It’s Not What You Think
New Horizons in Management series
Those who work in what is commonly referred to as human resources have the most diﬃcult job in organizations today, if only because they bear the responsibility for creating and exchanging value in more dimensions than anyone else. Notwithstanding their usual roles as change agents, in which they have had to smooth ruﬄed feathers between employees and managers, or as training managers, through which they have had to supply workshops and courses to increase all manner of employee skills, they are regularly called upon to justify their very existence to senior decision makers. Suppose your boss took you aside one day and said, “We are conducting a salary review, and we have decided that as independent contractors, you and those in your human resources (HR) department should be paid according to the value you contribute to this organization.” How would you respond? If the activities in your department were carved up and devolved to the line managers, would the value of the HR activities you provide decrease as a result? The fact that many organizations1 have done just that suggests that for the most part it would not. There are many who work in HR today who prefer not to think about what they do in terms of the value they deliver. They believe that what they do for their organization has value, but few are able or willing to quantify it. This is because they still see themselves as employees of the organization. They have not understood...
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