Issue 37 [ISSN 1712-4670]

We have too many high sounding words, and too few actions that correspond with them.

Abigail Adams
Wife of John Adams
1744 – 1818

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Focus on Professional Development

The Agony of Human Resources

By Guest Author: Dr. Alan Weiss

Action:  A thing done; the accomplishment of a thing usually over a period of time, in stages, or with the possibility of repetition; an act of will
Conned: Intense pain of mind or body; the struggle that precedes death; a violent struggle or contest

I’ve worked with a handful of terrific Human Resources executives over the years—and they are remarkable in their scarcity. All the outstanding ones sought me out—to my good fortune—because HR is not a place where I go softly into the good night.
All of the current bloviating about a “seat at the table” and the “strategic nature of HR” is just that—gaseous evasion. Every time I get a call from an HR person telling me she has been “tasked” to find “venders” and “you’ll work through me or not at all,” the experience supports my belief that consultants should be permitted to pack. (I don’t mean for trips.)

Let me ask you something: How many HR executives can you name who were promoted to CEO of their company from that position? I’ve seen vice presidents

It just doesn’t happen in HR. It doesn’t happen because the department has been marginalized and rationalized. It’s the place where companies park females and minorities to show how diverse they are, rather than give them positions running sales, manufacturing, R & D, operations, and so forth.
It’s the area where people are sent that the company doesn’t know what else to do with.

Why would anyone spend a career in HR? It’s like a career shoveling mist.

The transactional aspects of HR have been, correctly, outsourced. The transformational aspects are the main reasons there is so much work for external consultants. HR departments can’t get it done. They have very little credibility and quake at the sound of the footsteps of a real executive.

Consider this: HR and their training brethren are spending fortunes—in excess of $40 billion annually, I believe, according to the American Society for Training and Development—on training programs from training venders.

People march through these courses like lemmings, with virtually no metrics or measures of whether there is actual improvement on the job. In fact, you’ll find an occasional article in Training Magazine or the ASTD Journal from an HR department or training vender that MEASURES REALLY AREN’T THE POINT!

No, I guess the check clearing the bank is the point.

Or, perhaps, it’s that grid that shows how many people have been trained in how many courses, irrespective of job performance or improvement.

Is this too difficult a set of questions:

  • Has performance improved?
  • Is the customer better served?
  • Do we have more business?

People generally ask those questions when they buy fax machines or long distance phone plans but not, apparently, when people are trained.

In fact, HR is still in love with the “four levels” of measure that Don Kirkpatrick discussed 50 years ago—and three of them don’t matter because they are related to participant reaction and attitude, not behavior change.

HR is rewarded for staying within budget and treating people as venders to be squeezed. They are generally uninvolved in, and even unaware of, corporate strategy.

On the other hand, line executives are rewarded for results, of course, and treat consultants as partners to help them make progress toward strategic goals. If the ROI makes sense, they find money.

If you’re in the consulting business, don’t get involved in the HR department. If you do, you’ll never be perceived as a peer of the true buyers. And if you don’t get involved, you can go directly to the real buyers.

Don’t worry, HR won’t “subvert” your project if it’s approved. If the buyer says to do it, they’ll fall all over themselves getting behind it. That is, if they’re not too engaged in left brain/right brain, diversity, accelerated learning, and stewardship training programs.

Alan Weiss is one of the rare individuals who can say he is a consultant, speaker, and author—and mean it. His consulting firm, Summit Consulting Group Inc., has attracted clients like The New York Times, GE, Mercedes Benz, and more than 400 other firms.

He has written 25 books including the best seller Million Dollar Consulting from McGraw-Hill.

Response from Ken Keis President and CEO of Consulting Resource Group International, Inc.

I agree with Alan’s assessment of the condition of HR. Our activities must be about development and results, not simply being busy.

If you really want to make a difference, take action—instead of just talking about it.

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Second Edition of CRG's Secrets of Success Journal Ready to Download!

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New articles and content to serve you and your clients...

  • Relationship Fitness
  • Road Warrior Syndrome
  • Are You Really Living On Purpose?
  • Why Don’t You Sell The Way That I Buy?
  • Why Do Professionals Prefer CRG Solutions?

If you want to access the print-based version of SOS II, please contact Neal at the CRG the office for details. Find out how you can get complimentary copies of the SOS II.

Upcoming Events

CRG’s Train-The-Trainer I
Where:            Vancouver, BC
When:             June 7, 8, 9, 2007

CRG Exhibits at the
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Where:            Seattle, WA
When:             July 5, 6, 7, 8, 2007

CRG’s Train-The-Trainer I
Where:            Vancouver, BC
When:             September 20, 21, 22, 2007

Ken Keis Presents “Assess For Success”
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Where:            San Antonio, TX
When:             October 11, 12, 13, 2007

CRG’s Train-The-Trainer I
Where:            Vancouver, BC
When:             November 15, 16, 17, 2007

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  • Secrets of Success Journal II (SOS II) is ready to download or you can access the print-based version.

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Eleanor is back at CRG! She has been connected to CRG internally or externally for close to 20 years. Eleanor has assumed responsibility for managing product development, in online and print formats.

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