Monday, June 8, 2009

New words for a new world

Revolution starts with language. Once we get through this credit crisis, the revolution we will be facing is a revolution of confidence. As head counts are cut, jobs eliminated, and offices closed, we will still be faced with running the business and winning. To do this, it will be vital to recruit and inspire talent in new ways. The days of fat and surplus will disappear. Entitlement will disappear. We will move into an age of performance with inspiration, where working together will be what makes the difference, not personal gain. In this environment we must think about re-inventing. Human resource departments around the world will have to reconfigure, regroup, and rethink. I have always hated the name 'Human Resources'. I don’t view people as a resource, I view them as the very essence of progress.

My oldest son Ben is the Talent Director for Saatchi & Saatchi Europe and the Middle East. My sister is the General Manager Human Resources at Orica in Melbourne, Australia, one of my best friends, Joe McCollum, is the Group HR Director at the Daily Mail. In New York, Milano Reyna, one of my most trusted partners, is the Worldwide Human Interests Director at Saatchi & Saatchi.

I’m attracted to HR people because of their twin drivers of unleashing potential and nourishing personalities. I wish though we could find a better name for the human resource department. At Saatchi & Saatchi, Milano calls his group 'Human Interests'. The Bank of New Zealand have called their group 'People and Culture' (a good start but it sounds too much like the Sunday Times supplement).

Maybe the simplest solution of all is to call HR 'The People Group'? Or maybe 'Talent' is the key word.

If anyone out there has got a good idea, I’d love to hear it.

Once the language changes, then outlook, behaviors, priorities will follow. We’re moving into an age where inspiring talent to deliver great results and operate at peak every day is the name of the game.


Ian Sanders said...

What we call this function is so important, and something I have also struggled with. A good few years back, I suggested one of my clients call their HR manager 'Head Of People' but the organisation got cynical about what they saw as a superficial job-title, and it lost its impact.

For me, 'Talent' covers it. Whether you are hiring a receptionist for your office, an executive assistant, a creative director or a copywriter it's all about TALENT.

My best shot for what to call this function? I'll go for 'Talent Relations'...

O Rei De said...

I agree with your perspective of "talent" yet in our organizations, small, big or international, we have to find the right person with the right set of tools for a job/task/project at a specific time. Therefore we have to "consume" talent.
So my thinking is more toward a "chemistry" concept. So many ingredients and conditions that can or cannot react as expected and worst, since it is based on emotional human beings on all side of the equation, bound to change in time.
Actually "alchemy' would even be more appropriate as we have to have some magic in it to achieve wow results...

eat said...

To me....the thought of who should best pick my job should a person who perhaps has experienced the life, work and perhaps even looks back with hindsight of knowledge and understanding yet without the immediate rawness of stressfull decision making.... so i think the HR person should not just take on the responsibilities....and all that comes with it but should also be able to step back and look to the person within and take a deliberated decision of the future for the person and the company i think they should be called.


Alli Kiwi said...

I like the various meanings of "matter" and think it could work.

Human matter
People matter

a few others:-
People purpose
Human prosper
Aspiration support
People prosper
Core perception awareness
Forte development
au fait affairs

You could put group, manager or department, after any of these.

I like talent but feel that when managing the not so pleasant tasks of HR - like cutting back on staff, it doesn't reflect the task well. I think 'the people group' does it better.

@ said...

Hi KR,

How about moving from HR to 'People Empowerment'.
Or simply, Empowerment.


From the world of sports, Team Management.

Kind Regards,

Tony said...

In his book, The Leadership Code, Dave Ulrich asserts that one of the 5 rules to lead by is "Talent Management".

I like this description as it indivualises and humanises the people part of the business.

Andrew said...

"people & Culture" is used by the nab (National Australia Bank)for HRM. I like it as it cuts through to the core of what it is dealing with. Of course HR cannot create the culture, but by recognising that group is central in creating the cues around organisational culture is positive, along with other HRM functions.

Culture, like love, evokes powerful emotions and can manifest themselves in many ways. If not directed and aligned to the management of talented individuals who can fragment the culture due them doing what they were hired for, innovating and expressing their creativity, then the entire HRM piece beomes marginalised.

I am not a HRM practicioner, but have learned to appreciate and harness the power of the people who fill these generally unrecognised roles.

Gaby said...

Hi Kevin

Thankyou for your post. With this comes #employerbranding. And the responsibility for employer authenticity & transparency. I know of an agency in SA that recently went "democratic' with an open board, and eventually the vision is to allow employees access to info, e.g. how much the director earns.

As more companies adopt this and employees can start inspecting and comparing the inner workings of the employer, they will become more picky (IMO) and in the same way consumers moved to prosumers (bleh) employees will move to hmm, fill in new term here..........

Its critical and in the best interests of employers to "up their game" because ultimately employees are your best advocates.


Jamie said...

I like the word "talent" to describe what HR departments should deal with; as long as there is still someone who deals with the mundane requirements of "payroll"; the function as "Human Resourcers".

There seems to be a dichotomy in the objectives of HR departments. They have to make things happen according to company directives by telling staff what to do; but they must also (or at least, should) - as you say - unleash potentials and nourish personalities. I think most HR activity is firmly in the former, and paying lip service to the latter.

Perhaps HR should be split into two groups: one for the mundane company objectives and one for the imaginative fostering of talent.

Working in a large (education) organization, I have often felt that our "Human Resources" department really considers staff to be "Systems Critical Biomass" - we inconveniently expensive carbon-based revenue generators.

Anonymous said...

I said it here first.

P.S. Go the Crusaders!