Re-Framing Love

Thanks to astha, I found Sanjay's blog, Simple Thoughts (great name!), where he has an entry about whether you have to "love" people to be an HR professional.

He says " simple advice to anybody joining HR because they love people is to just become a social worker."

Why? He provides this illustration:

"Would you do the following if you really loved people -

- Fire people to improve the profitability of the company
- Force managers to reduce the ratings of people to meet the bell curve even if they have done a good job
- Make policies to stop 2% of the population from doing wrong things inconveniencing all others
- Make life miserable for anybody who quits
- Get people to work harder even if they do not like it (without paying overtime)

Hmmm. Interesting point indeed. Having been in HR for over twenty years (as a Training & OD specialist), I agree that HR can often be seen as more people-hostile than people-friendly. Seldom have I ever heard HR described as "loving."

However, I think there is room in the HR "tent" even for those whose main motivation is "love" of people. But maybe "love" is the problem. The word "love" may be too loaded a word for the hard-nosed MBAs out there. So let's reframe "love."

Look at the Talent Management movement, picking up such steam in industry. By definition, it's all about talent (i.e., people): finding good talent, hiring it, training it, utilizing it, moving it around, paying it, retaining it, and sometimes terminating it. Within TM there seems to be a renewed recognition that talent (i.e., people) is an organization's most important resource.

So where is HR in this Talent Management stuff? Hopefully, right at the center, leading and facilitating the TM process.

So, to return to Sanjay. He says that when he interviews HR candidates he asks:

" why do you want to join HR? why did you choose HR as your calling?"

Maybe a good answer would be: Just as a coach finds talent and develops the players on his team in order to win games and come in first, HR does the same for the organization it serves: HR finds talent and develops people in pursuit of the organization's goals.

Posted by Terrence Seamon, 08/11/06


Anna Farmery said…
Agree, HR should love talent not people. If you love talent then you will nurture it, understand it and also remove barriers that stop talent from thriving. HR is not about people, HR is about business just like every other department and how talent can improve business performance.
Terrence said…
Hi Anna,
Welcome to my blog.
Yes, HR is about business, but its business is people, i.e. providing the "talent" (namely people) needed by the organization to accomplish its aims.

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