Traditionally, HR has two major functions: administration and developing people. The administrative part is the busywork benefits, personnel policies, retirement plans, reporting and other routine activities. Outsourcing this clutter is generally a good idea.

What remains is talent. Some people call this Talent Management but management is the wrong term. We want to inspire people to do great work; telling them to do great work is a non-starter. People are not assets; all assets depreciate in value over time. Think of your people as investors. High performance is in an investor’s self interest. In-house investor relations is more a matter of stewardship. When I use the term talent, talent stewardship is what I mean.

Talent has everything to do with relationships: recruiting the right people, developing people, keeping them on board, and seeing that they are fulfilled. Successful relationships are flexible and personalized.

In lieu of control, organizations must provide opportunities for people to grow, to excel, to find meaning in work, and to find a higher purpose in what they do. Once we point to the desired destination, we must trust our people/investors to head there.

Power to the people! Giving people freedom is a trade-off with trying to control them. Micro-managing adherence to rules instead of helping our people focus on outcomes gets in the way of getting the job done. People resent the intrusion. It is high time to replace rules-based management with principles-based leadership.

Traditionalists worry about the time unmanaged people will waste going down blind alleys. This sort of thinking misses the bigger picture. Giving people more freedom enriches the role of the manager. Gone is the tarpit of looking for exceptions and whipping people back into line. You can inspire many times as many people as you can try to control. Eliminating needless minor adjustments frees up manager time to work on the big stuff.

Most of these are Kevin Wheeler‘s ideas, not mine.