Wednesday, 13 March 2013


There's so much noise around talent, HR, people skills, learning and development, coaching- is it any wonder I go home some days with a headache?  

I often feel trapped by a landslide of information; some of it's great, but most of it is just white noise put out by people who love to share- regardless of the value. I am often left wondering if I am listening to the right people, learning the right things and doing what I should in order to succeed. My head positively spins some days.

If HR practitioners are confused, how must business leaders feel? We must sound alien to them half the time. No wonder so many struggle to see any value on our skills and practices.

Isn't our greatest value in stripping away jargon and unnecessary layers of nonsense in order to present a clear direction that protects both business and people? Aren't we missing a trick in being able to soothe the furrowed brows of CEOs and MDs with plain talking and tried and tested techniques? I have to say that's why we set up Treacletiger- to connect with businesses on a better level, add some clarity and remove the fear.

I tweeted yesterday that we were seeing a plethora of material on 'Making HR Fun.' I suggested it was more pressing that we make it relevant. I got a lot of messages of agreement, one in particular from Katharine Duff, who said:

I could not possibly agree more. We have a commercial function- no, a responsibility- and we risk our credibility if we don't make that overtly clear.

If you draw a salary, you have a responsibility to make sure the business thrives. We all have a commercial role to play.

HR people: There are too many in our field demanding a seat at the table but without clearly demonstrating why they deserve it. That's not to say that they're not doing great work, just that they aren't demonstrating the value it's bringing to the business. We half-heartedly joke about how "everyone hates HR" but we should be terrified if that's the case. It means we're failing. 

It's down to us to tear down the barriers between our work and the commercial functions of the business. Don't be afraid to share your successes and show off a little when you contribute or save the day. 

Yes, it's your job- but if you were in Sales and closed a deal that saved the business from ruin you'd want to be celebrated, right?

Some days, you are a hero. Show 'em what you're made of.

Business owners, MDs, CEOs, etc., etc: we are not the enemy. We're here to save you stress and time, and sometimes even save the business from getting it all horribly wrong. We do the things you don't have time or often the specialist knowledge to cover. We're not firefighters, we're not infallible, and nor are we bottomless pits of wisdom (well, ok, maybe we are*.) We don't have an answer for everything**, no matter how many books we read, seminars we attend, articles we pore over or blogs we follow. So much of what we read or hear is just opinion. Some might be relevant, but often assessing what's happening in the business is the best way of identifying what's needed. 

We are deeply connected to your people, understand how their situations can impact on commercial profitability and success, and can suggest ways that things can be improved or shared when you're getting it right. We have a perspective that's worth tapping into. 

If none of this sounds like your experience of HR, you may have a problem. But don't assume it's them.

'People are your greatest asset', goes the cliché- if any business ever states that, their leaders and HR practitioners need to show why that is, and what they do to ensure it's the truth.

*What? I'm doing the hero thing. I earned it today.

** unless you count our smart-alec remarks.


  1. Niki, this is one of those blogs I feel I should print out and pin up on my wall! I agree with absolutely everything you've said from your opening point (which is why I've talked myself out of blogging for the foreseeable) to your last. We all need reminding of these things sometimes!

  2. Thanks Tim- it frustrates me that there's such a divide between HR and the 'money' in many businesses. The two are mutually dependent and we ignore it at our peril. However, just demanding a turn on the soapbox isn't enough- HR has to show why they should be allowed to step up there. Likewise, business leaders need to stop viewing us with suspicion. Just hope this starts a few converations that lead to better things for everyone.