It’s not you, it’s me

I’ve never met a CEO who didn’t want a world class HR service.

I’ve met a number who didn’t know how to articulate it, who described HR but called it something else, who talked about the importance of talent management, skills development, workforce planning, incentivisation and organisational performance.

But I’ve never met one who has said, “people are not important and I don’t care what I get out of them”.

On the other hand, I have met a lot of CEOs who are fed up with their HR functions, with their HR teams. Who see HR as a barrier to all the things that they want to achieve and who focus on areas that they don’t see as important.

If you look at any survey of CEO priorities or concerns, you will see time and time again “people” concerns in the top five check it out, year on year on year. There is no shortage of opportunity for us, to be involved, to influence, to be central to the development of our organisations.

So what’s the point of this? The point is simple.

Where we fail. WE fail. It isn’t our organisation, it isn’t our company, it isn’t our CEO. It is our inability to win the debate, to drive the agenda, to create the opportunity. And the bitter sweet thing about this, is that we have total control.

I’m fed up of hearing about the organisation that didn’t want this, or the CEO that didn’t like that. We need to focus the debate on our own performance and the standards within our profession. If you talk to any headhunter working within HR, they will tell you of the dearth of talent. If you ask them about their experience working with HR as a client, they’ll tell you of their despair.

This isn’t about rebranding, or “having a dialogue”. This isn’t about changing our name or shiny new logos. This is about a fundamental shift in the standards that we accept in our profession and being relentless in challenging ourselves to do more.

And I understand that there will be people saying, “Morrison is banging on again” and yes I am, and I will continue to do so. Because I’m passionate about the work I do and the work that my team does. I see organisations that are demonstrating real commitment and value. But they are the few and the far.

Too often, I see sub standard HR professionals and HR teams. That are failing to embrace the opportunity that is right in front of them. Don’t listen to me, read all the articles and the stories about them. Go speak to “normal” people and ask them their experiences with HR.

The HR agenda is being hijacked by a tree hugging, granola munching minority, that talk about creating something new. These are the same people who left corporate life because they couldn’t make change happen and couldn’t stand the pace. Otherwise they’d be doing exactly what they were talking about inside their previous organisations.

And whilst they will tell you that they can make change happen from outside, the truth is they can’t, because the agenda they espouse and the mistruths they propagate are exactly the things that frustrate the CEOs. They are the weak and sickly branches of our profession that need to be clinically lopped off in order to allow us to grow and flourish.

I’d love this to be the year that we really wake up, but I don’t think that’s going to happen just yet. But if we are to move forward, we need to embrace the undeniable truth…..

It’s not them, it’s us.

Emails from hell

From: A. Realone – HR Director 

Sent: 2 October 2011 12:05

To: All staff

Subject: Collections 

It has been brought to my notice that some people are concerned that the volume of birthday and other collections has simply grown too great. Even though we are careful to ensure contributions are voluntary, some people feel pressurised, and they certainly take quite a lot of time to organise.

Some time ago it was suggested that we just had collections for leavers/weddings/babies and birthdays with ‘0’ at the end. I have spoken to T.Heman about it and while he himself thinks it could be a good solution, he feels that this is not really a matter for the CEO to decide and suggests that we all vote on what we want to do.

Therefore please use the voting buttons above to have your say:

Vote 1: if you want everything to stay as it is

Vote 2: if you just want company collections for leavers/weddings/babies and birthdays with an ‘0’ at the end.

Vote 3: if you want them all to stop

A. Realone


Are you depressed yet? You will be when I tell  you that this is one of a number of real emails that was sent on to me. The reason they were being sent on? Because people were laughing at HR. I guess on the upside, at least it was sent to me because they knew that I’d be laughing at HR too….

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. Our profession is sadly stuffed with poor and mediocre people,  for every one of us (and I hope that I’m included in this) doing good progressive, HR management, there are three to five people making a mockery of the profession. And those aren’t good odds.

So in an attempt to raise the professional bar, I’d like to suggest an alternative response to the problem, feel free to adopt this style of response in any future communications……

 I hope you enjoy.


From: A. Realone – HR Director 

Sent: 2 October 2011 12:05

To: All staff

Subject: Collections 

I thought I’d take a moment out to remind you that you are all adults, this isn’t a facet of your existence that sheds itself as you enter the doors of this hallowed building.  And being an adult means that you have free will and you have choices.  If there is something that is happening in the organisation that you don’t like you should feel free to challenge it directly with the people involved. If there is a collection for someone who you don’t want to participate in then feel free to say so.

If you feel incapable of doing so then perhaps you might want to go and have a chat with T.Heman about it (if you feel that it is appropriate for a CEO to be involved).  Let me know if you do, I’d love to listen in. 

In the meantime, to support our organisational TNA and to help us support you our valued employees, I’d be grateful if you’d take a moment to assess yourself against the following criteria and respond by using the voting buttons above:

Vote 1: if you need to grow a pair

Vote 2: if you don’t understand which pair you need to grow

Vote 3: if you understand the irony of this email and are going to quit whinging like a bunch of children

Best regards,

A. Realone


PS. The names have been changed not to protect the innocent, but to hopefully keep me out of trouble!