HR should dig deeper: interview with Tom Haak

The Leipziger HRM blog

On January 1, 2017, the Leipziger-HRM-Blog (curated by Peter Wald) published an interview with Tom Haak, director of the HR Trend Institute. 5 + 1 questions on Tom’s expectations for HRM.

We quote one question and Tom’s answer from the interview:

Peter: In your opinion, why is HR Management so often and to some extent fiercely criticised today?”

Tom: Dave Ulrich has done a lot of good work for HR, but his famous model with the four archetypical HR roles has also had a negative effect. All the HR managers want to be a strategic partner, maybe a change-agent, but certainly not an administrative expert.

HR operations is the backbone of HR

Now many HR managers are neither: not a strategic partner, and not an administrative expert. HR operations is the backbone of HR, and HR operations is undervalued. In my view, we should make a clear distinction, and separate HR operations and HR services from strategic HRM advice. Running HR operations requires different skills and experience then giving creative strategic advice in the people and organisation domain.

What I see is that many HR teams want to implement the HRM handbook. They want to do too many things at the same time, and this frustrates management who do not see progress. The design skills of HR professionals are often poor. Of course, you should listen very good to your clients, but you should not necessarily implement the solutions your clients come up with.

HR should dig deeper

Take talent management. Most managers and supervisory boards say: “Talent management is a high priority”, and then they ask HR to design a talent management program. But HR should dig deeper. What issue is talent management solving? Is there really an issue? What can we learn from the data? Are there more creative solutions that can solve the issue with less effort?

It helps if you are embedded in the organisation, then you don’t have to ask what the issues are, but you know. HRM is a profession, and we should be able to come up with focused impactful solutions. Data driven and evidence based, not too much relying on our gut-feelings.”

Read the full interview
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