Do You “Manage Human Resources” or do You Shepherd People?

Last night I finished up teaching a Human Resources Course in the MBA program at Bethel College.  Throughout the course I forced the students to refer to it as People Services and not Human Resources.  There is something in me that just rebels at calling people resources.

When I think of resources, I think of money, buildings, equipment, land, and so on.  Your people ARE the organization.  Additionally, in this course we had a theme verse – Genesis 1:27, “So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.”  Somehow, people who are created in the image of God are not resources in my opinion.

I also dislike the term as it objectifies people.  They become “assets” to be managed instead of people to be led; components of the machinery of the organization instead of innovative creative beings who bring the organization to life.

I also had a challenge with the text.  Even though it was a 2010 textbook, it still often only gave a nod to the principles of leading and caring for that are the norm in the great organizations.  You could also tell it was written by an academic and not by a successful practitioner of leading people.

So, next time, I may dump the textbook and go with the books written by people who care for people and have successfully translated that care into great organizations.  It is interesting that I also introduced the class to the little book, The Way of the Shepherd, which they enjoyed much more than the text and was full of much more wisdom about people than the text.

So – are you going to manage your human resources or shepherd your people?

A fellow shepherd,