Management Consultant Dave Logan at CBS Moneywatch is warning companies to avoid falling in love with company policy. He talks about a company that wanted to hire a very disruptive genius. But HR said it wasn't possible because they had no job description for the function envisioned. And besides, the guy was obviously a poor fit and a possible cause for resentment by the rest of the employees.
The company president's response: "I can't undercut my HR guy." Why not? He just undercut you.
Company policies are the bones of the company. They restrict the company and thus give it structure. Not enough bones and you have a mass of jello. Too many bones (bone spurs) are painful and restrict motion unnecessarily.
Mr. Logan (if you read the rest of his column) missed the whole point of his story: Fire HR. Or at least get them out of the decision-making loop. Before they were HR, they were Personnel Administration. And all they were ever good for was administering. But someone decided to improve their lagging morale by giving them an "important" name and important duties: Ensure a corporate monoculture. Their motto is "We say no."
HR has no clue about human resources.
Think about it. Why isn't HR the only section that interviews candidates? After all, they are the human and resources experts. The answer is simple — HR has no clue about what the job requires. All they know is what the company requires.
The real job of HR is to figure out how to bend the rules when necessary to make it possible for less-than-perfectly fitting parts to work together. Evidently, no one explained that to them.
Engineering is the art of making what you want from what you can get at a profit.
This blog originally appeared on www.ecnmag.com.