When reading your blog, it certainly didn’t annoy me as a passionate Human Resources professional for now over 17 years. In actual fact, it reinforced what I’ve always criticized my fellow HR counterparts for years now. I am not saying I agree with all of your statements in your blog, but am saying that what you are expressing is normal, but only normal in an environment that has experienced what Human Resource professionals should NOT be doing for their companies. If you will allow me, I’d like to address each one of your 6 categories:
(1) Employee Performance Management: Quote: “And you are evaluating these geeks based on the suggestions provided by a person who doesn’t know anything about software or engineering? Do you think, those geeks will connect with such performance evaluation structure?”
As much as I agree with your sentiment here, no Human Resource professional should dictate what performance management structure should look like. That should be defined by those that use it and should be catered to that specific group. Cookie-cut structures are not sustainable and have no place in a progressive company and in your case “Software geeks”. HR should ultimately be a guide and partner during the development of such programs, but the structure must belong to those that are directly affected – good or bad. One way HR can be of tremendous support
(2) Salary Structures: I completely agree with you here…and that’s not to say that HR shouldn’t be responsible for supporting the organization when it comes to comp strategies, but the fact that is if HR is not going to base this on quantitative data e.g. the price-point of a particular occupation in industry, we are bound to fail. One of the most important elements of Compensation 101 is helping an organization define its compensation philosophy and subsequent strategy they chose to employ. A lot of this stuff is not just about engineering, but an in-depth understanding of the organization’s development and where its leadership desires to take the organization. A simple example is deciding whether a company wants to lag, meet or lead the market price point…this may sound linear in nature, but can become very philosophical, which in my experience is far removed from the Engineering mindset.
(3) Employee Morale: Quote: “HR department in most software companies comes up with ridiculous plans to pump up the morale of the employees. And it always backfires. The tastes and likes of an engineering geek are entirely different from a guy who read some random stuff on psychology and management in college.”
Any HR department and its leader that unilaterally or in isolation goes out and “installs” an initiative to boost morale, is a fool-hardy and very short sited indeed. As you eluded to (which I agree with), cultures are very distinct and deserve a catered approach when it comes to morale. However, leaving something like this exclusively to one profession is not inclusive and in my experience not sustainable. Don’t misunderstand me, I’m not saying that respective departments like the Engineering folks can’t “engineer” their own moral improvement initiatives, but seeking experts that know what they’re doing when it comes to designing initiatives like this, is probably wise to consider.
(4) Defining Culture and Policies: Quote: “However, in the majority of the established companies, culture is still defined by HR department. Of course, when it comes to company policies, HR department has defacto control. Often, employees feel irritated or frustrated with the company culture and policies, not because they have anything against the company but because the culture and policies are not backed by data, analysis and logic.”
First, HR should never be defining company culture. That is a ridiculous notion for any HR leader to ponder. Culture is defined by senior leadership who must ultimately lead by example…period! HR is there to support leadership in its endeavour to support the building of culture. Any HR professional that is defining policies for an organization in isolation is also looking for trouble. Please remember that HR can’t “tell” employees and their managers what they do…they are NOT the “police” and should never be so. HR provides guidance as it relates to the interpretation of policies and procedures – that’s it. Whether policies and procedures are backed up or not backed up with data and/or logic, it is still not the role of HR to build and develop these in isolation of the company…partnership is critical here.
(5) Addressing Employee Issues: Quote: “It is well known that, HR department works in the interest of the company and not in the interest of employees. Employee issues are addressed only if they are in the interest of the company. I don’t have any problems with that. But, the issue is, how can a non-technical person, evaluate what is in the interest of the company and what isn’t?”
OK, Rory…this is where this HR guy disagrees with you… Guess what…Human Resources and Engineering work for the company. What’s more, so do all other employees. The core objective of Human Resources is to support the business in building strategic solutions as it relates to their human capital asset. This function can only be successful if the HR professional is doing two things (a) Doing this in partnership with business leaders and (b) having an in-depth understanding of the business…including a fair understanding of the technical side. Without these two parts, you are correct…it will fail.
(6) Recruitment: I completely agree with your concern here…HR should not be screening candidates if they don’t know what to look for. This said, a successful talent acquisition exercise – whether it is advertising for the position (also designing a posting for example) or whether it’s screening applicants in for an interview with the hiring manager, must all be done in such a way that his/her Recruiter is a direct extension of the hiring Manager. I’m not saying the Recruiter will know all the ins and outs of the technical aspects but must know the initial core requirements that were explained to him/her before the job was posted. If the Recruiter sticks to these, the hiring Manager will get what he/she needs. There is a bunch of other stuff that needs to be ensured here, but I know you don’t want to read a book!