Paul Hebert: If I could change one thing about HR…

PaulHebert.jpgWhat lessons can HR take from American Football (or just plain “Football,” for our American readers)?

Paul Hebert, Managing Director of “influence consultancy” I2I is here to provide the answers, in today’s “If I could change one thing about HR…” post.

As well as being an influential presence on Twitter, Paul also blogs extensively (and always interestingly) at a number of locations, including his own Incentive Intelligence site, Fistful of Talent (the HR bloggers’ joint favourite HR blog, according to our survey earlier this year) and HR Examiner.

Paul Hebert: If I could change one thing about HR…

I would train HR professionals how to design and develop offensive playbooks for business success.The impetus for this idea came from a post I did at Fistful of Talent recently where I outlined a situation at a company where the HR department wouldn’t okay a unique office space because they were “afraid of a lawsuit.” The post resonated with a few HR folks so I knew I was on to something.

Offense is planning – defense is reacting

In American football the teams play offense for four plays during which they either advance 10 yards and get another set of four plays or turn the ball over to the opposing team who then go on offense. The offense creates specific plans, assigns tasks to each player on the team and then executes those plans in the hopes of getting the ball 100 yards down the field to score points.

The defense, in contrast, is more “reactive.” They have plays too – but their goal is to foil the offensive play. They are in a “block the play” mentality. Offense is focused on scoring. Defense is focused on not allowing scores.

HR – from my experience and the anecdotal evidence I get from my HR friends- seems to spend an inordinate amount of time working on defense – preventing lawsuits, making sure the government rules are satisfied, preventing lapses in process and procedure. In other words, they are focused on reacting to what is going on inside and outside the company. They are waiting for the “offense” to run a play in order to react.

Seat at the table

An oft-spoken desire of HR is to get a seat at the table. That table, unfortunately, is all about planning offense. There is no need for HR at that table if HRs’ main focus is on defense. If HR wants to sit at a planning table where strategies and plays are designed to score points they need to have a much more offensive mind set.

There are companies that are doing it right – using HR as an offensive weapon in the market.

But not nearly enough. Too many are still preventing problems instead of creating scoring opportunities. In a business world where the value people bring to the organization is more important – and increasing rapidly – it is critical to have an offensive people strategy, not just a defensive company strategy.

So a long intro to what I would change about HR…

Focus more on teaching HR to design and execute plans on how they will impact the future success of the business such as… not design and execute defensive strategies on how to “protect” the company.

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