REST IN PEACE...HR - E-Mediate


I feel a bit like Jerry Maguire as I sit and write this. I too am out of town on business, sitting restlessly in my hotel room, trying to make sense of all the thoughts I have. And just like Jerry, I feel the need to write a mission statement. You see, where my movie counterpart had a different vision on how sports star clients should be managed by their agents, I have a different vision on how the workforce should be managed in an organisation. I am not an expert. In fact, the only formal HR qualification I have behind my name is a six-month Labour Relations Management certificate through UNISA. But in the last decade or so, I have read a multitude of books, articles and publications, spoken to many experienced leaders, made a whole host of mistakes and been witness to countless people management disasters, enough to be able to form some sort of logical opinion about the field of HR as we know it.

I constantly struggle as my logic questions traditional HR practices. I lay awake at night searching for answers and my incessant enquiries are dreaded by every HR professional I come into contact with. And after many debates, discussions and sometimes heated arguments, I finally decided it was time to put pen to paper and get my thoughts out there.

My thinking is radical to say the least, but I invite you to join me as I share with you what I see…

I see a world in which there are no more HR generalists. I see specialists, spending their time on what they are passionate about. I see experts that have studied and experienced with different thinking and that have practical knowledge on the many, many facets of people management. Where recruitment practitioners are trained in different interview methodologies, assessment criteria and even cognitive technologies to attract competent and skilled employees to the organisation. Where remuneration practitioners’ focus is on how staff are rewarded and incentivised as opposed to just making sure they are being paid correctly. Where organisational development practitioners sit in strategy sessions across the organisation, use people analytics to create hierarchies that maximise how skills are utilised across the organisation, and find innovative ways to ensure the highest possible people efficiencies.

I see a world where HR is no longer the authority on how people are managed, but becomes the implementer of practicalities around what the business requires. Gone are the days where HR has final approval on day-to-day management of staff. Leaders should be accountable for the performance of their division, which includes making decisions on how to get the most out of their people.

I see a world where each and every manager of people are skilled in industrial relations and labour law. Where managers know HR policies well enough to ensure correct implementation but at the same time have the authority to decide differently, if that is what is required. Where HR trusts their management to do what is right, to ensure employees are performing in a manner that adds to the overall results of the organisation, as opposed to policing that policies are adhered to.

I see a world where people learning and development becomes a specialist department on its own. Where many passionate people partner with managers within the organisation, to work on development plans for each and every employee, rather than merely suggesting a list of available courses. Where content is developed inside the organisation and presented by in-house facilitators. Where coaching and mentoring is offered for managers and by managers.

I see a world where HR works hand-in-hand with marketing to develop the brand of the organisation and strategise on how the brand presents itself in the workforce. Where values are no longer fancy words on the website but instilled in day-to-day behaviours that exemplify what the organisation stands for.

I see a world where focus never moves from how employees are engaging with the organisation. Where the workforce strategy is geared and customised to the people pains the organisation is experiencing. Where managers are trained, assisted and partnered with, to ensure they have a staff compliment that is geared for high performance.

And finally, I see a world where people management never stops evolving. Where the status quo of how people are managed is constantly challenged. Where “the way it has always been done” is never again to be used as an answer to why things are done in a certain way.

Will I be alive to see this world? Is it even possible? Am I too much of a dreamer? If all this does is start a conversation then at least it’s something but I will never stop believing that it is possible and I will spend the rest of my life trying to make some, if not all, of it happen somewhere.

That is my mission…