When following the discussion at conferences on professionalising the Human Capital industry I get a headache. There is just no other way to put it. Firstly, the discussions go around in circles with no real purpose other than saying what has been said many times before. Then this is followed by empty statements from the political lobbyists on working together and making things happen…well I cannot believe that we belong to these organisations and allow them to say lots but do little…and getting paid for it…by us!
Note, I am not saying do nothing. But I cannot help but smile when pondering the moment when all the professional bodies at a conference a year or two ago all agreed on the items that need addressing – getting all the participants at the event in this comforting warm fuzzy space of collaboration and standing together. Then just moments later to hear how these same people quibble about who’s brand must be the most prominent or who will issue the first statements…. or organise the next conference for which we paid for. Then of course the real acid test, pondering what has subsequently happened. The short and sweet answer…little, nothing, nada.
But maybe it’s not fair for me to be this straight forward without throwing some ideas in the battle-scarred ring as well.
Personally, I think passionate practitioners will professionalise this industry by what they do, not what they say they will do and have done. Their actions will let business sit up and recognise the overwhelming contribution a well-run people practice can make on the exponential growth and sustainability of a business.
This should be the focus. How do we get to do the right things in our organisations to emancipate people management through line managers to the level that:
- The right people are in the right place doing the right things at the right time for the right cost and in support of the organisation’s values
- Being performance managed
- Getting developed
- Being rewarded fairly
- Getting opportunities to contribute
…and then finally the emergence of an awesome employer. Yes, even this concept has become laden with political role play and empty promises by executives under our watch.
I am further of the fundamental opinion that the Human Capital industry can learn from what happed to other industries. Get contributions from the chartered accountants, the engineers, process management specialists, marketers and yes…the technologists too.
Hardly ever has the professionalisation or an industry grown from listening to themselves only. Instead we are making plans to keep these professionals away from our ivory tower. Wanting to legislate who may practice as Human Capital professionals. Surely that cannot be the right starting place? First, we should deliver. Then understand why we deliver. Then package, develop, educate business, lobby and if need be govern.
I am by no means saying that this industry should be open to losers or people who do not fit in anywhere else. But, if the engineer is a great recruiter of engineers bring it on, if the CA can help us manage the people investment – join the fun, if the process specialist can help us run HR operations – oh yes please and if the technologist can get us to produce quality information for decision making – well I will write them into my testament. Let’s rather open the doors to people who are passionate about people from their own perspectives and define the Science of Human Capital Management.
When I spoke about the science of people management – a friend of mine was quick to remind me that Human Capital can by no means be called a science as yet. Industrial and Clinical Psychology may be a science but that is by the no means what scientific people management is about. Maybe that is some of the panacea we are trying to reach – the packaging of our science. The Corporate Leadership Council, Mercer and others are most certainly trying hard to wrap their heads around this.
In my humble opinion the science of people management is somehow embedded in:
- The art of understanding, defining and packaging work in business so we can understand related output, competency and reward models and help build good structures to deliver business strategy.
- Building delivery vehicles through sustainable operating models, policies, processes and technology platforms that will liberate information from the workplace for better decision making and effective future strategy.
- Seamless process delivery on recruitment, assessment, induction, performance management, development, succession planning, talent management and the rest.
- Assist in engaging staff through well equipped line managers and executives to establish a workplace supported by a healthy culture and climate of productive delivery.
I suppose it is our role to somehow learn how all this works together. Which skills are needed and help to build a community that can, want to and does. I have a deep respect for those who have done it and for those who are in the trenches doing it.
I cannot help but hope that our universities, training establishments and professional bodies currently focus efforts to develop and package this science in its totality. So that we can learn, implement and learn even more and achieve the Nirvana of bringing the true magic of people to business.
This science itself may not be as sexy as nuclear physics but the result is. Have no doubt. Our profession is clearly not for “sissies” or people who have time to talk lots and do little. I say, if you are passionate about my industry and think you can make the above happen with me you are welcome on my side…I do not care about your background, creed or size J. Let’s just do it…get the input right and professional recognition will follow.
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