Saturday 30 April 2011

What will HR’s evolution be? Liz Gottung at Kimberly Clark


  We’re starting today’s unconference with Liz Gottung, CHRO at Kimberly Clark.

Liz has emphasised that her HR function isn’t that well developed yet, but is on a fast journey.  However, I think they’re doing a lot of things very well – their emerging use of social media for example.  And I think they’ve got a great ambition: to make HR a ‘go to’ function.

This is about making HR a function that people will want to develop their careers.  Liz said she’s love to see someone being groomed for CEO taking on her job for a couple of years.  And some of this is already happening, at least on a temporary basis – so Liz has brought in a marketing person to support employer branding, and an engineering person to support lean HR for example.

I’m still not sure about Kimberly Clark’s vision for HR however.  Liz talked about things dying a quick death if they’re seen as an HR project.  And also the need to have ‘HR’ projects sponsored by someone from the business – so their CFO sponsored their new performance system, and they’re also looking for a business leader for their new global Workday implementation.

Now this may just be a reflection of Kimberly Clark HR being on a journey, but I worry it’s more than that as well.  I certainly talk to a lot of companies which do see this sort of embedded, and even slightly hidden, version of HR as the function’s future.

I hope it’s not.  HR’s evolution, to me, has got to include making HR proud of its own capability and contribution.  We’ve got to help our businesses understand that HR projects are things that are important, and can be led effectively by HR leaders too.  Until that happens, we’re always going to struggle to maximise our contribution.


Given the name of this unconference (HRevolution), I suspect the vision (or the different visions) of HR may be something we return back to several times during the course of the day.  I’ll let you know if so.



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