Nick Holley The HR Doctor 2

The HR Doctor 2:
Delivery deficiency

Af Nick Holley, Associate Director of Learning, Corporate Research Forum


Nick Holley er Keynote på Træfpunkt HR 2020 online, hvor han deler ud af sine diagnoser over de 10 ”sygdomme”, som han har set HR lide af i de 30 år, han har fungeret som praktiker, researcher, underviser og konsulent. Kan du genkende dem? Som optakt til Keynoten sætter vi fokus på de 10 sygdomme i ugerne op til Træfpunkt HR.


If I’m honest I’m an ENFP (sounds a bit like Alcoholics Anonymous). Delivery isn’t my favourite pursuit. I’ve learned it’s no good using my ENFP’ness as an excuse when I don’t deliver. Instead I’ve become passionate about learning the basics of project management and surrounding myself with completer finishers who are naturally good at getting things done. Words without action, ideas without outcomes, design without delivery is a waste of time.


  • Projects are started but not finished. HR enjoys developing new ideas but does not enjoy putting them into practice.

  • People are easily bored, especially with follow through, with the result that nothing is actually delivered.

  • HR works purely on the basis of anecdotes; failing to collect or analyse real data to find out what is going on.

  • It fails to respond to internal customer requests, seeing them as idiots who get in the way of designing another HR scheme.

  • HR people want to be prophets not plumbers - they are only interested in being ‘strategic’ and are bored with the plumbing, the basics of HR that actually underpin its credibility.

  • HR lacks the disciplines of basic planning and project management.


  • Of course, the biggest impact is nothing actually gets done but this has knock on implications for HR.

  • HR loses credibility, which would enable it to make a real difference to the business, because no one expects HR to actually deliver anything.

  • HR is seen as a cost, with the subsequent pressure to reduce the size of the function because no one sees any value added from what it does (or doesn’t do).


The focus on being strategic without getting the basics, what I call the compulsory figures, done undermines HR’s credibility. So, what do I mean by the compulsory figures? Very few people know why skating is called figure skating. In the Olympics prior to 1990, the champion skater won the gold medal not just for the spectacular jumps and complex moves and for their artistic interpretation of the music, but also for the compulsory figures.

What we didn’t see on the television, a couple of days before the free programme, were the compulsory figures when the skaters drew figures in the ice with their skates and were measured for their consistency and accuracy. They didn’t win the gold medal for the figures, but they didn’t get to skate for the gold medal unless they did well. For me the compulsory figures are the basics of HR: paying people on time, recruiting, terms and conditions, etc. It doesn’t win HR the medals, but unless it does them well, the function doesn’t have the credibility to engage in the real value-added work.


  • HR teams need to balance who they recruit, looking for and valuing ‘completer finishers’ as much as (or perhaps even more than) ‘ideas’ people.

  • Put in place strong governance to ensure clear goals are set and delivered.

  • Establish clear accountabilities for what is actually delivered and follow through with appropriate consequences, both the good and the bad.

  • Place value in old-fashioned basic project management techniques, not necessarily overcomplicating things, but establishing a disciplined approach to planning and review.

  • Train HR people in the discipline of getting things done and reward and recognise them for it. Find role models and heroes who are doing the basics really well or who are doing a great job of data entry, as well as those doing strategic HR business partnering or designing new talent processes.

  • Ensure that everyone, early in their HR career, spends time doing the basics; data entry, admin, call centres etc, so they understand how tough it is and value it.

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