Platt Perspective on Business and Technology

Reexamining business school fundamentals (reconsidered) 11: human resources and managing personnel in an interconnected business context

Posted in reexamining the fundamentals by Timothy Platt on March 13, 2017

This is my eleventh installment to a series of brief, single issue sketches in which I reconsider each of a set of core issues that I first addressed in this format in a 2010 series. See Section II of my directory: Reexamining the Fundamentals for that earlier related series, and in particular see my earlier same-name counterpart posting to this one as included there: Reexamining Business School Fundamentals – human resources and managing personnel in an interconnected business context.

As just stated, I am writing this posting (as number 2245 to this blog) in direct response to and continuation of an earlier Human Resources and Personnel-related posting. I start this in-effect second installment to that by noting the numbers, because my earlier posting as referred to there, was one of my very first offered in this general area of topical consideration; my 2010 posting identifies itself as just the 22nd of what has become a more extensive HR-oriented narrative. This posting is in fact my 307th in that progression, counting the posting I am building from here that is not listed in my then still beginning and actively growing HR and Personnel first directory page.

I begin this continuation posting with that point of detail for a very simple reason. I wrote and offered my earlier related posting essentially completely absent any pre-established organizing framework as to how Human Resources and Personnel would be set up and run or why, and absent much of anything in terms of specific best practices process or methodology discussion or recommendation in that arena. I offer this posting after much more extensively discussing and analyzing what HR and Personnel employees, managers and service or department leaders do, and how and why. And I offer this after much more fully explaining how and why the leadership of this functional area needs to be involved in the overall strategic planning and organizing of the business organization as a whole, for how personnel and staffing issues and their strengths and weaknesses, enable or stymie any other overall business initiatives if not considered and accounted for in them.

So I write this posting with my full set of first HR and Personnel directory page postings, and its Page 2 continuation postings firmly in mind as sources of relevant background material that can be selectively mined from as background references for this posting too. One possible such reference resource that I would specifically cite here from that is my series: When and If It Might Make Sense to Outsource Human Resources (which I also include in my Outsourcing and Globalization directory as its postings 52-60.) I cite this here because both this posting and my earlier related 2010 piece are globalization oriented. And a decision to outsource at least part of a business’ HR and Personnel operations increasingly means shifting those operations to service providing partner businesses located in other countries – or to in-house but foreign based operational business centers or to their manufacturing, sales or distribution facilities or some combination thereof. And in both cases that would mean moving these operations and services to places that exist and function within the legal and cultural frameworks of those host-site nations, and with personnel who are for the most part going to take their native, home country cultures and their own deeply engrained and by-default automatically assumed social behavioral and belief system norms for granted.

And this brings me to the meat of this posting’s discussion (or its vegetarian counterpart for readers from countries that for cultural and predominant religious values-based reasons, disavow meat eating.) I make that perhaps inexcusably weak attempt at humor here for a reason. I turn here to consider the issues and challenges faced by Human Resources and Personnel, and for both carrying out their basic service or department functions, and for more effectively aligning them with the business as a whole, in an increasingly polarized and polarizing global context where more wrinkles and barriers seem to be going up than flattening to correct for them.

My point of focus here is on essentially the same drivers that have come to challenge global opening up and flattening since 2010 that I have been addressing from Part 1 of this new series. But to keep this installment in scale for a single posting, I will focus in on one aspect of that: political pressures, as both driven by and as a driver of public opinion, as politicians and government leaders – and even in more authoritarian countries have to listen to their publics, their citizens and as their bully pulpit voices can and do reach out to influence and even significantly help shape that public opinion.

When then United States president Teddy Roosevelt coined that term: bully pulpit, he both acknowledged and highlighted an already very significant sociopolitical force that radiates out of official seats of power such as that of the US presidency. And this is a source of influence and power that has become increasingly magnified in strength and reach (two sides of the same coin) since then – and particularly as we have all become more ubiquitously connected and even real-time through telecommunications advances and from the internet, and exponentially so with the advent of the interactive internet and social media. There is a reason why a US President Trump has come to be called the Twitter President, and as one of his perhaps most administration defining names, and certainly where that means his reaching out to both reassure and maintain his political power base – and continue to shape its beliefs and message. And all of that has been directed towards increasing and proliferating wrinkles, walls, barriers and divisiveness, and both internationally and within his own country: the United States.

• Human Resources and Personnel have to respond to this and they have to develop and maintain the resources and flexibility and resiliency to do so, in a deeply uncertain and divisively mutable context.

That, ultimately, is a lesson that every functional area in any business or organization of any significant scale and reach has to learn and quickly. But I would argue that at least now and at this point and time in history, that burden rests particularly strongly on a department or service such as HR and Personnel, as this complex of issues and challenges directly plays out at and impacts at an interpersonal level – even as the collective impact here across all of these personnel and related relationships, just as significantly has overall operational and strategic impact too. It is vitally important to keep both sides of that dual perspective in mind: the employee and personnel level and the overall strategic and planning level, and to plan and act accordingly.

• Seeking to address this at a big picture-only level and from just that perspective will fail and certainly long-term, for lack of consideration of how any decisions made and followed might impact upon and influence the people who actually work there, and also the business’ clients and customer base too, to expand out this point here.
• And only looking at this from the lower level, employee and Personnel level perspective will fail too for the overall strategic drift this would lead to. Here, this means disconnecting the two levels of organizational focus and attention from each other in overall business planning and its execution.

I am going to turn in my next series installment here, to reconsider the issues that I first touched upon in this context in my 2010 posting: Reexamining Business School Fundamentals – business law in a rapidly changing collaborative and competitive context. Meanwhile, you can find this and other related postings and series at Reexamining the Fundamentals, with this series offered as a new Section VII in that directory.

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