By John Sumser
There are two competing ideas in the world of standards. On the one hand, you have the ANSI notion that shared language creates a steady platform for improvement. On the other is the more sophisticated notion that standards are a set of questions that should always be asked.
The first approach answers the question, “What are we talking about?” The second tries to unearth something deeper, “Why are we doing this in the first place?” The first way is all about tactics. The second, all about strategy.
To make electric plugs fit in electric sockets, you need the first kind of standard. When the project involves making things mate properly or measuring consistently across contexts, the clear shared definitions are an imperative. If you want to solve the problem in a way that yields the deepest possible value to the company, you go the second route.
As mentioned in last week’s profile of Gerry Crispin, SHRM is mounting an effort to bring standard definitions to HR. The idea is that if everyone can agree on the meaning of terms (like “cost per hire”, referral program, retention, assessment, interview, background check, performance management, talent management, recruiting, sourcing, job description, turnover, attrition, gens x, y and z), we’ll be able to discover generalizable principles. Consistency in hand, all of the energy wasted on conversations that use the same words to mean different things will be saved. Then, we’ll march on into a professional linguistic utopia.
The alternative approach is being championed outside of the US National boundaries. Neil McCormick, who is in charge of Government and Enterprise Talent Solutions at Talent2, is the point man. The firm is Asia-pac’s largest Human Resource Consultancy with offices in 45 cities. McCormick is a persuasive evangelist with a score of successes under his /content/view/28/58/”>cialis wiki belt.
One of the most interesting things I’ve discovered during the course of interviewing people for the Top 100 Project is that The US is not necessarily the leader in HR and Recruiting Issues. The domestic HR agenda is obscured by compliance, political correctness and a lack of meaningful training institutions. Beyond American borders, HR focuses on business value.
Some of the best thinking on the topic is being done in Australia, Canada, the UK and Asia. In non-US settings, HR operations like Talent2 cover the entire spectrum of HR functions from executive search and advertising agency to RPO and HRO. Functions that compete with each /content/view/28/58/”>cialis wiki other through separate buying channels within HR are cojoined in single entities outside of the country. This makes for single point of contact and easy access to executive decision makers.
Most HR and Recruiting operations in the US find their customers well below the executive offices. That’s a key part of the problem.
Neil’s broad spectrum HR standards initiatives are the strategic underpinnings of Talent2. A unified framework coupled with deep decision making experience places the firm in the lead position for the development of a single record, single agenda HR operation. It’s a concept that’s relatively foreign to domestic american theorists.
He’s starting to see the emergence of a unified HR discipline that is focused on delivering specific business outcomes. He sees a sudden emergence of a need for business intelligence about the business itself. HR is the logical source.
This can sound like all so much gobbledygook.
Neil’s influence comes from his persistent evangelism. Given a platform and delivery vehicle like Talent2, he has the luxury of guiding implementation projects that prove the theory out. If you can imagine a fully integrated HR department that constantly aligns its objectives to the shifting needs of its host, you’re on the right track. Neil’s projects use evidence and data to drive HR to deliver results that are meaningful to the business.
For my money, when HR standards finally emerge, they are going to have Australian roots.
John Sumser is the founder and CEO of TwoColorHat, a company specializing in market strategy for HR – Recruiting Vendors. You can keep up with his other stuff at johnsumser.com. Follow the rest of the Top 100 Influencers project.