human resources human

Making Human Resources More Human

John Merrick: I am not an elephant! I am not an animal! I am a human being! I am a man! – The Elephant Man

Ever since I started working I’ve heard the term “Human Resources,” and every time I hear it I have a John Merrick moment: “I am not a Human Resource. I am a human being!”

I have love and admiration for Human Resource professionals and happen to know many. I am the first person to recommend a good one when a small business needs the skills of one. It is often hard to understand why they do what they do—which, I believe, is to understand and create compliance between laws and employers. Thank goodness. Because someone needs to.

Many people seem to believe that the human resource department is on the side of the employer while masquerading as the defender of resources. Others believe that this department helps to create culture and that its purpose is to serve the people while masquerading as the defender of the employer.

OK, I get it. But here is a more powerful point:

People are not a resource. People are the reason for it all.

Imagine a work revolution that eliminates the term human resources for once and for all. Imagine that it looks like this:

  • A world where every person becomes a contributing partner to the organizations they serve.
  • A world where every person is compensated as a contributing partner and the results they create rather than their time served.
  • A world where the need to comply with laws created in the early 20th century to protect employees from employers becomes obsolete.
  • The war between capital and labor disappears.

People are not a resource. People are the reason for it all.

Please don’t write me off as a communist quite yet—but what if we could create organizations where values become more important than profits and yet everyone, everyone within the organization profits?

How about including everyone in disbursements and eliminate the need for employee to employer intervention? Would you then need a human resource department?

I’m crazy, you say? I started practicing the principles of High Performance and Open Book Management in the ’80′s. Turns out that thousands of companies are now waking up to the possibility of creating companies they would want to work for as I did. As those kinds of companies grow, the need for laws protecting them from their own people will become laughable.

When you are human and not a human resource it is very easy to be better than those laws. And when that happens, we really won’t need a Human Resource Department. What could we have instead? A Prosperity Department? A Connection Department? A Leadership Department? A Wealth Department? The Learning and Growth Department? Tell me what you would rather have and then let’s make it happen. From Silicon Valley to a Detroit Renaissance, thousands of companies are starting to do it their own way, far beyond the jaws of compliance.

What if we could create organizations where values become more important than profits and yet everyone . . . everyone within the organization profits?

Call it a Work Revolution: The tolerance for soul sucking jobs is ending, one company at a time. As we decide to be human beings rather than a resource in the machine, everything will change. Work becomes a source of connection. Work is soulful rather than soul sucking. We won’t need to talk about work/life balance anymore. We can just have life in all its humanness without silos of separation and protection.

I am imagining a vast sea of human creativity and prosperity. I say, let’s stop referring to ourselves and our colleagues as resources. When we do, we can get rid of the human resource department and get on with being human.

Perhaps, the Humanity Department?

 

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Image credit: michaeldb / 123RF Stock Photo

This article was originally published at High Performance Advocates. Check it out!

Ruth spent 25 years in the music industry. In that time she created a $10 mil distribution company where everyone was a contributing partner in the business. After selling that business she became a business coach, speaker, trainer and enthusiast for working with successful entrepreneurs and business leaders who are tired of task and employee management are ready to lead the work revolution. Schwartz chronicles her success in the book, The Key to the Golden Handcuff’s – Stop Being a Slave to Your Business. Tthe book gives entrepreneurs and executives a recipe to create a transparent, open-book company of their own design. Ruth is a member of Toastmasters, the National Speakers’ Association, The International Coach Federation and The Experts Association.

  • Tim

    Great article, Ruth. For me, it’s the combination between HR and individual managers to both create systems for and to give assignments that help employees grow and learn.

  • http://idolbuster.com/ Greg Marcus

    Ruth – three cheers for the humanity department! Sometimes I think it is an uphill battle, given the nature of corporations. I am encouraged by B corporations and other innovations that include something other than making money in the charter. There is no doubt that companies that take a people-first approach will have a competitive advantage. I’m always happy to read an article by a fellow Toastmaster.
    Greg

  • http://joestauffacher.com/ Joe Stauffacher

    Love it Ruth! Great read… Recruiters become connectors and HR becomes the humanity department. :)

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  • http://ouragilejourney.com/ Adam Myhr

    I too shudder when I hear the term “Human Resources.” Didn’t that same department used to be called “Personnel?” You know, something that actually reflects the concept of people?

    As a software developer diving into the world of Agile Project Management I keep coming back to the first value of the Agile Manifesto, “Individuals and Interactions over Processes and Tools.” Individuals are what is important, not tools. When an individual is identified as a resource they are really driven down to the level of a tool. This is something I’ve been working on expressing properly for months. I likely will be fighting to properly express it for years to come as well.

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  • ruthschwartz

    Thanks Joe for pushing me to write this!

  • ruthschwartz

    Some day it would be great if everyone found this to be the norm. We’ve got to start somewhere. Ruth

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