In a recent Harvard Business Review article Craig Mundy asked why after so many years of trying to be a true strategic business partner the Human Resources function has still not achieved that status. (http://blogs.hbr.org/cs/2012/07/why_hr_still_isnt_a_strategic_partner.html ) He argues that the main reason is that HR, in general is a source of friction rather than “lubrication” (my words) in making business happen.
I think he’s right.
The most common association most people have with HR is that it’s a place of rules, policies and reasons why “you can’t” . Of course HR is often laden with compliance responsibilities, which makes it an enforcement department. Also many line managers are such cowboys in dealing with people issues that it’s often up to HR to bring things back into line. That reality is not a sufficient justification for just how boring, staid and “rules driven” HR has become, almost making it the department of “anti-business”.