HR – Police or Promoter?

HR – Police or Promoter?


Okay, so you’ve made it to the lofty heights of supreme ruler of the HR universe in your business. You’ve done your time and you’re finally in a position of power. The air is thinner, the policies are yours to command and decisions about hiring and firing or disciplinary action lie at your feet. The business looks to you to take command when there’s a performance or conduct issue – and you’ve got a policy for everything. Even a policy on how to write and approve a policy – you’ve finally made it. As you contemplate your supreme dynasty, it’s time to ask yourself a very quick question. Only answer this honestly – Are you the HR police or an HR promoter? Go on, put your hand up and give me an answer.

So, you can’t see what the difference is? Let me help you. If you answer “yes” when I ask “do you write policies that tie the business up in knots, put a cork in the bottle of progress or ensure all roads lead to your office?” Then, you’re the HR police. If your policies act as a document that sets boundaries and confirm the business’ philosophy, giving people autonomy to make decisions and deal with issues in a flexible manner – you’re an HR promoter. If your policies are a framework that supports your business to manage its people with respect, lawfully and with the business’ values at heart – you’re an HR promoter. If you see every interaction with managers and staff as a coachable moment rather than an opportunity to exert your supreme power – you’re an HR promoter. If you encourage people to consider options and solutions, to make mistakes and work ideas through with you – you’re an HR promoter. But, if you don’t let anyone make a decision that you haven’t sanctioned – you’re the HR police.

“Who cares,” I hear you say. Well, have a think about it. If you’re in it for the long haul as a professional choice and you really love the business you’re working for, you probably want to think about moving from police to promoter. HR police create compliant organisations that can’t think for themselves, never grow and develop, and house people who never quite get to their full potential and eventually leave. HR promoters create committed organisations where problem solving is encouraged, ownership is developed, and its people take on more and more with gusto and enthusiasm. Which one would you like to work for? If you want to get their hearts rather than just their heads – it’s time to move to HR promoter.

So, next time you feel the need to hone your policy writing skills or to stamp your authority on an issue or people decision, sit back and think, “What would an HR promoter do in this situation?” Oh, and by the way, if you can’t ween yourself off the sniff of power, it’s time to try a new profession.

This article was written by the Australian Institute of Business’ Human Resources Director. 

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