Magazine article Management Today

First-Class Coach

Magazine article Management Today

First-Class Coach

Article excerpt

Q: I've worked in HR for 10 years because I want to help people do their best in the workplace. But I'm disillusioned as my job now focuses on redundancies, grievances and stress management. I feel HR is not respected and is even despised. Is it time to change career?

A: I recently attended a conference where a speaker quipped that HR stood for 'Hatred and Revenge'. He got an easy laugh, but it set me thinking about the potential reversal in fortunes of the human resources community.

True, 30 years ago, what was then 'Personnel' was not always a highly regarded profession. Practitioners were often seen as administrative busybodies with little understanding of what made the organisation successful. But the role evolved, so that the best HR managers and directors were well in tune with the aspirations of the business and skilled at supporting senior management in achieving their strategic aims.

HR even made it as an executive function on the boards of many Plcs. I myself was appointed by a newly promoted and far-sighted CEO as group HR director for a FTSE 100 company. He understood that a successful firm has to think strategically about its people, not just managing them in the day-to-day; and that having a focus on people at the highest level would be crucial if the business was to fulfil its wider ambitions.

I know from my friends and contacts in jobs like yours that the recent emphasis on cost-cutting and redundancies is having a depressing effect on their morale, especially where they feel a severance deal is not commensurate with the contribution the outgoing employee has made. They're despondent that budgets for development have been trimmed or even axed, and that 'performance management', a term coined to describe a manager's ability to bring out the best in people, has now become synonymous with a less costly way of ousting troublesome people.

Retrenchment is understandable, given the economic climate, but it is short-sighted. Companies that treat employees unfairly can expect less energy, less loyalty and diminishing returns from retained employees, and a reduced reputation among prospective hirings. Ironically, all these factors have attendant costs to a business. It will be a shame if the strategic and supportive role of HR is translated into that of enforcer for draconian management policy.

Like you, Veronica Wheatley, HR director at an ad agency, has not enjoyed the necessity of making people redundant, but she has focused on managing the process humanely. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed


An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.