Previous Article Next Article Like most of us I soaked up much of the analysis carried in journals aboutthe achievements at the end of the last millennium. Due weight was given totechnology and science, innovations and communications. But it struck me thatthere was very little about the growth in understanding human relationships andways in which they can be improved. It was almost the opposite – the breakdownof relationships. I ended up feeling that, yet again, we were undervaluing the progress madein the field of human relationships. Who in 1980, for instance, could have pre-dicted perestroika in the then Soviet Union, truth and reconciliation in SouthAfrica and the Good Friday agreement in Northern Ireland?Closer to home in HR terms, the situation that motivated me in the 1970s tospecialise in industrial relations – perennial unrest, dysfunctionalrelationships on a collective scale – will be unknown to the HR manager of the21st century.The truth is we now know so much more about how to get it right. A hundredyears ago the debate was over whether labour had any claim on capital andwhether free trade or import tariffs should rule the day. There was nothingabout necessary progress in relationships. Now we understand that the key issues in collective relationships are notabout structural factors or agitator theory, as we believed 30 years ago, butabout trust, involvement, partnerships, personal relationships, openness andemotional commitment. In personal relationships we know how to get teams towork together but the application of basic psychology and sociology is stillthe exception, not the rule. This new decade should be about applying what is known about interpersonalrelationships. But how? This is where HR can enter from off-stage. This can bethe unique contribution of HR in being proactive about raising the level ofconsciousness and debate over relationships and the benefits of getting themright. I predict that if HR is not centre stage in seizing the opportunity to focuson strategy and change in improving one-to-one and team relationships, then itwill be condemned to the shallows and miseries. While others take theinitiative, HR will be left to pick up the pieces. This means that the critical competence for the would-be successful HRmanager is risk-taking, not with peoples’ jobs or lives but because there ismuch persuasion of other colleagues to do, much competition for scarceresources.This leaves me with a final thought. No one questioned the huge expenditurein freeing us from the Millennium Bug. Will the same licence be given tofreeing organisations from dysfunctional human behaviour?By Professor Clive Morton Related posts:No related photos. Why HR will stand for Human RelationshipsOn 18 Jan 2000 in Personnel Today Comments are closed.