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April 18, 2010 / Mervyn Dinnen

Listen Without Prejudice

Nick Clegg is suddenly a star! The leader of the Liberal Democrats is a front page face, a trending topic on twitter, and now has a facebook fan page –IagreewithNick. People listened to him in last Thursday’s leaders’ debate, some for the first time, and liked what they heard.

Why hadn’t they listened before? He’d been on TV every day last week so people heard him…but not many were listening. Many ordinary voters are encouraged to believe that we have a 2 party system…from print and broadcast media to the never-ending array of commentators, analysts and satirists who usually provide what passes for political debate, the notion of LibDems as a minority party is not only suggested but is assumed as fact. Even though 1 in 5 voters put their ticks in the LibDems box on Election Day – 1 in 5 hardly says ‘minority interest’ to me.

This time people listened, and heard things that struck a chord with them, saw ways in which Nick’s party may be able to play a part not just in the upcoming election but in a future government.

They Listened Without Prejudice…

They listened because all 3 party leaders were given equal billing and equal air time. For the first time Nick Clegg spoke not as a leader of a minority party but as someone the equal of the 2 other leaders.

I think there’s a big lesson here for Human Resources.

The future of HR, and the role that it can play in business, is forever under scrutiny and the subject of discussion and agonising. This debate raged again recently following an interesting blog from Bill Boorman entitled ‘Scrap HR’ which elicited the usual range of responses from the nodding agreement of non regular HR practitioners, to the traditional mix of defiant umbrage and/or hand wringing kvetching from those who earn their crust practicing HR.

To me, HR has the same problem as the Liberal Democrats…everyone thinks that they are fair game to take a pop at. Seriously, does anyone ever doubt the value of the finance department, legal team, IT department, sales, marketing, design, and supply chain?? Do their managers constantly debate the future value of what they do? Do Finance Directors need to push to get a seat at the table?

In fact, would anyone ever write a blog entitled Scrap Finance? Scrap IT? Scrap Sales??!

I’m vicariously an HR practitioner…not qualified to do it but I spend every day talking to people who do. And I’m always talking through their achievements, how they have made a difference and added value. And guess what? HR add tremendous value to businesses of all sizes. Re-organisations, restructures, transformations, talent development (acquisition and retention), performance management…all vital for business planning, future growth, cost savings and efficiency.

So I’m thinking that maybe, just like the ‘big’ political parties, it’s time for the ‘big’ corporate functions to give HR an equal platform. Listen to them not as a ‘minority’ function but as an equal.

Listen Without Prejudice…you may hear things you like!

Maybe it’s not Scrap HR…but Listen to HR

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3 Comments

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  1. Stephen O'Donnell / Apr 18 2010 4:37 PM

    Nice tie-up between HR and the Lib-Dems Mervyn.
    In my time I’ve seen both the archetypal Personnel dinosaur and at the othr end of the scale, some astonishing examples of modern HR. The latter have been inspirational leaders of their businesses, with a higher profile than the Managing Director. In past times there have been MD’s drawn from Finance, Sales, Production or even R&D depts. Given the times we live in, and the value of human talent, I expect to see more CEOs and MD’s of major plc’s who have graduated from a career in HR.

    With a fair wind, the Lib-Dems will prosper too.

  2. Alconcalcia / Apr 18 2010 6:51 PM

    I think to a certain extent people automatically are more tolerant of the LIb Dems when they are given a platform because everyone knows they can’t win, but it’s nice that they ‘get their go’. No one sits down waiting for the chance to jump on what they say like people do with the other two parties (depending on your political bent of course), hence Clegg was always likely to come out the winner the other night.

  3. TheHRD / Apr 19 2010 8:52 AM

    Of course the other parallel here is that the Lib Dems alway moan on about the system being unfair and arguing for proportional representation, whilst HR practitioners moan on about life being unfair and the need for a seat at the table.

    And the final parallel, neither Nick Clegg nor HR will ever get the top job…..

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