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Faulty HR Assumption - People are Separate from Business

I was once part of a team that was developing a career ladder with job positions for our department. We were led by an HR consultant and during the first meeting, she told us that one of our ground rules was to describe the job and not the people in the job. We needed to separate the business element from the people element. That's when I mentioned that I didn't believe the job could be separated from the person in the job, and I got a response along the lines of, "Don't be absurd, of course they are separate." Now, yes, to some extent you can write down job responsibilities and they will apply to anyone in the job, but in all practicality,  jobs are shaped by the people in them. A job will change depending on that person's strengths, weaknesses,  likes, dislikes, values and priorities.
Both Bill Gates and Steven Jobs were CEOs of major computer companies. Do you think they had the same approach to being CEO? Speaking of CEOs, why do companies launch herculean efforts to find the right CEO if the job is different from the person in it? The same holds true for business processes. If you have a very hands-on leader who wants to approve everything, your business processes contain lots of review and approval steps. They can go away when that person is replaced with someone more hands-off. Business is not some entity in and of itself, just like the economy is not its own, self-regulating entity. Businesses are people. You can take away the office equipment, or the manufacturing plant, or the distribution center and you can still have a business. You cannot take away the people and still have a business. You cannot separate out the people element from the people. Now, given the conditions that businesses are people who behave irrationally and subjectively and cannot be optimized, where does that leave our standard slate of HR policies?
In Human Resources, HR policies
By Karen Phelan
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