Mar 18, 2009

HR and Finance not a "us vs. them"

There are various reasons why I think this article "Memo to CFOs: Don't trust HR " is a flawed argument.

The biggest reason why I think so is because it reinforces the old mid 20th century silo mentality of organizations.

Real life alas is not to simple and uncomplicated. If we reflect on why the financial system collapsed we could say that the financial world and the people management processes were both inherently flawed.

The other reason why the article is flawed is that the professor of HR obviously is mixing up things or choosing his arguments in front of an audience that takes his pronouncements as face value. He obviously should know that employee satisfaction is not equal to employee engagement which has been researched to give rise to organizational performance.

Think of it this way, if a Finance professor addresses a gathering of HR professionals today and says the following "CFOs avoid systems that should make it easy to spot accounting problems" Well, we wouldn't know whether he is saying the truth or not, would we?

The other issue I have is that this argument paints functions as stereotypes. The large organizations that can afford it have great HR as well as great Finance people. However the large majority of organizations that make up the bulk of industries have mediocre and average HR and Finance people. In such organizations HR people don't look at data and Finance people are merely glorified accountants. In most of these organizations (specially in the US) the HR manager reports to the CFO.

So I guess the good Prof is also angling for some consulting work by reaching out to his potential buyers.

Ultimately HR and Finance people do similar roles. They reach out and acquire resources (people and money) from the market. They deploy it. They develop it and invest in it.

Ultimately they can learn a lot from each other, while being cognizant of the differences in their approach and the resources they deal with and not become clones of each other.