I was reading an article recently by Peter L. Allen who has been leading the HR function over at Agoda.com for the last 3 years, and found his views rather interesting. According to Allen, his fundamental goal at Agoda.com is to “help managers manage better”.
His vision is to basically steer HR in the direction of empowering managers to decide on standards, to create their own hiring process and to develop company-wide leaders. In others words, turning the traditional view of HR which is one that is administrative, with little or no strategic impact on the organisation, to one of people management. He says that although HR has been trying very hard to gain a more strategic role in the organisation by taking on greater responsibility, the gap between HR’s aspirations and their actual role still persist. Allen accords this to two reasons:
#1 Executives and managers often think that the main purpose of their job is to achieve financial results rather than manage people
#2 Executives and managers neglect people management
When issues arise, Allen says HR moves in to put things right. It sees itself as manager, mediator and nurturer, further separating managers from employees. So when he took over leading the HR function at Agoda.com, Allen knew that the online travel agency which has 2000 employees spread over 28 countries needed a new approach towards HR.
One of the very first things he did was to change “Human Resources” to “People and Organisational Development” and committed to employing only the smartest and talented people they could find regardless of whether they had a background in HR.
His approach is based on the following core principles:
# Managers, rather than HR, should define, live and develop the company’s leadership
# Managers, rather than HR, should do the hard work of managing people – hiring, evaluating, rewarding and disciplining employees – and managers should be evaluated on their results.
# Employees, not HR should “manage up” and take responsibility for solving problems directly with their managers
According to Allen, results with this new approach have so far been promising.
Next week: How Agoda implemented leadership development