HR is not a department

As I write the first words into The HR Review I feel the thrill that one has when going on a journey; a journey that is hoped to make a difference. Perhaps this is the promise of every trip we make in life; taking all the effort to bring forward a different perspective, a new idea, an opinion, and even a proliferated paradigm! This could, in brief, be the message of this new Magazine.

The HR Review is conceived with the aim of bringing a clearer understanding of these magical 2-letters, ‘H’ and ‘R’ that everybody seems to be using in all organizations, those of the private as well as the public sector; in the manufacturing as well as the services industry; in high tech as well as in mere literature. We say “bring a clearer understanding” because we believe that there is a major gap between Business people and HR professionals, a gap that could be described as a ‘lingual’ one.

On one side, HR professionals, and with all due respect and appreciation to their enthusiasm, dynamism and eagerness to create and sustain a better working place, seem to address business people using mere HR Field language most of the time. Although very rich and positive, this language is not business geared. It speaks in terms that might appear ambiguous to a business person who did not study or read intensely about Human Resources Management. HR terminology might include familiar wordings like motivation, teamwork, and payroll. Yet it, as well, includes terms like Manpower Planning, Job Analysis, Job Evaluation, Competency-based Interviewing, Competencies Dictionary, Individual Development Plans, Career Paths, Training Needs Assessment, Training Curriculum, and others.

On the other side, business people, and with all support for their need to pay attention to the Business and its results, seem to miss a big piece of the idea, that, until Robots can completely take over the role of Human Beings, People will continue to be one of the ultimate business success factor in the organizational realm. Still, on the language side, the business world uses a terminology that looks, in many cases, significantly strange to an HR professional who had studied Public Administration, Industrial Psychology, or Law (which is the case of many HR professionals in the Middle East). Business language can use wordings that range between the familiar like ROI, Business Performance, and Annual Budget, to more sophisticated terms like Net Profit Margin, EBITDA, Cost Accounting, Cost of Funds, Sensitivity Analysis, etc.
What both Business and HR professionals need to realize is that their languages are essentially complimentary, and they both aim at boosting and sustaining organizational performance. May be they will not speak the same language at any point in time, yet, it is imperative that they understand each others’ languages.

HR professionals need to understand, in the first place, that they are there to serve the business and not vice versa, and that this is how they should approach Business people. Secondly, they need to become aware that, all too often, Business people seem not to click with them, not because they dislike them, but because Business people do not get it when you explain to them “how the IDPs that were deduced from a profound TNA were dependent on the Competencies Gap that was deduced by the Career Development Unit”!

By the same token, Business people need to understand that HR is Not a Department that only takes care of employees’ affairs like recruitment, attendance, payroll, insurance, training and performance appraisals; they need to internalize that HR is every human being who works in the organization; that they themselves are HR!

Business and HR professionals need to learn each others’ languages to be able to leverage the power of Human Energy in their organizations, or else this episode of “Lost in Translation” will continue to linger for long times.
In this, I would hold HR professionals responsible for the initiative. They need, first, to understand the Business they are serving; since, how could you recruit, train, develop, compensate, and appraise if you do not understand what matters most to the industry you are in? Further, HR professionals need to learn how to speak a breed language that integrates both business and HR terminology; something like “today we will present the annual report on the ROI of our Human Capital”, or “our recommendations on how we can optimize HR Costs”, or “proofs of the impact of our latest training investment on bottom line results of our business”.

Business people in their turn are urged to draw the link between people and success (or failure!), and they need to realize that every Business person is an HR professional; managing teams is about managing people, motivating teams is about motivating people, teaching your team on business tasks is about training people, assessing business performance is about assessing people; HR is comprehensively integrated into every vein of your profession that ignoring your role in this is like throwing a death sentence onto your success!

In conclusion, and not to over simplify, but the whole issue between HR and Business is a matter of mutual awareness; an awareness that The HR Review is set to focus on building through its insightful, intriguing and challenging content brought to both HR and Business professionals at large.