HR Paradox


“Things are not always what they seem to be!”

Somebody told me once that HR is a thankless job. I held on to that notion for a very long time . . . thinking whether I’m in the right profession or so. Until one day I realized, thankless or thankful, it doesn’t matter anyway. HR is my passion, and it’s the right profession for me. I am designed to be in HR, and in fact, I am HR.

What about you?

Most often, the HR function is taken for granted. However, the fact remains that HR is an integral part of an organization. Try to imagine a company opening up, and the tasks that need to be done at the very start. Do you think you’d need an operations guy before anything else? I don’t think so. To start things right, you would need an HR person to find a good operations guy and everyone else.

On the other hand, try to imagine a company closing down. Who do you believe should be the last to go? I think the answer is a little obvious this time. It’s not difficult to understand that only a cold-blooded HR has the tolerance to do the dirty work of firing everyone else, himself included.

Can you see the total HR picture now?

Not yet. What about the things in between? These are the things HR do on a regular basis, the “thankless job” so to speak . . .

  • Ensuring a harmonious labor-management relations through its ER/ LR programs (yes, it’s HR parlance which simply means programs to take care of employees’ needs);
  • Continually improving productivity through “TnD” properly “segmentized” into GDP, MDP and TDP to make sure everyone’s covered (you must be HR  to understand this – it’s Training and Development for TnD, General Development Program, Management Development Program, and Technical Development Program for GDP, MDP and TDP);
  • Taking care that the CompBen (of course, Compensation and Benefits) is appropriately structured and implemented, always worrying how to strike a good balance between statutory compliance (what is legal) and affordability (what is viable businesswise);
  • And all other functions which may be assigned from time to time (and this constitutes the biggest bulk of all functions).

HR is, and should always be, providing value to the organization and its constituents. And here lies the HR Paradox – the more effective HR becomes, the lesser significant it would seem to be. How is that?

According to Herzberg’s theory, there are only two major elements of motivation; hygiene factors and satisfiers. Hygiene factors include salaries, working conditions, policies and administration among others. Satisfiers involve recognition, advancement, growth and others.

A good HR knows that hygiene factors should first be fulfilled, being the more basic needs, before the satisfiers can have a positive impact on employees. But the thing is, if HR does well in this aspect, everything goes quite and calm. When that happens, HR can be perceived as doing nothing significant. However, if HR fails to deliver just one of these hygiene factors, people begin to complain and make noise. It is only then that HR becomes an integral part of organizational strategy towards success. Funny but true.

The HR paradox puts one in a situation where you get damned if you do, and damned if you don’t.  But it’s not enough for one to conclude that HR is a worthless profession just because it’s a thankless job. Because no matter what, a sincere HR affects people’s lives, not just simply but deeply. And no matter what, HR is truly an integral part of business success. And, no matter what, if HR is your passion, it is a worthy profession.


The Leaders’ Ladder

The eyes and ears can just but see and hear . . . gratitude is in the heart and can be felt when it’s there.

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New Millennium HR

Typewriter adler3
Image via Wikipedia

Challenging Changes In the HR Functions

I am amazed at how information technology greatly influenced the way things are done. When I started my HR career, more than two decades ago (please don't call me Senior HR, and never ever call me senior citizen) . . . I only have my old reliable "pica" typewriter. Perhaps some of the younger generation HR today don't know what a "pica" is, and I bet some don't even know what the QWERTY Method is. Well, you can research in the internet if you want . . .

Along with my typewriter are two other indispensables – the carbon paper and the liquid eraser (commonly known as the "white ink"). Reports are generated from these utilities, meticulously typewritten, making sure that the copies are perfectly aligned. Of course, there are no printers and ink cartridges to worry about . . .
Life was so simple then, and yet very difficult. One spelling mistake, with one very exacting boss, is more than enough to break your heart . . . as well as your fingers.

In today's era of hi-tech everything, life becomes so easy yet very complicated. It is not enough that you have a typing speed of 60 wpm (with 50% accuracy), you must learn (first and foremost) how to operate these things! The usual reports are still there, plus a ton of new requirements which we sometimes refuse as related to HR job. At the end of the day, we wish . . . "Bring back the good ol' days."

Challenging Changes In the HR Functions

We used to be content and focus ourselves only in the traditional HR activities (perhaps, we still are), like Hiring and Recruitment, Compensation and Benefits, Employee Relations, Administration, Training and Development, and a lot of other things. I'm not saying that these things aren't important – just look at companies who try to ignore these functions and see for yourself. What I'm trying to say is; these activities, while necessary, are not anymore enough in today's highly competitive, fast-paced environment. HR should make a difference, and the only way to do it is to do things differently.

But How?

Of course, by learning new things. Today, things can be learned at the speed (of your internet connection). Just type the things you want to know, click a button and presto – it magically opens in a new window! What does this mean? It means there's no excuse for us not to upgrade our skills and become a strategic business partner of our respective companies.

I'm not saying this to impress you, but to impress upon you the importance of acknowledging the need for change in our HR profession. "Is it that easy?" you ask. No it's not. In fact, it is so difficult that a lot prefer to stay where they are now. That's why only very few HR practitioners are considered as business partners, and the vast majority are looked upon only as paper-pushers and executioners.

Pity me, but I still remember during my time when we (during meetings attended by HR practitioners) used to console each other by telling all present that "HR is a thankless job." Yes, it was (and still is for some).

So How Do We Learn These Things?

That's why I'm opening up this special section – for this purpose. I'm not saying that I'm better than you. But for almost a decade outside the confines of corporate HR office, I have learned lots of new things I shouldn't even care to discover during my stint as HR Manager. With the eyes of an outsider-looking-in, carrying the discipline of an insider-looking-out, I can see things in different perspectives.

I understand I don't have the monopoly of all knowledge there is. In fact, I'm still learning and will continue to do so. I also understand the power of the collective mind, and would want to harness its tremendous potential. In this forum we learn together by sharing thoughts and ideas, personal experiences, and lessons learned from others – making this exercise beneficial to all who want to participate.

Marching To the Same Drumbeat

We want to be in tune with the rest of the critical components of the organization and contribute. We want to be considered as 'profit-center," not cost-center. We want to be recognized as having made a difference!

Let's begin our journey.

We will talk about critical competencies we need to develop, while maintaining what we're currently doing. It takes time, patience and a lot of courage to know and accept that we don't know, and change for the better.

For those who know that they already know, please don't stay. This area could be a little boring for you.

I want to end today's forum with this piece of wisdom:

"People don't care how much you know, until they know how much you care."

God bless and Godspeed!

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