what’s it going to take, HR?

I hear HR describe itself as a business partner, internal consultant, and key support function. Listen to me long enough and I’ll start talking about HR as an untapped competitive advantage. We like to describe ourselves though the value we bring.

But, so what… Is all our self-description just wishful affirmations or an accurate description of our value? How do our customers think about HR? How would they describe our central purpose? Business partner or bureaucratic roadblock? Competitive catalyst or necessary evil? At the hub of organizational performance or rule driven box checkers?

Let’s push it further: what would it take for a leader/company to be proud of its HR department? What would HR have to be and do for our company’s key leaders brag to their peers: “Things are great and a big part of it is our HR department. Our people are our advantage and HR has been instrumental in helping  energize this company. They’ve found, developed, and helped us keep some phenomenal people. Our managers see them as a great resource to help make better decisions. I don’t see how we could have done it without them.”

I’m crazy/stupid/naïve/wishful/hopeful enough to believe it could happen. What’s it going to take?