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Why HR Matters and Your Weekend Reads

Welcome to GovLoop Insights Issue of the Week with Chris Dorobek… where each week, our goal is to find an issue — a person — an idea — then helped define the past 7-days… and we work to find an issue that will also will have an impact on the days, weeks and months ahead. And, as always, we focus on six words: helping you do your job better.

Happy Star Wars Day — yes, Star Wars Day… it’s May 4th, so May the 4th Be With You!



There has been much going on this week.

  • There was more skirmishing about budgets on Capitol Hill, although it seems very unlikely that agency budgets will get passed on time. The Washington Post’s Dana Milbank notes that by the time the Republican-led House returns next week, members will have been working in Washington on just 41 of the first 127 days of 2012 — and that was the busy part of the year. They are planning out of session for 17 of the year’s remaining 34 weeks, and even when they are in town the typical workweek is three days.
  • The federal CIO, Steven VanRoekel, has released the Federal IT Shared Services Strategy. Speaking at InformationWeek’s Government IT Leadership Forum, VanRoekel said that agency CIOs should look first to IT spending within their agencies for commodities such as e-mail and storage — and after that, they should look to consolidate HR and financial management with other agencies, NextGov reports.
  • With all the bad press public servants have seen in recent weeks, it’s good to see people making a difference… and saving the government money. The nation’s highest civil service awards — the Presidential Ranks of Distinguished Executive and Distinguished Professional — were announced last week at the Senior Executive Association’s 27th annual awards banquet. The Senior Executive Association notes that the 2011 award winners’ nominations show that they saved the federal government more than $36 billion.

But our issue of the week, HR… Yes, human relations… chief people officer… chief human capital officer… they’re all terrible names for a job that SHOULD be so important, but too often at agencies — and many organizations, it is a role that is mostly regulatory, not strategic.

Liz Ryan is a strategist on the people relationships — her company, Ask Liz Ryan, focuses on the new-millennium workplace — yes, the new world workplace. She is also a former Fortune 500 HR executive.

She says that HR — human capital — is still not fully understood or appreciated.


Why HR Matters and Your Weekend Reads by GovLoop Insights

Your Weekend Reads

  • It’s graduation season — and I love commencement speeches. It really is an opportunity to step back and ponder what makes a successful life… offer advice. Of course, the best of the best was Steve Jobs commencement speech to Stanford University in 2005. If you haven’t seen it or heard it, it’s 15-minutes long and well worth a few hours. Watch it a few times.




  • That being said, there were two pieces looking at commencement speeches that I saw this week. Charles Wheelan, author of the book 10 1/2 Things No Commencement Speaker Has Ever Said writes in The Wall Street Journal about what they don’t tell you at graduation. Things like… yes, some of your worst days lie ahead. Wheelan says that graduation is a happy day. But he says that his job is to tell you that if you are going to do anything worthwhile, you will face periods of grinding self-doubt and failure. Be prepared to work through them. He also says the goal should be to not make the world worse…
  • The other piece by Steve DeVaughn about the commencement speech that he says he’s never been invited to give, and he offers advice like: Reserve the right to be smarter tomorrow than you are today.
  • Facebook this week announced that you can now post if you are an organ donor. SmartMoney says this move experts say could prompt social-media companies to take on roles once reserved for government agencies. And they post others — having people posting when they vote to encourage voting… or when they pay their taxes.
  • With the approaching end of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, changes are coming to the military services — a transition. The Christian Science Monitor writes that the military is working on plans to retain the best and the brightest so they can be better prepared for whatever lies ahead.
  • Meanwhile, the Army Chief of Staff Ray Odierno writes in Foreign Affairs about the U.S. Army in a time of transition.
  • How would you fix washington? The Washington Post asked the chamber’s referees, Alan Frumin, the Senate parliamentarian, who is retiring after 35 years. One of his recommendations: Speed up the confirmation process by putting key positions on a fast track.

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Profile Photo Carol Davison

If you manage HR from a perspective of keeping the organization out of court, of course you are going to think in compliance and regulatory terms. A senior leader wouldn’t see a need or have a desire to have those people at their table. I believe that HR gets that seat by producing results and adding value and see our mission as optimizing performance whether through appropriate performance interventions such as actually leading personnel and firing supervisors of employees that don’t perform, streamlining process, writing sops, employee development, hiring the right people, etc.

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