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The human limit

 

Disciplines > Human Resources > Articles > The human limit

Human constraint | Care continues | See also

 

 

The web is an all-pervasive technology that has reached deep into many areas, revolutionizing much of what we do. And yet, whilst HR has been revolutionized by IT and the web, in many ways they represent the last bastion of humanity in organizations where automation and task-focus can be taken to the nth degree in the never-ending squeeze for profit.

Human constraint

A paradox of automation is in the limiting effect on human potential. The complexities of human emotional needs means that the higher reaches of performance can only be achieved when people are strongly motivated. Automation that empowers is just fine, but automation that depersonalizes also demotivates. If I feel that I am just a number, a cog in a great machine, then I will act accordingly, either rebelling or retiring on the job. It is not unknown for people to literally drop a spanner in the works out of sheer boredom. It is also common to blindly follow the process, just like a lemming, over the cliff and into destruction.

When humanity leaves the workplace, so also does competitive performance. Organizations may thus go full circle in their search for success, first seeking efficiencies but ultimately connecting people and creating meaning. And here lies a critical task for HR, stitching together communities and creating fulfilling lives, where efficiency and effectiveness have reason and optimum performance gives pleasure.

Care continues

Is this 1984? Quite the reverse. Look at the 'destination' companies today, from SAS to Google. These places are both wildly successful and essentially human. They are populated with bright folks who gladly work their socks off every day. The care for one another and, like the army, do battle for their comrades as much as higher ideals. And I bet that the HR people in those places (or whatever they call themselves) are at the heart of the machine.

See also

 

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