Recently I was driving and the song I’d Love to Change the World by Ten Years After came on the radio. The song has been in regular circulation for more than forty years and I love it.
I have certain visuals about the 1970’s whenever I hear it. It is a perfect time piece, depicting images of bell-bottom pants, gas lines, protests and Watergate. Mostly, I like listening to it because I like the premise of it.
I think a lot of HR Pros can relate to the lyrics,
“I’d love to change the world, but I don’t know what to do. So I leave it up to you.”
We work in a profession that has a reputation for being reactive. We aren’t changing our world (e.g. or organizations) but rather we learn to adapt, and in some cases, to cope. As HR Pros, we have a tendency to get caught up in the details of our jobs, feeling helpless about how to manage the unmanageable, and frankly, some of us settle in and give up. There are many blogs out there that debate the role of strategic vs. trench HR and in practical terms, there are far more trench pros than there are strategic pro. I would like to hypothesize that some of the trench focus has to do with pre-conceived notions/stereotypes of the type of contributions that HR can make on a strategic level.
We can change the world, but like a 1970s protest movement, it starts with banding together, planting seeds and from time-to-time taking risks and proposing the radical. This isn’t necessarily a strong skill set for HR, but if we use social media we have greater power than ourselves as individuals.
I don’t know where I’d be in my career without social media. I’ve learned so many things from so many people. It is amazing the cumulative value of connections and tips. I am completely energized and motivated by this.
Do you have an idea for change? Put it out there. Connect with some radical HR pros. Get some advice and use it. There’s value in numbers. Pretty soon we will change the world. Don’t leave it up to someone else.
I agree that there are many more trench pros than strategic pros, and agree we need to work to change this, perhaps even challenging the HR education process before people begin in the profession. I don’t believe it is always a case of being ruled out based on pre-conceived notions of what HR can or cannot deliver before we’re given a chance. Even the way you manage (or mismanage!) the basics of HR determines the perception of your abilities in strategic areas – if you can’t get the basics right, how can you deliver effectively with the tricky stuff? Each and every action we do, no matter how small, is seen as a reflection of our abilities on a strategic level. Every time we say “the policy says you have to”, or “I don’t know the costs or metrics for this program”, or “we’ve always done it this way”, it’s another data point for others to believe that we can’t contribute strategically.
I believe all HR practitioners need to look at HR as a business – knowing how we run our shop (efficiencies, processes, metrics, outcomes, costs to deliver, etc.), and knowing what products and services we should provide to meet the needs of our customers. There are many who do this, but it has to become the norm, and we still have a long way to go. Too many HR pros believe all companies should look at HR as a must-have function, and instead should be looking at the business of delivering end-to-end people solutions that meet the needs of your organization. Knowing how to do this means you are delivering strategic people value to your organization, and you will undoubtedly already be sitting “at the table”, or well on your way to getting there.
Great post! I’m with you all the way . . .