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A Forbes contributor published an article on Monday claiming that the human resources profession is stuck in the business world’s version of the Dark Ages.  The behaviors described are more akin to an old Personnel Department versus an Human Resource Department circa 2017.

Her four main assertions:

  • Confidential conversations with your HR representative really are not confidential at all
  • Asking to see your personnel file is a no-no if you want to maintain any amount of job security
  • If your leader is talking with HR about concerns regarding your performance or conduct, it’s very likely you’ll never know (until your being called in to sign a corrective action or terminated)
  • Surprise terminations or, from a larger scale, surprise lay-offs are relatively commonplace

Are we still this transactional?  Do we still only aspire to be a strategic business partner?

I’ve never been part of an HR organization that operates as she suggests, and I certainly have never led.  Candidly, I’ve never been a part of an organization that would have tolerated this rudimentary of an HR department.  That said, the author cites experience dating back to 1984.  Is she simply stuck with an old, outdated impression or is she spot-on?


FinePoint HR is an executive coaching, training facilitation, and human resources consulting firm servicing both domestic and international corporations.