Friday, April 3, 2009

Jack Welch's Shadow

Business doneImage by Rampant Gian via Flickr

Jack Welch and HR

Businessweek talks about GE after Jack Welch including the diificulties folowing such a well know leader might be having on current General Elctric CEO Jeff Immelt.

Their basic conclusion seems to be GE was not a great company under Jack Welch, but just a very good one. Under Immelt they have just been a good company.

Sharlyn Lauby, the effervescently brilliant HR Bartender wrote about Welch and his views on the HR department. Her conclusion: Jack is smart, but not hitting the nail on the head. I am kind of looking forward to hearing Welch give the keynote speech at SHRM National this summer.

Jack goes on to talk about the role of HR today. I totally concur with his comments that HR should do more than just plan the company picnic and file benefits paperwork. But I also think that it’s time HR Pro’s shed the role of “arbiter of equity.” Isn’t that just a euphemism for ’striped shirt’? He makes it sound like operational managers have no obligation to provide equity . . . only HR.

And, I’m not sure that I agree it’s the role of HR to absorb pain. It’s the role of HR to help the organization handle pain. But our role is to teach managers how to identify it, process it, help their employees through it, and move forward.

If HR wants to really be a business partner, they have to remove the moniker of “layoff and pain” department. If you think about it, aren’t handling layoffs, being an arbiter, and absorbing pain all reactionary activities? Shouldn’t the role of HR be proactive and more than a little strategic? HR needs to train people how to deal with emotional fallout of business decisions. That’s the real moment of truth for human resources…teaching and educating.

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