ensure long-term sustainability?” Human Resource Management – Whose job is it? Your company’s or yours? A great question indeed. I hope you know the answer. Your future depends on it.