Whenever people ask me what I do and I say “human resources”, their first response is … oh, you hire people. Which is true, HR often has responsibility for talent acquisition. But it’s certainly not the sum and substance of the role.
So, when I try to explain what HR does, it becomes this long list of things – benefits, compensation, safety, employee relations, etc. etc. Of course, people’s eyes begin to glaze over…human resources is a tough profession to define.
Today, when I describe what HR does, I like to say that HR is the architect of work.
Think about it. What does an architect do? They’re responsible for creating functional, safe, aesthetically pleasing, economical structures. They get their job done by not only designing but communicating their design to clients, builders, and others.
Human resources professionals are responsible for creating work that:
- People will want to apply for
- Pays a wage and benefits package companies can afford
- Offers purpose to employees
- Meets a business need within the organization
In addition, work can change, just like some buildings change over time. HR is responsible for taking a holistic approach to work and making sure any changes align with the goals of the organization.
The conversation about alignment reminds me of the funny story about someone I worked with years ago. He and his wife would go out to dinner every night. And one night they sketched out their dream home on a bar napkin. They took the bar napkin to an architect and said, “This is our dream home, draw us a blue print.” The architect looked at the napkin and asked, “Can I make one suggestion? Put a kitchen in it.” Years later, they built their dream home and, taking the architect’s suggestion, included a kitchen. They also put a sign at the kitchen entry that said, “This kitchen is for resale purposes only.” LOL!
Image captured by Sharlyn Lauby after speaking at the 2016 MBTI Users Conference in San Francisco, CA