The Equalizer: Why we Created the Business & HR Community in Africa

After about a decade of experience working in HR as a consultant with varieties of HR professionals from diverse industries and businesses as clients, I can categorically state that the HR community is overdue for an Equalizer!

I love watching movies and I am a huge, huge fan of Denzel Washington. One of my favourite movies of his is The Equalizer. In this movie, Denzel plays the role of a retired CIA top expert who hates it when bad guys mistreat and cheat people. Once he perceives an injustice, he steps in to equalize – balance out the equation and increase the odds on the part of the people on the receiving end. If you haven’t seen the 2 parts of the movie yet, I think you should. It promises to be very entertaining and educational.

So, why do I believe that the HR profession needs an Equaliser? For several reasons actually.  

Here are some of them:

The Equalizer – Why we created the B&HR Africa Community #1 

Human resource management is underappreciated and takes too many sticks. It is tiring and simply unfair to see the sheer amount of bashing that the HR Profession and HR Professionals receive on a daily basis. Some of the professionals I know have concluded that HR can quickly become a thankless job. I doubt if any other profession receives as much bashing as the HR Profession. 

From the famous Keith Hammond Fast Company Article titled Why We Hate HR, to his follow up sequel, Why We Still Hate HR and the Ram Charan version of It is time to blow up HR – The HR community tends to attract a lot of negative press. I read a book recently where the author referred to HR as the Inhuman Resources Department. Can you just imagine? 

While one can argue that HR professionals brought this upon the profession, there are at least two sides to the story and in too many instances to count, HR professionals are simply in an impossible position trying to balance the needs of the people with the realities of the business. The HR Profession needs several equalisers to even things out and share their side of the story and our Business and HR Africa community is set up to play that role.

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#2 The Dichotomy between HR and Business 

 It has always bothered us, and we have always wondered why HR communities and the business are constantly at loggerheads. It is quite perplexing and can be very frustrating. The business complains that  HR is not being strategic and supportive enough of the goals of the business while HR complains that they are brought in too late or not carried along (No seat at the table). 

 HR professionals have gone ahead to try to fix this with the emergence of the HR Business Partnering Model. But while this has worked well, the problem still remains, and the tension is real. 

 A few years ago, I was having a chat with the CEO of a company we were handling a business transformation project for and he was bitterly complaining about the ineptness of his HR function. At that moment, the realization of the dichotomy between HR and Business hit me suddenly.

 I had previously had a chat with the HRD of the same company earlier that day, and she had also complained bitterly about the lack of support and respect for the HR function from the C-suite. At that moment, it occurred to me that these two individuals, though in the same business, saw themselves as separate entities. 

The CEO saw the HR function as a different entity in charge of the people side of the business whilst the HRD saw the C-suite as the business side of the business. 

Nothing could be further from the truth! Their thinking was wrong at a very fundamental level. This separation between the Business and Human Resource has proven to be the biggest obstacle to the progress and effectiveness of organisations. And this is one of the challenges we intend to equalize.

If you agree with us, join the B&HR Africa Community LinkedIn Group TODAY!

#3:  Business = HR

Even though most organisations have adopted and now practice the HR Business Partnering Model, we will argue that it is still not good enough. Partners sometimes have separate agendas and, on many occasions, they separate/divorce, because at the end of the day, partners are still separate individuals!

We believe strongly that for HR to truly fulfill its potential and for businesses to truly realize the full benefits possible from HR, the two must exist as one. HR is the business, and the business is HR. Period. Two in one. 

At Business & HR Africa we are here to make a declaration and write a new equation: Business = HR. 

Here is the proof:  HR cannot exist without the business and the business cannot exist without the people that HR manages. So, they are one and the same. 

Viewing HR and Business as the same has a lot of implications for Businesses and the HR profession.  Ultimately, it will prove to be game changing for the HR Profession, the HR Professionals and their businesses if they see themselves as one.

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#4: HR must know the Business and the Business must know HR

Our firm organizes several workshops on HR topics and most of the time, it’s HR professionals that show up. We also organize several business management workshops, and you guessed it, 90% of the participants that show up are business executives. This is not right in my own opinion. 

 HR Professionals need more business knowledge to help their organisations win and Business Executives need more HR knowledge to successfully optimise the performance of the talent in their care. This is critically important. 

 Most of the complaints that HR professionals make about line managers/business executives poorly managing their talent – though mostly justified – are unfair if they don’t have the know-how and skills to manage people for strategic advantage like HR Professionals do. Afterall, if they haven’t been trained, how then are they supposed to become great at managing people? And considering that this is their most important responsibility, isn’t it ironic that they lack the requisite skills and tools to be effective at it? 

Same argument goes for the HR professionals and their business acumen. Most HR professionals know enough about HR but lack business acumen. How can you help a business succeed when you don’t understand the business?  The fact is that you can’t give what you don’t have. As an HR professional, you actually need those business management workshops you organise for your business executives too. It is therefore time to balance things out and ensure that both parties have the critical know-how that is required for success. 

If you agree that it’s time to equalize, join B&HR Africa Community LinkedIn Group TODAY!

#5: Democratizing the Know-how of Elite HR Professionals and Business Executives/Line Managers

 Like in many professions, HR professionals can be categorized into 3 groups – the top performers, the average performers, and the below-average performers (just to be diplomatic). And as is the case in all free markets, the most successful/large businesses end up with the best HR professionals while most Small & Midsize Businesses (SMBs) end up with average or worse below-average performers. So, the best goes to the best and the rest end up with the average or below-average. 

As a result, the HR situation in some Small & Midsize Businesses(SMBs) is really worrisome. A CEO of a mid-sized business shared his experience with me. He attended the highly acclaimed General Management programme in Harvard and returned convinced that Talent Management was the key to the future of his organisation. However, his HR function couldn’t relate with what needed to be done to build a Talent Management System for his business. 

So, he reached out to his network asking for references and referrals to top HR Business Professionals. He found one, a lady who was in transition between jobs having just left one of the blue-chip companies. After a 3-hour chat with the lady, he knew he just had to hire her. She was perfect for the role and his strategic intent. However, he couldn’t afford her. Her current salary was equal to 17% of his annual revenue! So, according to him, he had to settle for his size – a less than ideal scenario and sadly, the business is worse off for it. 

Why should this be the case? Why must SMBs settle for average or below-average performers when in fact, they need the best HR professionals to grow and become successful? Why should there be so many average and below average HR Professionals? 

How can we change this situation? What do the best HR professionals know and do well? How can we capture and democratise that knowledge to give the SMBs a fighting chance?

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The Future Belongs to F-Shaped HR & Business Professionals

 A F-shaped HR Professional is a person with a broad understanding of all HR disciplines, in-depth expertise in one or more areas of HR management and a deep knowledge of their business.

 A F-shaped Business Professional is a person with a broad understanding of all business disciplines, in-depth expertise in one or more areas of the business, alongside with a deep knowledge of Talent/People Management.

 The best Business and HR Professionals of today and tomorrow have deep knowledge across the full spectrum—Business and HR. That’s why the best Business and HR teams in the world today have T-shaped talent.

This is what we focus on at Business & HR Africa: Giving you knowledge in a broad array of skills, and deep ability in a few. If you’re ready for this serious leap in your skills and career, join our community to learn from the top 1% in Business & HR.

At Business & HR Africa, we are all about helping HR & Business Executives/Line Managers build top skills, because people with the best skills get better results, faster.

Ours is the only HR and Business focused community that deploys the continent’s top 1% practitioners as tutors and mentors. If you’ve always desired to be ranked among the cream of the crop, give yourself a head-start by leveraging our Community. 

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As a brain-child of Workforce Group, Business & HR Africa stands on the shoulder of a giant.

Our brand is a promise of excellence! So, when we say that you learn from the best to become the best on the Business & HR Africa platform, you can bank on it!

 Our approach is straightforward: We seek out the best HR & Business practitioners – not academicians – and get them to teach and mentor our community members.

 Every tutor and mentor is the absolute best in the Continent (and in a lot of cases, the world) at what they do. They are hand-picked, and carefully vetted to deliver on our promise.

 So, after you make that solemn promise to yourself to be the best that you can be, you should join the Business & HR Africa LinkedIn community to make sure that you keep that promise.

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