An overview of the tensions and dynamics HR leaders face due to structural and systemic factors.

When we talk to leaders of the business, we hear a lot of griping about HR.

⛔ “I wish they were more strategic.”

⛔ “They don’t understand our problems.”

⛔ “Why are they so conservative?”

Yet when we talk to folks in #HR, we hear complaints about the leaders!

⛔ “They don’t know what they’re doing.”

⛔ “They don’t care about their people.”

⛔ “They don’t listen to anything we say.”

What the hell is going on here?!

We’ve coached hundreds of people across different functions, listening to stories of their careers from start to finish.

When we interview people in HR, a common theme appears:

Early on in their careers, they try to bring in 💡 innovative, progressive solutions and are continuously shot down 😤. The business just wants them to manage employee benefits. Seen but not heard.

After years (if not decades) of this dynamic, people in HR often feel helpless and defeated. They see the mistakes, but no one lets them fix it. They are relegated to the realms of the “tactical”.

Then one day, when they become senior leaders, the business flips and complains that HR is not “strategic”. That they “don’t get the business”.

This is a systemic issue across many corporations.

Systemic issues need systemic solutions.

It’s time to stop blaming individuals. Each individual is doing EXACTLY what they have been trained to do! If we want a truly progressive HR, businesses would benefit from:

⭐ Not penalizing HR for taking chances, even if that means losing some money sometimes

⭐ Training early-career HR professionals in developing a “commercial mindset” (AKA understanding business problems)

⭐ Giving HR a true seat at the table in team, BU, and org.-wide discussions


  • In Part 1, we explore the contradictions in HR's mandate.

Next Up:

  • In Part 3, we explore the history and origins of HR.
  • In Part 4, we explore the underlying root issues using our Functional Human-Systems Method®️.
  • In Part 5, we explore a possible solution to the HR conundrum.