Dismal, Disastrous, Ouch!

Dismal, Disastrous, Ouch!

No, not the commentary from the recent Olympic boxing, but fallout from Alice, Kim and Dan's verdict on McKinsey's 'Making Talent a Strategic Priority'.

Rather than focus on the usual HR sponsorship issues, I thought it would be interesting to look at HR through the lens of Christensen's Values, Processes and Resources framework[1].


The CIPD conference promises that

you will get up to date on the hottest issues in HR. Get fresh ideas and practical solutions to tackle the challenges you are facing in; organisational development, talent management reward, resourcing and recruitment, managing change etc.

Meanwhile, Kim suggests that

HR has an unfortunate habit of attracting folk who think people issues are all ’soft’ issues of motivation, leadership, relationships, ‘EQ’ and so on - all doubtless very important, but there are some critical quantitative issues that you just can’t deal with via chit-chat and arm-waving.

A bit harsh, but there is often a gap between the economic factors that drive the bottom line and the people centric values that follow[2]. Perhaps the human values should lead the economics? Either way, that is a discussion for another day...


One might suggest that processes are the meat and drink of HR. While this may be true, it is interesting to see that not one explicitly HR focused tool features in Bain's survey of top management tools. Regardless, Dubs suggests that HR processes lining up with business processes is key.

One of the things that make HR great is when HR is well attached to all the other cogs in the machine. When it’s not, our cog just makes lots of noise and does nothing of value.

In a similar, if perhaps bleaker fashion, Rick suggests

This McKinzie (sic) report is more evidence that HR functions are applying themselves with gusto to the wrong things.



Somewhat predictably, the third area illustrates further examples of the gaps between an ideal outcome and reality. Clayton kicks off with

the all-too-typical example of the HR Manager re-positioned as ‘HR Business Partner’, but clearly lacking the specific skills, knowledge, and in many cases intellect, basic business savvy and motivation to competently carry out the role in a way which leads to both success and credibility within the organisation.

He then goes on to say

Whilst the likes of the CIPD and SHRM are certainly encouraging a new commercial awareness amongst their new and existing members, something far more fundamental is required:

Given the gaps and contrasts between the relevant values, processes and resources, one cause may be the intangible factors that are hard to define and manage but which have a major impact on outcomes. While never easy, optimising intangibles such as behaviours, relationships and culture is likely to help rather than hinder. Rick sums this notion up well when he says

It’s a lot easier to focus on systems and processes because they are tangible, or at least they appear to be so.... Supporting, coaching and challenging managers to help them manage performance is a long hard slog that may take a while to produce results, yet it will have more impact on the way people are managed than yet another new HR process.

Happy Intangibling - the gold medal for that went to the Lin Miaoke btw, but don't ask me how she won it!


[1] Brian has a great example of the Values, Processes, Resources framework in action here
[2] Recent focus on Human Capital and metrics notwithstanding.

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