Mar 29

Mission and Future of Human Resource Management

Stephan Polomski
Stephan Polomski is director human resources, coach and trainer

What do you tell graduates full of idealism what they might expect becoming a human resource manager? And what do you tell senior HR staff full of experience and not rarely full of frustration how the future of HR looks like and what their contribution needs to be?

Both, the young and the elder, have to be true believers in the value of their profession and they have to follow their inner call why this profession (still) is meaningful. Endowed with passionate belief free of inquisitorial behavior and endowed with the attitude of tough fighters for their cause, however without a sword.

“No sword, no power. This is why a HR manager in a staff unit needs leadership more than any other manager.”

No sword, no power. This is why a HR manager in a staff unit needs leadership more than any other manager. This leadership emerges not out of functional power but out of a clear vision and a determined mission to change social and organizational systems towards the necessities in which they operate – and even more than this: towards defining these very necessities themselves, positively rocking organizations, societies, and markets.

For me, three big trends will be dominating the future of a successful HR management and as well successful company management. The two first are:

1. Networking

2. Self-Leadership

Both, networking and self-leadership have to be columns not only of the HR strategy but of the entire strategic landscape of an organization.


Self-leadership among the workforce is the outflow of a management and leadership style with trusts in people´s competencies and abilities to lead and manage themselves. Conviction is that people generally have the overview over their field of tasks and the desired outcome. Self-leadership also fosters self-organization and, more than this, self-responsibility. This is, finally, the way to become fast and efficient individually and at the same time with the entire organization. It requires though a leadership style and with that a corporate culture which puts people first and enhances them to enhance themselves. Leadership for self-leadership unleashes the entrepreneurial thinking of each single source in the organization.

In order to realize self-leadership for all employees in the organization it is not sufficient for HR managers to be proactive taking the initiative developing corporate culture and leadership trainings towards these ideals. To repeat mantra-like what delegation is, what strength-based development is or what servant leadership means. No, that is not enough. Just because these ideals – nicely formulated in booklets and on websites, postulated in the shelter rooms of workshops and trainings – will never come to life unless handling, communication and self-administration is made easy to apply for every stakeholder in the organizational system.

And this is the point, where networking, the second main trend, steps into the game; an internal networking which is modeled after social platforms like Facebook, Xing or Linked-In and others. These social and professional networks in the web show how easy self-administration and self-leaderships works even without any kind of corporate framework or leadership by a third party like a superior. These networking platforms show the ability and the potential of self-regulating processes and activities. They are born by the impulse of self-leadership.

And with networking comes the other big working field for HR managers: to provide digital structures in which self-regulation, self-administration and self-leadership can take place. All activities shall be integrated with the superior´s framework of overall objectives and strategies – not more, not less. These digital structures are at the same time a communication structure were contents like performance management, development and training, budgeting etc. are transparent to all roles and stakeholders in the system. – And of course: defining content and structure of these digital platforms is a task for HR and top management representatives.

This requires a self-understanding in the HR department which leaves a defined freedom to all parties involved generating a high level of flexibility, speed and adaptation to changing market necessities. And of course, this approach goes far beyond the classical resource administration like money and contracts.

This kind of self-understanding requires the call and the desire to shape and design corporate culture by talent management and leadership management, meaning that HR has to actively manage talents and more than this: the leaders themselves.


This is trend number three:

3. Leader Management

What leader management means you may observe in ancient tribes. The chief Indian as well as the whole tribe always had a medicine man aside like a sparring partner. His role was to be a mirror giving feedback, balancing interests, energies and emotions. He finally embodied the good conscience being a counter weight to functional power. His role was endowed with no functional power indeed, yet sometimes this role was more powerful than the chief role. Where the chief failed, he still could heal the system guaranteeing sustainablity.

Transferring this metaphor to the business world, it becomes even more meaningful for HR managers as leadership on the front line in most cases rarely matches with the leadership models illustrated in corporate booklets and websites.

In self-leadership, networking and leader management I see the future for HR management. If HR managers are not taking the challenge, their profession will be reduced to administration, easily to be outsourced, a necessary evil and irrelevant.

This is, what I tell freshmen and senior HR staff.

This entry was posted on Thursday, March 29th, 2012 at 02:00 and is filed under Human Resources, Leadership, Management. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Responses are currently closed, but you can trackback from your own site.

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