HR consultants - get your tanks off my lawn

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Let's establish some credentials.

I've worked in some very large, very complex and very successful organisations in some pretty senior positions. I've managed some very high profile projects covering every possible aspect of the employee lifecycle, from recruitment to redundancy. (And let's call these things what they really are. Recruitment and redundancy. Hiring people and telling them that their jobs no longer exist. None of this namby-pamby talent management and downsizing nonsense.)

I've also worked with some high profile and very successful managing directors and CEOs who know how to run a business, and know what contribution HR needs to make in order to achieve that success. They don't suffer fools gladly. I know what makes them happy.

So from a business and commercial point of view I know what works and what doesn't work when it comes to implementing HR initiatives. Having been around for a decade or two, I've seen fads come and fads go. I've seen This Year's Next Big Thing rapidly become Last Year's Embarrassing Failure.

Investors In People? Done it. TQM? Done it. Business Process Reengineering? Done it. Implementation of Global HR Information Systems? Done it. Outsourcing transactional HR? Done it. Bringing transactional HR back in house when outsourcing fails? Done it.

Get the picture? You name it, I've done it.

And now I find myself regularly being urged by youthful HR consultants with very little experience and almost no track record of delivery to do trendy stuff that will (apparently) Rock My HR World.

Top of the table of trendiness at the moment seems to be Getting Disruptive. It sounds appealing and with a sniff of mischief about it. In the past being disruptive would have led to you being thrown out of the class at secondary school. Do it too often and you'd find yourself in detention. But now, urging disruption is your free ticket to the next CIPD conference where you can wow the crowds with your flashy presentation and uber-cool anecdotes.

What exactly Getting Disruptive is is rarely defined. Shaking Things Up A Bit and Challenging the Status Quo is the general idea. But look for  a project plan with a checklist and demonstrable business benefits, and you'll be searching in vain.

But Getting Disruptive is most definitely A Good Thing. Something that I'd better get into PDQ if I know what's good for me.

The problem is: the Disciples of Disruption rarely have any track record of success to establish their credibility. A couple of years as a Learning and Development Advisor or an HR Generalist in a small organisation does not give you the right to waltz into my office and tell me that my substantial and extensive HR experience counts for nothing when compared with your crackpot schemes. (You've written a blog about it? Big deal.)

Fortunately, there are experienced HR professionals like me who are happy to serve as human shield between them and demanding, business savvy (yes, that one!) and evidence-based CEOs who, if faced with  the Disruption Desperados would chew them up and spit them out before ejecting them from the premises.

So, grumpy as I may seem when you turn up with your funky ideas, I'm actually doing you a favour in  keeping you away from the CEO who would tell you in much clearer and brutal terms that you've got nothing at all useful to offer.

So, until you've something practical to offer, just your tanks off my lawn.

About Anonymous HR

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26th Feb 2015 14:57

With a similar (although entirely different, of course) background to HR after dark, I would say that one of the main challenges for HR is reducing disruptive interventions, not encouraging them...

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to hazel.oxfordhr.co.
26th Feb 2015 15:38

Thanks Hazel; what do you think has led to disruptive interventions becoming more of a trend in HR?

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26th Feb 2015 16:43

It is beyond annoying to have someone, with no frame of reference for the organizational culture, let alone some serious time in the HR saddle, coming in and saying that "disruption" or "experimentation" is the way to go. Feels like yet another solution in search of a problem. Being disruptive, purely for the purpose of disruption, seems idiotic. Of course, those of us in the HR roles have to clean up the mess, so....

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