For years, I’ve been telling my readers that HR sits at the intersection of work, power, politics and money.

You can be a traffic cop who is proud of how she directs the flow of cars and pedestrians, or you can be an urban planner who impacts the strategic direction of the traffic.

Most HR professionals feel they can make a difference by doing the work of the traffic cop. They do their best work when their boots are on the ground. They’re preventing accidents, guiding pedestrians across busy intersections, and smiling at the random passersby who waves as she’s on her way to work.

(The smile is recognition enough for their hard work.)

I think HR professionals should be like the urban planners. Thinking about traffic and growth patterns that affect today’s commuters, tomorrow’s passengers, and those who will use the roads in the distant future.

And, for what it’s worth, urban planners think beyond highways. They’re concerned with infrastructure, usability, and the environmental toll on the foundation of major cities. They’re aware of the changing demographics of the community, as well.

It’s great to be a do-er who jumps into traffic and proves she can handle the pressure of a busy intersection. But I think there’s something to be said for quiet, steady, strategic thinking that sets a course of action for the enterprise that’s inclusive, productive and profitable.

So, my dear friends in HR, stop being a traffic cop. Let people police themselves, as scary and as dangerous as that sounds. If you do your job right, the role of HR urban planner creates a safe and fruitful workforce in the present day and the future.

1 Comment

  1. I couldn’t agree with you more. However, what is an HR leader to do when faced with a company leader who has no interest in HC strategy – even when analytics demonstrate its support of business strategy and impact on the bottom line?
    I think that if there is a fundamental lack of value of the HR function – even after achieving positive results – the job of the HR leader is made much more difficult if not impossible.

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