To HR or not to HR…..that is the question

Everyone seems to have a HR horror story where they have felt, at one time or another, more like a number than a person.


I can mention HR to people and, depending on their industry, size of company or the views of the guy up top , I hear things like “what do they do all day anyway?”, “Oh, my lot just invent rules to prevent me doing business”, “The pink and fluffy brigade” and “Why can’t they speak plain English, instead of all this bullsh*t jargon?” The latter quote lead me to Google “HR bullsh*t jargon” and finding many variations of Buzzword Bingo. This could inject some life into the more painful meetings and amuse for hours….




Touch base Blue-sky Day Let’s take a moment Moving forward
Strategic fit


Revisit Solution Fast track Core competencies




Big picture Results driven Core business
Best practice


Churn Empower Internal Customer Brainstorm
Knowledge base


Relationship Leverage Business model Collaboration
Bottom line


Transformational Take that off line Relationship Mindset
Innovate Holistic approach Think outside the box Engagement Do lunch
Fly it up the flag pole Benchmark Take that on board Attrition Rates Robust
Value-added Strategic Fit External forces Presenteeism No-brainer


It’s not all bad though. I also hear things like “we don’t have HR per se, we have people that know our business who also look after our people”, “I have a bird that comes out every month to discuss how me and my team are. We also create a plan to train the stars or exit the dead wood” and “My HR has a bigger pair of balls than I do”.

This leads to me to question whether HR as a model function is actually needed or having people with the passion and knowledge to do, let’s say, L&D or ER as an extension to their existing role would maintain localised culture and nurture more all-round managers?

I am very fortunate to work in a business that celebrates it’s 50th birthday next year. We have 24 units across 7 countries and the over-riding culture through-out the business is to “Live your Life” and have Fun!

You might think, well you work in Hospitality and spend all day in bars, how can it not be fun? That’s true enough. It’s the best industry in the world, in my opinion. I had never known any differently, coming from a more Corporate background, that not every Company would have a policy, procedure, process or transaction for almost anything imaginable. I mean what is a “Socialising Policy”? Turns out it’s guidance for when, after the annual Company conference and a few drinks have been had, the office atmosphere is more than edgy after two colleagues (or more) partake in the “horizontal tango”.

I have a very simple belief. Don’t over-complicate the most important aspect of your business;  Your People. In everything I do, people come first. How do you deliver a great product and ultimately profit if you don’t have a great team that are passionate about what they do? You can train the technical skills required for a role but the individual approach on how you manage and lead your team comes from within. I don’t have a gazzilion policies and scripted customer journey’s because we don’t want robots or meeter’s and greeter’s. I don’t have armful’s of Tribunal claims either. When I asked around as to the reason for this, I was told “It’s just the way we do things. We speak with our team. We know if they are happy, sad, stressed or frustrated and we do something about it”, “We care about the guys who work in our units” and “We have fun. The team enjoy working here. Yes, we have issues, but a sit down and a chat over a beer clears the air which means tensions don’t build up”

Yes, I have been able to apply more structure but would I want to see Ulrich’s Model applied to my current team? Not in a million years.

Our culture encourages managers to think and act more like entrepreneurs. For example, If you’re an entrepreneur running a small business, the first thing you don’t do is go out and hire an HR person. You should be making all these decisions.  What I have learned from some of the bigger companies I have worked for is that they get bloated with bureaucracies. They have these massive head offices that remove the business leaders from making some of these decisions. This is when your team starts to feel more like a resource and less like a human being.

Now, I’m not trying to do myself out of a job here. It’s not about an HR cost-cutting exercise. I believe if we give our managers these skills and full responsibility for their team, we will stand out in our marketplace.

In a lot of companies, Managers will tell HR what role needs to be filled, wait for a list of candidates and then be told the new hire’s start date after making the selection.

Why could it not be that Managers will decide whether the job is necessary? If it is, they could decide whether they have an internal successor or need to look outside. They could decide on salary, because they see and feel it as their business; if they want to pay 20% more than their competitors, why not? Negotiate the final package, agree start dates and commence Induction. Hey presto, HR is nowehere to be seen.

This already happens in a lot of businesses and any success / or not they see comes down to the immortal question that they asked themselves in the beginning….

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Widow, Cats, Family, People Stuff, Exec Coach, Food Nerd, Gin Queen.

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