the weights on human resources

I will be speaking at the annual conference (online of course) of the CRHA [association of certified human resources professionals of Québec] on Wednesday 4 November this week. I will be explaining the personal knowledge mastery framework and how it can inform HR professionals for their own development as well as for their organizations.

My presentation will be in French. Jennifer Garvey Berger will be presenting in English. Non-members may attend the full day conference for $(CA)130 — CRHA 2020 program.

As usual, I have gone through many iterations of my presentations over the past several weeks. I removed a section with a perspective on the history that informs the HR profession and will share it here instead. I had originally presented a version of this at the HR Innovation Day for the Hochschule fuer Technik, Wirtschaft und Kultur in Leipzig, Germany last year.

What is the modern HR system today? It encompasses many areas, sometimes including training, usually pay and benefits, and often diversity and talent development. It’s a very large field, and the CRHA has about 10,000 members in a province with a population of about 8 million.

modern HR system

But there is a lot of tradition weighing down this modern system

Bureaucratic Weight: Jobs, Roles, & Procedures

The construct of the job, with its defined skills, effort, responsibilities, and working conditions, is a key limiting organizational factor for any creative economy — Job is four-letter word.

The Taylorist assumptions of division of labour and packaging of tasks are just plain wrong today. Enforced standardization and unthinking workers following directions of management no longer work in cognitively demanding work that requires social skills for collaboration and cooperation. We should use — network management protocols.

Industrial Weight: Uniformity, Assembly, & Design

Design approaches such as instructional systems design (ISD) are premised on predetermined learning objectives and activities, usually based on good and best practices observed in the workplace. But they are useless when dealing with complexity. When no one can understand the vagaries of a situation in a changing, complex environment then the only thing to do is try out new things based on our best judgement and then watch, learn, and keep trying new practices, informed by — the Cynefin framework.

Agrarian Weight: Clock, Schedule, & Calendar

Time and motion studies, such as those done by Taylor and others, were based on the assumption that certain types of work were of equal value. Labour, as defined by Taylorists, is replaceable. It’s all about standardized work and standardized recompense. But talent is unique — there is no hourly rate on internet time.

Feudal Weight: Sort, Label, & Select

Sorting, labeling, and selecting begins in school and then progresses into the workplace with annual performance reviews — a deadly sin — and the identification of high-potential workers (who can tell the future?). The future of schooling should be to prepare people for working smarter. Some HR departments are learning this as they remove academic qualifications from their recruiting requirements.

what is weighing down HR

While there is a modern HR system today, it is still informed by some old traditions that may no longer be appropriate. All professionals should understand the underlying assumptions of their field, question them, and determine if they are still useful.

“A professional is anyone who does work that cannot be standardized easily and who continuously welcomes challenges at the cutting edge of his or her expertise.” —David Williamson Shaffer

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