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Partner, Storm Ventures. Previously VP of product management & strategy at salesforce.com across applications and platform. Previously founded and led Oracle SaaS Platform, and held engineering and product management roles in SOA and Identity Management. Anshu has a B. Tech. (Honors) and M.S. in Computer Science from Indian Institute of Technology at Kharagpur and University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill respectively. Read his blog here.

2 responses to “The AOL 401K Lesson: Is HR Failing at Your Company?”

  1. Lisa Brown Morton

    While I can appreciate your questioning the role of HR in this situation, the ultimately accountability for a decision of this magnitude rests with the most senior executive, the CEO. CEOs are as responsible for what happens with the talent in their organizations as the CHRO! I completely agree that more and more organizations MUST recognize that talent is everything and invest in that talent accordingly — meaning benefits, compensation, culture, recognition, engagement, etc. There are countless studies supporting that a more satisfied, engaged workforce drives results — both financial and otherwise. That said, in defense of my colleagues in the HR profession, the role of Chief People Officer or Chief Human Resources Officer can only be as effective as the extent to which the function is given true power and autonomy to drive the people agenda in organizations. Way too many companies give lip service to the importance of talent in organizational success and then relegate the HR leader to that of an administrative, paper-pusher rather than an enabler of productivity, engagement and results. Yes, AOL’s decision was short-sided as evidenced by their subsequently reversed decision but that is not a function of HR alone but of their overall leadership. All executives must listen “actively” to the needs of their employees and respond where possible and communicate clearly where not possible. Let’s not blame HR alone for AOL’s poor decision making. Leadership is a shared responsibility.

  2. Anshu Sharma (@anshublog)

    I agree with you Lisa that this is a failure of leadership. I do think that CHRO or CPO (HR leader) must stand up as the loudest voice of the employee – just as I expect CMO to stand up as the loudest voice of the customer. I understand this is easier said than done as many CEOs do not seem to understand that speaking on behalf of the talent is a key part of the job for CHRO.

    Let’s hope everyone learns from this fiasco that if you don’t hear the voice of the employee through the leaders in the room then you may have to hear them on front pages of The New York Times.