Who Is Leading HR?


My question of who is leading HR is really not this straight forward for those of you that have already named the HR Director or Chief Human Resources Officer (CHRO) of your organization.  I am really wondering if it is this person or another executive leader.

In many organizations the CHRO reports to the CEO, and in others it may be the CAO or COO.  It really doesn’t matter who they partner with but how much influence they have on the policies and solutions being implemented.

I recently attended an HR Laws seminar as a refresher course, and was sitting in a room with about 100 HR Managers from various size organizations.  Literally I noted about a dozen that lead their HR functions and the rest of them are just implementers.   The vast amount of them knew about the many ways their companies are violating state and federal employment laws and yet are unable to change things.

Good HR people, and I include all functions of HR in this statement, know how to do things to achieve successful results, and yet often yield to what management is telling them is enough.  Time and time again things fail, and the HR person takes the hit, even though they were following orders.  And I agree they should take the hit if all they did was implement and not try to influence a better way.

One company I am working with finally convinced the CEO it was time to build a training function.  Yet the CHRO posted a Training Manager role that will design and deliver sales skills training.  Hardly the focus of the need in this diverse company, but it was all she “could get the CEO to agree to.”  While this company needs a senior level learning director with experience in building all parts of the learning function, they are getting a trainer.  A year from now they will have little to show and it is the fault of the CHRO.

For those of you that are used to pointing fingers back to the senior leader that wouldn’t sign off on your vision, what would have happened if the CHRO had simply backed off and said we need a senior level opening, and a budget for future hiring that allows for a function to be developed.  If the CEO said no, only a training manager, the CHRO could have said, then we won’t do any hiring until we are ready to do it correctly.  Pow!  Either we do it right or we don’t move forward.  We are not going to blunder forward and do it incorrectly.

HR needs to realize that they make a difference.  And that difference can be both positive or negative depending on the stance they take.

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