Tuesday, January 25, 2011

The Road to HR is Paved With Good Intentions

We've all heard the comment: "I could never do what you do in HR!"  Why? Is it that bad?  Really?  What exactly am I doing that is so awful? Confronting people?  Developing leaders?  Implementing strategy?  Firing people who've lost the privilege to stay?  Integrating diversity and inclusion into the organization?  Mentoring?  What??

HR / People Rectangle MagnetIT MUST BE THE PEOPLE PART
As I've considered my leadership journey, it seems apparent that the challenges of dealing with people must be the primary reason so many others shy away from HR work.  Here's the funny part - don't all leaders deal with people?  Sure, HR folks get more than their fair share of drama.  Yes, we also deal with the 0.5% of the organization that misbehaves in some way.  But overall, the majority of our time should be spent supporting:  

  • employees
  • the organization's mission
  • leaders
  • execution of organizational strategies
  • other customers
  • and holding both employees and management accountable

Does that sound so awful to you? 

Have I found myself in a role that puts me right up there with going to the Dentist as a favorite thing to do?  I certainly don't feel that way, but maybe some of our colleagues in HR do.  Could it be that some of our brothers and sisters have become disillusioned in their work?  Have they lost the passion they felt earlier in their careers when they believed they could change an organization through hard work and dedication.  (Do you think they realize they still can make a difference?)  I hope we haven't given ourselves a bad name.  However it's happened, the word is out and many effective leaders simply don't think HR is worth the effort.

It seems odd even asking why we're in HUMAN Resources.  It's so much more than simply wanting to help people, or being a people-person though.  If those are the reasons you're in HR, then it's time to quit and volunteer somewhere that doesn't require you to step up in difficult situations and lead.

Here's the reality.  It isn't easy to confront people, or develop leaders, or implement strategy, or fire people, or integrate diversity and inclusion into the organization or mentor future leaders.  It takes confidence, energy, passion, and the ability to accept failure as a stepping stone to success.

It isn't easy to lead.

We're here because at the end of the day the leaders and employees in our organizations deserve the best HR support anywhere.  That's why we're here.

How do you respond to "I could never do your job."  Do you lament your plight publicly, which just tears HR down?  Or, should you try this answer - "I have the best job in the organization."  It works for me.

I'd love to hear from you.

No Excuses.

pics courtesy of http://www.cafepress.com and interacc.typepad.com


  1. Jay - dead on my friend, dead on !! Love that we are on the same wavelength. Didn't get to see your post first because it is amazing !! We need to become that HR tandem that pulls the pendulum back to the human side of things. Much better place to be !! Thanks for sharing this.

  2. Many thanks for the comment Steve. I'm with you 100% - if we forget about the human side, there's nothing left!