Written on January 11, 2010 by Charlie Judy in HR Profession
When I was in business school – back…back…way back – there were only three areas of emphasis one could elect as an undergraduate – Accounting, Finance, or Marketing. I choose Accounting only because it seemed the easiest way to get a job…worked out ok for me. But Human Resources wasn’t even on my radar screen – couldn’t spell it and even if I could I’m pretty sure there wasn’t anything even remotely related to HR on the course list. From what I can tell, the profession has come a long way in partnering with Universities to get HR subject matter more prominent in business school curricula. SHRM seems to have had a lot to do with that. In fact, their 2005 publication SHRM Human Resource Curriculum Guidebook and Templates for Undergraduate and Graduate Programs does a pretty good job of offering a roadmap for integrating HR competencies with general business competencies at B-School. I still think there’s something missing here, though. Much of what I see today seems oriented too much toward developing pansy HR subject matter experts and not focused enough on injecting the HR professional pipeline with people who are Ninjas in navigating workplace complexities, sorting through emotional dynamics, acting with agility, and thinking critically. Without that stuff, you’re just a commodity; after all, anyone can learn to manage a benefit plan…sorry. If as a profession we are really committed to making HR more crucial to an organization’s value stream, I think we should see stuff like this in the syllabus:
- “[Thinking] more nimbly across multiple frameworks, cultures and disciplines,” “Critical and Analytical Thinking,” “The art and science of building new models,” See great article in 1/10/2010 New York Times Sunday Business.
- Leveraging the hidden benefits of conflict in the workplace
- Managing a project – soup to nuts
- Speaking (and speaking up) in public with confidence and conviction
- Managing change on a broad-scale and without remorse
- Networking 101 & Selling 101
- Practicing selfishness (aka Applying the teachings of Ayn Rand to the HR profession)
- Applying creativity, fostering innovation
- Challenging the status-quo
- Jedi-Mind-Trick negotiating
- Leading through influence
- Disagreeing tactfully
- Identifying and disposing of assholes
- Using aggression as your friend
- Learning to say “no”
- Having presence
Can these things be taught in B-School? I think so. While undergraduate (or post-graduate) degree from a University in-and-of-itself will not pave the road to success for aspiring HR professionals, it certainly has a role. And you might as well forget about elevating the profession if those institutions keep sending us the same kinds of people who may know how to pass a certification test, but don’t know a thing about kicking tail.
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