Should you fire HR?

By Chris Bachinski written about 5 months ago

Should you fire your HR department?

If you were to conduct a performance review of your human resources department, what would you find? You would probably find an individual or group working hard to hire, recruit and train employees. You’d find them managing employee relations, keeping records, administering benefits, processing payroll and overseeing performance reviews.

But… is that good enough?

What if you were to apply our Levels of Performance model against the entire department?


Based on everything you know about your employees and their role in your organization, would you hire them again? If the answer is yes, they are Selectable – you would choose them again. If your answer is “no” or “maybe” or “it depends,” the team is Incumbent. Or are they Unacceptable? Is it time for them to be freed up for the industry?

How would you know?

What if you were to apply our Balance Sheet versus Income Statement model?

Income Statement Accomplishments provide value during a specific period in time (reaching a revenue goal for the quarter or completing a client project, for example). Balance Sheet Accomplishments provide value derived indefinitely into the future until they decay or are destroyed (putting a new long-term system in place). For example, creating an in-house training professional development program, like GE did with Crotonville.

Consider the accomplishments of your HR department. Into which category do their results fall? All that efficient and accurate hiring, recruiting, training, record-keeping, benefit-administering, payroll-processing, review-overseeing… are they adding to the balance sheet or simply the income statement?

Does that job make them Selectable? No. I would suggest it does not – not in today’s hiring world.

All those items are expected, and most are income statement accomplishments. Table stakes, contributing only to the period in review. Of course, some of their accomplishments might be considered balance sheet items, contributing to the organization over a longer period of time. These contributions could be assets or liabilities. A liability might include making a poor hiring choice or writing a policy that negatively impacts the culture.

For HR to be truly Selectable, they need to bring value to the balance sheet. HR needs to move from administrators to long-term value creators.

How can they make this shift?

  • HR needs to be at the strategic planning table. They need to be seen as one team that understands how to connect employee training, hiring, recruiting and policy to business objectives. HR needs to understand and contribute to the company’s strategic plan.
  • HR needs to think like business people. I recently met with an HR director who understood the margins of the company, its pricing models, sales challenges and competitors. She thought like a business person. She also understood her role as an employee advocate. As an advocate, HR needs to ensure strong communication of the company’s “why,” its mission, vision and values, and find ways to increase employee engagement. Your human resources department should understand that companies need more than performing employees; they need employees who are engaged.
  • HR must advocate for and contribute to change. At Think Shift we constantly preach the idea that, “If you don’t like change, you’re going to like irrelevance even less.” HR should continually review the business objectives and look for opportunities to change in order to meet the needs.

For HR to pass their performance review, they need to be Selectable. HR needs to contribute to the balance sheet of the company, linking what they do with their organization’s business objectives. Finally, if you are a CEO, ask yourself, “Is my HR leader at the strategic planning table?” If not, why not? Is it because they don’t yet think like business people and they’re Incumbent? Or is it because you see and treat them as administrators?