Ever since people realised that Human Resources was all about pen-pushing and women named Karen, the profession itself has been poking its pearl-necklaced head above the parapet and shouting “but we’re really strategic, if only we could stop pen-pushing and do some real strategy work, we’ve learnt the lingo and everything”. You kind of feel sorry for them, because they’ve all got into HR knowing that it’s HR – you know – that place that approves your holiday or sacks you or whatever – and now they’re wishing they’d got into management.

Take this pearl of bullcrap from tosspot location http://discusshr.blogspot.com:

I am not in any doubt that the primary purpose of HR is in supporting the business to make a profit:  it’s really about taking that to the next level of really understanding what the main levers and influences for this are at a more sophisticated and granular level. This is perhaps something that HR as a whole needs to focus on more and hone our skills at…I think we are very much at the beginning of the road of understanding what that even looks like.

I think this crystallises the current emotional pain that Human Resources, as a profession, is going through. It’s basically a case of “I hate my job, I hate it so much that I’m going to pretend I’m not really doing it. Instead, I’m going to swallow a leadership book.”

So they want to help the business make money. Sales people make money, marketing people make money, HR doesn’t make money, nor does it support the business in making money. HR hires, fires and generally gets on the tits of people. It’s people you deal with, not money. But let’s carry on, shall we…

“The main levers and influences”, opines the writer. You wha’? Now you’re pulling levers like a train driver in the 1930s or something. Still, it’s better than approving holiday forms.

It gets worse – a ‘sophisticated and granular level’. Like coffee? Coffee can be granular, can’t it. It can also be sophisticated, if you have it in a fancy espresso cup. So HR wants to make money and drink coffee. Sounds like a cracking job – a bit like those people who ‘work from Starbucks’ on their laptops, filling in online surveys so that they can get their 10p per survey and one day, be able to pay for a real coffee.

“At the beginning of the road of understanding”. Ah now I’m going to borrow this one. I haven’t heard it before – it means you don’t understand something. Try it out yourself at home…

– Did you understand that BBC2 programme last night about the Hadron Collider?

– I’d position myself at the beginning of the road of understanding, to be honest with you.

So, in short, the phrase above means:

We need to make more money. We need to understand how money is made, but in detail, like. We (HR) should focus on this, cos we’re shit at it.

I get it now. Billy Bullshitter continues:

If we are able to grow our skills successfully in this direction, then surely it will impact almost everything that we do: inform how we prioritise our HR activities, what we seek to influence, where we focus our learning and development interventions, the roles that we recruit for and restructure, where we know we add value and where there are activities that simply have no overall business benefit that we can stop doing.  In these tough economic times, commercially focussed HR professionals can only be a huge business benefit.

Or, for those who stopped at “If we are…”, I’ve translated it for you:

We need training in making money, cos it means we’ll keep our jobs, we’ll do some training, we’ll hire some people and fire some others, and we’ll know where we make money (we don’t), and where we don’t (everywhere). We’re f-ing broke, basically, so if we don’t pull our fingers out and start talking about money, we’re all out of a job.

And that’s why I really do feel sorry for HR professionals. Some of them are quite nice. Some of them, I even count as mild acquaintances for whom I have a degree of empathy. Yet they chose to go into a profession that is basically about approving holidays, training people, hiring them and then firing them when the MD realises he’s fucked everything up again. Year after year. It’s a shit job, and no amount of “oh look at me I’m going to Harvard” is going to change that. Nor is blogging about it endlessly, because you’ve been doing it for the last five years and fuck all has changed since then.

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