Thursday, July 18, 2013

Transforming Engagement

My friend Robin Schooling wrote a compelling piece a few days back. She conceptualized a 2 headed HR department:

Head 1: Transactional -  which handles benefits, employee relations, HRIS, new hires/terminations/transfers and compliance.

Head 2: Transformational -  which has responsibility for performance management, talent management, learning and performance, leadership development and business strategy.

Robin is a smart young lady who has been in HR for a good spell. Her notion of splitting the HR function is particularly relevant to the function formally known as Employee Recognition. Simply put, recognition is transactional while engagement is transformational. 

The HR department is split by those who simply want to recognize employees in a transactional way (service awards & performance reviews) and those who seek to actually engage their employees in a transformational way (by designing culturally-centric programs that produce measurable results).

This begs the question: Does your HR Certification amplify your ability to design programs that amplify your culture and produce a return on investment? Is escalation in the HR profession based on transactional skill sets? And if so, possibly the PHRs and SPHRs can lead HR Department #1 and a new set of transformational learning principles are formulated for HR Department #2...? 

We cannot be what we are not....and that's OK. I have a defined skill set like any other professional.

There are many HR Professionals who seek to be in category #1. They are incapable of many of the skills sets required to be in category #2. 

Employee Recognition is a necessary component of many organizations Total Rewards Strategy. There is a skill set to administering a transactional Service Anniversary Program. Said professional may lack the skills to amplify administrative skills into strategic skills....and they may be perfectly OK with that. I would, however, hate to see professionals with transformational skills marginalized by professionals with transactional skills. This is why HR as a department gets a bad rap. If we were to define a path for advancement according to varied skill sets, organizations may fall under one of 2 categories. So, a candidate may then be able to discern where he or she may "fit in". A candidate for any position. 

HR builds companies: Are you building a transactional or transformational company?

Don't Forget to Remember!



  1. I wonder if it's easier to teach people how to fit into category 1 than it is to teach them to get into category 2. Managing numbers is almost always easier than managing people because numbers don't fight back!

  2. I would agree whole heartedly, Bob! We often tend toward teaching that which is more rational. It is easier to pass along a manual and/or text book and test knowledge based on memorization. This, in my opinion, is where a lot of certifications do not encompass critical skills. We need application and process to enhance the human interactive side of long term skill development.

    Thanks for participating!