Purging the term “Human Resources”

We need to eliminate the term “Human Resources” from our vocabulary. I can not think of a more derogatory term for people. After all, people want to be, and deserve to be, treated as people, and not as widgets. Smart businesses have already eliminated this term from their culture. For example, Southwest Airlines has a “Vice President of People“. Southwest Airlines says that as a company, it is all about the people, and not about the planes. It’s the people and their unique culture that is its biggest competitive advantage.

Do you realize where this term “Human Resources” comes from? It comes directly out of our industrial age, when machinery and capital investments were more important than blue-collar workers. People could be easily be replaced. So what if they worked in horrible conditions? Worked in factories for 10 hours shifts, six days a week, for a dollar a day? Or even died on the job?

Well, it’s time for companies to wake up and get with the program in the twenty-first century! The leading successful business thinkers of our time realize that instead of “Human Resources” being the least important part of a successful company, it’s actually the very very most important. There is no greater role for a CEO than to make sure the right people are in the right positions in the company. Just ask Jack Welch. In his writings and interviews, he acknowledges that that was his primary responsibility as CEO. And for further proof, read the book Good to Great by Jim Collins. He and his team researched what made the difference between a good company, and a company that made a transition to greatness. And the major conclusion of the book is that the first thing you do is get the right people on the bus. Then you figure out where to drive the bus. But getting the right people on the bus comes first!

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