So here goes…
I’ve always disliked the whole ‘what is and what isn’t HR debate’. It’s an old, tired, boring issue that adds no value to our employers, customers or the profession.
I think that by even discussing it, it is potentially damaging to our profession as I feel it probably appears to others outside of the HR function to be something that is really important to us. Disproportionately and pompously important to us.
I also appreciate the irony that i’m now writing on this very subject.
So this will be my one and only contribution on the matter. So I can give my opinion and move on.
I’ve heard plenty of people who sit in the various departments within HR (or what is in most businesses at least, a ‘HR’ role) whether that be front-line HR, Learning & Development, Organisational Development, Recruitment and so forth, build a narrative around why they are a specialist function, and don’t wish to be considered simply as HR professionals or even as HR professionals at all.
It usually comes with some loose justification thinly veiled to describe how their function is truly about adding value and improving business performance, without explicitly saying (but in my experience, usually meaning) that “those others in the other “HR” departments are of a lesser significance than what I do”.
This is clearly, utter claptrap, and I am of course being somewhat dramatic in how i’m generalising those involved in the debate.
You can specialise and therefore be a specialist in all sorts of specific facets of the HR function and you can of course add significant value to your employer by doing so. But let’s be clear. No one part of HR is more important or valuable than any other. The arguments we choose to apply to justify our existence can be recycled for almost every other role.
The truth is, whether we choose to identify as ‘in HR’ or not, we are simply ‘People People’ and our contribution is to that end. Sure you can be an L&D professional, a resourcing professional, an OD professional etc etc but it doesn’t therefore stop making you an HR professional. These are not mutually exclusive.
You do not become more professional, more credible, or more valuable to your business by defining yourself as a separate specialist function that is not part of Human Resources.
To look on at any function and say “i’m not one of them” doesn’t make others question that particular function, but usually makes people question the person making the statement and their motive for doing so.
Our businesses/clients need and want us to work together. They don’t even expect this invisible wall that has been constructed to even be a ‘thing’.
We are HR, all of us in people-related roles who do people-stuff. This is not something we should try and hide from but a badge of honour we should wear proudly. By doing so, we can have this debate less frequently and focus our energy on working together to achieve what is required of us. We can build more confidence in our profession which will in turn build confidence in those we work with across the business.
HR for me, is about driving forward good work in the domain of the ‘People’ aspects of business, and in my experience, this is what business leaders expect of us too. And in the end, isn’t that all that really matters?
I know lots of people will agree with me, and I know some people won’t. But in the end, what really is the point of having this discussion? And would it not be a good time to end the debate once and for all by declaring a conclusion to be irrelevant, and instead focus on moving forward. As one.