A New Model
for Human Resources
A major change occurred in corporations when the
"personnel" function redefined itself as "human resources."
The more expansive terminology described a more all-encompassing
professional department with responsibilities extending far beyond
the administrative tasks associated with "personnel management."
Now, over 150,000 people hold membership in the Society for Human
The problem faced by these professionals, and the employers they
serve, is that much of the thinking and performance is limited to
support functions and management. This model has worked in the past
and is sufficient in many environments today. Given the increasing
challenges in the field, this model will not work in the future.
Top corporate executives are discovering that the most valuable
and most volatile resource is their human resource. Without adequate
human resources, they will not be able to fulfill their missions.
If they have a stable workforce of highly talented people, they
can enjoy a strategic advantage over their competition.
Chief Executive Officers have traditionally sought highly qualified
leaders, prepared through solid education and seasoned with significant
experience, to assume responsibility for research, manufacturing,
marketing, sales, distribution, and service. Now, as they realize
the critical importance of human resources, senior leaders have
high expectations of their Chief Human Resource Officers and their
teams. When they look at the reality of their situations, they're
disappointed. Too many human resources professionals lack the business
sense, leadership skills, and experience to actively participate
at the strategic level.
Forecast? Those human resource professionals who can perform at
senior executive levels will be in high demand. They will demonstrate
strong, multi-faceted competence and will have extraordinary expectations
of their subordinates. As demands increase for strategic workforce
planning, more individualized compensation and benefits management,
focused compliance to corporate policies and government regulations,
and management of contingent labor resources, the profession will
move significantly beyond "management." This new breed
of human resource executives who will be much more strategically
oriented will outsource routine functions.
The divergence is already obvious: Many senior human resource executives
do not choose to belong to the Society. They see themselves as "leaders,"
not merely managers.