Can HR as business strategist co-exist with HR as ombudsman? (Guest Commentary)

Splitting the HR function a solution for serving two critical needs
By Fred Pamenter
|Canadian HR Reporter|Last Updated: 12/06/2004

Human resource professionals continue to struggle to be members of the strategic management group. Some have been quite successful at achieving senior management status. The vast majority, however, continue to look enviously at the strategic management group with little hope of being invited into that inner circle.

Part of the difficulty is the ambiguous role that HR plays in many organizations. It vacillates from being a contributor to management initiatives to being perceived as the ombudsman of the “people.” The vacillation may not be due to any conscious actions of the HR professional but rather due to the circumstances of the moment.

Some HR professionals have tried to distance themselves from the image of being the champion of the “people.” They have tried to convey that first and foremost they are bottom-line focused in the same manner as the CFO or the head of sales. In days of yore the role of the personnel professional was seen much more as being a representative of the people. This was the context for much of their work. It was also in this context that they acquired the image of not being a key member of strategic management. This label has haunted them ever since regardless of how the profession has become more business oriented.