Oct 25, 2007

Creativity and Respect in HR

This post was triggered by karthik's last post and a couple of messages people sent me. One was a question that a contact who is a HR student asked me on Facebook: "frankly speaking whenever i talk to my friends and ex-colleagues, i feel that HR department does not get due respect especially in IT industry. What do you think?"

Another person mailed me to ask: "in your opinion, what would be the most creative position you could get within HR? "

So let's deal with the first question... does HR not get due respect ? There are two aspects to the debate:

Firstly, if you take a poll, I am sure that there will be a overwhelming majority of folks in organizations who will say that they don't respect their HR department. However if you take the same poll for the internal IT group or the Finance group, or Audit group, or Quality group, you will get very similar responses. Any group that has a role that involves "questioning" or "checking" employee actions, is not well liked. So a part of the lack of HR's congeniality score can be blamed on the work we have to do. Rejecting people in interviews, Leave records, Payroll issues, Paperwork, Pay issues, Normalization of performance measurements. These all are things that employees resent us for, so there is a lot of blame that gets laid on HR's door. It comes with the territory.

Secondly, the lack of respect also is due to the fact that most leaders in HR are not respected by their peers and their bosses. This is due to various factors, like not taking a point of view, not thinking and planning strategically, not actually leading or setting the agenda. This lack of respect is sensed by the whole organization and impacts how the rest of the organization looks at the rest of the HR team. That's because a leader's team is in a large part a reflection of his personality.

Coming back to creativity in HR, there are some roles in HR that are oriented more towards design, like designing a new pay system, or a new performance management system, or a new career planning system, or new learning initiatives. These roles are highly creative, because they expect you to think innovatively while keeping in mind business context and budgetary constraints. So if you are creative and innovative there are ample opportunities in HR :-)