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January 11, 2007

The 3-2-7 principle!

My HR generalist friend recently introduced me to an interesting concept.

He said, with his inimicable sense of humour - "HR generalists always operate on the 3-2-7 principle". On seeing my quizzical look, he explained," On a scale of 1-10, an HR generalist typically enters at Point 3 (when its time for roll out / communication to employees), pushes himself to Point 2 (since he has incomplete information and needs the full picture), and then exits at Point 7 (because most review and decision making happens at a corporate level).

Thats the 3-2-7 principle for you!

I thought this was an extremey powerful way of describing what is a pertinent problem today across many organizations in India. A central HR function - with Business interface through HR generalists - who play multiple roles, wear multiple hats, do balancing acts, cajole, convince multiple stakeholders - and all of this - without having the complete picture ever! Can HR be really effective in this scenario?

As i try and answer this question, I have some ideas on how the generalist interface can move from 3-2-7 to 1-9:

Let corporate / specialist roles define the "what", let generalists define the "how". So, we may have a common framework for a particular initiative (eg, mobility), which outlines the objectives, the boundaries, definitions, terminologies, etc - the way it gets implemented may differ from business to business, depending on the profile of their people. Some business may encourage mobility through "Internal Job Postings", others may want to link it the advancement process, still others may want to look at global mobility only. The true worth of an HR generalist comes to play when he is able to advise the line managers on what is the best option given the motivational needs of his team members and the challenges in his business environment.

Specialists to start viewing generalists as internal customers. Think about it. Would you ever go to your customer AFTER you have finalised your deliverable? It would be sacrilegeous right? Ditto for our internal HR customers. They need to be actively involved in the input process - be it training need identification, specification gathering or new system implementation.

Just as a Business Head makes a contribution to the performance review of his / her HR generalists, a specialists' performance evaluation should have one component that comprises Business HR feedback. This should be made an integral part of a Specialist scorecard - and reviewed on a frequent basis.

I've started my goal setting for the year, and as a Specialist, these three points have been / are going to be the pillars of my goal sheet.

Long live the 3-2-7 principle!


  • Hi,

    That was a good piece of writeup on Generalist Vs Specialist! You hit the nail on this topic :-)

    We face the same situation in our organisation.
    Time & again, we have these debates with our internal teams in HR.


    By Anonymous Anonymous, at Thursday, 08 February, 2007  

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