Saturday, July 11, 2009

More on Fast HR

Fast HR - the words just don't go together. If you do an Internet search, you find my blog on fast HR, and you find the article in Fast Company magazine about "why we hate HR," and lastly you find lots of references to fast heart rate. But Fast HR as in Human Resources; well, it pretty much does not exist.

I think it's time for a change. HR can be fast; HR can enable a fast company. And when HR works with fast companies, changing how it does its work, it is a significance force in driving performance. In a series of studies I've done over the years, I've looked at what HR contributes to fast-growth vs. slow-growth firms. One such study was published in the Academy of Management Journal. In this work we found that when the senior HR person reported to the CEO in a fast growth firm, the effect on performance was very positive (by performance we mean stock price and earnings or revenue growth). However, when the senior HR person reported to the CEO in slow growth firms, there was a significant and negative effect on performance.

The moral to that story is that what HR was doing in the high growth firms was helping the organization, and what HR was doing in slow growth firms was having a negative effect on performance. In fast growth firms, the CEOs simply do not let HR engage in 'slow' practices.

In the years since that study I've worked with numerous HR groups, in large and small firms, global and local organizations, in multiple organizations. HR continues to struggle with how to organize, how to do its work well, and how to make a positive difference. The functional leaders look to their peers for benchmark data; they organize the way that everyone else is organizing; they do what is popular. In the midst of all this work has come less innovation than we need.

We are searching for deep innovation via the Fast HR work. If you have any stories of fast HR practices, please share them. If you have stories of slow HR, we want those too.

As I get stories in, I will share those that I can in this blog.

Write to me at: theresa.welbourne@marshall.usc.edu if you have a story to share.

For now ... we are still in search of Fast HR.

Thank you. Theresa

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