Human Resources With Soul: Follow Rules AND Grow Talent

In Rishad Tobaccowala’s book, Restoring the Soul of Business, he addresses the two roles Human Resources (HR) play in an organization. These are handy rules in general about the human relationships we build inside of organizations of any size, with or without a dedicated department.

HR Rule #1: to ensure processes, laws, and systems are followed. Basically, these guidelines keep everybody out of legal trouble. This is a rigid, legal, and very scalable function.

HR Rule #2: to teach, grow, and retain talent. Basically how to onboard, grow, and either promote-up or graduate-out employees over time. This is a fluid, flexible, and customizable function.

In line with Reid Hoffman’s concept of “tours of duty,” jobs and employment should not only follow the rules, but they should also help people go wherever they want to go next. Instead of “one job forever” or “this job until it’s over,” we can think of how jobs connect, and ideally, build organizations that help people stack together a progression of jobs they find both rewarding and fulfilling.

At the organizational level, when we approach HR with both functions in mind, are building a more resilient company. When we focus on personal growth as well as organizational growth, we instill that mindset from the top down and bottom up. A company trained to evolve will outlast a company that can’t adapt.

Tobaccowalla’s HR rules can create sustainable advantages within companies. They help us focus, as he puts it, on the story and not the spreadsheet. Once you see it this way, the alternative looks pretty bleak. Put some soul into it.

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