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Bi-polar Functionality

Recently I have been working on an idea inspired by my attendance at the ERE Expo last week. I had been thinking about the growing degree of differentiation I see in the way HR generalists and recruiters approach their work. I developed this typology on 7 types of HR Practitioner as part of that thought process. The short list looked like this:

Seven types of Human Resources Practitioner


1. Rockstar
2. Expert
3. Specialist
4. Professional
5. Preventer
6. Placeholder
7. Victim –

There is also a functional bifurcation in the profession taking place as well.

Human Resources seems to be splitting in two.

One is a legal/administrative/regulatory area that manages benefits and pay, deals with governent agencies, and responds to forces impacting the organization in a negative manner.

The other area is about interfacing directly with people in the real world, such as recruiting, labor and employee relations, compensation, and training and development along with other similar areas

Coupled with the challenging economic business climate, this development is creating fundamentally different approaches to work being done in HR. The legal/admin side is clamping down on innovative approaches and trying to throw up firewalls around the company in order to minimize risk.

The other side is striving to find new innovative ways to do things, but many times on a shoe string budget.

This creates competiton for limited resources, and establishes a conflicted dynamic inside the very organization that should be providing the best guidance and leadership during such times. Conflict tend to create factions, and getting information and support from a divided organization isn’t an optimal situation for client groups seeking help. This frustrates clients and increases the “disrespect” factor often mentioned by HR peeps.

It is up to us to change it. How do we go about doing that?

1. Get clear on the mission
2. Build alliance within the function, not a silo
3. Stay informed on what is going on in the business, internal and external
4. Put people first
5. Find solutions
6. Find resources or creative ways to deliver programs to clients
7. Find ways to WOW them…chalenge your brain and innovate.
8. practice #GreatHR

If you have ideas on how to do this, or great stories to tell about this, share them in the comments, and on Twitter with the hashtag #GreatHR.



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Comment by Randy Levinson on September 21, 2009 at 2:50pm
Great article Michael. As some one who came from the second word and gradually entered the first over time I find it challenging because now both worlds see me as "from the other side" when I am steeped in both. Of course I find that when talking to people about opportunities I am often talking to either the "placeholder" or "victim" and never get to show "professional" "expert" or "rockstar" my abilities. Thanks for a great article!
Comment by Michael VanDervort on September 21, 2009 at 9:16pm
Thanks for commenting, Randy!
Comment by Steffanie Johnson on September 22, 2009 at 3:02pm
Thank you Michael for putting into words what I have been dealing with. I just wish there was a better way to educate professionals & businesses to how the world works outside of their office... that there are fewer and fewer lines separating qualified professionals in most areas.... I mostly run into placeholders and extreme victims myself - and pray for the day I can deal directly with professionals & experts (in any field) to get to that next step. Thank you again for your insight!
Comment by Charles Van Heerden on September 24, 2009 at 5:30am
Hi Michael, as I have been a HR Director I guess my response is that there is still a large group of HR people that are more seen as gate keepers, particularly by recruiters. Some people believe that a line manager can just step into a HR role, but would never think of doing that in Marketing or Finance.

The good news is that there is a growing group of commercial HR people that not only knows HR but also knows the business.

Let HR rock!!

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