Oct 29, 2007

HR's real role

On reading Scott's post, I have to agree. HR's role is not to attract, retain and motive talent. All the above will happen if HR sees its role as a facilitator for meaning making.

Unfortunately it's a tough job, and tasks activities and business processes are easier to understand and manage than "enabling people to connect their activities to things that matter to them". That's because weighed under the metrics that the tasks, activities and processes seek to achieve, spending time to actually know a person (rather than a "human resource") and looking at him/her as something more than "talent" or "hands" is a tough ask.

It calls for enormous emotional fortitude, as really engaging with people is a path that we don't really like to cross in organizational life. And yet, really successful leaders like Larry Bossidy and CEO coach and guru Ram Charan have written how emotional fortitude is the one aspect of leadership that helps in being honest with people and to get things done.

So for HR to be really making a difference at all levels (organizational, group and individual level) they need to act as the facilitators for people and groups to create meaning. Sometimes that meaning making will result in the A list player realising that her heart is actually yearning to do something else than meet quarterly targets. A mature organization will realise that letting her discover herself was perhaps the biggest developmental input they gave her.

According to Viktor Frankl, Man's Search for Meaning is the thing that makes us human. And if we need to have human workplaces, creating meaning is the most important thing that organizations can do. For their customers, stakeholders and employees.