HR vs. top and line managers: the bright side

"Change is the law of life..."

Change is inevitable and constant. Today it is true even more.

As Jeff Bezos said, "what's dangerous is not to evolve".

We we need to change and we need to lead change, otherwise the only option we have is to become obsolete.

Changing rules

When we talk about business we often use financial or other metrics. But business is more about rules. And now we are in the period when these ground rules change. This is not just change, this is change on steroids. This is CONSTANT change and REGULAR crises.

So to be effective HR professionals (and any other professionals) should master the tools that would help to work in these situations when nothing last long.

So let's define some features our times and how they contribute to changing requirements of HR professionals.


First we must admit the crises are the new constant. COVID-19 is just another crisis we have, like any other. They are different in every country and industry, but they happen all the time.Anti-crises management is something that was considered when a company was close to the bankruptcy, now its the new normal.

Any company should be managed as if tomorrow any unfavourable event would happen.

What's in it for HR?

First, HR should have their "emergency kits" ready. Scenario analysis should be made on future risks, using the classical matrix of Probability/Impact and action plans prepared. Second, it is good to repeat this exercise regularly.

Remote working is a good example. HR professionals can arrange survey to find out what can be done after everybody returns to normal, how remote working changed working habits and KPI.


Strategy nowadays is not just something upper management has to deal with. Strategic results are revealed through the quality of processes that allow the business to be transformed.

What's in it for HR?

HR can't be "strategic" by developing HR strategies and align them with a corporate strategies. HR, as internal consultants, should constantly find the way to increase competitiveness and add value. So it is not enough to name HR professionals HR Business Partners, they should have authority, responsibility and KPIs to be in this role.


Many people think that the best investment is the investment in themselves - in their health, new skills, new opportunities and experiences.

What's in it for HR?

HR professionals should be aware that many people while "selling" their skills and time, expect constant investments into their knowledgebase and pool of skills from their employers.

This investments should be proactive and aligned with the career path the employee has planned.

Research and Development

About 15 years ago, R&D was for a very few companies or academic sector. Not many efforts in research had practical applications. Today many companies depend on their R&D departments.

What's in it for HR?

Requirements rise to all categories of employees and to HR professionals. Ideally HR professionals should be subject matter experts in some areas of business.

For example Training & Learning Manager for a multinational soft drinks company here in Ireland has two degrees - one in Chemistry, another in Chemical Processing and is responsible for development of more than 10,000 employees in eight countries. So unlike other L&D professionals he doesn't need to "collect requirements for development" once a year from line managers. He can offer learning opportunities constantly and proactively.


White collars/Blue collars paradigm changes to becomes Humans/Robots. Any routine tasks are better done by machines. To be competitive, companies need to learn how to attract and retain creative and advanced-thinking people.

What's in it for HR?

The HR should focus not on policies, procedures and administrative tasks, but on stimulating and supporting innovation.

The tools and methods of "herding cats" that were relevant for consulting forms and software teams are now relevant for almost every organisation.


Peter Drucker once said that "business has only two functions - marketing and innovation". Companies need to use not just best practice in their own industry but constantly seek the best practice in other industries and fields to stay competitive.

What's in it for HR?

HR professionals are responsible for development of professional and managerial competencies and performance management. They can work as experts an generate new ideas as their areas of responsibilities are similar for most companies.

What's next?

We have discussed the main trends HR operate in. Next, we try to find answers to the following questions:

Why HR would need to focus more on business results (whether they want it or not)?

Why would be new responsibilities of HR BP?

What prevents HR BP to work with business effectively?

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