7 hacks to disrupt HR

Everywhere you look, people want to disrupt HR. Books have been written, conferences held, hashtags created. Many in the HR profession look at the way that Uber, Airbnb, Ryanair and others have disrupted their industry and wonder how we can do the same.  Now I can exclusively reveal that the seven hacks below will ensure that you can disrupt HR whatever your business or sector.

1.       Remove all pencils from the HR office (or in a tech company, hide all the iPad chargers). All HR work will soon grind to a halt.

2.       Respond with “Yes, let’s be just like Enron” whenever the phrase “war for talent” is mentioned. Most HR people won’t actually have read the book to be aware that Enron was one of the key case studies.

3.       If anyone in HR refers to the above concept as the “war on talent”, smile pityingly at them. This will disconcert if not completely disrupt.

4.       Replace all ergonomically designed office chairs with three legged stools. Defend any subsequent health and safety claims with “we were only implementing the Ulrich model

5.       Suggest ignoring employment law if it doesn’t fit in with the preferred solution to a problem (I saw this genuinely proposed by a qualified HR person on a LinkedIn discussion topic, so this disruptive tactic has clearly gone mainstream).

6.       Ask “have you any evidence this will work?” next time they propose a new initiative.  Repeatedly doing this will either a) make them leave you alone or b) find some evidence to support their argument.

7.       For maximum effect, switch on the sprinkler system during the CIPD conference this week. This will disrupt more HR people in one fell swoop than points 1-6 put together.

I completely understand that many in the HR world think things we do could be done differently and better, or even not done at all (I am one of them). And perhaps I’m being too literal by taking the dictionary definition of ‘disrupt’. But the word conveys the snotty-nosed punk rock attitude of ‘let’s smash everything whether it’s good or not’ (fine if you’re 17 and in a band, perhaps not so in a world of work). Moreover, with the disruptive chickens coming home to roost for many of the companies above, should this be a bandwagon that we just watch as it goes hurtling by?

HR Theory, HR Practice

As everyone gets ready for the CIPD’s Annual conference in Manchester this week, I thought I’d provide a helpful guide for newer attendees on some of the various  HR terms they may encounter and what they really mean

Best Practice

The Theory:

A series of academic studies which suggests there are universal “best practices” that an HR department should be doing to enhance organisational performance. These practices include rigorous selection procedures, allowing employees to have some form of ownership of the company, and a strong training and development ethos.

The Practice

  1. Taking ideas that appear to have been successful in other organisations and transplanting them into your own
  2. The killer argument when a sceptical CEO or Finance Director questions your new HR initiative – “But it’s best practice!”

The Ulrich Model

The Theory

An academic view, put forward by Professor David Ulrich, that HR has four basic functions in an organisation: Strategic (or Business) Partner, Change Agent, Admin Expert and Employee Champion.

The Practice

The reorganisation of HR departments, mostly by re-designating middle-ranking HR professionals as “HR Business Partners” and creating mindless admin jobs in “Shared Service” call centres (often then outsourced to developing countries).  Usually followed by further reorganisations of HR departments as “That Ulrich model is a load of (insert own term of abuse)”

Big Data

The Theory

Extremely large amount of information (often but not always created online) which is complex to analyse, but by doing so can sometimes lead to more accurate predictions of likely outcomes

The Practice

Introducing new software to churn out employee statistics – such as turnover, applicant tracking or absence, and to give this data red, amber or green “traffic lights”.

Talent Management

The Theory

There’s considerable academic debate about what talent means – whether it relates to an inherent genetic ability to do something or a willingness or commitment to the organisation and the work required. A related but separate debate is how talent management can be aligned to business strategy

The Practice

  1. Pushing up salaries to retain existing staff and to attract staff from competitors (“the war for talent”)
  2. Moaning about the poor standard of candidates when you are recruiting (“there’s a lack of talent in the market place”)
  3. Giving some employees (“the talent”) better training and development opportunities than others

Feel free to add your own in the Comments section below…