By John Sumser
Currently, HR is built on three legs, Transactional, Learning and Development (L&D) and Acquisition. Every HR Department is a unique blend of the three pieces. Some companies choose to primarily develop talent (their acquisition functions are always a little less sophisticated because they focus on raw potentials). Some are acquisition-centric, buying the best available talent for the job (with correspondingly underdeveloped Learning and Development functions). Some are admin-centric (though this group is getting smaller).
It’s worth noting that a fourth “leg” is emerging with a focus on Analytics, process audits and specifications. The “HR as a predictive auditing function” is in it’s earliest years. It’s the component to watch. But, for the meantime, the three legged stool of Admin, Acquisition and Development is the center of the show.
In the old days (before it became cool to want a ‘seat at the table’), the admin process was at the heart of HR. Getting payroll out on time, running benefits smoothly and generally keeping a lid on compliance and regulation was how the game worked. The cowboys lived in Recruiting and the professors lived in Training.If you wanted to run an HR shop, you had to pay your dues as a Generalist.
A decade ago, people from L&D or Acquisition never had a career path. The VP of HR was either an external appointment or a battle ax from the Comp and Benefits group. That’s all changed.
Today, leadership is going to emerge from either L&D or Recruiting depending on the organization’s primary orientation. The policies that follow from the leadership choice really define a department’s behavior. The admin players are the ones without a career track.
The difference between a Learning shop and an acquisition shop involves the way people think about investing. In Recruiting-centric places, a premium is placed on having the right player at the right moment. The underlying assumption is that all of the required training and development happens before the candidate joins the organization. She is, in other words, “qualified”.
In a development shop, requirements for new players are a little fuzzier. The company is going to invest in new people to teach them the culture and the firm’s unique methods. Fit is vastly more important than perfect adherence to position requirements.
One of the reasons it’s so hard to get software to generalize in any of the HR functions is that the craft is practiced differently by region, by industry and by the prioritization placed on the legs of the stool. Meanwhile, talented teams throw themselves against deep technical problems on the assumption that HR is practiced in the same way in all or most organizations. This single assumption is responsible for huge amounts of miscommunication.
Like most of the innovators I’ve talked to for the Top 100 Project, Dr. Tony Karrer is uncomfortable being described as a member of the HR community. He and his company, TechEmpower, develop software for the performance learning environment (sales training, operational information systems).
Initially, I got to know Tony as the spearhead of the HRTechCentral project. Tony, whose voluminous output includes amazingly deep content on learning and performance, is experimenting with content aggregation and distribution. HRTechCentral is an attempt to find and categorize strong material form the HRTech spectrum. It’s worth a peek.
Like Dan Hilbert, /component/option,com_jcalpro/Itemid,28/extmode,cal/date,2099-08-01/”>cialis daily 5mg Karrer believes that real optimization of an organization’s performance involves the measurement and improvement of the human element. He imagines an emerging future of increasingly fragmented jobs. In that scenario, every worker has to become a self-serve learner.
Karrer works in the world of massive data. He and his team are building solutions that focus in making the right information available at the right time. His operations are at the very fringes of the HR universe. That’s where real technical innovation has to happen in our industry.
That’s partly because, in spite of the fact that we’re talking about influence in HR, HR has precious little influence in the organization. When I mention that I work in and with HR, people tend to back away. The entire profession has that problem. It could use a good PR firm.
For serious players like Dr. Karrer, HR has some of the pieces but not all of the oomph. In development organizations where learning is the competitive edge, Karrer and Co are able to build interesting systems that turbo charge performance without much reliance on acquisition. /component/option,com_jcalpro/Itemid,28/extmode,cal/date,2099-08-01/”>cialis daily 5mg So, he works with the human element, but at a distance form the mainstream of HR-Recruiting. In his world, not all of the Learning function should be in HR. It is more effective, when its tied directly to performance consequence.
The reason Karrer is being added to the Top Influencers list is simple. When business leaders imagine what great HR should be, they are more likely to mention Tony Karrer than the more typical HR-centric player. Karrer’s influence is broad because he thinks well beyond conventional boundaries.
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.