HR Connections Michigan 2012 - (Page 7)
Business as if People Mattered
...Or, Why We (Shouldn’t) Hate HR
By William C. Taylor spend much of my time these days giving talks to companies, trade associations and professional societies from the worlds of marketing, IT and HR. And whenever I talk to an HR audience, there’s always someone at the event who wants to talk to me about an (intentionally) provocative article we published in Fast Company way back in 2005. The essay was titled, “Why We Hate HR”—and it obviously left a mark. To this day, HR executives want to praise it, denounce it, dissect it and debate it. But perhaps it’s time to change the debate. The real problem, I’d submit, isn’t that HR executives aren’t ﬁnancially savvy enough, or too focused on delivering programs rather than enhancing value, or unable to conduct themselves as the equals of the traditional power players in the organization—all points the original essay makes. The real problem is that too many organizations aren’t as demanding, as rigorous, as creative about the human element in business as they are about ﬁnance, marketing and R&D. If companies and their CEOs aren’t serious about the people side of their organizations, how can we expect HR people in those organizations to play as serious a role as we (and they) want them to play? This is a lesson I’ve learned and relearned from all kinds of companies that are winning big in tough economic circumstances. You can’t be special, distinctive, compelling in the marketplace unless you create something special, distinctive, compelling in the workplace. The most successful companies I know understand that the most important business decisions they make are not what
new products they launch or what new markets they enter. What really matters is what new people they let in the door—who they hire—and how they create an environment in which everyone can share ideas, solve problems, and develop a psychological and emotional stake in the enterprise.
The real problem is that too many organizations aren’t as demanding, as rigorous, as creative about the human element in business as they are about finance, marketing and R&D.
Think about Pixar, the movie-making hit factory that is justiﬁably famous for its cutting-edge animation. A few years back, when I ﬁrst got to know Pixar, what struck me was not the power of its technology but the strength of its culture—speciﬁcally, the mission-critical role played by Pixar University, a one-of-a-kind training complex in which all of the company’s people, from security guards to programmers to ﬁnance executives, rub shoulders, swap ideas and learn together. “Most companies eventually come around to the idea that people are the most important thing,” says Randy Nelson, who spent 12 years as dean of Pixar University. “It’s ﬁne to have wildly talented individuals. But the real trick, the higher degree of diﬃculty, is to get wildly talented people to
make productive partnerships.” At Pixar, he concludes, the most urgent question is, “How do you do art as a team sport?” Or consider the experience DaVita, the huge kidney-dialysis provider that is prospering after a near-death ﬁnancial experience. This company’s remarkable business turnaround was driven almost exclusively by a transformation of how it approached the people side of the business. “Unless you ﬁgure out, together, how people should behave at work, and create the kind of language and rituals and systems you need to reinforce that behavior, you never get there,” CEO Kent Thiry told me. “At DaVita, we do a lot to remind people that despite the crushing realities of their day-to-day professional lives, we want to treat each other diﬀerently. We want to care about each other with the same intensity that we care for our patients.” So the next time you, as an employee, get frustrated with HR, or you, as an HR executive, get frustrated with your role inside the company, stop sweating the small stuﬀ and start asking the big questions: Why would great people want to be part of your organization in the ﬁrst place? Do you know a great person when you see one? Does your organization work as distinctively as it competes? If your company and its leaders can answer those questions, then you’ll have an organization that is capable of winning— and an HR organization that everyone can love. ■ William C. Taylor is founding editor of Fast Company and coauthor of the Wall Street Journal bestseller, Practically Radical. Follow him on twitter @practicallyrad.
2012 MISHRM State Conference • Oct. 10-12
Registration online only at www.mishrm.org 7
Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of HR Connections Michigan 2012
State Director & Conference Chair Messages
Business as if People Mattered
What Employers Should Know
Social Media in the Workplace
HR and Marketing...
Summary of Topics
Products & Services
Index to Advertisers/ Advertisers.com
HR Connections Michigan 2012