Here's the link to the latest Cranky Middle Manager Show. Wayne's guest this time was Bill Hutter of Sequent an HR consulting and outsourcing firm. The theme is why HR and middle management often clash, the role of HR, and why most HR folks are hesitant to come to the management "table."
I think some HR pros resist being a proactive leader and contributor to the future of the business. Some, but I would not say all, or even most.
Heck, I think many middle managers don't come to the table and step up to leadership.
Double heck, I think some senior leaders don't mentally come to the leadership table! Yikes! It's true....
What makes a difference is a combination of ones level of skill and engagement. When we are engaged, we are taking some kind of ownership in the work we are doing.
The Engagement/Skill Matrix
I prefer not to classify groups of people. Each individual is intrinsically motivated by different things and has unique goals and aspirations. We each have different talents and strengths. This all affects organizational fit, and is something I focus on when interviewing people. It also changes over time, so we can't just hire someone and then think the fit and motivation problem has been solved for good.
- Leadership and management work is not for everyone (here's a reminder of why I don't separate these).
- HR work is not for everyone.
- Project management work is not for everyone.
- And on and on.......
Life is too short to be in a role that does not suit us, don't you think?
Where are you on this matrix right now? If you are low in engagement, are you where you should be? What would enliven your intrinsic motivation and connection to your work?
Managers: As a manager, it is doubly important that we be engaged and a good fit for our roles because we impact the work experiences of our team members and peers.
HR Pros: It is triply important that we be engaged and a good fit for our roles because we impact the work experiences of the organization.
Consultants and gurus (not sure of the difference, I guess a person can be one but no the other) often point to the changing business models (hunting, farming, factories, services) as part of the problem. I have mentioned this on occasion myself. It's a bit of a generalization, for sure.
To me, it really boils down to how engaged we are in proactively managing the business - our piece of the business, however large or small that piece may be. The other barriers only get in the way when we lack focus and action. That may seem simplistic, but I believe it and have seen this play out in small, medium, and large companies.