What HR is Doing Wrong (And Needs to Get Fixed Right Away)

Editor’s Note: Dr. John Sullivan has been a provocateur and strategist in the field of human resources and talent management for over 30 years. His specialty is HR strategy and designing world class HR systems and tools for Fortune 200 firms, and he’s never been shy about telling it like it is.

That’s why TLNT asked him to share his thinking in a video series titled “$#*!@ Dr. John Sullivan Says!” Look for these videos twice a week here at TLNT.

Today’s topic: What can HR do better?

“I once wrote an article once entitled “It’s Time to Fire HR,” Dr. John says, “and I got a lot of crap for it. … But how well are we doing? We need an objective standard (for HR) — what we are doing right, what we are doing wrong.”

He adds: “My premise is that we are not doing a very good job, we’re not as effective as we could be, and most importantly, that we’re not taking advantage of opportunities…and our potential.”

Other overhead departments in an organization — such as finance, marketing, and supply chain — have turned themselves around in many cases by using technology and metrics to become a profit center. “My goal is for HR to become a profit center as well,” Dr. John says.

Part of the problem, he points out, is that HR doesn’t convert what it does accomplish into a dollar impact on revenue. This is how HR can become a profit center — by converting everything that it does to dollars and how they help drive the bottom line.

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He also feels that HR needs to take the lead in measuring how managers do in people management. Plus, HR doesn’t use metrics particularly well, and largely isn’t data driven but seems to be more emotional driven.

He gives a lot more examples of what HR needs to do to improve, of course, but in his mind it comes down to this: “Are there are lots of things wrong with HR? Hell yes — there are lots of things wrong. Instead of sticking our heads in the sand and saying everyone loves us, we need to say no, we need to get better.”

Did you miss the last segment of$#*!@ Dr. John Sullivan Says!” on “What HR is Doing Right (But There Are Still Things it Could do Better).” You can see it here.

John Hollon is Editor-at-Large at ERE Media and was the founding Editor of TLNT.com. A longtime newspaper, magazine, and business journal editor, John has deep roots in the talent management space. He's the former Editor of Workforce Management magazine and workforce.com, served as Editor of RecruitingDaily, and was Vice President for Content at HR technology firm Checkster. An award-winning journalist, John has written extensively about HR, talent management, leadership, and smart business practices, including for the popular Fistful of Talent blog. Contact him at johnhollon@ere.net, connect with him on LinkedIn, or follow him on Twitter @johnhollon.

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