Overcoming Tradition

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Gianpiero Petriglieri, an associate professor of organizational behavior at Insead, discusses challenges and potential solutions in an article that appeared in the "Wall Street Journal" online May 1, 2014 entitled "Give HR Departments More Authority."

Petriglieri makes a number of insightful observations including:

  • For all the focus organizations put on change and innovation, human resource departments are among the most conservative quarters;
  • The longstanding popularity of best practices help replicate traditional power structures and competency models that play down the complex and content-dependent nature of managing and leading;
  • One contributing factor to innovation being an elusive aspiration is the inability to question leaders, choices, and the past and that this makes imagining a different future difficult let alone building a different future.

Furthermore, Petriglieri indicates that HR executives that he meets are often frustrated by constraints HR conservatism poses on their desire and ability to initiate or support strategic change. He argues that the ambiguous status of HR function in many organizations may be a contributing factor.

With respect to leadership development, Petriglieri argues that leadership development may be the most forward-looking among HR's duties.

Yet, what qualifies as leadership development in many organizations involves socializing employees into the organization's current culture and giving them knowledge and skills to perform in their current job. That doesn't help them become leaders.

Petriglieri proposes a number of changes including:

  • HR needs to have a seat on the executive committee;
  • Culturally, the corporate rhetoric of alignment needs to give way to one that celebrates committed divergence;
  • HR departments need to do more than keep things running smoothly;
  • HR needs to be empowered to help the company question and re-imagine. Not just hold on and replicate itself.

In short, I believe these insights and observations are spot on and powerful. Furthermore, I argue that developing creative leaders for our organizations in our role as Talent Architect/Strategists will be severely constrained until we are able to overcome these challenges.

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Key Concepts from this Video:

Human Resource Conservatism, Leadership Development

Self Check

What are two of the changes recommended by Petriglieri? (Pick two)