5 Key Reasons Why HR Underperforms

by Carolyn Sokol on July 15, 2014

poor career pathHuman Resources and talent management programs are under-performing or barely getting by in 92% of 2,532 businesses surveyed by Deloite and reported in HR Magazine (May 2014). Some 43% admit they do not provide the training to HR, and 47% rate their own businesses low at preparing HR to deliver solutions aligned with business needs.

How did we get here?
There is no use asking, “How did we get here?” The situation is what it is, and it has been the situation since the Human Resources function was created. Whether organizations can find the wherewithal to solve the problem or even enter a productive dialog on solutions for re-skilling HR remains an open question. The problem reflects a number of conditions, below are the 5 key reasons why HR underperforms.

  1. Hiring – People fall into Human Resources. Clerks are hired for their seriousness of purpose and work ethic. They are often found in other departments and transferred for their detail in clerical work and in working with data. They may be vetted, but recruits are not checked for experience and talent that might be predictive.
  2. Education – Even though most community colleges and many vo-tech schools offer courses, certificates, and degrees in HR studies, there is no evidence that businesses staff with this aligned education. HR managers and officers may come to the table with college degrees; those degrees are rich with compliance and theory but usually short on practical application and experience. And, they are as lacking in leadership and management training as other hires to management.
  3. Purpose – HR continues to attract people who wear their hearts on their sleeves. Genuinely motivated, they consider HR to be an agent of change and an advocate of employee concerns. This focus on the high road often distracts them, undercuts their effectiveness, and complicates corporate intentions. HR may provide value as an ombudsperson and master of conflict resolution, but it is presumptions to position itself as the conscience of the company.
  4. Task – Human Resources management finds too much pleasure in multi-tasking. They like the variety and constant flux in the duties. However, this is actually an abrogation of management leadership. There is no future in being all things to all people. Leaders should organize, delegate, and direct tasks.
  5. Support – What the business expects of HR and what HR expects of itself has much to do with the support the business leadership is willing to provide. If, as is most often the case, the corporation sees Human Resources as a necessary evil, prophylactic in purpose and practice, it will make no investment in building an HR bench or effort to align it with other business goals.

HR continues to fill the business needs it always has. However, without a more holistic approach to building and sustaining Human Resources, HR will continue to underperform and barely get by unless businesses address these 5 key areas.

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