Today is National Kiss and Make Up Day When will Leadership and HR Kiss & Make Up?

Lip-Prints-of-Kissis-WEBOK, right off the bat, I’m in trouble for linking kissing and the workplace. But I’m pretty certain that blowing up HR is frowned upon as well. Lately there have been cries to dismember HR in some way, by splitting it up, blowing it up, redesigning it, or doing away with it altogether. In fact, in a report by Deloitte, there is a gap “between what business leaders want and the capabilities of HR to deliver.” The report goes on to state that even HR gives its teams a grade of C-. Business leaders rate HR with a D   I would relate the relationship between HR and leadership as that of teenagers and their parents. Here’s why.

When HR or as it was called then, personnel, was first created, it more or less had the behaviors of a child – more play than substance. Personnel at that time was more about planning parties, making everyone happy, and staying in the background. A recent article on suggests that changes in the personnel department began with the entrance of women (you knew it would be our fault) in the workforce during WWI. Because of this, a new level of people management became necessary along with more regimented training and better organization.

The 1930s brought a dip in employment, but when WW II broke out, history repeated itself with women filing back into the workforce. Now personnel began shedding its training wheels as the previous work to better employee management was beginning to pay off. After WW II, serious changes began to evolve in the workplace. This is when discrimination began to rear its ugly head or at least began to be noticed and reported. Later health and safety landed on personnel’s desk. In the 1980s organiztions began to see people as valuable assets and the term Human Resources now launched the department into the tween years. Now leadership wants HR to grow up and take some business responsibility and HR wants to be appreciated for its to date accomplishments. As with any family disputes, there is no doubt blame, responsibility, and changes that need to be made on both sides.

Some may think that a Harvard MBA is required to understand business, others may think that one has to actually have owned or at the least, run a business to understand business operations. Again, as with any conflict, there are probably some middle of the road solutions here. On one side of the argument, leadership today does have some modicum of appreciation for what HR accomplishes, provides, and prevents.

On the other side of the argument, the Society of Human Resource Management (SHRM), the mainstay association for HR, has now developed a new certification, SHRM-SCP or SHRM Competency Model. This model is, according to SHRM’s president Henry G. Jackson, “includes the nine behavioral and technical competencies every HR professional needs today, to help you focus your development.” This same issue of HR Magazine goes on to describe its cover story whereby one HR professional (a recent recipient of the SHRM-CP Certification) “is retooling her HR team by training it on the company’s business model, shifting its focus from performing transactional duties to providing workplace solutions and aligning to overall business needs.”

Alignment with overall business needs is something that every department should be doing. While this is basic to business management, there are many managers, not only HR, and even some leaders who do not take the time to perform this valuable task. Just like the teenager who is not required to take responsibilities, if leadership has failed to drill even the most basic of business concepts into it leadership and management staff, what can you expect? This begs the question, “Who the heck have you been hiring all these years?” More about that in a moment.

From a 360-Degree feedback, Jack Zenger and Joseph Folkman have collected a list of 16 behaviors that great HR leaders need. Here they are as copied from their article: “What Separates Great HR Leaders from the Rest” in HBR at


  1. Displays honesty and integrity

Personal Capabilities:

  1. Exhibits technical/professional expertise
  2. Solves problems and analyzes issues
  3. Innovates
  4. Practices self-development

Getting Results:

  1. Focuses on results
  2. Establishes stretch goals
  3. Takes initiative

Interpersonal Skills:

  1. Communicates powerfully and broadly
  2. Inspires and motivates others
  3. Builds relationships
  4. Develops others
  5. Collaborates and fosters teamwork

Leading change:

  1. Develops strategic perspective
  2. Champions change
  3. Connects the group to the outside world

Talk about basic. These are basic skills of any competent leader worth his or her salt. In addition, many if not all of these skills and attributes can be uncovered at the time of hire by making the correct post for the job at hand, using assessments, the interviewing process, and checking references.

So if you want people with these skills and attributes in HR or any department, again I ask who the heck have you been hiring…and why? So if you’re in leadership and you have been hiring the wrong people, shame on you. If you are any type of self-respecting person with leadership aspirations and you haven’t engaged in the self-development skills and attributes listed above, shame on you. It would seem that what needs to be embraced is taking leadership responsibility for hiring and the personal initiative for self-development, no kissing required and no one has to be blown up.

Graphic Credit: Big

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