Monday, January 9, 2012

Is the HR Generalist Dead?





Today I had a very interesting conversation with a few HR consultant friends of mine. We were discussing the status of the external HR Consultant who is a generalist versus a consultant that specializes in particular area of HR.

The consensus was that the generalist in the consulting world is dead. Maybe that is a strong statement, maybe not dead....but on life support.

The reasons had to do with an over supply of consultants that are generalists and the need for organizations to hire subject matter experts that are deep in their knowledge on a certain subject, like compensation for example.

I did raise the question about clients wanting a "one stop shop" approach for HR services. My thought was that HR Executives want to buy from one or two preferred vendors for efficiency and cost reasons.

What are your thoughts on the "one stop shop" theory?

So, then I starting thinking about the internal HR Generalist. What is their status? Dead, alive or on life support?

From my experience, I have seen a mixed bag of HR organizational models. I see larger organizations using specialists at the corporate office and HR generalist in the field. I have also seen the reverse, generalist at corporate and specialist in regions lending support to managers. Of course, these models are dependent on industry, size and organizational strategy.

For smaller companies, I definitely see more generalist then specialist as they have to wear multiple hats.

What are your thoughts on the internal generalists? Do we need to get out our black dresses and suits?

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