The HR Juggler

Baby You Can Drive My Car….Just A Little Bit Faster

Posted on: September 19, 2011

So, why is HR the brake and not the accelerator? How does it need to change? That is today’s blogging challenge.

First things first, is HR really the brakes of an organisation? Sometimes, yes, although that is not always a bad thing. It surely depends at least partly on the motivation for encouraging the business to slow down – is it for a positive reason, that prevents the organisation from rushing headlong into risk without first understanding the implications? Or is it just process for process’ sake and do we at times lack the urgency, the killer instinct to close the deal for the businesses we work for? Certainly being consultative is a common HR trait and skill, which we perhaps need to learn to be more  selective about utilising.

Is HR ever the accelerator? Rarely in my experience, although there may be some circumstances that this takes place and I would love to hear your thoughts on this.

So, how does HR need to change? In my view the following would make a powerful difference –

  • Looking outwards – focussing on the external market, understanding the business we work in, not limiting ourselves to “people issues” but getting stuck into the daily discussions of all aspects of the organisation…think and behave like the Chief Operating Officer and review and align your processes and priorities accordingly
  •  Being obsessed with profit – understanding the commercials of the business you work in, what the profit levers are and what affects the outcomes your organisation is aiming for, as if your professional life depended on it. Because actually, in the business that you work for on any given day, it does…temporarily at least

If you are able to achieve both of the above things, or at least start the journey of working towards them, you will end up being so close to the business that you work in, that you instinctively understand when they need you to be the brake, in order for common sense to prevail and when they want and need you to hit the gas and drive the organisation forwards. And surely the driver’s seat is where we all want to be…..?

Beep, beep, yeah 🙂


This post is the second of my blogging experiment, where all of the post topics have been generated by others and there has been voting taking place on which topic I should blog on each day. If you haven’t voted for a topic yet, please do – I will be tackling the topic with the most votes every day for the remainder of this week. In the event of tie-break votes, I will make the final choice between the two most popular myself  ;)  

7 Responses to "Baby You Can Drive My Car….Just A Little Bit Faster"

I like this 🙂 mainly for the part about commerical understanding. You have seen my CV and seen i have a random stint in commerical (retail) this was for that reason it understand the wider picture.
More people should try it, its eightening 🙂

I have had more experience of HR being the brake in my organisation…it can be frustrating to have yr personal ambition thwarted by an organisation’s overall aims, it is a very difficult balance I guess to strike.

Ironically HR now is very de-personalised; where we used to have 4/5 people locally we could chat things over with to discuss issues, we now have to ring someone in a call centre if we want human contact; my organisation prefers to conduct its personnel business via an odd online system….

Lookin g forward to tomorrow’s post!!

Another cracker Alison! My experience is that it’s not really the processes that are the brake but the people who designed them. It doesn’t need to be this way but due to poor consultation, facilitation and business engagement it often is.

When I was a COO, the external focus and P&L drivers you talk about were important aspects. However, what makes the biggest difference is the interest in & passion for the business (in all aspects) and the ability to facilitate the organisation.

If you aren’t interested in & passionate about the business then you won’t ever be the accelerator. If you don’t want to facilitate the organisations needs then you are an unnecessary brake.

If you are interested in & passionate about the business and want to facilitate their needs then you’ll engage with business. You’ll consult, coach, engage and generally get stuck into all manner of things that will help drive the business forwards. People with this inclination are already looking at the commercials and the wider system inside & outside the organisation!

So my tip is to look out for those passionate systems thinkers with solid ability who work beyond their remit. The chances are they are the nitrous boost for HR and the organisation.

I love this comment- it could very easily be a mini-blog in its own right. Fantastic points you make too 😉

Well said Alison – I was chatting with David just t’other day and saying how insightful and useful his comments are – rocking!

[…] Baby You Can Drive My Car….Just A Little Bit Faster […]

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