Pros, Fauxs and CEOs

I knew the day would come when I would have to “hurt” somebody. Well, the day is here.

I read this article from Payscale on the role of HR in the company and I bristled immediately.

I am so sick of hearing the same, tired, cliché phrases from CEOs and other business leaders about what they want from HR. It’s always speak my language, be proactive, solve issues, protect me. I read or hear these things now and it’s like the teacher from Charlie Brown “Wah-wah wah-wah wah-wah-wah-wah” … Good grief.

Tell HR something it doesn’t already know – and isn’t already doing! The HR professionals I know are breaking their necks to speak the language of the business so their department is seen as adding value to the organization. The HR professionals I know are constantly looking for ways to improve the employee experience; from hiring to training to recognition, HR is looking for ways to keep employees engaged so they will remain with the company and continue to positively contribute. The HR professionals I know are looking to identify hurdles in processes to avoid inefficient or ineffective practices. And the HR professionals I know are most assuredly seeking ways to avoid pitfalls that result in costly and time-consuming litigation.

If CEOs are finding HR isn’t doing this in their organization, one of two things is happening:

  • The HR-pro is really HR-faux. Some organizations are still getting their HR reps as rejects from other areas, instead of taking the time to invest in someone who specializes in the field. A person who doesn’t have the experience and education in the HR field won’t be able to speak the language of the business or protect the company or offer suggestions on best practices for optimal operations. A company wouldn’t pull the administrative assistant or a failed manager from another department to run the Finance department, would they? Of course not! Stop doing it to HR – or recognize that you get what you pay for and stop complaining about what your HR-fauxfessional isn’t doing for your organization.


  • The CEO isn’t really committed to integrating HR principles into the strategy of the operation of the organization. CEOs and Execs at a similar level give a lot of lip-service to supporting the HR function but never really integrate it into their thinking or operating as much as they should, could or pretend they do. Like Dawn Hrdlica said in her post last week, HR is the only one forced to apologize for pushing and defending its agenda. No one is asking Finance or Operations or Marketing to fight for its seat at the table or speak the language of the business.  For those areas, their very existence speaks the language of the business and their seat at the table goes unchallenged. Until CEOs see HR in the same light, they will continue to express these same frustrations and there is little to nothing HR can do to help that.

So perhaps the answer is not for HR to speak the CEO’s language or think for the CEO or keep the CEO out of trouble. Maybe the answer is for the CEO to speak HR’s language and think like HR – then the CEOs could keep themselves out of trouble.

What do you think?

Comments Closed


  1. HR is the “sin eater”,step child, after-thought of most companies. And absolutely the Pocahontas to the company as John Smith. I can think of other roles: magician, fixer,executioner, scapegoat. To steal a phrase “we can’t get no respect”. But still we try ,like the smallest guy on the team with his hand in the air saying “pick me, pick me”.
    People things are 85% of most budgets and John Q Average worker really values those things only HR can implement—a paycheck, health benefits, leaves of absence…. Until CEO’s “get it”, We’re understudies waiting in the wings for our big break.

    • Buzz Rooney

      May 18, 2011 at 11:19 PM

      I agree whole-heartedly. HR understands our role as “last man picked for the team” and we’ve come to wear the badge with honor. I am very frustrated with the notion that HR isn’t trying to be a business partner. That may have been true 10 years ago, but HR has come a long way. Are there so HR people who haven’t stepped up?? Sure. But I can say the same about Ops, Finance and Marketing too. The majority of HR pros are thinking strategically and either no one is asking for their input or no one is listening.

  2. Dawn Geoghegan, PHR

    May 19, 2011 at 12:13 PM

    If CEO starts thinking more like HR it would be uncomfortable. Granted you know you’re doing something worth while when you start feeling a little uncomfortable, but I believe that is the big hurdle. Fear of giving “too much” power to the employees is pretty powerful.
    I am blessed to work for an organization who fully understands that without my department we will not be successful. Maybe that’s because we are a call center, and if no one is there to answer the phone we have no business, but what company is anything without the employees?

  3. Let’s face it! The world is not fair! CEO’s are pressured, time-deficient, often insecure (the Members of the Board are tough bosses), and hope for someone else to blame, just like you and me. Try this, if there is a definite complaint: “If I/we solved this problem, what would you see, what would you feel, and what would you hear that would let you know this is a good solution. ” If he/she answers, now you know exactly what your boss wants to happen. Can you make it happen? If so, he’ll soon be coming to you for more answers. Be sure and get his sensory based outcome before you move. You may want to keep in mind your own outcome as well. This is a formula for eliciting the magic in your brain.

    • Buzz Rooney

      May 26, 2011 at 11:02 PM

      Of course, CEOs are under pressure. The people surrounding the CEO should relieve some of that pressure. If HR isn’t doing that, the CEO needs to let HR know and be clear on what needs to change to get the department to the place the organization needs it to be. If HR can’t do it, staff changes may be necessary.

      But if the HR piece of the organization’s puzzle isn’t at the forefront of the CEO’s mind, it is unfair to criticize HR for being able to read the CEO’s mind on what is wanted or needed. I agree with you about asking what the CEO wants to see happen as unique issues arise. However, as the leader of an organization, the CEO should make sure general expectations are clear at all times. It is unclear if that was happening from the original article, but I assume that either it wasn’t or the HR person was too stuck in tradition to step up.

  4. Excellent Blog !!!! Thanks for your info

    • Buzz Rooney

      June 30, 2011 at 1:19 AM

      Thank you for reading. I am glad you enjoyed and hope you will visit the site again.

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