Why Doesn’t HR Lead Change? – Brad Power, HBR

HR doesn’t lead change, according to Brad Power, because it traditionally thinks and acts like a transactionally-focused support function.

The other day, HRZone published an article of mine which challenged HR to take the lead in driving change with regards to greater use of contingent resourcing.  A couple of days later, Sue Brooks of Ochre House also posted an article on HRZone suggesting a “new role for HR”.  Perhaps change is in the air.

In his HBR post, Power draws on Dave Ulrich’s view of three processes critical for embedding a culture: talent flow; rewards and training & development but he also suggests three root causes of the difficulty HR faces in leading change:

  • Politics – suggesting that HR is traditionally somewhat risk-averse;
  • A Support Relationship – traditionally HR sees itself as a support function rather than a true business partner;
  • Being Inbred – related to the two issues above, HR tends to hire HR experience so doesn’t break out of its self-imposed mind-set.

I’m not sure if Power’s perspective is representative.  It certainly aligns with my broader experience but, especially when I was at Microsoft, I have also worked with some very strategic HR leaders and thinkers.

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