HR Can Succeed By Doing Less

You know Jim Collins – the ‘Good to Great’ guy?  He has another book to, it’s called How The Mighty Fall: And Why Some Companies Never Give In.  This isn’t a book review, or for that matter an endorsement of this book.  I will say, Jim brings up one very interesting concept in this book on why companies, organizations, departments, etc. – fail.  It’s something that we do constantly within HR, and most of us would never view it as something that would actually be hurting our organization.  We do too much!

This over-riding pursuit ‘to do more’ has some drastic consequences.

I will tell my HR brothers and sisters, if you never worked in a large HR/Talent shop – you might understand where I’m going with this.  That’s because small to medium sized HR shops usually are working their tails off just to keep their heads above water.  Large HR/Talent shops are a little like the game Monopoly. You’re either making yourself larger in some way or another, or you’re going through a ‘right-sizing’ so you can start over at making yourself larger again!  Within that mentality comes this ‘more’ cycle.

Most large HR shops don’t try to reduce their work because that goes against this empire building mindset.  They try and come up with more programs, more projects, more ways to measure, more ways to ensure an employee is engaged, more ways to check the checklist to ensure compliance, more ways to well, show that you’re doing more than the other guy/gal.  If you aren’t creating more, you’re aren’t valuable and showing your worth.  No one ever got promoted in HR for eliminating programs – the saying goes!

Here’s the other way to do HR that 90% of HR/Talent Pros don’t do:

1. Eliminate any HR program/project that doesn’t save employees time (not your HR department – but the time of the actual employee).  Remember that new Open Enrollment process you put in to eliminate all of that data entry by your department – but it now takes employees 25 minutes to sign up for benefits vs. 5 minutes – that 20 minutes times the number of employees just cost your company a ton of time – which means money in the real world.

2. Develop a talent management process that works for your hiring managers, not one that makes your feel good about yourself.  That 5 page annual review sure looks great – but it’s a pain in the ass of your hiring managers, and the reality is the employees aren’t getting in more feedback.  Stop that.

3. Stop designing processes around gaining 100% compliance and start designing processes so simple you’ll have 99% compliance (which is more than you should hope for).

Doing less HR is actually harder than doing more HR!  It seems like that should be the opposite, but it’s not.  Doing less means you have to really think strategically about what your function should be delivering and what it shouldn’t.  It means you move some things out of your department, that never should have been there in the first place, but “we’re in HR and we’re suppose to do whatever we can to help.”  No, you shouldn’t.  You’re in HR – you should deliver great HR that is simple and easy to understand.  For most HR/Talent Pros that I know – this concept of doing less goes against every bone in their body.  Great HR isn’t about doing more – it’s about doing the least amount possible to deliver the services that are needed for your organization to have great people.  That is really hard to do without adding more for people to do!




2 thoughts on “HR Can Succeed By Doing Less

  1. GREAT Article! What a concept. If it costs more than it’s worth don’t do it? Keep this up & HRkins will actually be considered to be aligned with the C-Suite! Keep the folks doin’ what makes the company succeed! Love it!

  2. I was at a GAASHRM meeting recently and was getting the “I’m so busy” speech. At the end I was asked “how about you, staying busy I’m sure”

    my reply “No, I’m efficient”

    I agree with you – ” it’s about doing the least amount possible to deliver the services that are needed for your organization to have great people.”

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