Here Kristin Hancock notes in the West we are asking too much of HR. In China, I see we are overwhelmingly asking too much of HR. I also see we are often over paying them. Let’s first look at Kristan’s quote:
Friendly reminder to employers that HR and communications are two very different and specialized disciplines. Combining them in one job is the equivalent of asking for a public relations accounts payable manager or a digital media warehouse supervisor.
So true. Somehow companies think HR are natural people geniuses. In China, I find they are normal people and usually have above average English skills. The HR industry is immature in China. Think about HR in the US in the 50’s. So when we ask them to wear any hat, we are on thin ice. When we ask them to take different hats, we can expect gaps.
First task going to HR is maintaining employee records and calculating benefits. Compliance is also often under HR. These two items fit together in terms of record keeping.This is a good job for someone who was not good enough for finance. It is a detailed, task oriented job. Relationally strong people do this job badly or not at all. See also China HR: HR First and Business Leader Second.
Now We Are Asking Too Much of HR
The problem came when they or someone said they are the people experts. My experience is engineers are usually better people experts than HR. Ask them. So that hat does not fit for HR. Of course if you hire a people expert then you are asking people not made for detail work to handle or oversee the records.
When you then ask these people to be in charge of culture development, you have truly jumped off the dock. People development is very suitable for line managers. Culture development is the bigger picture owned by top line leaders.
Talent acquisition when it is line workers which is mostly a paper push can often be done well by the detail people.
Beyond that line managers are much more suitable to manage talent acquisition and that includes getting the recruiter they need. They know what they need. People must be their thing as that is why they are managers.
Then the company is not asking too much of HR and finding a better way to work with an immature HR culture in China.