Neil Roden, ex-RBS, suggests in a PM article that the quality of HR senior leadership is declining. Apart from the factors mentioned in the article, there are several other reasons to support this perception:
HR’s influence on strategy has weakened during the recession. Lay-offs undermine trust and confidence. The function has not been seen to address governance issues in high profile corporate failures. The inability to say “No”, to hold a position under pressure or manage the politics of the boardroom seems diminished.
The media supports this theme. Extra cash for guaranteed attendance during the London 2012 Olympics is interpreted as a failure to plan ahead and negotiate wisely. Inadequate staff numbers in the NHS and education reflects poor HR policy implementation.
Perception is not necessarily reality.
Some HR leaders have a significant impact on the future success of their businesses. They have CEOs who trust their judgement and back their actions especially on “difficult” issues. They demonstrate courage, have superb influencing skills and are visible even during tough times. Critically, they all have corporate OD responsibility.
Perhaps Roden should not be too surprised. Shareholders want board members to demonstrate good governance across the whole business rather than just offering individual functional insight.