Neil Morrison: We need to do more to develop HR talent

HR leaders often don't practise what they preach when it comes to developing the function's own talent

We spend a lot of our time talking about talent. We advise leaders and CEOs on talent strategies; how to acquire, retain, and develop and grow their own. We dedicate budget, resources and countless conferences and column inches to the importance of this area of our field. We are the champions of talent.

Except when it comes to our own.

In HR we are notoriously bad at self development and even worse at growing and developing our own. Whether out of misplaced concern for being self serving, or simply an inability to practise what we preach. We regularly fall short in investing in the development of our teams and leave them to last when it comes to investing in talent.

Networking opportunities are often left to those of us that have risen to more senior positions. Conference attendance is expensive and so we either attend ourselves or don’t go at all. It is an unintended consequence of the way we unconsciously value ourselves in the organisational ecosystem. How many of the HR team are fully qualified compared to the finance team?

If we want to adapt and grow the profession to deal with the increasingly changing world of work we need to hear from new voices, and provide opportunities for different opinions to challenge the status quo and for those unimpeded by the history of human resource management to challenge our thinking, our practice and maybe even our relevance.

We need to encourage opportunities for the next generation of HR leaders to come together, to think, to talk, to share and to develop a narrative that will ultimately succeed our work. To give them the space to create a compelling agenda for the future of businesses, employees and customers.

The Future Leaders Forum is exactly that: the opportunity to network, learn and discuss. To bring together some of the most exciting talent within the profession and to start a dialogue that will take it forward. And if we’re serious about our people, if we believe in succession and talent development, and if we want to make the world of work better, then this is exactly the sort of initiative we should support.

If people are vital to our organisational performance and economic success, if we believe that good HR management practice makes a difference to this, and if we want to create sustainable change in the workplace then we need to start supporting the next generation to grow, develop and lead. Not only will it help them, it will help us and our organisations too. It’s hard to find a compelling reason not to get involved.

Neil Morrison is group HR director, UK & international companies at Penguin Random House. He is co-chairing HR magazine's Future Leaders Forum on February 10 in London. Find out more and see the whole programme here