Challenge the HR You Know

Kathy Rapp Career Paths, Change, Executive Search, HR & Marketing, Kathy Rapp, Leadership, Organizational Development, Recruiting

If you caught a few ads during the Super Bowl on Sunday, you probably noticed Lawrence Fishburne reprising his role as Morpheus from “The Matrix” for a Kia ad.  The ad was introducing the K900, Kia’s new luxury sedan.

If you’re like me, “Kia” and “luxury” don’t find themselves in the same sentence, which is why this commercial actually rocked (or whatever the right word is to describe opera).

What grabbed me, though, was their trademarked statement, “Challenge the Luxury You Know.”  I’m not a “Matrix” geek, but the blue/red reference was all about choosing to wake up to reality… as it relates to luxury cars.

I talk to HR pros all over the country and the thought of “challenging the HR I know” is an awesome exercise.  Let me give you a couple of examples.

  • A mentor of mine has morphed into a CHRO/COO.  Her next gig ideally needs to have a blend of both to be inspiring.  Yet recruiters love her for pure HR roles (I understand why) and so she’s wondering if organizations are able to embrace someone with her background.

The Challenge:  CEOs and HR pros need to think differently about what makes a great HR leader.  In this case it may be someone who doesn’t give a crap about what you call her (unless you insist on “Chief People Officer”) but let her utilize her HR know-how to build true leaders across the business.  Let her integrate HR into all the money-making functions, potentially eliminating the need for traditional HR.  Just like she’s a blend, wouldn’t it be something if all your people managers were a blend of Ops/Sales/Finance/HR?!

  • I also know HR folks who have deliberately taken roles in Marketing.  They understand their job is to market the organization, to those they are trying to attract, to those they are trying to develop, to those they are trying to retain.

The Challenge:  Let’s encourage this behavior vs. look down on HR pros who have stepped out of their functional areas for a period of time.  Embrace those who want to “add value” by putting their chosen profession on hold in order to develop a different perspective.  Praise those who want to jump seats in your organization!

I think HR will, and should, look differently in the next 10-20 years.  Don’t misunderstand—I love the profession and the career I had/have.  I also love a challenge.  The ultimate challenge for HR is to morph in order to stay relevant to our businesses, and that may mean leaping into something you wouldn’t normally consider “HR.”

I choose to wake up to reality and hold those in HR with a few twists and turns in very high regard.

Now, will I go buy a Kia?  Probably not.  I fell asleep watching “The Matrix.”  But HUGE props to them for making me think otherwise about luxury and HR!