Rant blog post alert.
Lucy Adams posted an article on LinkedIn this morning. It highlighted a FTSE Executive, who had been given responsibility for HR in his organisation. A large blue chip. Employing, I assume, a fair few folk. He has no experience at all of working in HR, or any relevant training. According to Adams, he sees his lack of experience as a positive asset in helping him deliver.
In what other profession would this happen? Can you see someone with absolutely no finance experience, or no financial qualifications, being given the FD role? What about the IT Director? Can you see an organisation thinking it is a jolly good idea to give such a position to someone who doesn’t have an IT background? No one would see a lack of experience as a ‘positive’ asset in this situation. I’d love to hear more about his rationale for this statement.
If I applied for an FD role, I can’t see anyone sitting around the shortlisting table thinking ‘Excellent. Someone with a Maths GCSE. I am sure that she will bring all sorts of new ideas to the function. Her lack of any relevant experience at all means that she won’t be restricted by traditional financial methods’. Of course they wouldn’t. Because they would then have to find someone else to do the P&L and the budget and all those other slightly important financey things.
So why is this acceptable when it comes to the people stuff?
Recruitment. Employee Relations. Learning and Development. Organisational Design. Employment Law. Reward. Engagement.
These are specialist fields.
I’m sure (or at least I hope) that this same organisation also has a team of experienced, qualified HR professionals that know their people stuff. Maybe that is enough.
But I still believe that the decision to appoint someone to lead a HR function in a large organisation, who has no experience at all in HR and (I assume) no relevant qualifications, should be unacceptable. It should be as unthinkable as the examples I gave above. It should be laughable.
So why isn’t it?
This is a challenge to HR. A challenge for our specialist experience and knowledge to be so valued that an appointment like this is seen as an implausible.
The only people who can change this is us.
I am off for a lie down in a darkened room.