it’s not about HR (repost)

This was originally posted a couple of weeks ago and I’m reposting it to celebrate today’s Carnival of HR. Enjoy!


It’s not about Human Resources. It’s never about Human Resources. HR is a means to an end, not an end onto itself. It’s about creating great business results by building phenomenally good companies by finding, hiring, developing, and supporting fantastic people so they can make the right decisions and take the best actions.

When we make it about HR we turn inward, build the walls and fill the moat, and start checking the boxes regardless of whether or not they make sense. We hide behind legislation, regulation, and policy. We focus on NOT GETTING SUED. We operate out of perpetual fear and we marginalize ourselves and our contribution. We overbuild processes and policies that weigh people down with complexity.

When we make it about getting really great business results through people (and that’s the only way to get great business results) we become inclusive, expansive, and invaluable. We are aware of and help the company meet it’s legal obligations, but we see that as the start, not the finish line. We build, honor, assist, and create. We push for what’s right and what’s smart. We hold ourselves accountable for performance, outcomes, and results. We understand that people are our customers and provide the highest levels of service. We strive to make things simple.

And we get to choose. Every day we get to choose. What are you going to choose today?


  1. Not to be the devil’s advocate here, but if I read your conclusion my first thought is “why is HR needed in that effort?” – meet our goals, accountability, etc. Those traits are needed throughout the company, not as a job requirement for HR (else we open another can of worms)


    1. Thanks for the question. From my perspective, the function of HR is to help the company perform at it’s highest levels by helping every area in the company hire, develop, engage, and retain top talent; by helping leaders make smarter people decisions; by helping leaders understand and leverage the connection between people and company performance; by functioning at a very strategic business level. HR can only do that when it understands that role and holds itself to a high standard of performance. Too often, HR sees itself as a back room, check the box, always say “no”, fiefdom. When HR insists on hiding behind policy and procedure instead of striving to contribute to business results through people it begins to become unhelpful and irrelevant. HR can, and often does, choose to play small, but there is another choice that can be made.


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