No Cake

Soap Box: No Cake Please, I am an HR Professional!

I recently had a phone call from a friend who is a manager of call centre. One of his staff was leaving on maternity leave that day. He was calling me from ‘Babies R Us’ as he walked the aisle ways confused about what to get for the leaving gift and grumbled that it should be HR’s job anyway to do it.

It amused me as I pondered his sentiment. My clients today wouldn’t dream of asking me to go and acquire the staff leaving gift, (birthday present, get well card etc.) because I am engaged to focus on strategies and solutions that impact the bottom line. Yet there is an informal (and formal in some HR job descriptions) expectation by not only the managers, but staff included, that the internal HR person ‘should’ have this responsibility.

So why has this point of view developed?

My point of view is that is that if a Manager wants to be a people manager, you manage your people. Period. Fobbing off the less enticing parts of the managers role to HR is not taking up your responsibility. I can hardly imagine the manager returns the favour in kind at bonus time and ‘fobbs off’ a part of his bonus to the HR person for taking up their slack. Mmmm? Didn’t think so.

HR professionals, for that matter, haven’t helped themselves with being bestowed with this mundane task and expectation. Particularly those who hold the view that it is their responsibility to ‘look after the staff’ like they are a child care centre worker.

If HR are ever going to be held in higher regard, be a true business partner and be seen at the board room table they need to manage the expectation of being the cake runner.

I was straight forward with my potential employers in the past and would ask them what role they wanted me to play in the organisation. I could focus on ways to make the company more profitable through people strategies or I could go shopping and put on morning teas. What would they prefer?

What Do You Think? Is getting the cake/present/card HR’s job? Leave your comment below…