HR and Communication Thoughts: Heartless Business?



Do you remember that Spiderman amusingly dramatic phrase: "With great power comes great responsibility" ? We are closing the first quarter of the year, and it's usually time for rolling-out changes. Time for reviews, dreaded annual chats, result celebration, and follow-up or carrying-out of policy changes and/or new directives implementation. HR is at the heart of those actions. Neutral and Stoic. Passionate employees could argue that HR is at best passive, at worst heartless.

Interestingly enough, the Spiderman movie quote would stem from a discourse from the French Parliament in the late 1700s. Well, that was "pour la petite histoire" (a side note), but seriously, who does not remember that HR is known for being the villain, evil, or who knows what else.We would like to describe ourselves as objective and neutral. In reality, HR people are stoic rather than heartless. Neil Gorsuch stoically expressed that struggle for ethical independence during his congressional hearing (some might disagree). It shows how some professions, if you want to be true to them and believe in them, just like in HR, call for some sort of bravery.

HR is also a lonely job: you usually do not make friends; it is public knowledge. Employees know the HR door: a dreaded one that employees would rather avoid. But believe it or not, chances are that HR is also unknown to some of the employees, even in small units of large organizations, because as HR functions have been shifted to managers, and as HR has become more of a business partner, the "face" of HR has somehow eclipsed to the shadows. I know for a fact that in many businesses, employees do not know who is "HR", not by name and much less by face. Truthfully, do many of them care? They have their managers to report to, and that's all that is needed at so many levels. Moreover, digitization of HR is bringing a new approach to HR: mobile-friendly, easier to reach, and yet less personable. I guess, it is the cost of the new trend. HR has to take care of the people in a different fashion: by taking care of the business, and by "feeding" the business.

A question surfaces however: how many HR out there are actually ready for this shift? HR might have been a lonely job, but it felt powerful to many. And now, it's time to shed away from that false sense of power and bring HR to new lights.


Communication is a big deal, so to speak. I am convinced that one of the most powerful functions in any given organization is Communication. Although Communication is about "Human connection and establishing a relationship of trust" , it is also about "getting" the message, and sending it out in an adequate way, branding the organization. Communication, at many levels, impacts internal culture and external perception of culture. It can build engagement or destroy trust. It can lead to a flux of good hires or result in a revolving door

I am a strong believer in the linkage between HR and Communication. A good HR these days is a good Communicator in a sense that one needs to listen, understand and share information about the environment that shapes the business. It requires EQ, yes, but most of all, it requires a sense of strategy, a holistic approach to HR and business. The strong correlation between HR and business leads to Communication as the tool to make things happen, to bring the story out in the open. This is a time to elevate HR beyond mere application, or simple interpretation, of policies. Communication calls for thorough understanding of business, analysis, and strategic sharing of information. Could comedian Hasan Minhaj be mentionned for his recent performance at the correspondents' dinner? (pick up the bones and take it with a grain of salt if you must). Basically, a few points to gather:
  1. Partner with the CEO/Leadership: volunteer your efforts. You know your HR issues, you have a hint of the solutions needed, go ahead and put your foot forward;
  2. Know the business: what are the issues - internal and external -, who are the stakeholders, how can you wrap your thoughts and actions around opportunities and challenges?
  3. Know your audience, internal and external: this will shape in large part your message delivery
  4. Tell the story and make history.
The idea is the ability to put things together and deliver the message.There is abundance of talks about sitting at the table for HR people.The point of it would be to tell the story, to make the story happen in meaningful ways to a diverse audience of stakeholders, and to transform that lonely HR path through effective partnership

As a side note: Today is May 1st, or International Workers' Day. In the global world, it is a paid day off. Today, in the US, there is a call for a May protest day. Take note of this communication from SHRM on the matter. 

En Synthèse

La GRH et la Communication vont de pair, de tout temps. Le seul hic: la transition de Relations Humaines à Ressources Humaines n'est pas un total acquis, et encore moins facile est celle de RH-(administration) à RH-Communication. Mais attention! Nous ne parlons pas exclusivement de communication interne ou externe. Nous parlons de l’intégration des RH, de la stratégie d'entreprise,
et de la Communication. En fait, c'est les RH de demain, encore faut-il vouloir l'entendre.
Flower, Lily Of The Valley, Spring

Certains disent que tous les RH sont égaux. Moi, je pense qu'il faut de tout pour faire un monde. Reste à savoir de quel monde ou part des RH vous voulez faire partie, mais en tous cas, l'essentiel est de comprendre et faire comprendre que la notion RH a évolué et nécessite savoir marcher la main dans la main avec les autres leaders... 


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