Any employee can rattle off the clichés about human resources. They are the company puppets and politicians, derided as “two-faced,” “impotent,” and “short-sighted.” Impartial? Hardly! To many, HR has been weaponized – the goon squad who’ll protect the company (well, current management mostly) at any cost. Worst of all, they seem to live in a bureaucratic bubble, a cost center that barely understands the business. Who’d respect that?
That’s how human resources operates in dysfunctional cultures. In the best companies – Google, Nissan, BCG – human resources drive strategy, champion change, and empower talent. They are trusted instead of tolerated and treated as partners instead of prodigals. Such firms promote transparency, access, ownership, and fairness. In other words, they are a central part of the operation, concerned more with production over paperwork and growth instead of gamesmanship.
TAKING HR TO THE NEXT LEVEL
How can companies achieve such an end? That’s one of the themes in Preparing to Manage Human Resources, a course starting March 5th. Produced by the University of Minnesota’s Carlson School of Management, the course is a primer on what it takes to deliberately mold and motivate employees in a way that balances company goals with employee aspirations. Even more, the course looks at the nature of work itself, and how employers can tap into that innate sense that work is an extension of one’s passions and purpose.
“It is easy to dismiss work as the daily grind or as an economic activity separate from rest of one’s life that generates commodities, services, and income,” says John Budd, the course instructor who also serves as the chair of Carlson’s Department of Work and Organizations, in a 2014 interview. “This is an excessively narrow view of work. Work can be a source of personal fulfillment and psychological well-being that provides more than extrinsic monetary rewards. Work is a way to intimately care for others and to serve others through volunteering, civic service, military service and other means. On an even deeper level, work can be a source of identity by helping individuals understand who they are and where they stand in the social structure.”
The course has already been a big winner, with previous sections drawing students from over 100 countries and student satisfaction averaging 4.7 off 263 reviews. “I really enjoyed this foundation class,” writes one reviewer from October 2017. “It provide me with a deeper understand of human resources beyond just transactional duties.”
WHARTON COURSES HIGHLIGHT A BUSY MONTH
That’s just one of a full menu of online MOOCs this month. On Monday, Wharton opens another section of Building High-Performing Teams, a research-driven course on how to enhance communication and reinforce the right behaviors in a team dynamic. Similarly, the University of Virginia returns with Strategic Planning and Execution, one of Coursera’s most highly-rated MOOCs that reviewers describe as “insightful,” “relevant,” and “clear.”
By the same token, Wharton is rolling out Introduction to Marketing, one of the most attended MOOCs of all time, on March 19th. In addition, Wharton is also offering Accounting Analytics and Modeling Risk and Realities in March, with each course taught by full-time Wharton instructors who each hold the school’s top teaching award. Indeed, it is a set of courses with something for everyone, including FinTech, neuromarketing, valuation, and organizational design.
To learn more about these courses — and many more — click on the links below.