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Lucy Adams
Lucy Adams

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03 June 2019 Lucy Adams 

Could operations take over HR's role? Lucy Adams shares her opinion.

HR is often told we suck, but who would take over if our function were made redundant? Operations directors? 

Those I’ve worked with would rather do any role other than HR. They see how difficult the task is as it is their people problems we often have to deal with. 

Their determination to get rid of their ‘problem children’ frustrates us, but when we want to engage them about their future talent strategy, it is typically a relationship of mutual respect.

What would HR look like if operations took over? We’d probably see a reduction in processes and those used would be based on genuine business or individual need. 

Their intimate knowledge of how the business works would mean people development, engagement and compliance could feel fresher and more agile. Moreover, the commerciality test that we sometimes avoid applying to HR initiatives would be very much in force. 

They’d have to make their own decisions about their people and, even better, they’d have to explain those decisions to the affected individuals, rather than passing the buck to HR. That could drive a more honest and open culture. 

Those organisations that are already doing much of this by removing the traditional HR business partner role are mostly positive about it. Of course, we’d probably have a few more employment tribunals. 

But that would change over time once they’d had the unedifying experience of attending one as a witness. Certainly, operations leads I’ve known who have had to justify their decisions in a legal process tend to avoid similar mistakes in the future. 

Would operations think too short-term and too much about their own empire rather than broader organisational needs? Possibly, but I think operations could make decent HR professionals.

See the original article from which this was adapted at: tinyurl.com/Lucy-Adams

Lucy Adams is CEO of Disruptive HR