Marc Effron, president of The Talent Strategy Group, often posts provocative pointers on the Insights portion of his website devoted to talent management. This one, HR vs. HR, especially caught my eye. It’s a conflict problem I’ve heard about and discussed with HR executives over the years, but I’ve never seen the issue presented so clearly and … well … helpfully.
Effron not only lays out, in nice detail, the fisticuff scenario of HR business partners being the very (often greatest) sources of resistance to corporate HR leaders’ talent initiatives, but he offers specific, straightforward reasons for that scenario, followed by itemized suggestions for countering the pushback.
He pulls no punches in suggesting that some HR BPs “actively and/or passively block the talent agenda [and that this] resistance may be driven by control needs, jealousy or outright lack of confidence in your abilities.”
If focusing hard on building the relationship doesn’t work to quell the resistance, absorbing his list of primary reasons for it should be a good Step 2 for anyone in this boat. Like “going native,” which occurs when BPs align far more closely with their business leaders than with the HR functions or company agendas. Or when the BPs believe they know talent management as well as you, or think you’re tearing down what they created.
Indeed, writes Effron, it’s “quite likely that a member of your HR leadership team actually built the process that you’re now replacing. They infer from your actions that you’re critiquing their earlier work.”
What’s the solution? “Honor the past,” he writes, “whether or not you believe it deserves to be honored.”
He goes on:
Talent-management practices are too important to our organizations to let them be destroyed by ‘friendly fire.’ While we should always assume that our peers have positive intentions, we should also keep our political radar tuned to pick up the faintest echo of resistance. Too many HR leaders will — understandably — act in their own best interest. Our job is to find a way to align those interests with ours.”
If this issue is hitting a nerve, if you’re experiencing a similar standoff at your company and see no way out, Effron’s piece stands a good chance of helping you find one.