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Is HR ‘expensive, bureaucratic hogwash?’

I came across an interesting article on one of my favourite topics today: The truth about the HR department .

It is a rant about ‘amorphous support services’, in particular HR. The author suggests that HR just brings in consultants to review what’s going on, suggest ways in which people could be paid more or run ‘pointless’ training courses.

I have some sympathy with his views, but it all comes down to being clear about what managers’ responsibilities are and what HR are there to do – the difference between HR and people management. People management is what managers are paid to do and HR can provide a framework for, expertise and advice on. All too often HR focus on the nitty, gritty transactional stuff – payroll (and yes, it is important to get this right), contractual changes, record keeping etc. This is administrative, not HR work.

Do we expect our managers to know everything there is to know about their business – be it people management, finance (hardly ever mentioned as an overhead, interestingly), IT? That is an unreasonable expectation – and is why support services are needed. You just need to be clear what you want them to do!

See also my article ‘Just what DO they do in HR’.


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