Anil Thakraney: Buck up, lazy HR!

11 Jan,2012

By Anil Thakraney


I have worked in a few organizations in my career, and across the board if there’s one department I have been left disappointed with, it’s HR. Somehow I never really felt a need for these people. And the failing, I realize, is not of the function itself but the way it seems to be practised, and naturally I speak from my own experiences.


I have always found the HR personnel to be the reactive sort; their presence only gets noticed when there’s a problem. When someone needs to be hired/fired (and that’s essentially paperwork) or when there’s indiscipline in the organization, ranging from regular employee absenteeism to sexual harassment issues. And this aspect too mainly involves lip service and paperwork from HR… all the actions/decisions are usually taken by the line manager or the CEO. And therefore I have always wondered why we need these guys at all.


I think HR personnel aren’t being held accountable in organizations, and perhaps this is what leads to their laidback behaviour. Although I am not an HR guru, here are a few key functions where I think they can become very useful to an organization, if they play a proactive role:


  • Keeping a regular, sharp eye on star performers in other organizations, so that they can provide leads to department heads even if the latter haven’t asked for fresh recruits.
  • Bonding with employees from down to top, rather than from top to bottom. So that employees across all levels can confide in them. And by the time the HR team meets the department head, they can share relevant employee information with the managers. Most HR heads I worked with will first meet me, and ask silly questions like: “How’s the morale in your department? Hope all well?”
  • Coming up with useful, scientific and insightful ways in which a department can be structured better to maximize staff resources. Most HR heads have no interest in even going down this path. Either they are too lazy or don’t want to risk upsetting department heads.
  • Drafting innovative and smart employee rewards/motivation schemes. Sending out cold birthday cards is so yesterday. And a cop-out.
  • And of course, formulating kickass employee loyalty schemes and organizing fantastic training programmes. Usually both these chores are left to the line managers to figure out.


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Net net: Lots of value additions can be provided by the HR people. But they aren’t. And this can’t be allowed to go on. At some point, organization heads will need to crack the whip. I don’t need a heavily paid HR Vice Prez to meet me once a year and ask me if I am okay. I can do without those homilies, thank you very much.




PS: Ahaha! Totally love this ad. It’s so simple and so funny. Especially the spunky ol’ lady. Too cute.




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