Professionals at Work

Time to let the professionals get to work.

Recently I've noticed a trend in anecdotes from peers: people who have no idea what HR is or includes attempting to hijack the practice.

With little to no understanding of work systems people attempt to ad-lib their way to HR solutions regardless of HR counsel. Well, you don't tell you engineer how to engineer or your accountant how to count. So stop telling HR professionals how to do their work.

We're partially to blame I know.

Somewhere along the way our profession got a little fuzzy on our fundamental role: drive organization success through finding, developing and retaining people.

That's what we do. And my message to you is this:

If it were easy anybody could do it

But its not.

There's not enough space to write about all the variables influencing people's day to day performance in the workplace. If you work with others you know that their performance – and yours – varies over time. This isn't happenstance or random: systems drive behavior.

You need an HR expert to bring the right solution to bear. You see, that solution is either going to be an intervention like training, education or wage adjustment, or an ongoing systemic one like compensation, policy deployment or targeted recruiting, etc.

Your HR person knows the difference. They know what to do – and what not to do. Steve Jobs once said he was proudest of the thousands of the things he decided not to do. Knowing the right answer is a lot more valuable than knowing potential ones.

Stay in your lane

Knowing how to keep your checkbook doesn't make you an accountant. Promoting the church fair doesn't make you a marketer and painting the odd ceiling doesn't make you a craftsman. I've done each of these in the past few weeks and frankly they make me appreciate the people who are paid to do them.

Logically it follows that simply working with other humans doesn't make you an HR expert, gettting a paycheck doesn't mean you understand comp and sitting in on an interview doesn't qualify you in recrutiting. Have a little respect for the craft.


  • Employee relations (ER) issues go bad because when HR counsel is discarded while managers “wing it” – that is until a third party gets involved and costs skyrocket
  • Recruitment and retention both fall as leadership refuses advice on the need for speed or compensation equity in the marketplace
  • Branding campaigns fail before they begin while employers refuse to acknowkedge the truth about their curent rep in the community
  • Training classes of little value are conducted since management insists on “action” even as trainers argue the problem isn't a training one

You get the drift.

Show respect for the profession and the professional whose craft is to best utilize your people by setting high standards, holding them accountable and including them in discussions and decisions.

Busiess and life is a series of debate, compromise and moving on. The HR pro can handle disagreement as the HR discipline is based on driving your organziation success. That's all they do. They have multiple tools and one medium: people.

Share your challenges and requirements and let them co-create the solutions.

If it were easy, anybody could do it.



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