Monday, August 21, 2006

Non-Traditional HR Leaders

Before I get to my ideation framework, I wanted to write something that I read about over the weekend.

My thoughts stem from an article by Jack and Suzy Welch, which talks about elevating HR to the front of an organization. ...For those of you who don't know, Jack Welch is one of those executives who passionately believes that HR should be the most powerful part of any organization.

One of the more interesting thoughts presented in the article: getting someone to lead an HR organization who has experience leading a function OUTSIDE of HR. In Jack's opinion, these people truly get business...its "inner workings, history, tensions, and hidden hierarchies in people's minds."

This idea creates so much controversy on the conventional HR Management front that I almost want to say it's a GREAT idea by that fact alone. ;)

But in all seriousness, perhaps this is a good strategy to get more business-minded people to lead HR functions. Like in my previous rants, I think one of the biggest drawbacks for HR functions is the fact that they are often filled with people who have no concept of how business operates. They might contain people who have received their MBAs...but when's the last time an organization has allowed an MBA-only person take the helm? MBAs must be accompanied with experience, and this is precisely where traditional HR heads are found lacking. They've rarely had to lead other operations within the organization...and as a result, don't truly understand the P&L responsibilities, hierarchies, turf wars, etc. that might be going on within an organization.

So here's a thought: if you are thinking of making someone head an HR function, make it a prerequisite that they successfully lead another non-HR BU for a few years. My thought process is that if they can successfully lead a non-HR BU, then they can take those lessons learned "in the trenches" and truly understand how to leverage those insights within an HR capacity.

...I'll have to research this a bit more to see if any organizations currently do this already.

1 comment:

Ajit Chouhan said...

Hi Phillip,

Good one,I've posted my views here