The Hip Hop HR Manifesto

I wrote this post back in 2012. The fact that we are still having the same conversations about HR, human workplaces and HR's place in the world, tells me it may still be relevant. Perry, who inspired it, now has a book out and was named one of HR's Most Influential Thinkers last year. Pretty Hip Hop if you ask me.


I know, weird title right? You're probably thinking "where's she going with this exactly?". Bear with me, I suspect I may be onto something...

The inimitable Perry Timms, Head of Talent & OD at The Big Lottery Fund, Northern Soul boy and fellow Towcestrian, has been champion of a movement he calls 'Punk HR' for some time now. To get a taste of Punk HR, follow Perry on Twitter or read his blog - full of energy, rebelliousness and attitude. Love it. Today on Twitter we were riffing on the theme of music genre based HR approaches.  I've decided my personal favourite is Hip-Hop HR.

I've always been a closet Hip-Hop fan. I drove out of the gates on my last day of a job with a boss from hell playing Jay-Z's 99 Problems at full blast. I have been known to play Pop Ya Collar on a loop when having a particularly bad day. My singstar party piece is Baby Got Back. There's a lot that HR can learn from Hip-Hop and that is what I wanted to share. I give you The Hip-Hop HR manifesto: 

First off, Hip-Hop HR doesn't apologise. It doesn't wait to be invited to the party. Hip-Hop HR screams up to the velvet rope in a Cadillac Escalade with an entourage and demands a table with Cristal on tap. Hip-Hop HR knows its worth. There are no self-esteem issues there. Contrast with Emo HR: full of angst about whether people take it seriously, or whining that it's not part of the in-crowd. HR needs to quit complaining about being invited, being taken seriously. Just rock up. Make an entrance. Know that the party wasn't really going until you came along anyway. 

Hip-Hop HR collaborates. It isn't afraid to draw on a wide range of influences and inspiration. If Hip-Hop can have guest slots from Dido, Aerosmith and the cast of Annie, then HR should be collaborating with Marketing, Finance, IT, whoever.  Celebrate the power of the collaboration. Maybe HR could benefit from a remix? Is there a guest artist you should be working with?

Hip-Hop HR has swag. Attitude. Style. It may not be to everyone's taste, but it is never grey, dull or generic. Hip-Hop understands the power of putting on a show, getting people excited. Hip-Hop knows that if something is worth doing, its worth doing with a light show, pyrotechnics and 50 dancers in gold body paint. Hip-Hop is exciting and HR could take a leaf from its swarovski encrusted book. Get people worked up. Involve them in some theatre. Do it with swag - they're with you for 40 hours a week so entertain them.

Hip-Hop is fun and the fun is contagious. It defies you not to get up and dance. It gets into your bones, gets you out on the floor strutting your stuff. It's positive, upbeat, makes you feel free and bold and brave. HR should do the same. Our job is to make people feel bullet-proof, brilliant, invincible. To help them find their swag.

Hip-Hop is about as far from easy listening as you can get. It's explicit. Not for the faint hearted. And neither is HR. It's not easy listening talking about the stuff that people like to pretend doesn't exist - culture, leadership behaviour, doing stupid stuff to your employees. Hip-Hop HR comes with an advisory warning - you may not always like what you hear. Hip-Hop HR keeps it real. 

Personally, I'll be asking myself more regularly WWJZD? ... and if I have to tell you what that stands for, you probably aren't Hip-Hop HR.

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Lorna LeesonComment