Quick and dirty HR gets the job done

first_imgQuick and dirty HR gets the job doneOn 12 Mar 2002 in Personnel Today Previous Article Next Article Comments are closed. Related posts:No related photos. HR has a poor image and takes a lot of stick, but rarely have I heard anycriticism of its professionalism. And this could be at the root of its imageproblem. Like most of HR, I have often berated line managers for being toooperationally focused and task-driven – at the expense of finding time forstaff development. When HR asks them to carry out performance reviews or development plans itis viewed as a chore. They do it to satisfy the bureaucratic necessities of theorganisation’s procedure but their hearts and souls never buy into the truespirit and intent of the process. After all, it is something we have forced onthem. It is easy for HR to forget that the primary role of an operational manageris to ensure the organisation operates effectively – not tomorrow but today.They are the ones who carry the heavy burden of ensuring food gets delivered,products leave the factory, customers get served, patients treated andcriminals arrested. Whatever we may say from an HR perspective about strategic thinking andlonger-term needs, operational managers quite rightly have their own prioritiesthat should be matched by an equally urgent HR service. Anyone who has ever worked with engineers will know they are a curious mixof the professional and the pragmatic. As professionals they try to haveexcellent machinery that works smoothly round the clock with minimal plannedmaintenance, but they know this will rarely happen. Their pragmatism tells themthey have to do whatever it takes to produce enough products by the end of theshift. And if quick and dirty methods are the way to get there, then that’sfine with them. Perhaps we in HR need to redefine professionalism in terms of the extent towhich we understand, empathise with and tailor our solutions to the real needsof our internal customers. For too long ‘professionalism’ has been a euphemism for laborious HRpolicies and procedures. Asking a line manager to read through a dictionary ofcompetence definitions may look like best practice and appear professional butit is a long way from a pragmatic solution to an operational need. Why can’t our reward schemes allow a manager to pay an employee somethingout of the ordinary for extraordinary performance? What is wrong with short,intensive, just-in-time bursts of training activity that don’t show up on thepersonal development plan? Quick and dirty HR is what fills in the gaps left by the textbooks and weshould be happy to admit that it is a critical part of professional HR. By Paul Kearns, Senior partner, Personnel Workslast_img read more